Today we visited one of my favorite places near London, Hampton Court. The train ride from Waterloo is easy and quick. We first toured the Tudor palace and even got to see Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn. I was very impressed by all the interactive displays that were installed in this part of the castle. I think it brings history to life and makes it fun for every one. There were several school tours, as well as older couples.
One of the favorite parts of the Tudor castle is the kitchens. It shows how much food was required at court, what they ate and how they prepared it. We always eat here too at the Privy Kitchen, Elizabeth’s I private kitchen. We always seem to have soup and a big cookie. I love the ambiance, it feels like you are eating in a dungeon.
Then we travel through time and visit William III’s apartments. William and Mary wanted to tear down this palace but thankfully added their own wing. It’s from a much later time and the furnishings, decorations and needs were different. One of the things that always impresses me is the rooms decorated with weapons. What a clever way to use things that are utilitarian.
However, the best part of Hampton Court is the gardens. They are so beautiful, not nearly as big as Versailles but just as inspiring. It always amazes me to see how big and beautiful the flowers are even though it’s only May. We don’t get flowers like these in Northern Illinois. The park has a lot of wild life. We saw dozens of deer and lots of cute swans.
Don’t forget to get lost in the maze and to see the world’s oldest grape vine and tennis court. It makes for a great day out.
On the way back we stopped in Wimbledon. Beware that the train ticket from Hampton Court does not allow you to stop in Wimbledon even though the ticket agent told us it did. This was my first trip without a guide book so I have to admit that I got a little lost getting to the Tennis Center. We went to the Wimbledon Stadium instead. It’s where they hold greyhound races. Not very exciting. Because we were late getting there we didn’t get to tour Wimbledon (it’s very expensive too) but the guards let us take some pictures.
In the evening we missed a bus so we barely made it to our show, War Horse. I’m so glad we didn’t miss it because it was fantastic. It’s the story of a horse used during WWI and his relationship with his young owner. The horses are huge puppets and they come to life. It was a great play and I would highly recommend it to anyone going to London. Just remember to order your tickets several months in advance.