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First Timer’s Guide to visiting Hampton Court Palace

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A link that we can now observe between all great monarchies of the world is that they have left behind some of the greatest architectural wonders for us to behold. Their buildings used to represent their might and ideals. They used to be the stronghold of their mental strength and political authority. And all grand historical monuments of the world are known for their ability to immortalize their heydays within their walls. The Hampton Court Palace in Richmond upon Thames serves this purpose for the erstwhile mighty House of Tudor. The symbol of sophistication during its time, Hampton Court Palace is one castle that you should not miss if you find yourself around London.

Here's all you need to know before visiting Hampton Court Palace, a little bit about its history, the highlights of your Hampton Court Palace tour, getting to Hampton Court Palace and the best priced Hampton Court Palace tickets that will transport you years back in British history.

Hampton Court Palace History

Hampton Court Palace Maze

The current site of the Hampton Court was taken over by Thomas Wolsey, King Henry VIII’s chief minister, in 1514. He then spent a fortune to build one of the grandest castles in England in accordance with the renaissance school of architecture. However, very little of Wolsey’s original structures remain. In 1528, he transferred the ownership of the castle to king, Henry VIII who began rebuilding several parts of the castle as soon as he gained ownership. Hampton Court Palace saw through the end of Tudor era and the beginning of the Stuart era.

The Hampton Court Conference held in the castle was the one where King James’ Bible was commissioned. Henry III and Mary II went on another major rebuilding spree on the Hampton Court Palace. More than half of the grand structure was destroyed, altered and repurposed. Further refurbishment was undertaken by King George II and Caroline of Ansbach.

Interesting facts about Hampton Court Palace

  • Hampton Court Palace is one of only two surviving palaces in which Henry VIII took residence. The other one is St. James Palace.
  • William Shakespeare and his company performed several shows over the course of three weeks at the Great Hall of the Hampton Court Palace for King James I around 1604.
  • The Hampton Court Garden has the oldest surviving shrub maze in Britain dating back to 1700. It is open for public admission now.
  • In 1540, an astronomical clock was installed at Hampton Court Palace facing the inner court. It is 15 feet tall and has three separate dials that can tell the time, the date, the position of the Sun relative to the Earth, the phases of the moon, the age of the moon in days, and when the moon crosses the meridian. As such, it can predict the tides of the river Thames.
  • During its affluence, the Hampton Court Palace employed 600 people.
  • Henry VIII married six times. However, his wife from the only Hampton Court Palace marriage, Catherine Parr, survived the wedlock without execution, divorce, or death from other causes.

Where can I get tickets to Hampton Court Palace?

Purchasing your Hampton Court Palace Tickets online is highly recommended. This way, you can avail a few discounts and cashbacks on your tickets. You can also purchase your Hampton Court Palace tickets from the gate from the ticket office located by the car park or just inside the main gates on the left-hand side of the drive.

All Hampton Court Palace tickets come with a complimentary audio guide available in 9 languages ( English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Russian, and Korean ) which you must collect from the Information Centre off Base Court once you enter the premises.

Going from London to Hampton Court

Given its historical significance and architectural grandeur, the Hampton Court Palace is an automatic pick for your next trip to London. Hampton Court Palace lies at a very convenient distance from London city and therefore makes for a great day trip spot.

Hampton Court Palace

Distance from London to Hampton Court

Hampton Court Palace lies 14 miles or 23 kilometers from London.

Duration of Travel

The total travel time from London to Hampton Court Palace should not take more than 40 minutes. This means you have to spend less than 90 minutes on traveling back and forth, which gives you plenty of time to explore the vast castle and its numerous attractions.

Best Way to Travel from London to Hampton Court

You can get to Hampton Court Palace by taking a train from London. You may also avail waterways during the summer months and experience a breezy cruise on River Thames before getting to the Palace. Ideally, taking a guided tour from London to Hampton Court Palace is the way to go. Your travel to and fro is taken care of and you are in the company of an expert guide through the day. Doesn't get better! Alternatively, you may follow our highlights guide below and try to hit as many your schedule permits. The entire castle is bound to take you half a day to discover.

