Monday, August 7, 2017

Travelogue London (Part 3) Hampton Court Palace with cousins

Hampton Court Palace in the rain.  It's still really beautiful


This post is part of the travelogue of our London Trip 2017.
If you'd like to read the posts in chronological order they are below.

Part 1:Travelogue London: Arrival
Part 2: Travelogue London: The Tower of London/Golden Hind/Play That Goes Wrong
Part 3: Travelogue London: Hampton Court Palace
Part 4: Travelogue London:  Buckingham, Hamley's, Posh Tea, and an Old Enemy
Part 5: Travelogue London: The Making of Harry Potter (coming soon)
Part 6: Travelogue London: 48 hours of very hard travel by train.

The coat of arms of Henry VIII (I think)

On Thursday, despite a late night the night before, we got up pretty early in the morning.  We took the Tube to Waterloo, and then took a commuter train to Hampton Court.  We popped out of the station and met up there with my wife's British cousins.  The mom of the family is about my wife's age, and when they were younger they were penpals!

 They brought two of their 4 kids with them (one lives in Israel, and one is married, the other two that came with were 13 and 8).  The 8-year old (a girl) was only 2 months younger than my son.  The older son 13, is a brilliant track and field athlete and a really nice guy. He was also really good with my son.

It's always great when cousins get together and they like each other.  (It's also nice when you meet members of your wife's family that you like!  Which fortunately for me, has been everyone of Stephanie's family members.  Really!)   In this case, although they'd never met, they got on at once as if they were old friends.  And then it turned out they had lots of similarities, including a love of Disney World, hypermobility, and a love of reading.  So it worked out great!) Especially since we were spending the whole day with them!

They were big fans of Hampton Court Palace, and it's a good thing, because their tour of this historic site was much better than an audio guide or even an impersonal tour guide.

One of the many marble frieses.  I believe this was Henry's coat of arms . (God on my Right)
The bookstore had lots of good historical
books for kids. BUY ON AMAZON.
For those that don't know, Hampton Court Palace was built in the early 1500's by Cardinal Wollesley, who fell out of favor soon after it was built with Henry VIII.  Henry was given the palace by the Cardinal, and then the Cardinal died two years later.  The palace was one of 60 houses that the king owned, but it was one of the few that could hold his entire retinue of 700 people.  (At the time, the King needed to travel all over England, staying in a place only a few days, shoring up his support, and then moving on.)

The palace was later held by other monarchs and was used as a royal residence for over 200 years, being expanded and expanded upon, especially by William and Mary.  King George I and George II were the last monarchs to reside in the palace, in the mid-1700's.   In 1838, Queen Victoria opened the house to the public as a museum, and it has been a museum ever since.

During the 20nth century It had been used as private residences for British nobility (in which the queen allowed people to live there in return for their service to the crown) until the early 1990's when an elderly resident set the place on fire.  Now, no one lives in Hampton Court, except for the many tour guides and docents.  (And many many ghosts, if the rumors are to be believed)

One of the many formal gardens at Hampton Court Palace
The grounds are absolutely enormous, and feature room after room, sumptuously done and beautifully decorated.  There is also a tennis court, commissioned by Henry VIII himself, amazing and sumptuous gardens, a very famous hedge maze, and a wonderful playground for children.

The Hedge Maze at Hampton Court is one of the most famous Mazes in the world.
(photo courtesy of Hampton Court Palace)

There was a very interesting play featuring Henry VIII, the Cardinal, and Ann Boleyn about the creation of the palace, and also the founding of the Anglican church.  The actors were wonderful, and the play split up at one point so that different groups followed different actors around.  Once again, if I had been on my own, I would have followed the players all around, but we were with the group of us, and so I acquiesced.

We spent the day going from one sumptuous room to another, having a picnic outdoors (even though there was a little rain), getting lost in a hedge maze, and then ending the day on the playground around 3 pm.    I especially liked the kitchens, which were enormous and were actually cooking meat in one of the giant fireplaces.  There was also a special chocolate kitchen, the king's privy chambers, an absolutely beautiful chapel, and lots more.  Over all, we spent about 3.5 hours there before we had to take the train back, and we didn't see everything.  I'd happily return another time.

Find out more about Hampton Court Palace on

Henry VIII even has his own beer for sale available in the gift shop.  It looked good, but I didn't try it.

I admit I bear a resemblance to the king.
We left the palace and reversed our trail back to our hotel, (although there was some train fu, as a number of trains didn't come the way we thought they'd come. We had a half an hour rest, and then took the train out towards Golders Green, where my wife had even more cousins.  They had organized a dinner in our honor, and it was quite fun to attend and meet even more of her cousins, as well as the cousins we'd spent the day with.  They were all very nice, and treated us like royalty!  (In fact, the guy who hosted the party kept on insisting that I look like Henry VIII.  Which come to think of it, might not be a compliment.  Never mind!)  :O)

 A few of the cousins weren't able to make it, but it turned out we got to see them in Barcelona.  But that's a different story!

We took one of the last train's back to our hotel and got ready for our next day of adventures.

My son and his cousin feast at the table of Henry VIII.
It was a day of a lot of walking and museums, and AA did great.

I think it was good that he got to spend some time with kids, because that's been kind of lacking in our European adventure so far.

And that they were cousins that he liked-- well, that made a big difference.

My wife was over the moon that she got to see these cousins who she only sees once every 15 years or so.

Hopefully we will see them sooner than that the next time!