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Visit to Hampton Court Palace

Sunday 2nd April 2023

AWC Visit on April 2nd to Hampton Court Palace and attendance at Palm Sunday Evensong at

His Majesty’s Chapel Royal


On a bright and warm sunny afternoon, members of the Aldersgate Ward Club gathered expectantly for a talk and tour of Hampton Court Palace.   They were not to be disappointed. The group were greeted by James Harris, Clerk of the Chapel, and Groom of the Vestry, the Verger, both in red cassocks, together with our guide David in tails.  This looked very impressive as they came towards us to introduce themselves.

Hampton Court Palace was the home of Henry VII, his family and followers five hundred years ago.  His six wives and three children all lived here and another ten rulers after them.  It was a palace dedicated to flamboyant display and cuisine!  Thomas Wolsey acquired Hampton Court in 1514 which was originally a manor house, changing it to a Palace in order that the King could entertain and receive foreign dignitaries.  Wolsey served as Henry VIII’s administrator and was also a Cardinal

At the start of our tour, we saw the great entrance courtyard before moving on to see the numerous kitchens that were built to serve the Great Hall.  Over five hundred people in the court had meals twice a day so therefore there was an enormous production line and also the fact that produce had to be sought either from that which was grown and produced at the Palace or from outside.

The Great Hall is the largest room in the Palace where tapestries are on display.  Wolsey acquired many of these from France.  Of particular interest is the Hammer-beam roof which also features at Eltham Palace.    The roof was designed by James Nedeham and was painted blue, red and gold.

We then went on to visit the Great Watching Chamber which got its name from its position as the first of the King’s state apartments beyond the Great Hall where the Yeomen of the Guard were stationed to watch guard. From there it  was a processional route which the King took including the haunted Gallery where Catherine Howard Henry’s fifth wife ghost appears. There was on display a re-creation of Henry VIII’s Crown of State in the Royal Pew on the first floor before we went to visit the Chapel Royal prior to the Service.   The magnificent vaulted ceiling was installed in the 1530s and Queen Anne refurnished the interior of the Chapel in the early 1700s.

The Psalm Sunday Evensong Service was conducted by the Chaplain the Reverend Canon Anthony Howe together with James Harris.  Carl Jackson, the Director of Music directed the Choir with Rufus Frowde as Organist.    We were privileged to hear such exquisite music by Tomkins, Walford Davies and Victoria. The voices resonated in such beautiful surroundings and acoustics.

I am extremely grateful to Felicity Brown because having had no results contacting a member of Staff at the Palace, Felicity was able to give me a contact Email address following an AWC Committee meeting.    She had been in touch with a person at Hampton Court co-incidentally regarding another Service that she had wanted to attend.

All members agreed that we had been very fortunate that we were able to have such an interesting tour with an excellent guide together with the bonus of hearing the magnificent Chapel Choir.

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