London, you’ve been Pik’d

Staying in Richmond has its advantages, for one we're only a short distance from Hampton Court Palace, which was where we were today… for pretty much all morning… because you know, why not? So on the bus we hopped and off it chugged, and I do mean chugged, it lurched, it stopped suddenly for invisible passengers and it lurched off again. 40 minutes later we did actually arrive at HCP having seen a great deal of Richmond and its surrounds. We strolled through the main entrance, the huge iron gates opened fully back against the old redbrick columns, the black bitumen driveway stretching out towards the world famous and favourite residence of Henry VIII. Last time we were here the front of the building was obscured, scaffolding and construction fencing cutting off access to the main gates and we ended up going in via the kitchen. This time there was no hindrance, so over the moat we crossed and through the first set of gates (there's actually two, one named after Anne Boleyn) and into the 'back' court. It's now known as the back court as some of the palace's later residents did some rather impressive remodeling and created a new entrance at the then rear of the building, so not the front is the back and the back is the front. Walking into the courtyard you cant help but be humbled, not just because of the sheer size of the place, but the fact that it's made of bricks, of handmade bricks in an age where there was no mechanisation, so each slab of russet coloured clay was formed and baked, then put into place as just one of millions of bricks that go into making this marvel. Wolsey certainly knew what he was doing when he had it built, and Henry no doubt enjoyed it all the more for gaining it as a 'favour' from the Cardinal, and how could he not. It's beautiful, the individual chimneys, the sweeping entrance, the austere courtyard that still faintly hums with all the life it once held, and this is before you even really get into the main parts of it!

The kitchen's are definitely my favourite part, which is not really surprising for those who know me, and the huge fires are beyond impressive – the palace still burns one, for demonstrative purposes – but it's all the little things, the dozen or so smaller 'burners' that are all along one wall, the small rooms that run off a tiny hallway where different baked goods, fish, meat, and specialty items were prepared, kept and able to be brought out at a moment's notice. Of course the huge beer and wine cellars are also nearby, and this time we were able to walk through them, as last time they were roped off and you could only look through one doorway. The Great Hall with its 'eavesdroppers' is amazing, the floor to ceiling hangings with their great scenes, the gilded woodwork and long tables set as though awaiting the mad flourish that comes before a major event, and over looking it all, a huge stained glass window, the multifaceted light it casts over the whole room is spellbinding, and that's before you get up stairs! There is of course a gallery, several chambers, the chapel and a whole host of other sights to grab your attention and fascinate you, but HCP wasn't home to just Henry and his numerous/successive wives. It also features apartments of the various Georges, and William and Mary – who were responsible for the main renovations that saw the demolition of the back half of the Tudor palace, and where the new facade was built to rival that of Versailles, that is until they ran out of money and had to stop – and of course Queen Anne who had the gardens made over to be more pleasing, and fence off the peasants.

After strolling around the gardens we decided to make our way back into London city proper. We probably should have stayed at the palace. We caught the overland train to Waterloo and unknowingly walked right smack into the middle of the greatest tube congestion we've ever encountered – both here and in Melbourne – for some unknown, and totally unfathomable reason, Transport For London, or TFL, were conducting 'engineering works' on several lines, all at once, in several different places, which essentially meant they shut down half the underground (the District, Central and Circle lines) and severely hampered others (Victoria and Northern), which meant when we were on the east side and trying to get to the west thing's get a little difficult… or a lot difficult. Eventually we did make it… 3 hrs later… By the time we reached 'home' for the night we headed back to the pub we visited the night before, why? Because we could, and the food was great!Staying in Richmond has its advantages, for one we're only a short distance from Hampton Court Palace, which was where we were today… for pretty much all morning… because you know, why not? So on the bus we hopped and off it chugged, and I do mean chugged, it lurched, it stopped suddenly for invisible passengers and it lurched off again. 40 minutes later we did actually arrive at HCP having seen a great deal of Richmond and its surrounds. We strolled through the main entrance, the huge iron gates opened fully back against the old redbrick columns, the black bitumen driveway stretching out towards the world famous and favourite residence of Henry VIII. Last time we were here the front of the building was obscured, scaffolding and construction fencing cutting off access to the main gates and we ended up going in via the kitchen. This time there was no hindrance, so over the moat we crossed and through the first set of gates (there's actually two, one named after Anne Boleyn) and into the 'back' court. It's now known as the back court as some of the palace's later residents did some rather impressive remodelling and created a new entrance at the then rear of the building, so not the front is the back and the back is the front. Walking into the courtyard you cant help but be humbled, not just because of the sheer size of the place, but the fact that it's made of bricks, of handmade bricks in an age where there was no mechanisation, so each slab of russet coloured clay was formed and baked, then put into place as just one of millions of bricks that go into making this marvel. Wolsey certainly knew what he was doing when he had it built, and Henry no doubt enjoyed it all the more for gaining it as a 'favour' from the Cardinal, and how could he not. It's beautiful, the individual chimneys, the sweeping entrance, the austere courtyard that still faintly hums with all the life it once held, and this is before you even really get into the main parts of it!

The kitchen's are definitely my favourite part, which is not really surprising for those who know me, and the huge fires are beyong impressive – the palace still burns one, for demonstrative purposes – but it's all the little things, the dozen or so smaller 'burners' that are all along one wall, the small rooms that run off a tiny hallway where different baked goods, fish, meat, and specialty items were prepared, kept and able to be brought out at a moment's notice. Of course the huge beer and wine cellars are also nearby, and this time we were able to walk through them, as last time they were roped off and you could only look through one doorway. The Great Hall with its 'eavesdroppers' is amazing, the floor to ceiling hangings with their great scenes, the gilded woodwork and long tables set as though awaiting the mad flourish that comes before a major event, and over looking it all, a huge stained glass window, the multifaceted light it casts over the whole room is spellbinding, and that's before you get up stairs! There is of coruse a gallery, several chambers, the chapel and a whole host of other sights to grab your attention and facinate you, but HCP wasn't home to just Henry and his numerous/successive wives. It also features apartments of the various Georges, and William and Mary – who were responsible for the main renovations that saw the demolishion of the back half of the Tudor palace, and where the new facade was built to rival that of Versilles, that is until they ran out of money and had to stop – and of course Queen Anne who had the gardens made over to be more pleasing, and fence off the peasants.

After strolling around the gardens we decided to make our way back into London city proper. We probably should have stayed at the palace. We caught the overland train to Waterloo and unknowingly walked right smack into the middle of the greatest tube congestion we've ever encountered – both here and in Melbourne – for some unknown, and totally unfathomable reason, Transport For London, or TFL, were conducting 'engineering works' on several lines, all at once, in several different places, which essentially meant they shut down half the underground (the District, Central and Circle lines) and severly hampered others (Victoria and Northern), which meant when we were on the east side and trying to get to the west thing's get a little difficult… or a lot difficult. Eventually we did make it… 3 hrs later… By the time we reached 'home' for the night we headed back to the pub we visited the night before, why? Because we could, and the food was great!

 

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