Allison, a senior double major in CCPA and Economics, is interning with the Kenya-based NGO The Greenbelt Movement in London:
Throughout the past five weeks, we have traveled to Leeds, experienced the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels, visited the National Portrait Gallery, and Portobello Market – but nothing I have done in London compares to Hampton Court, the Royal Palace of Henry VIII.
Recently with the release of The Other Boleyn Girl, the popularity of the Tudor Monarchy has increased significantly. I’ll admit I became interested in the Monarchy after watching “the Tudors,” but even with all of my interest, research, and reading over his historic reign, nothing prepared me for the insight I gained into the rich history of Henry VIII, like the day spent in his palace. It’s probably not the most visited palace, or high on many travel itineraries, but I will tell you, this historic sight should not be missed.
Walking through the Tudor kitchens we learned the dedication and preparation it took to prepare for a King and his Court, as well all the meticulous details put into every meal to make it impressive and memorable. During his reign, the Court ate over 75 percent meat, and staff at Hampton Court could feed up to 1300 people in one day.
Each of his six wives – Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr – all visited Hampton Court, and were given lavish rooms decorated to their individual taste. When we visited, costumes from The Other Boleyn Girl had been donated for public viewing in the Queen’s Apartment. It was amazing to see the detail, embellishment and precision put into each costume, creating authenticity and believability that the items were meant for a King and his ladies.
I haven’t even mentioned the gardens. Overlooking the Thames, gates covered in gold and protective lion statues stood over 10 feet high, inclosing one of the most beautiful and well-kept gardens I’ve ever seen. Imported flowers in every shade of pink, purple, orange, yellow, and red covered intricate designs created for royalty. No detail was spared, no aspect forgotten.
This wonderful day was completed with an ice cream cone, strolling across the Thames on our way toward the train station. Forty minutes from our London dorm rooms, in one of Britain’s most sophisticated and renowned palaces, rests a gateway into the interesting life of a great king, who beyond his many marriages, had a pivotal and lasting impact on British history, Henry VIII. If you find yourself itching to get out of the city, stop by Hampton Court and relive some of the moments of this famous monarch.