Highlights of the Hampton Court Palace Tour

Hampton Court Palace went through several stages of construction and reformation. Therefore, three different schools of architecture makes its appearance within the entire complex. The earliest and the most popular one is mainly Renaissance inspired. Then comes the French style inspired Stuart era constructions, followed by the notably plain Georgian section. The castle has opened most of the structure for the public. There are exciting scheduled demonstrations to keep visitors of all ages interested throughout the entire day. Here's what you must see inside Hampton Court Palace:

hampton court palace

Henry VIII’s Palace

After taking over from his chief minister, Thomas Wolsey, Henry VIII spent a lot in reforming a living quarter of his own within the Palace. The entire area is well maintained and the audioguide will fill you in with information about day to day life of King Henry VIII and his court in this part of the Hampton Court Palace.

inside hampton court palace

William III & Mary II’s Apartments

The private apartments of William III and Mary II were used for entertaining guests, displaying prized possessions, and spending their off-court hours. Currently, William III’s dining has been laid out like he would do it himself back in the days. The centerpiece in William III’s closet was designed by Steinwich. The accurate representation of the apartment is sure to catch one’s eyes.

inside hampton court palace

Great Hall

The largest single room in the entire castle is also arguably the most stunning. Constructed during King Henry III’s phase of restructuring, the Great Hall features strikingly copious hammer beam ceilings. The Story of Abraham tapestries on the walls is believed to be the best work of Henry III’s times. During his stay, the King used the hall as a performance area as well.

hampton court palace

Tudor Kitchens

Henry VIII was known for his vast appetite and therefore encouraged the same in his court. His kitchen at the Hampton Court Palace used to employ 200 cooks, sergeants, grooms, and pages to prepare about 800 meals a day. Know in detail about the complexity of feeding a hungry Tudor court in this part of the palace.

hampton court palace

Chocolate Room

Another place of culinary significance is the Chocolate Kitchens. Built around 1690 by Christopher Wren for the use of William III and Mary II, the Chocolate Kitchen was a modern marvel of its time. Besides various equipment used to prepare delicacies out of chocolate, the Chocolate Room has a portrait of Grace Tosier, a popular figure during the heydays of the kitchen.

inside hampton court palace

Wolsey’s Closet

Possibly the most elaborately decorated chamber in the entire castle, this closet remains the only remnant of Thomas Wolsey’s living quarters. The panels of the room depict “The Passion of Our Lord” that was commissioned by Henry VIII. The ceiling of the closet features classic Tudor architecture and it must not be missed.

inside hampton court palace

Cumberland Art Gallery

The Cumberland Art Gallery features a wide selection of artwork that is mostly a part of the Royal Collection. A vast majority of the artworks relate the history of Hampton Court Palace. The Cumberland Suite, originally created by William Kent, was restored in 2014 after years of exhaustive research.

hampton court palace

The Triumphs of Caesar

A set of nine paintings enrich the collection within the legendary Mantegna Gallery at Hampton Court Palace. Painted by Andrea Mantegna, these paintings are widely regarded as one of the significant achievements of Renaissance art. The paintings were bought by Charles I and have remained at the Hampton Court Palace for almost 400 years.

hampton court palace

Hampton Court Gardens

Home to the largest grape vine in the world, the Hampton Court Gardens are the best place for a siesta should you get tired of exploring the inner chambers. The garden occupies 750 acres of sprawling land. The grape vines and the orange gardens keep the entire area alive throughout the year.

hampton court palace

Magic Garden

The Hampton Court Garden does its part to entertain the children with this attraction. The playground unites the element of fantastical beasts with the basic fun of enactment of scenarios. There are separate areas of the playground that are dedicated to myths, legends, and stories that are related to the history of Hampton Court Palace.

hampton court palace

Royal Tennis Courts

The first tennis courts were constructed at the Hampton Court Palace between 1526 and 1529. Later on, King Henry VIII used the courts for friendly games. One of the surviving courts dates back to 1625. Currently, you may visit the courts only during the summer.

