Hampton Court has Britains oldest surviving hedge maze, and it is probably the most famous maze in the world.
The maze was designed by George London and Henry Wise in 1690. There used to be two trees in the centre, but they’ve gone now. The maze was originally planted with hornbeam, but is has been repaired with many types of hedge over the years.It covers a third of an acre contains about half a mile of paths to follow. It is thought the current maze design replaced and earlier maze planted for Cardinal Wolesey which was more symetrical.
It has been written about frequently, but probably the most most famous excerpt comes from Jerome K Jerome and his “Three men in a boat”
“Harris asked me if I’d ever been in the maze at Hampton Court. He said he went in once to show somebody else the way. He had studied it up in a map, and it was so simple that it seemed foolish – hardly worth the twopence charged for admission. Harris said he thought that map must have been got up as a practical joke, because it wasn’t a bit like the real thing, and only misleading. It was a country cousin that Harris took in. He said:
“We’ll just go in here, so that you can say you’ve been, but it’s very simple. It’s absurd to call it a maze. You keep on taking the first turning to the right. We’ll just walk round for ten minutes, and then go and get some lunch.”
They met some people soon after they had got inside, who said they had been there for three-quarters of an hour, and had had about enough of it. Harris told them they could follow him, if they liked; he was just going in, and then should turn round and come out again. They said it was very kind of him, and fell behind, and followed.
They picked up various other people who wanted to get it over, as they went along, until they had absorbed all the persons in the maze. People who had given up all hopes of ever getting either in or out, or of ever seeing their home and friends again, plucked up courage at the sight of Harris and his party, and joined the procession, blessing him. Harris said he should judge there must have been twenty people, following him, in all; and one woman with a baby, who had been there all the morning, insisted on taking his arm, for fear of losing him.
Harris kept on turning to the right, but it seemed a long way, and his cousin said he supposed it was a very big maze.
“Oh, one of the largest in Europe,” said Harris.
“Yes, it must be,” replied the cousin, “because we’ve walked a good two miles already.”
Harris began to think it rather strange himself, but he held on until, at last, they passed the half of a penny bun on the ground that Harris’s cousin swore he had noticed there seven minutes ago. Harris said: “Oh, impossible!” but the woman with the baby said, “Not at all,” as she herself had taken it from the child, and thrown it down there, just before she met Harris. She also added that she wished she never had met Harris, and expressed an opinion that he was an impostor. That made Harris mad, and he produced his map, and explained his theory.
“The map may be all right enough,” said one of the party, “if you know whereabouts in it we are now.”
Harris didn’t know, and suggested that the best thing to do would be to go back to the entrance, and begin again. For the beginning again part of it there was not much enthusiasm; but with regard to the advisability of going back to the entrance there was complete unanimity, and so they turned, and trailed after Harris again, in the opposite direction. About ten minutes more passed, and then they found themselves in the centre.
Harris thought at first of pretending that that was what he had been aiming at; but the crowd looked dangerous, and he decided to treat it as an accident.
Anyhow, they had got something to start from then. They did know where they were, and the map was once more consulted, and the thing seemed simpler than ever, and off they started for the third time.
And three minutes later they were back in the centre again.
After that, they simply couldn’t get anywhere else. Whatever way they turned brought them back to the middle. It became so regular at length, that some of the people stopped there, and waited for the others to take a walk round, and come back to them. Harris drew out his map again, after a while, but the sight of it only infuriated the mob, and they told him to go and curl his hair with it. Harris said that he couldn’t help feeling that, to a certain extent, he had become unpopular.
They all got crazy at last, and sang out for the keeper, and the man came and climbed up the ladder outside, and shouted out directions to them. But all their heads were, by this time, in such a confused whirl that they were incapable of grasping anything, and so the man told them to stop where they were, and he would come to them. They huddled together, and waited; and he climbed down, and came in.
He was a young keeper, as luck would have it, and new to the business; and when he got in, he couldn’t find them, and he wandered about, trying to get to them, and then HE got lost. They caught sight of him, every now and then, rushing about the other side of the hedge, and he would see them, and rush to get to them, and they would wait there for about five minutes, and then he would reappear again in exactly the same spot, and ask them where they had been.
They had to wait till one of the old keepers came back from his dinner before they got out.
Harris said he thought it was a very fine maze, so far as he was a judge; and we agreed that we would try to get George to go into it, on our way back.
