Bring History to Life by Visiting Hampton Court Palace

Mon 08 Nov 2021

Bring History to Life by Visiting Hampton Court Palace

One of the most exciting aspects of being an international student at a summer school in the UK is the abundance of wonderful historic places you get to visit during your stay. Your summer school program will feature an exciting itinerary of intriguing places to see and we would encourage you to make the most of your time here and soak up all the culture and history available to you.

Our St Mary’s illuminate Cambridge summer program is ideally located to explore some of these remarkable historic places. Escaping damage from the Second World War, Cambridge itself boasts a plethora of beautifully preserved buildings dating back to medieval times. Just by walking down the ancient cobbled streets of this charming city you can almost imagine what life must have been like here all those years ago. Cambridge University itself boasts worldwide prestige and it attracts thousands of applicants each year who hope to follow in the footsteps of some of the worlds’ greatest minds who have graduated from this esteemed university over the years.   Not only that but Cambridge is only a mere stone’s throw from Britain’s capital city, London, and no trip to England is complete without a tour of this world famous city and its most iconic sights from the imposing Houses of Parliament, to the iconic Big Ben, the splendid royal residence Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye just to name a few. 

London is home to a multitude of royal palaces and one such illustrious landmark is Hampton Court Palace on the north bank of the river Thames. With almost 600 years of royal past, it is filled with rich history, drama, ghost stories and fables from the magnificent to the gruesome. It is the oldest surviving medieval palace and it is the famous seat of Henry VIII and his many wives. Together with St James’ Palace, Hampton Court is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many that belonged to Henry VIII. Today the palace is in the possession of Queen Elizabeth II and the Crown and it is open to visitors.

This magnificent place boasts an astonishing 1390 rooms and its world-famous gardens include 60 acres of spectacular gardens and 750 acres of parkland. The Hampton Court Palace Maze is Britain’s oldest surviving maze and it is famed for confusing visitors with its many twists and turns and dead ends. Visitors can easily spend a day in this beautiful setting and still have more to see. The famous Tudor Kitchens and the Great Hall of Hampton Court are sure to enthral visitors and transport them back to a magnificent royal past.  This Palace had been the setting for many nationally important events and it was an example of opulence. King Henry VIII used it to demonstrate grandeur and power in every possible way from extravagant banquets to luxurious court life and priceless arts, all of which is still there to see.

A favoured residence to many royals, Queen Victoria opened Hampton Court Palace to the public in 1838, and it has remained a popular destination to millions of visitors over the years who are drawn to the splendour of this place. It was built as a palace to see and to be seen.


10 Fascinating Facts about Hampton Court Palace

1. A palace fit for a king

Originally conceived and built by Thomas Wolsey in 1514, who was the Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII, the end result was so successful and magnificent that the King eventually took Hampton Court for himself. It is one of the best surviving Tudor Palaces today.


2. Henry VIII’s many wives

Henry VIII’s impressive reputation precedes him in many things but none more so than his turbulent love life. His desperate quest for political stability and the continuation of the royal bloodline saw him marry six times but sadly with tragic endings and mostly at his command. Learn about the fate of the King’s six wives at Hampton Court Palace.


3. Ghostly going ons

Stories persist that two of Henry VIII’s wives still haunt the palace today: his beloved third wife Jane Seymour who died at childbirth and a ‘white wraith’ is said to appear on the anniversary of her death, and most famously his fifth wife Catherine Howard who was executed 1542.


4. Hampton Court was the place to be

During Henry VIII’s reign Hampton Court Palace was a truly splendid place. It served as a palace, a hotel, a theatre and an enormous leisure complex to the royals and the rich and famous of the time.


5. Open to the public

After Henry VIII’s death in 1547, Hampton Court Palace saw many royals take up residence there until the late 1700s. It was finally given up as a royal residence and the grounds were opened up for public viewing free of charge by order of Queen Victoria in the 1800s.


6. Shakespeare performed in the Great Hall

The Great Hall of Hampton Court Palace is not only known as England's greatest medieval hall, but it also became known as one of the country's most famous theaters, where in 1603 William Shakespeare’s ‘King’s Men’ first performed Hamlet and Macbeth for the new King James I.


7. Sit in the King’s Pew at The Chapel Royal

In use for more than 450 years, Hampton Court's Royal Chapel has an outstandingly vibrant history. One of its most famous artefacts is the historic Royal Pew, where it is believed that Henry famously sat to read the allegations of both marital and premarital indiscretions by Catherine Howard,  his young fifth wife.


8. Lose yourself in the maze

Hampton Court Maze is the oldest surviving hedge maze in Britain and this giant labyrinth was commissioned by King William III. It is a much loved attraction on the grounds of Hampton Court Palace and it has been confusing and intriguing visitors for many years with its deceptive twists and turns and notorious dead ends. It should typically take 20 minutes to reach the centre of the maze but it has waylaid many intrepid visitors over the years, much to their delight.


9. They cooked Up a storm

The Tudor Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace are a sight to behold. These vast medieval kitchens and cellars provide a true insight into the logistics of having to cater for and feed up to 800 courtiers at a time who were accompanying Henry VIII. Built in 1530, the kitchens were a central part of palace life, serving 1600 meals a day and employing hundreds of master chefs and kitchen staff.


10. World famous flower show

The courtyards and impeccable landscaping of Hampton Court Palace host the world's largest flower show here every year. In July Hampton Court Flower Show transforms this magnificent palace into a myriad of dazzling colours, scents and flower displays and it is an event not to be missed.


Embrace history and look to the future with illuminate Cambridge

At illuminate Cambridge summer school, our all-girl programme carefully curates academic lessons and activities that ignite curiosity, nurture development and prepare our students to pursue their aspirations with confidence and drive.

Devised by our Oxbridge-educated team, the illuminate summer school is a transformative British summer school experience, led by expert tutors skilled in motivating and inspiring students.

Beyond the classroom, learning will come to life through a series of carefully designed and selected educational and cultural trips. Our exclusive program offers the experience of a lifetime, and is limited to a maximum of 90 students each year to ensure that our students receive an unparalleled educational experience.

Join us at Illuminate summer program for a two-week academic and cultural program where we will explore history, politics, international relations and oracy while discovering Cambridge’s and its surrounding areas’ history and hidden treasures along the way.


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