HAMPTON COURT PALACE | East Molesey

Like Kronborg Castle in Helsingor, Hampton Court Palace has live entertainment within its royal walls.

After an absolutely horrid drive from Oxford – the London beltway was bumper-to-bumper and the last five miles to the palace went snail-paced it was incredible, and on a Saturday of all days – we arrived to find a near-chaotic East Molesey where parking was mind-bogglingly unclear and with not enough coins to pay the meter – again with coins, why has the U.K. not moved on from the 90s!

After doing away with these mundane tasks, we finally got down to uncovering yet another Downton Abbey location, and another magnificent, storied building from England’s past, the most exciting parts of which belonged to Henry VIII and the many wives he brought along including the famous Anne Boleyn, mother to Elizabeth I. Starting off with a scone lunch at the busy Privy Café, we then went to the famous gardens at the back of the palace, marveling at the huge sculpted trees and imagining Bertie and Lady Edith walking among them. It was a bit too hot for comfort and walking around wasn’t too conducive to imaginary nostalgia, so after covering most of the other gardens we went in and looked at the royal apartments and got reacquainted with the antics of Henry VIII. The actors in period costumes went full-on.

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We’ve seen a handful of palaces at this point and the worst thing going for Hampton Court I would say is its proximity to London, which made access to it close to unbearable given the traffic and people congestion. It’s also not as impressive when compared to Blenheim Palace, for example, lacking that oomph factor and with its rather flat terrain. It was impressive in any case and well worth the stop on our way to the final leg of this journey. Glad to scratch it off the list after all these years.

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