THIS place is at the top of my ‘Things To See In Europe’ list. If all I had was one day in England, this is what I’d choose to see. So I was very excited when we headed off. We took the bus to Waterloo Station, (we got the front seats at the top of a double decker so we could see everything), and when we went over a bridge I got teary at my first sight of the Thames. Weird. I knew I’d get all emotional at something, but I didn’t expect it to be of a river. (Maybe I’m missing the Yarra…)
The first station on the way to the palace was Vauxhall. That’s one for you, Bek. I googled and found that the pleasure gardens still exist.
The palace is really close to the station. You can see it as you walk along the platform, then you get the thrill of anticipation as you walk across the river and up to the gates. There was the view I’d been wanting to see my whole life.
A window in the first courtyard.
After getting our tour guides, (recorded things that you navigate your way around with), we were off to the Great Hall. The palace is in two parts, with the Tudor section at the front and the Baroque (William and Mary section) at the back. I knew a smidge about William and Mary but it was Henry I’d come to see, so we did that first. Who knows what might happen between now and lunchtime?? None of this ‘saving the best till last ‘ nonsense!
I grabbed a red velvet cloak to wear. I kept it on for a while. They really should make a comeback.
My first impression when I walked into the Great Hall was one of bedazzlement. The roof, the stained glass windows and the huge tapestries were so grand. My next thought was that it was tiny. I know that there were many people at court when the King was there, so they must have been crammed in like sardines. I mentioned this to Scott and he made the point that he’s always surprised by just how many people you can fit in a room, which is true. Plus I suppose they didn’t have the big sense of personal space that we have.
The roof was incredible. I love this: all the little heads peering down on the people below.
Huge tapestries lined the walls. They would’ve been amazing when they were new.
Here’s a view of the whole ceiling. It was beautiful.
Here’s the view from Henry’s perspective.
The next room was behind the hall, where the people would wait to talk to the King whenever he came out of his personal rooms.
There’s a room just behind the Great Hall that the pages were in.
This flap in between the tapestries is the only direct route into the hall, so they could appear like magic when they were needed to serve the courtiers.
The hall that came next was a bit sad. This was the hall that Katherine Howard, after she’d been arrested and locked in her bedroom and escaped, came running down in a desperate attempt to see the King in the Great Hall. They grabbed her right at the very end and dragged her, kicking and screaming, back to her bedchamber. It’s supposed to be haunted by her, but she didn’t make an appearance while we were there.
Here’s the kitchens. These were very interesting. They had some beef roasting on a spit in front of the fire so of course I had to have a go. It would’ve been hot work. I stayed doing it for a few minutes just to see what it would’ve been like. Admittedly, I was only turning a couple of pieces of meat, not a whole cow or something!
Look at the size of the fireplace. The guide was saying that when the King was in residence they would’ve been catering for 600 or so people.
Here’s the thermomix of its day – the charcoal burner. Apparently it was even better than the stove tops we have today…
There are a few rooms remaining of the original section before stupid William and Mary pulled down the rest of the palace to modernise it. Here’s the Queen’s privy chamber.
Here’s an illicit snap of the roof of the King’s chapel. This was a beautiful place.
We had lunch in a café that was in what used to be Henry’s wardrobe.
Here’s a shot of the clock in Clock Court. This shot’s for Dad.
After lunch we looked at the more ‘modern’ part of the palace. I learned a fair bit about the Stuarts and the Georges that I didn’t know before and the rooms were more like you’d expect of royal spaces. I was rationing my photos by then as my phone battery was rapidly running out.
Look at these carvings. How incredible…
This was in William of Orange’s private bedchamber. After his wife Mary died, he had her favourite porcelain pieces assembled in his room.
Here’s his bed… his real bed, not the state bed. It was tiny.
After this we went outside, but my phone had given u the ghost.
What a day. We were there for 7 hours and we saw every inch. I slept well that night.