Icicles from Hampton Court

The cold of December is a lot stiffer in areas such a historical palaces. Hampton Court, situated in London, was a royal palace built by Cardinal Wolsey between 1515 and 1530. King Henry VIII took up Hampton Court as his own home and began making it bigger, although at first it was not meant to be a palace. Hampton Court Palace has not been lived in by the British Royal Family since the 18th Century; however, it is one of the few surviving palaces out of the many owned by the infamous King Henry VIII.

Having finally toured Hampton Court Palace in this year’s December, it is inarguable that the grandiosity of this palace is present even today. Nevertheless, it was absolutely freezing, yet that was inevitable as this was a palace of the 1500s, when modern heating systems did not exist.

The palace was beyond huge, with extensive gardens and rooms running through each other. I was particularly fascinated by the halls which often had religious carvings of wood or gold presentations. The dining hall was also impressive, with tall walls and lengthy dining tables. The ceiling was something that attracted my attention because it had built in heads popping out to symbolize how dangerous it was to speak badly of the king during the Tudor era.

Personally, I’ve never found history always interesting, and the only topics that I have, indeed, found interesting, were not present in abundant numbers. However, it is reasonably significant that I found this tour of Hampton Court fascinating. 

The weather, as expected to English yearly climate, was gloomy. It was cloudy, and although it did not rain, it was extremely cold and foggy. As a result, the inside of the palace, such as the kitchen on the bottom floor, were twice as cold. It is shocking to see how the residents of the palace had to survive through this cold in the Tudor era. It is very difficult to imagine just how life was then when the times have evolved and changed so drastically. It is notable that they had fireplaces, yet there is only so much heat a fireplace can spread.

Now, as mentioned before, Hampton Court Palace was one of the many residences of King Henry VIII, who, as we all know, was exceptionally greedy and mistrusting. However, the palace was originally built for, and by, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1514. When Cardinal Wolsey failed to secure an annulment for Henry’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon (his first wife), as Henry VIII had ordered, this led to the English Reformation. This, consequently, led to Wolsey’s fall.

Funnily enough, I am very much aware that that paragraph may have not made much sense to you unless you study history like I do. So, in other words, the palace was built for someone who ended up failing to complete one of the king’s biggest askings, which subsequently led to his fall. In the end, the palace was taken over by the king himself, who changed a lot of parts from it yet kept others. He also extended the groups of the court.

You may have furthermore noticed that I mentioned how infamous Henry VIII was, and perhaps you do not understand why I have described him hence (most probable because you do not study history). Henry VIII is described as a greedy man, who gained weight over the years. He can also be described as incompetent. He is most famously known for having six wives.

All in all, despite the iciness of the tour and palace itself, it was beyond interesting to see just how difficult—I would put it—living in the Tudor era was (and I’m not just saying this because it was freezing). I cannot say that I would have liked to live in this time, to be honest, because it sure did seem like an awfully dangerous time to be alive in all the complications that existed.

Another way to view it would be in the way that this palace demonstrates the impact of the Reformation and how it led to massive evolvement. So many things and hobbies have changed since then, and we look back on the old actions and barely recognize them nowadays. I call that a success of the Tudor era: it expressed ideas of the future and how some points of that world should be changed into the better. 

Article by Bianca Lazar

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