The Hampton Court Maze

Hampton Court Palace Maze

The Hampton Court Maze is one of the most exciting spots within the Hampton Court Gardens. This engaging and rather confusing structure is Britain's oldest surviving hedge maze and takes to the heart of adults and children alike. Planted by George London and Henry Wise for William III of Orange in 1690, the maze comprised of hornbeams then but in 1960, the 'Wilderness Garden' as it was nicknamed was replaced with yew. It is one of the first multicursal or puzzle maze, which makes it harder to find your way in and out of it.

The Hampton Court Maze takes an average of 30-45 minutes to complete, and though it is an ‘island maze’ which contains separate sections causing this technique to not normally work, the hedges are grown in a fashion where placing and keeping one’s right hand along a wall will lead them to the center.

A recent addition to the Hampton Court Maze is the audio exhibit - Trace. Spread across the hedges is a gentle “soundwork” composed of music fragments, snippets of conversation, the rustle of fine silks, and tantalizing laughter that disappears upon turning corners; aimed at luring visitors down certain paths, Trace is a permanent art installation that will eventually incorporate one thousand generated sounds.

The Hampton Court Maze remains closed for Christmas, Boxing Day, and on account of adverse weather conditions.

Hampton Court Palace Map

Below is an easy to understand Hampton Court Palace map that will help you navigate around the palace. Download this Hampton Court Palace Map and keep it handy on your phone if you're doing a self guided/ audio guided tour of the Palace. If you're taking a guided tour of the Palace, leave the task of navigating to your expert guide and simply enjoy the intricacies of the Palace.

Hampton Court Palace Map

Hampton Court Palace Opening Times

Summer( Until November 1st, 2022)

September 7, 2022 - October 21, 2022:
Open from Wednesday to Sunday: 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM, with last admission to Palace at 4:30 PM

October 22, 2022 - October 30, 2022:
Open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM, with last admission to Palace at 4:30 PM

Winter (November 2,2022 - March 26,2023)

November 2, 2022 - December 1, 2022
Open from Wednesday to Sunday: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, with last admission to Palace at 3:00 PM

December 2, 2022 - December 4, 2022
Open from Wednesday to Sunday: 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM, with last admission to Palace at 4:00 PM

December 7, 2022 - March 26, 2023
Open from Wednesday to Sunday: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, with last admission to Palace at 3:00 PM

Closed on:

  • 5, 6, 19, 24, 25, and 26th of December, 2022
  • January 3, 2023
  • February 21 and 22, 2023

The Chapel Royal is a working chapel that closes for religious services on Sundays and other religious days like Good Friday.

Getting To Hampton Court

Hampton Court Palace Address

Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU, UK

Find Hampton Court Palace on Google Map

  • London to Hampton Court Palace by Train
  • You can reach Hampton Court Station from Waterloo Station on the South West Trains services. Trains run every half an hour. If you have an Oyster Card, you can use it to travel from Waterloo to Hampton Court Station.

  • London to Hampton Court Palace by Bus
  • Hop on to bus numbers 111, 216, 411, 461, 513 from Kingston and get dropped at Hampton Court Palace.

  • London to Hampton Court by Car
  • Hampton Court Palace is located on A308. Take exit 12 from M25. You can park your car on-site for £1.60 or at Hampton Court Green ( 500 m away) for £1.50 per hour.

  • London to Hampton Court by Taxi
  • Taxi drop off is available at the Palace gate. Taxis can be easily availed from Hampton Court Station.

  • London to Hampton Court by Boat
  • You can take a boat from Kingston-upon-Thames to Hampton Court Palace which will take you approximately 35 minutes one way, and a total price of £32. Read more about going from Kingston-upon-Thames to Hampton Court Palace by Turk Boats here.

