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Hampton Court Palace - a visitor's guide

Planning an independent visit to Hampton Court including public transport

Hampton Court Palace - a visitor's guide
Hampton Court Palace

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. I do not try and reproduce in any detail here. The official Hampton Court website, (link underneath) is a good starting place for accurate material.

Hampton Court Palace official website

History of Hampton Court   What you'll see   Opening times & location   Tickets   Attraction passes & combo tours   Hampton Court & Windsor Castle Shuttle  

Hampton Court - the history

Tudor and Baroque periods

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.

Cardinal Wolsey

The original palace was built 1515-1521 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.

The Great Hall

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.

William and Mary

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 1689-1694.

George III

From the reign of George III in 1760, monarchs tended to favour other London homes, and Hampton Court ceased to be a royal residence.

Hampton Court Palace tickets

HAMPTON COURT PALACE, MAZE & GARDENS TICKETS

Hampton Court Palace

Book in advance to save money on tickets

• Visit the palace, maze & gardens • UK's oldest surviving hedge maze • Great Hall • Haunted Gallery • Tudor Kitchens • World-renowned beautiful gardens

Visiting Hampton Court - what is there to see?

Buckingham Palace from St. James' Park
Henry VIII's place: Hampton Court Palace

Three sections to the palace

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.

Tudor house

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.

Demonstrations

Throughout the day there are interesting demonstrations to supplement the audio tours along the routes. So it's 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.

Talks in the grounds

There are also costumed characters that do scheduled talks in the grounds. These are relatively lightweight but are good for kids.

How long will I spend at Hampton Court Palace?

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.

Hampton Court Maze

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: opening times and location

Hampton Court Palace gardens
Hampton Court Palace gardens
Hampton Court Palace courtyard
Hampton Court Palace courtyard

Opening times

End March to early November - 10am - 6pm.

Early November to late March - 10am - 4.30pm.

Hampton Court Palace is open every day of the year except 24th to 26th December.

Last admittance is one hour before closing.

Location

Hampton Court is located to the south-west of Central London by the River Thames. Hampton Court is within the public transport system of London (zone 6). The simplest and fastest route for visitors is by train (see below) from London's Waterloo Station but there are also river options between April and October.

Nearest Station

Hampton Court Station is on the opposite side of the River Thames from Hampton Court Palace and connected by Hampton Court Bridge. It's a 35 minute train journey from London's Waterloo Station (next to the London Eye) and you can also pick up the trains at Wimbledon Station (District Line of the Underground). You can use London Travelcards and Oyster Cards on the train.

River Services

In the summer months (April to October) there are river services. The most frequent service is by Turks boats (see their web site for times), between Richmond and Hampton Court, a journey of around 1 hour 45 minutes. Richmond Underground Station (District Line) is a 5-10 minute walk from the Richmond Pier.

There is also a service from Westminster Pier (adjacent to Big Ben) for a three to three and a half hour trip out to Hampton Court stopping at many stops including Kew Gardens, Richmond and Kingston. Nowadays this service is down to a single schedule in each direction, (you could not squeeze a visit to Hampton Court between the schedules).

Windsor Castle - Hampton Court Shuttle

A Windsor - Hampton Court shuttle has been introduced connecting Hampton Court with Windsor Castle, further details further down the page.

 

Hampton Court - tickets

Hampton Court Palace lake
Hampton Court Palace lake

Hampton Court has a straight forward ticketing system with concessions for children but not seniors and there are family tickets too.

Your ticket includes access to the palace, maze and gardens, plus a multi- language audio guide, costumed guided tours, children's activity trails, entry to the Cumberland Art Gallery, Magic Garden, the Young Henry VIII exhibition and much more!

Tickets purchased on-line in advance are cheaper than purchasing on the day at Hampton Court. Tickets from discounters like Discount London (banner link below) are normally cheaper than buying from the Hampton Court official website, (link at the top of the page).

However, in the winter months Hampton Court often run offers where if you purchase tickets directly through their website, they can be up to half the price of summer ticket prices. These offers normally only apply to around the second week in February, so do check the official price for more details.

