London Highlights 3

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Kingsley and I enjoy history and learning together so we planned to go to Hampton Court Palace, south of London one morning. We had a nice breakfast and boarded the bus under grey skies from Teddington. It was only a 20 minute ride.

In the early 1500s, King Henry VIII commissioned his "best man" Thomas Wolsey Archbishop of York to renovate the Old Order of Jerusalem property along the river Thames. It was transformed into Hampton Court Palace as a summer home for the royals.

One of our favorite parts of the tour was the Hampton Court Palace kitchen. Kingsley and I took part in the audio tour and spent a lot of time in the vast kitchen. It was the size of a large barn with huge fireplaces in every room. The staff lit one of the fires in the "meat" room and the spit mechanisms were in place so tourists could see how large the set-up had to be to roast meat for 600. The meat on the table isn't real but it shows just how large the spit tongs would have been.

Another room we thought was amazing (I should have taken more pictures, sorry) was the Wolsey Closet. The gold gilding and patterned ceilings date back to the 1500s. Some of it is original, other parts were restored in the 1900s. The overall effect was quite unique and we were both impressed.

We ended the tour in the gift shop next to an authenticated replica of Henry VIII's armor. It was likely from his early 20s because later in life, Henry gained quite a bit of weight. We couldn't help joking about the armor which included protection for the King's more delicate parts. The modern day sports protection for that area hasn't changed much in 600+ years.

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