Steeped in history, Britain’s palaces have been the backdrop to royal births, marriages and even murders. Here we round up 10 of the most remarkable...
Hampton Court Palace, SurreyHenry VIII was a keen builder and of all his 60 houses, Hampton Court was arguably the most significant. From 1528 he undertook major building works to redesign and expand the palace [which had originally been built by Cardinal Wolsey], modernising it for royal entertaining. He introduced tennis courts, pleasure gardens, a bowling alley and a hunting park of more than 1,100 acres.
Henry also made the palace more suitable for feasts, banquets and masques, with 36,000 square feet of kitchens, a vast great hall [later performed in by Shakespeare in the reign of James I], pipes with flowing water and a ‘garderobe’ [bathroom], which could accommodate 28 people at a time.
Henry is famous for having had six wives, all of whom visited Hampton Court. As the king’s favourite residence, the palace witnessed the ups and downs of his tempestuous marital life. When attempting to get an annulment from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to marry Anne Boleyn, he sent the first letter threatening a break with Rome from Hampton Court. In 1537 his third wife, Jane Seymour, gave birth to his only son, the future Edward VI, there, dying of childbirth complications while Edward was baptized in the chapel.
In the 1840s Henry both divorced Anne of Cleves and married Catherine Parr at the palace. One of Hampton Court’s many ghost stories is that of the ‘screaming lady’ believed to dwell in its haunted gallery. The ghostly figure is supposed to be Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, who was supposedly dragged screaming from the gallery while under house arrest at the palace before her execution for adultery.
Source: BBC history magazine, History Extra,
To know more about other 9 great British palaces, visit http://www.historyextra.com/article/henry-viii/britains-best-palaces_