- Beautiful decorations and gardens at Hampton Court Palace
- Beautiful gardens at St. Dunstan-in-the-East
- Beautiful carriages at the Royal Mews
- Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!
All the Details:
Hampton Court Palace
Saturday morning, I took a completely empty tube to Waterloo train station before catching a train to Hampton Court Palace. The former home to many kings and queens of England, has many exhibits and sprawling gardens for visitors to explore. I began my tour by entering the gate and heading to the center of the palace courtyards, or Base Court. Each tour then takes you through a different route of the castle. I admired the Great Hall, kitchens, and apartments of Henry VIII, as well as an exhibit of the monarch’s younger years. The rooms were beautifully and lavishly decorated, capturing the overindulgence that most people associate with Henry’s reign. “Young Henry VIII’s Story” did a wonderful job of communicating the difficulties that Henry faced as a child and new king. It was extremely interesting to look at his life before his infamous six marriages.
Next, I explored William III’s Apartments and the Georgian Story. The former, began with a beautifully painted staircase that courtiers would have ascended to be presented to the king and travelled through ceremonial spaces and private rooms. The rooms emphasized the great spectacle that was made of monarchs in the late 1600s by showing how spaces we see as private now, such as a bedroom, were actually places where nobles had access to the king. The Georgian Story was filled with intricate white paper costumes, used to show how courtiers would have dressed in the early 1700s. After exploring the courtyards and kitchens, I also took a walk through parts of the gardens. These are the types of gardens that cover huge expanses around the palace and would take hours to explore properly. Unfortunately, I didn’t have hours before my train, so I looked at everything I could before heading back to the station. The Rose Garden was by far my favorite, filled with huge rose bushes situated around statues. Since Hampton Court was a place that I had learned about in both European History in high school and Early Modern England during study abroad at BISC, I was extremely excited to be able to finally visit it myself. The audio guide provided excellent information and both the indoor and outdoor displays were fabulous!
|A dress made of folded paper|
The next day Melody and I went to check out a church called St. Dunstan-in-the-East. This church is unique because it no longer functions as a church, but as a public garden space. The church dates back to 1100 and has experienced many repairs and patchwork over the years. After severe damage during the Blitz in 1941 it was decided that the church would not be repaired. Instead, in 1967 the City of London converted the space into the public garden seen today. The rough, cold stone against the crawling, green foliage make this garden a special kind of hauntingly beautiful. We walked around admiring the gardens and taking pictures, having a wonderful time!
|The old wall of the church surrounded by the garden|
Buckingham Palace Royal Mews & Queen’s Gallery
After visiting St. Dunstan’s, we headed over to Buckingham Palace. Although, the palace itself is not currently open for tours there are two attractions worth seeing. We explored two art exhibits in the Queen’s Gallery; one honoring Scottish artists and one featuring the work of Maria Merian. We saw many parallels between Maria Merian and Beatrix Potter, who both studied natural science as well as art. Then we headed over to the Royal Mews, which hold the horses, carriages, and vehicles used by the Royal Family. The horses had just been fed, so they were not very social, but we did get a chance to admire the beautiful carriages they are trained to pull. The carriages are covered with jewels, gold, carvings, and symbolism. The most recent one even has air conditioning! It was fun to look at all the beautiful creations that are used for transportation around London!
|The Diamond Jubilee State Coach|