Today, Tiffany and I split up and did our own things. Tiffany met up with a friend she met while studying abroad in Hungary and went to some museums. I went to the Holy Grail of King Henry VIII history, Hampton Court Palace.
I was hoping to sleep in today, but woke up around 8:45 anyways. Probably in part because I went to sleep around 10pm last night. I went to the post office and mailed some things home. I have room in my bag for souvenir stuff, but I was only 2 pounds away from the weight limit on the way here and I don’t want to have to check my bag. I paid £24 to ship about four and a half pounds of stuff home, which is considerably less than it would cost me to pay to check an extra bag for the two legs of the trip home that we aren’t already planning on checking a bag and splitting the cost.
After leaving the post office, I caught the tube to Vauxhall station, where I just missed the train out to Hampton Court Palace, so I had to wait 30 minutes for the next train to come. That was fine because it gave me time to eat a delicious apple cinnamon turnover and caused me to catch the next train, where I sat next to Bill and Susan. They were a lovely couple in their early seventies from Southern California and I really enjoyed my conversation with them.
Upon arriving at the train station, I walked across a bridge and part of Hampton Court Palace came into view on the other side of the Thames.
I picked up the ticket that I ordered online last night at the information desk and I was thrilled to see that they had one of the souvenir penny smushing machines. I love those and always try to get a smushed penny whenever I see one. Today, I got one with Henry VIII’s face on it. They also gave me a map at the information desk and I was very surprised when I looked at it and saw how massive the palace really is. I watched a documentary on Netflix recently (I think it’s called Secret’s of King Henry VIII’s Palace and I definitely recommend it) but I still wasn’t prepared for the sheer size of the place.
I took lots of panoramic photos today because I was having trouble fitting the palace into regular sized photos. I assumed that the picture you see here was the front of the papace. In actuality, it’s only the front of the guard arch and some palace apartments and leads into a giant courtyard.
Here is an aerial view photo I just found on Google
It was absolutely incredible to walk where Henry VIII and his wives and daughters walked and to see the leftover decorations honoring Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn that were missed when Henry had the castle redecorated after each of them was cast aside (or killed when I comes to Anne Boleyn)
Catherine’s decoration came in the form on some stonework in an archway above a door leading into the rooms where big parties were held. The stonework was of pomegranates.
Anne’s decoration came in the form of a woodworked H intertwined with an A at the top of some wood paneling in a corner.
I also got to see the kitchens where all of the food was prepared. The servants got paid time off and had good job security, but I still wouldn’t have wanted to work in any of those rooms with enormous fireplace were. I got to see the window of the bakery but visitors aren’t allowed inside it. It was on the second floor. I would not want to have to carry giant bags of flour up all of those steps.
I also walked through the hallway where Katherine Howard is rumored to have escaped from her guards and gone running down the hallway screaming to King Henry VIII begging for her life. She was the second and final wife to be beheaded. Fun fact: there were reports of people seeing a ghost in that hallway up until the 1700s. There have been no reports of anyone seeing a ghost there recently, but people have reported feeling disoriented and dizzy. Even though the palace tours cover something like 60 acres, almost all of the people who faint at the palace do so in that hallway.
I took a nice little horse drawn team ride through part of the gardens, which are gorgeous. It’s interesting because from that side of the palace, you can clearly see where William of Orange and Mary Stuart tore down part of the Tudor palace to add on in a more modern style that they had fashioned after the Palace of Versailles. The only things I was sort of bummed about were that the tennis court was closed for repairs and I couldn’t find the maze. Aside from that, it was a pretty perfect day.
I toured almost everything that was available to the public before leaving to catch the train back into London proper. I had a lovely chat on the train with a mother and daughter who moved to London from New Zealand. Side note for mom and dad, people in London like cookies and need (life) insurance, too! Jac, they have a government here, too! London is also VERY dog friendly. You can even take your dog on the tube or into the Tower of London!
Anyway, I stopped into a little grocery store and got something called a cheese twist (which is actually just a croissant topped with cheese, stretched out, and twisted) before riding the tube back to Manor House. I stopped at the kabob shop and got some chips (French fries) that I didn’t really end up eating before going back to the house and calling to talk to my parents then calling my big brother.
I felt okay for most of the day, but have started feeling pretty badly again the past few hours. My throat isn’t really sore anymore, but I have developed a cough and a runny nose.