Know Before You Visit

  • Luggage : Lockers are available for moderately sized baggage for £1 coin deposit.
  • Cafe : The Tiltyard Café, The Privy Kitchen Café, and The Fountain Court Café are three eateries within Hampton Court Palace.
  • Audio Guide : Audio guide prices are included within admission tickets to Hampton Court Palace and be collected when entering the palace.
  • Hampton Court Palace events : There are frequent events at Hampton Court Palace. Check out the events that are currently running at Hampton Court Palace.

Insider Tips for your Hampton Court Palace visit

  • Entry to the Hampton Court Palace is free for the holders of the London Pass.
  • General photography without flash is permitted within Hampton Court Palace premises except for within Chapel Royal and Royal Pew.
  • Audio guides are available in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Russian, and Korean apart from English.
  • Most of the Hampton Court Palace is accessible by all. There is no discount for disabled individuals, however, a carer is admitted free of charge with the individual.
  • If you're visiting Hampton Court Palace anytime from 17 November 2022 to 8 January 2023 (except 25 December), prepare to be swept away by the seasonal atmosphere at the Hampton Court Palace ice rink. The ice rink is open daily from 10:00 AM to 8:45 PM, with the entry closing at 8 PM. Grab tickets for skating at the ice rink here.
  • The Hampton Court Book Club is a monthly member-only event that starts at 6:30 in the Weston room of the Clore Centre in the Barrack Block at Hampton Court Palace. If you're a bibliophile who loves the Biblichor and the company of other book lovers, joining this book club meeting is highly recommended. Read more about the Hampton Court Book Club.
  • If you are driving to the Hampton Court Palace, drive a bit farther on Hampton Court Road to find a high capacity car park.
  • Carry comfortable shoes if you plan to cover the entire Hampton Court Palace complex. You may end up walking as much as 2 miles.

Hampton Court Palace Review

The palace is incredible with history covering several centuries of British history. Starting with Henry VIII and carrying on for at least two centuries. The insteriors are incredible and there is lots to see and do. The grounds are fantastic with the formal gardens and of course the infamous maze.

- Richard M, October 2022 Tripadvisor

The entry price seems high, but when you realise how much there is to see - both inside and in the grounds - it's actually better value than many historical country houses. The gardens include both formal and informal, and include a decent place for food. There are several sets of rooms that illustrate the periods of Henry VIII and the Hanoverians, as well as some rooms used to display art. The audio guide really helps you to understand what you are seeing, and was included in the price. The kitchens are very extensive and we saw people demonstrating some historic dishes. All the staff seemed very knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

- Jeremy B, October 2022 Tripadvisor

Read more Hampton Court Palace Reviews on TripAdvisor.


Where is the best place to park near Hampton Court Palace?

There are several car parks located near Hampton Court Palace, including the official palace car park and a number of public car parks.

Is there an annual Hampton Court Palace Festival?

Yes, the Hampton Court Palace Festival is held every summer and features a variety of musical performances.

What are the opening hours for Hampton Court Palace?

 The opening hours for Hampton Court Palace vary depending on the time of year, but the palace is generally open from 10am to 4pm.


Is there a dress code for visiting Hampton Court Palace?

There is no formal dress code for visiting Hampton Court Palace, but visitors are asked to refrain from wearing overly casual or revealing clothing.

How long does it take to tour Hampton Court Palace?

Most visitors spend between 2 and 3 hours touring Hampton Court Palace. However, there is no time limit and you can stay as long as you like.

What can I see at Hampton Court Palace?

There are a number of things to see at Hampton Court Palace, including the State Apartments, the Chapel Royal, and the gardens.

Explore More London Palaces

Looking to explore other palaces in London? We strongly recommend the London Royal Palace Pass! If you're not interested in the pass, check out our detailed guides on other famous London Palaces and plan your visit efficiently.

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