Hampton Court Palace - A Visitors Logistical Briefing
Planning an independent visit to Hampton Court including public transport
|Hampton Court Palace|
Hampton Court Official Web Site
For almost 200 years, Hampton Court Palace was at the centre of English court life, politics and national history. Its most infamous resident was Henry VIII.
Today Hampton Court is an easy day trip for all visitors to London.
There are many books and reference articles about Hampton Court and its history. We do not try and reproduce in any detail here. The official Hampton Court web site, (link at top of the page) is a good starting place for accurate material.
|Tower of London|
Hampton Court - Historical Overview
Hampton Court is a story of two palaces: a Tudor palace, magnificently developed by Cardinal Wolsey and later Henry VIII, alongside a baroque palace built by William III and Mary II.
The original palace was built 15151521 by Cardinal Wolsey who spent lavishly to build the finest palace in England at Hampton Court. He was later forced to give the palace to Henry VIII as he began to fall from favour.
Henry added the Great Hall which was the last medieval Great Hall built for the English monarchy and the Royal Tennis Court, which was built and is still in use for the game of real tennis today. Not the present-day version of the game. This court is now the oldest Real Tennis Court in the world that is still in use.
During the reign of William and Mary, parts of Henry's additions were demolished. A new wing was added (partly under the supervision of Sir Christopher Wren), and the state apartments came into regular use. Half the Tudor palace was replaced in a project that lasted from 16891694.
From the reign of George III in 1760, monarchs tended to favour other London homes, and Hampton Court ceased to be a royal residence.
Visiting Hampton Court - What's There
|Tudor Kitchens at Hampton Court|
Hampton Court is one of those places where you can spend a couple of hours or a day.
The Palace itself is split into three major sections broadly corresponding to phases in its development. .
The most popular is the Tudor section with Tudor kitchens and great Hall. The driest is probably the Georgian section.
For each section there is a complementary audio guide.
Throughout the day there are interesting demonstrations to supplement the audio tours along the routes.
So its a bit like scheduling your visit to a zoo so you see the various feeding times. Demonstrations are on things like musical instruments in Tudor times, the life of a maid or expert talks on some of the paintings.
There are also costumed characters that do scheduled talks in the grounds. These are relatively lightweight but are good for kids.
To 'do' the whole Palace will take you half a day.
Besides the core Hampton Court Palace there is much else that might divert you.
For kids and those young at heart there is the famous Hampton Court Maze. There are extensive landscaped gardens and often horse and buggy rides available if it takes your fancy too. Of course there are also restaurants and gift shops too.
Hampton Court - Ticketing
Advance Purchase Skip The Line Tickets
|Hampton Court Tickets|
There are a number of ticketing options apart from paying at the ticket desks on the day. These include skip the line advanced tickets, entrance as part of a sightseeing pass or a combo ticket with other royal palaces and castles in and around London.
By purchasing your ticket ahead of time you'll jump the queue avoiding waiting in any lines for tickets.
Hampton Court is also a participant of the London Pass. The London Pass is a convenient way of planning ahead and budgeting for your visit to London.
The London Pass is a flat rate sightseeing pass to many (but not all) of London's main attractions. You can buy a London pass for 1,2,3 or 6 day durations.
Railways 2 for 1 Promotion
Hampton Court is also a participant of the railways 2 for 1 promotion. If you have a return rail ticket or a Travelcard issued by the railways that allows two people entrance to Hampton Court for the price of one adult when you print a special Hampton Court voucher from the promotion web site..
Royal Palaces Pass (Tower of London, Hampton Court & Kensington Palace)
Book in advance and jump the queue at the Tower of London, Hampton Court and Kensington Palace.
Your pass is valid for 2 years from the date of exchanging your voucher
Hampton Court Palace By Train From London (Fastest Option)
The most direct option to Hampton Court is by rail from London's Waterloo Station. A commuter service makes many stops before finally terminating at Hampton Court Station - the end of the line.
From Hampton Court Station you then simply have to cross the River Thames by Hampton Court Bridge and you're there. Trains run generally every 30 minutes.
Hampton Court Palace By River
The nicest way to visit Hampton Court perhaps, is the same way the Tudor kings used to travel to Hampton Court, along the River Thames by river launch. As the river services make several stops along the way with connections back into Central London, you can choose how long you want on the river.
Westminster-Kew-Hampton Court- Richmond-Hampton Court
From April to October there are at least two services a day for the three to three and a half hour trip out to Hampton Court from Westminster. The service stops at many stops including Kew Gardens, Richmond and Kingston (the later are major suburban shopping centres).
There is not enough time to go both ways on the river service and have a meaningful visit to Hampton Court. If you require a full day at Hampton Court Palace its probably best to get the London Underground out to Richmond then catch additional services that run for the one hour trip onto Hampton Court.
If you have a Travelcard you can get a 33% discount on scheduled boats to Hampton Court.
For more details of London's river services visit our London River Service page.
Visiting Hampton Court & Windsor In One Day
Although it is possible to visit both Hampton Court Palace and Windsor Castle in one day by public transport, (at least during the summer months it is) we would not recommend it. It is very tight for time and you will always have one eye on the clock. If you do try and do this, because of opening times its best to visit Windsor first with its earlier opening and closing times.
From both Hampton Court and Windsor (Riverside) the trains run to London Waterloo. They meet at Clapham Junction. Both services run about every 30 minutes. Allowing 15 minutes for the interchange at Clapham Junction the journey should take less than 90 minutes. There is a faster train service that connects London Paddington to Windsor Central via Slough. Windsor Central is opposite Windsor Castle.