Entrance queues at Hampton Court are not really an issue, just buying a standard ticket on-line in advance will skip any queue waiting to buy tickets from the ticket desk.

Hampton Court Palace tickets

HAMPTON COURT PALACE, MAZE & GARDENS TICKETS

Hampton Court Palace

Book in advance to save money on tickets

• Visit the palace, maze & gardens • UK's oldest surviving hedge maze • Great Hall • Haunted Gallery • Tudor Kitchens • World-renowned beautiful gardens

Royal Palaces in London

Other royal palaces and castles in and around London include:

Tower of London: Founded by William the Conqueror in 1066-7 and enlarged and modified by successive sovereigns, today the Tower of London is one of the world's most famous and spectacular fortresses. In its time it has been a royal palace, a fortress, a prison, an armoury, a treasury and an astronomical observatory. The Tower of London now displays the Crown Jewels.

Kensington Palace: A rich royal history. Kensington Palace can boast of being the birth place of Queen Victoria and the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, not to mention being the home of a host of Georgian monarchs and royalty including Princess Diana who have all left their mark on this impressive Palace. Explore the vast state apartments which contain an array of beautiful paintings and sculptures.

Windsor Castle:: Windsor Castle is one of three official residences of The Queen and has been home to the Sovereign for over 900 years. The Queen would call Windsor Castle her home.

The Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world and the oldest in continuous occupation. The imposing towers and battlements of the Castle loom large from every approach to the town, creating one of the world's most spectacular skylines.

Buckingham Palace: has served as the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837. Today it is the administrative headquarters of the Queen and is the main venue for the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

Three Palace Royal Pass tickets

THE THREE PALACE ROYAL PASS TICKETS

Three Palace Royal Pass tickets

Save money when you visit three of Britain's historical palaces

• Visit The Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace • Valid for 2 years from date of issue • One visit per valid palace

Hampton Court & London's Attraction Passes

Railways 2 for 1 Promotion - The railways 2 for 1 entrance promotion is valid at Hampton Court with the printed voucher and a qualifying railway ticket.

The London Pass - Hampton Court is supported by London's most popular attraction pass, for full details follow the banner link below,

The London Pass

SAVE MONEY ON LONDON SIGHTSEEING WITH THE LONDON PASS

The Londpon Pass

The more you visit, the more you save

• Access 80+ London attractions including the Tower of London, a hop-on, hop off bus tour, Thames river boat cruise, Tower Bridge, Wesminster Abbey, London Zoo, View from the Shard and many more...
• 1, 2, 3, 6 and 10 day passes available.

Hampton Court & Windsor Castle Shuttle

Hampton Court & Windsor Castle are only 19 miles (30 km) apart but there is no convenient public transport option connecting them.

Both Windsor Castle and Hampton Court have train links from Central London and a shuttle service has started connecting both together allowing you to spend half a day at each.

Windsor Castle

SHUTTLE BUS BETWEEN WINDSOR CASTLE & HAMPTON COURT PALACE

Windsor Castle & Hampton Court

Enjoy both in one day by taking a shuttle between two attractions!

• Lunch time shuttle bus between Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace • Approx 35-min journey each way • Excellent value for money at

£10.18pp each way

• Available March - October

POPULAR LONDON ATTRACTIONS - ADVANCE PURCHASE AND/OR FAST TRACK TICKETS

London Eye Amazing panoramic flight on the world's highest observation wheel. » Fast track tickets available.
The Shard Tallest building in Western Europe with viewing of London from the top.
St Paul's Cathedral Cathedral of the Diocese of London, venue for royal weddings. » Fast track tickets available.
Westminster Abbey Along with St Paul's, England's main religious building. » Fast track tickets available.
Tower of London Home of the Crown Jewels and a rich thousand year history. » Fast track tickets available.
Madame Tussauds See wax statues of the most famous people in the world. » Fast track tickets available.
London Dungeon The creepiest attraction in town, the London Dungeon. » Fast track tickets available.
Hampton Court Palace   Henry VIII Medieval Palace set in vast grounds.
The London Zoo World class zoo in the centre of London. » Fast track tickets available.
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