(27 June 2007 – 31 December 2010)
Visit this fascinating permanent exhibition exploring the stereotypes that have over shadowed the true characters and stories of Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey and Katherine of Aragon for centuries.
Henry VIII – Fat, tyrannical and vicious, and married six times. That is not the story you will hear at this exhibition. In its place, we offer you a personal story of three people: Katherine of Aragon, Henry’s wife for over 20 years; Thomas Wolsey, his chief minister and trusted ally, and ‘the lusty and courageous Prince’ – young Henry himself.
You will be surprised and moved as you discover the stories in this new permanent exhibition.
Historic paintings from the Royal Collection, together with audio-visual and hands-on displays, will help you explore and discover a very different King Henry VIII.
(10 April 2009 – 03 October 2010) For selected dates each month.
Come and see the kitchens in action as they cook a feast fit for a king.
The Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court Palace are famous throughout the world for being those of King Henry VIII.
In fact they continued to be used as Royal Court kitchens for a further two hundred years, feeding the tables of Tudor, Stuart and Georgian monarchs and their many courtiers…
And for the last five years, they have been home to a fascinating research project run by Historia food archaeologists who regularly bring the kitchens to life experimenting with traditional recipes, ingredients and cooking methods to prepare feasts fit for a king!
10 April 2010 – 31 Oct 2010
Come and see how the Palace conservation scientists have recreated the original dazzling colours on one of Henry’s most magnificent tapestries
01 January 2010 – 31 March 2010
Become part of Henrys marriage to his sixth wife Kateryn Parr. Find out all about all of his wives and daughters.
Hampton Court Palace makes a wonderful venue and has proven to be be a very popular choice for music lovers. Now in its 18th year, the festival has become one of the most exciting music events in the UK. The evenings are very interesting, with a lot of the audience also choosing to picnic at the venue during the interval. This year the artists booked to appear are:
with David Lindley
Tuesday 8th June, 9pm
Wednesday 9th June, 9pm
and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra
featuring GILSON LAVIS
and special guest star ALISON MOYET
and guest vocalists RUBY TURNER & LOUISE MARSHALL
Friday 11th June, 9pm
Classics and Fireworks with Nicola Benedetti
and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Saturday 12th June, 7.30pm
Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th June, 9pm
Thursday 17th June, 9pm
Friday 18th June, 9pm
Saturday 19th June, 8.45pm
5pm Festival car park opens (entry free)
5.30pm Palace Gardens open for guests to picnic
6.30pm Palace Courtyard opens to guests
For concerts that commence at 7.30pm there will be an interval of 75 minutes during which we recommend that you dine and picnic. For concerts beginning at 8.45 or 9pm there will be no interval so we recommend that you dine within the Palace Gardens before the concert.
As the event takes place within a Historic Royal Palace there are a number of restrictions that we ask all guests to observe:
Barbecues are not permitted anywhere within the Palace Grounds
No hampers, large items or bags are permitted within the concert auditorium
A complimentary ‘left-picnic’ facility will be available within the Palace Gardens while you enjoy the concert
No smoking, drinking or eating are permitted inside the Palace including the courtyards and the concert auditorium
No audio-visual equipment or umbrellas are permitted to be used once inside the Palace, including the courtyards and the concert auditorium
Hampton Court Palace is an historic building and, therefore, has uneven surfaces. However, many of the staircases are wide and shallow (having been built for William III who was asthmatic). There is a step-free route from the Palace Gardens to Palace Courtyard.
Within the concert arena there are 6 wheelchair spaces and 6 companion seats per concert on the wheelchair platform in addition to a number of spaces on the flat part of the auditorium in Blocks B, C & D. These spaces are limited, subject to availability and can only be booked directly through Hampton Court on the number below.
In order to comply with emergency evacuation procedures please be aware that wheelchair users who book non-disabled seats might be asked to leave their wheelchairs outside the Palace Courtyard.
Disabled tickets and car parking are limited and must be booked in advance on a first come first serve basis – please call 0844 482 7799 Monday to Friday 10am – 3pm.
