Our visit to Hampton Court and Kew Gardens was intended to be leisurely and with a day allocated to each palace, we stopped at nearby Kingston upon Thames for two nights at the Antoinette Hotel.
The choice of hotel was good. Included in their special offer was a huge room with balcony, three course evening meal, full English breakfast and boat tickets and entrance to Hampton Court. For two people staying two nights the cost was £180.
Leaving the hotel in the morning we took a walk along the Thames to our pick up point and boarded on of the Turk Launches which would take us to Hampton Court.
This year, 2009, marks 500 years since Henry VIII's accesion to the throne. Visiting Hampton Court tells you a lot about the King, his wives and his association with Hampton Court.
Surprisingly this grand palace has not been occupied by the Royal Family since the 18th centry. It has however been a favourite residence of more than one of our great monarchs.
Hampton Court was never originally intended to be a palace. It was the home of Cardinal Wolsey who was favoured by the king before his fall from grace. Once it had been passed to the King, this grand residence was further expanded and enlarged.
The photo above shows Anne Boleyn's Gate with its Tudor gatehouse and astrological clock which was made for Henry VIII in 1540
William III provided further expansion which brought a baroque architectural style to the existing tudor buildings. These two distinctive styles actually blend well and compliment each other.
Hampton Court is one of the great British buildings and a major tourist attraction. Visitors will be impressed with its majestic history and beautiful gardens as well as the luxurious interior of the palace.
The King's Guard Chamber walls contain muskets, swords and daggers, displayed in decorative patterns. A video illustrates how these are painstakingly looked after and maintained in mint condition.
Set a day aside to truly explore this magnificent building and its gardens. There is plenty to do and see. Visitors can pick up a guided audio tour and lose themselves in the history of some of the great Kings and Queens of Britain in this nostalgic and historic palace.
Click here for photos of Kingston upon Thames, Hampton Court and Kew Gardens
Click here for photos of Central London
Further information can be found at: www.hrp.org.uk
Tel: 0844 567 8955
Town End Pier
68 High Street
Kingston upon Thames
Surrey KT1 1HN
Tel: 020 8546 2434
Hampton Court Palace
Surrey KT8 9AU
Tel: 0844 482 7777