Yesterday we took our friend Margery for a day out to Hampton Court Palace. The trip was in honor of her 90th birthday last month. She is a very spry little lady for 90 and we had a great time.
Hampton Court Palace was the favourite of King Henry VIII (the one with all the wives). It was large enough to accomodate the 1000 people who made up his court. It has an interesting history, being built by Cardinal Wolsey who had to give it to the king (because he wasn’t bright enough to figure out before hand that the king wouldn’t like a subject having the best house in the land).
On a tip from Wendy we got there right at 10am as they opened up. We had the place to ourselves for the first hour and a half – which was wonderful to enjoy many of the large rooms as the only visitors. It never did get crowded – making it a pleasant place to visit overall. One of the advantages of taking your elderly friends with you is you get to take the lift! HCP is organized so that you tour the various sets of apartments – which requires going between the ground and 1st floors many times, but if they think you might need some assistance they will take you up in the lift and let you in between the various apartments – meaning you tour everything on the 1st floor in one trip.
There is a lot to take in – we tended to focus on the tapestries. There are quite a few, including 12 that tell stories of Abraham which were woven in the 1500’s. One of these is currently displayed separate from the others, with a special light display that illuminates the tapestry with the colors as it would have looked when it was new. The tapestries are amazing for the amount of work that went into them, and when they were brightly colored they must have been a truly fabulous sight.
Margery was also very interested in the Delft pottery, and the docents would often overhear her questions and pipe in with interesting facts. They have a collection of 7 floor standing vases, pagoda looking things with individual spouts to hold the flowers. Apparently these vases were valued at £10mil for the set – so they don’t put flowers in them anymore. As we were waiting for the lift downstairs another docent told us that the top was knocked off one by a conservator hanging a canopy. Oops. The docent said the staff do more damage to the place than the public…
After lunch we went to see the famous Hampton Court maze (planted about 1690) and decided to try it. Steve found it to be an excellent maze as the hedges were actually tall enough to block his view.
The presentations throughout the palace are focused on Henry VIII and his life. They had a costumed Henry VIII roaming around the palace. Margery had to go see. At first Margery was too shy to get her photo taken, but then she decided she did want it – and I think it is a fabulous shot.
We had a very pleasant morning out, but after about 4 hours I was exhausted. Thanks for coming out with us Margery, and letting us help celebrate your 90th birthday!