52.8 F
HomeAttractionsFit for a King: 10 Interesting Facts and Figures about Hampton Court...

Fit for a King: 10 Interesting Facts and Figures about Hampton Court Palace

London Forecast

broken clouds
52.8 ° F
55 °
50.8 °
67 %
75 %
51 °
57 °
56 °
65 °
52 °
USD - United States Dollar

Free London Newsletter

Get the latest news on London's history, culture, travel, exhibitions, and more right in your inbox!

Popular London Tours


Enter to Win the Great London Lego Giveaway!

After the popularity of our tea giveaway earlier this...

London Histories: Your Complete Guide to Beatles London

The Beatles have lots of London connections, including where...

The Tube: 10 Interesting Facts about the Circle Line

The Circle Line is one of London’s oldest Tube...

Londinium: 10 Interesting Facts and Figures about Roman London

  Londinium was the Roman name given to the settlement...

Great London Buildings: The Barbican Estate

The Barbican, a sprawling architectural complex in London, stands...

Top 10 London: Top Ten Things to See in the Tate Modern Art Museum

Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, the Tate...

London Underground: Ten of the Best-Looking Tube Stations to Visit

In cities throughout the world, we use public transportation...


Hampton Court Palace was one of the many residences of King Henry VIII, though it was originally built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1514. However, Cardinal Wolsey’s failure to secure an annulment for Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon led to the English Reformation and Wolsey saw the writing on the wall. Before the king could take the palace, the Cardinal gave it to him as a gift. Both Henry and King William III would go on to expand the palace, with the latter doing his best to make it rival Versailles.

Only Two Left

Hampton Court Palace is one of only two of Henry VIII’s palaces that are intact today. While this fact is up for debate considering the many houses and castles owned or seized by Henry (though he didn’t live in many of the still-existing buildings), there were only two real “palaces” in which he lived. The other still-existing palace is St. James Palace, which is currently the senior palace of the Sovereign. As such, when ambassadors are admitted to the UK, they are admitted “to the Court of St. James”.

Lucky Place for a Wedding

Of Henry’s six wives, only one of them actually survived the marriage without execution, divorce, or death from other causes. This wife was Catherine Parr, whom Henry married at Hampton Court Palace in 1543.

A Modern Palace

Hampton Court was considered a modern palace when first constructed. It possessed a 36,000 square foot kitchen, a toilet area that could seat 30 people, bowling greens, and 60 acres of gardens that included tennis courts. The gardens also have the UK’s oldest surviving hedge maze, which was designed in 1700.


At its height, Hampton Court Palace employed some 600 people.

The Last Resident

The last person to ever live at Hampton Court Palace was King George II. When his son, George III, ascended the throne, he never set foot in the palace and it went unused until Queen Victoria opened it to the public in 1838. In 1952, it achieved the honour of statutory protection by becoming Grade I listed. This fact is interesting in light of how the HBO mini-series John Adams used the palace to film Adams’ reception by George III as America’s first ambassador to Britain.

King for a Day

During the 2012 Summer Olympics, Hampton Court Palace was a venue for the Road Cycling Time Trial. Several thrones were built for the athletes in medal positions.

All the Court’s a Stage

Or at least, the Great Hall was a stage. William Shakespeare and his company, the King’s Men, performed several of their plays for King James I. In late 1603 and early 1604, the company was brought to the palace and housed there for three weeks to provide entertainment for the Christmas celebrations.

Keeping Time

Hampton Court Palace installed a magnificent astronomical clock on the tower of the gatehouse facing the inner court in 1540. It was designed by Nicolas Cratzer and made by Nicholas Oursian. The clock is 15 feet tall and has three separate copper dials that can tell you the hour, the day of the month, and the position of the Sun relative to the Earth, as well as the phases of the moon, the age of the moon in days, and when the moon crosses the meridian, thus allowing one to predict when the Thames will be at high tide.

Cost of Renovations

Much of the first phase of renovations took place when Henry came into possession of the palace. The total cost to him at the time was £18 million (or £30 million in 2010 currency).

A Holy Place?

The Chapel Royal at the palace was where Archbishop Cranmer handed Henry the list of accusations against his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Unlike accusations against other of Henry’s wives, Catherine’s indiscretions had some real weight to them, with her already having to pay people for their silence. Needless to say, Henry didn’t take it well, had her imprisoned in the Tower of London, and then executed her on 13 February 1542.

The King’s Beasts

The ten animal statues on the bridge leading to the great gatehouse are heraldic symbols that represent the ancestry of Henry and his third wife, Jane Seymour. These animals include: the lion of England, the Seymour Lion, the Royal dragon, the black bull of Clarence, the mythical tale of Beaufort, the white lion of Mortimer, the white greyhound of Richmond, the Tudor dragon, the Seymour panther, and the Seymour unicorn.

John Rabon
Author: John Rabon

John is a regular writer for Anglotopia and its sister websites. He is currently engaged in finding a way to move books slightly to the left without the embarrassment of being walked in on by Eddie Izzard. For any comments, questions, or complaints, please contact the Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson's haircut.

Free London Newsletter

Get the latest news on London's history, culture, travel, exhibitions, and more right in your inbox!

Book London Tours Now!


  1. They are admitted to the Court of St James’s, at St James’s Palace. The possessive is pronounced as an extra syllable.

  2. The remarkable history of this palace alone is worth the trip. The unique architecture and gardens are the cherries on top! Worth every moment you spend there…

  3. Been there 2 x’s, I recall the guide telling our group that outside of the continent, the tennis court is one of the oldest tennis courts (indoors -at that). Facination place.

  4. I’m not here to criticize, I’m here to tell you this was a fantastic article, and I love hearing from you about history!!!???

  5. King George III was the grandson of King George II, not his son. Frederick, Prince of Wales, was the eldest son of King George II, and the father of King George III, but Frederick’s death in 1751 left the door open for his son to succeed, which happened when King George II died in 1760.

Comments are closed.