Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A visit to Hampton Court Palace

My love of lists is rather well documented. And the only thing I like more than writing lists is ticking things off them. In fact I so love crossing things off my lists that I have been known in my time to write things onto said list that I’ve already done, just so I can get my ticking and crossing off to a promising start. Though to be fair, this premature behaviour usually only happens on lists of Boring Life Admin, or worse, Depressing, Overdue Work and/or School Activities.

What was my point?

Oh yes – lists. A couple of weeks ago, while dining with Tor, the Hungry One and Lovely Boy, we decided to pull up our tourist socks and write a list of Shit We Still Haven’t Done in London. And on that list was a visit to Hampton Court Palace.

And so on Saturday, in blistering cold winds and a rare bout of sunshine, we caught the train out to Hampton Court.

For a couple of hours we wandered through the Palace – happening to catch a day when a real, live, Tudor feast was being cooked in the kitchens, where the wealth of 16th century cooking knowledge held by the guides was ably tested by Tor and her many questions. I’d just like to state, when the time comes for Tori’s Tudor-inspired dinner party, I rather hope Jonathan Rhys-Meyers gets an invite…

From room to room – throne room, receiving room, parlour room, bedroom, each more velveted than the last – we struggled to imagine the reality of living here in the days before electricity and central heating. Not so much the misery but the cold and the DARK. You wouldn’t have to be a wife of Henry’s to feel the oppressive, opulent horror of these dark panelled, austere rooms in any given winter.

At one point we came across a demonstration dance – maidens aplenty, all teaching young children wearing their own homemade crowns the etiquette of life in public society. We even passed Henry and one of wives as they strolled the corridor to a fanfare of narcissistic trumpets.  

We got sort-of lost in the maze, helped by the enthusiastic wailings of young children hollering “IT’S A DEAD END!!!!!!” every time they optioned another high-hedged route.

And we wandered around the gardens, the Hungry One chasing geese, the rest of us pondering the manicured trees and the impressive pond before heading to the pub for a drink.

We’d snuck off earlier, mid-way through our history lesson for lunch at another pub just along the river. Every day out needs a pub lunch and this was no exception.

And then, we were on the train and back to London.

It was a most civilised day – great company, a reasonable dose of English history and something to tick off the list. WIN. 

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