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Hampton Court Palace: From Tudor Residence to a Royal Abode that Rivaled Versailles

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Palace has the distinction of being the oldest remaining Tudor palace in England. It was originally built in 1515 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, King Henry VIII’s chief adviser. However, he fell from favor after his failure to obtain an annulment on the king’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. The palace was quickly seized by the King only to enlarge it and make it one of his abodes.

Throughout the reign of the Tudors, the palace has seen numerous historic events. It was here where the king’s heir, the future Edward VI was born in 1537. Here also was were Jane Seymour died after delivering the baby. The King was attending a mass in the palace's chapel when he was informed that his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was having an affair.  Henry’s daughter and Edward VI’s successor, Queen Mary I, spent his honeymoon at Hampton Court after marrying King Philip II of Spain.

The palace has seen extensive rebuilding and expansive in the next 100 years. Seeing how outdated the palace was, King William III demolished much of the Tudor palace and constructed a new wing to rival Versailles. However, the king has lost interest in the building spree after the death of his wife, Queen Mary II in 1694. Nevertheless, the two unique architectural styles make Hampton Court all the more interesting. The symmetry and pink bricks used imbue a sense of unity.

King George II was the last monarch to live in the palace. After his death, it was used as a grace and favour residence, which were usually occupied rent free for individuals who have rendered services to the Crown. 


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