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The Early History of Hampton Court Palace

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The Great Gatehouse at Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace - The Early Changes

Hampton Court Palace was built from 1515 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey who was the Archbishop of York and a great favourite of King Henry VIII until he fell from favour in 1529. The king then took possession of the palace for himself and enlarged it considerably. Henry had many palaces and Hampton Court and St. James's Palace in London are the ony two that remain today.

King William III added extensively to Hampton Court over a century later but his building and construction works were not in the original Tudor style. In fact, King William destroyed much of the Tudor palace in his efforts to rival the French palace at Versailles. When work was halted in 1694 Hampton Court was left with two very different architectural styles. Fortunately, Wolsley's inner courtyard, a few other areas and his seal over the Clock Tower, also known as Anne Boleyn's Gate which was still being worked on when King Henry VIII had her executed, can still be seen today. It was not used much by the monarchy after this and King George II was the last monarch to live there.

Hampton Court Palace saw many historical events during those early years. In 1541 whilst King Henry VIII was attending Mass in the palace's chapel he was told of his wife Queen Catherine Howard's adultery. He soon had her imprisoned in the Tower of London. There is a well-known legend that during her imprisonment she managed to evade her captors for a brief moment and ran through the Haunted Gallery begging Henry to spare her life. It is said that her screams can still be heard.

After King Henry VIII died in 1547 his eldest daughter Queen Mary I and her husband Philip spent their honeymoon at Hampton Court Palace and stayed for a short while. Mary was succeeded by her half-sister, Elizabeth I who had the eastern kitchen built. It is now Hampton Court's public tea room. When Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603 the Tudor period came to an end and she was succeeded by the Scottish King James VI who was known in England as King James I. He was from the house of Stuart.

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