How to find us
Hampton Court Palace is located right next to the River Thames to the south west of London. It is within the M25 and about 6 miles from the start of the M3 and about 8 miles from the start of the M4. Look out for the brown attraction signs that direct you to Hampton Court Palace. Our full address is:
Hampton Court Palace
South West Trains run services direct from London Waterloo to Hampton Court. The train journeyonly takes about 35 minutes and the palace is a very short 200 metre walk across the bridge right outside Hampton Court station. The train service passes through Wimbledon station, where the London Underground District Line begins. Train time are as follows:
Waterloo to Hampton Court
Monday-Saturday – xx06 and xx36
Sunday – xx27 and xx57
Hampton Court to Waterloo
Monday-Saturday – xx24 and xx54
Sunday – xx05 and xx35
Trains also call at Vauxhall, Clapham Junction, Earlsfield, Wimbledon, Raynes Park, New Malden, Berrylands, Surbiton and Thames Ditton.
You can also take the train from London Waterloo to Kingston upon Thames (there are four trains an hour and the quickest route is via Strawberry Hill or Shepperton) then the bus from Kingston to Hampton Court Palace. See below for bus route information.
Its worth noting that Hampton Court train station is in Travel Zone 6 so travelcards that include zone 6 can be used for travel.
To get here by bus
Bus routes: 111*, 216*, 411*, 451, R68, 513.
Bus route details:
111 – From Heathrow Airport Central, Cranford, Hounslow, Hampton and Kingston
216 – From Staines, Ashford, Sunbury, Hampton and Kingston
411 – From West Molesey and Kingston
451 – From Staines, Chertsey, Byfleet, Weybridge, Walton, West Molesey and Kingston – no evening or Sunday service
R68 – From Kew, Richmond, Twickenham
From London airports
If your coming straight from Heathrow Airport take the 111 bus. It goes from the central bus terminal and will take about an hour.
From Gatwick Airport, take a train from the airport station to Clapham Junction and change to the Hampton Court train.
From City Airport, take the Docklands Light Railway to Canning Town and then the Jubilee Line to Waterloo. Catch the Hampton Court train from there.
Visitors arriving by taxi may drop off at the gates. There is a mini-cab firm at Hampton Court Station for those wishing to get home by taxi.
The palace is located on the A308 and is very well signposted from all the local roads. If your driving you should follow the brown tourist attraction road signs. From the M25 take either exit 10 on to the A307 or exit 12 on to the A308. The palace is also accessible via the A3 and then the A309. For a map to help you plan your journey, visit either Multimap or Google Maps
Limited parking is available at Hampton Court Palace, see our tickets and prices section for prices. Parking is also available at the Hampton Court train station (please check at the station for prices).
Bays in the palace car park are only big enough for a standard car but 12-seater minibuses are just able to fit in. Anything larger should park on Hampton Court Green.
We have a bay marked M/C in the upper car park by the slope leading to the lower car park and the exit. Riders should take a ticket at the entrance barrier and pay on leaving. Parking charges are the same.
By motor home
Visitors with motor homes should park on Hampton Court Green where there are no height restrictions and the parking bays are larger. Bays in the palace car park are big enough for a standard car only. Vehicles towing caravans should also park on Hampton Court Green. All items are left at the owner’s risk.
Parking is 50p per hour at Hampton Court Green. Motor homes cannot be accommodated in the car park next to Hampton Court railway station.
Coach parking is available free of charge on Hampton Court Green or at a cost of £15.00 per day at the coach park next to Hampton Court railway station.
Riverboats run in the summer from Westminster, Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames. The journey from Westminster can take up to 4 hours, depending on the tides.
For information services from Westminster and Kew, contact Westminster Passenger Services on +44 (0)20 7930 2062 or wpsa and for services from Richmond and Kingston, contact Turks Launches on +44 (0)20 8546 2434 or Turks Launches.
There are two moorings along Barge Walk for personal/private boats: the Privy Garden mooring by the Tijou Screens close to the palace and the Kingston Bridge mooring opposite Barge Walk Cottages near Kingston Bridge. The latter is a mile away from the palace by road (three miles along Barge Walk).
In line with Environmental Agency policy the first 24 hours are free. After that the cost is £5 per day. Boats may stay for a maximum of 72 hours. Moorings are available on a first come first served basis and cannot be reserved in advance.
