Archbishop Thomas Wolsey—a man on the way up the holy ladder and close friend of Henry VIII—converted an elaborate private house into a Tudor palace; then in 1528 was forced to forfeit the palace to old Henry. In the following ten years, the King lavishly spent to expand the palace into Hampton Court, remodeling his own quarters dozens of times over.
Hampton Court was used to house Henry’s six wives, children, servants and guests, as well as to impress other Monarchs. After his death, Henry’s heirs used Hampton Court as a retreat away from the daily affairs and politics of governance.
Today, visitors can escape the city and go to Hampton Court to explore the rich history of one of Europe’s most grandiose palaces. Among other exclusive and impressive features, Hampton Court is home to the world’s oldest wine grape vine, a tricky labyrinth (with a free escape gate, should you find yourself truly stumped), the Royal Tennis Court (still in use for playing traditional Real Tennis), the Great Hall and even legends of ghosts haunting the premises. Discover great works of art and luxurious furnishings. And in the summer, the Home Park is decorated with beautiful bouquets during the annual Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.