Hampton Court Palace Opening times
Palace and Maze: 25 October 2009 – 27 March 2010 (winter)
Monday – Sunday
Last ticket sold: 15:30
Last entry into the maze: 15:45
Palace and Maze: 28 March – 30 October 2010 (summer)
Monday – Sunday
Last ticket sold: 17:00
Last entry into the maze: 17:15
Summer ** All other times
Open: 10.00 Open: 10.00
Close: 19.00* Close: 17.30*
Informal Gardens (Tiltyard, Wilderness and West Front):
Summer ** All other times
Open: 07.00 Open: 07.00
Close: 20.00* Close: 18.00*
*Palace, Maze and Tiltyard Café close earlier
** ‘Summer’ is usually April to September but for further information please call us shortly before your visit, on 0844 482 7777.
Home Park (including both Jubilee Gates):
May to July 07.00 21.00
April, August & September 07.00 21.00
March & October 07.00 18.45
November to February 07.00 17.30
When Henry VIII died in 1547, he owned more than 60 residences and houses. However none of the the other buildings came close to Hampton Court in importance to him.
Henry finalised the building works at Hampton Court Palace in about 1540.By this time the palace was one of the most progressive and magnificent in the country.
He had constucted tennis courts, bowling alleys and pleasure gardens for recreation.There was a hunting park of more than 1,100 acres,vast sprawling kitchens covering 36,000 square feet, a fine chapel, a huge communal dining room (called the Great Hall) and a multiple garderobe (or lavatory) – known as the Great House of Easement.This lavatory could sit 28 people at a time and water flowed to the palace from Coombe Hill in Kingston, three miles away, through lead pipes.
All of Henry’s six wives came through the palace and for most he had new and lavish lodgings.Henry also refashioned his own quarters at least half a dozen times.
The palace also provided accommodation for each of the King’s children and for a large number of courtiers, visitors and servants.
Henry used Hampton Court to impress. Probably the most famous incident happened in August 1546 when Henry feasted and hosted the French ambassador and his entourage of over two hundred gentlemen.This was as well as 1,300 members of his own court and for a peroiod of six days. A large camp of gold and velvet tents surrounded the palace for the occasion.
However, leass than a year later, Henry was dead, with three surviving children – the 9-year old Prince Edward and his older sisters Mary and Elizabeth. Each would rule England, and Hampton Court would continue to play an important part in the lives of the Tudor monarchs….
In 1514 an event occurred in the history of the Palace that would drastically shape its future.It was in this year that the Knights Hospitalers gave Thomas Wolsey (c1470-1530) a 99 year lease on the property. At that time he was the Archbishop of York, and had not yet been made a Cardinal.
He was a rising star of the the Tudor age and eventually became a Cardinal and eventually Lord Chancellor of England. He also held a wealth of other influential posts. More importantly however was the fact that he was a very close friend of the then new King Henry VIII . Indeed he spent over 10 years as the Kings chief minister and closest advisor.
Over time, Wolsey built a huge palace complex at Hampton Court, transforming what was essentially a large private house into a magnificent palace fit for a bishops resident. As well as adding his own private chambers he also added three suites for the Royal family.One for King Henry, one for his then wife Katheryn of Aragon and another for their daughter Princess Mary.
One of the best surviving features of Wolseys Palace is Base Court.This is the huge outer courtyard he built to accomodate his guests. It was originally cobbled and the gatehouse higher than today, but all the buildings themselves remain. There were 40 guest lodging available. Each one had an inner and an outer room and en suite lavatory (then called garderobe).
Throughout the 1520s Wolsey hosted many important European delegations at Hampton Court. All of these occasions called for huge displays of wealth and consumption. This all surrounded the need for doing deals and signing treaties to help Englands position within Europe.
Wolsey had intended the great house as a compliment to King Henry, although there were many at the time who did not see it that way….
The fall of Wolsey by John Skelton
Why come you not to Court ?
To which court ?
To the king’s court ?
Or to Hampton Court ?
Nay, to the king’s court !
The king’s court
Should have the excellence
But Hampton Court
Hath the pre-eminence !
Skelton was a poet and sometime tutor to King Henry VIII. There were many others who also criticised Wolesey for his very extravagant lifestyle and ostentatious Palace at Hampton Court. It was neither of these that was to bring Wolseys eventual fall from grace however.
By the end of the 1520s the King was desperate to divorce his then first wife Katherine. This was due to the fact that she had failed to provide Henry with a son and make heir despite numerous pregnancies. Katherine was 40 in 1525 and by that time Henry had a new object of desire in the much younger Anne Boleyn. Katherine however had for years refused to comply and the Pope refusedto grant the divorce. It was at this point in 1528 that Wolesy lost both Hampton Court and his other residence York Place to the King.