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Hampton Court Palace, London, England

August 1st, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Hampton Court Palace is a former royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, south west London, United Kingdom. The palace is located 11.7 miles (18.9 km) south west of Charing Cross and upstream of Central London on the River Thames. It is currently open to the public as a major tourist attraction. The palace's Home Park is the site of the annual Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

The Knights Hospitaller had operated a farm on the site since 1236. In 1505, the Lord Chamberlain, Sir Giles Daubeney, leased the property and used it to entertain Henry VII.

Thomas Wolsey, then Archbishop of York and Chief Minister to the King, took over the lease in 1514 and rebuilt the 14th-century manor house over the next seven years (1515–1521) to form the nucleus of the present palace. The few remaining Tudor sections of Hampton Court, which were later overhauled and rebuilt by Henry VIII, suggest that Wolsey intended it as an ideal Renaissance cardinal's palace in the style of Italian architects such as il Filarete and Leonardo da Vinci: rectilinear symmetrical planning, grand apartments on a raised piano nobile, classical detailing. Jonathan Foyle has suggested (see link) that is likely that Wolsey had been inspired by Paolo Cortese's De Cardinalatu, a manual for cardinals that included advice on palatial architecture, published in 1510. Planning elements of long-lost structures at Hampton Court appear to have been based on Renaissance geometrical programs, an Italian influence more subtle than the famous terracotta busts of Roman emperors by Giovanni da Maiano that survive in the great courtyard (illustration, right above).

The palace was appropriated by Wolsey's master, Henry VIII, in about 1525, although the Cardinal continued to live there until 1529. Henry added the Great Hall - which was the last medieval Great Hall built for the English monarchy - and the Royal Tennis Court, which was built and is still in use for the game of real tennis, not the present-day version of the game.

In 1604, the Palace was the site of King James I of England's meeting with representatives of the English Puritans, known as the Hampton Court Conference; while agreement with the Puritans was not reached, the meeting led to James's commissioning of the King James Version of the Bible.

During the reign of William and Mary, parts of Henry's additions were demolished, a new wing was added (partly under the supervision of Sir Christopher Wren), and the state apartments came into regular use. Half the Tudor palace was replaced in a campaign that lasted from 1689–1694. After the Queen died, William lost interest in the renovations, but it was at Hampton Court in 1702 that he fell from his horse, later dying from his injuries at Kensington Palace. In later reigns, the state rooms were neglected, but under George II and his queen, Caroline, further refurbishment took place, with architects such as William Kent employed to design new furnishings. The Queen's Private Apartments are still open to the public and include her bathroom, bedroom, and private chapel.

From the reign of George III in 1760, monarchs tended to favour other London homes, and Hampton Court ceased to be a royal residence, although originally it housed 70 grace-and-favour residences; few remain occupied as of May 2006]], one of them once homed Olave Baden-Powell, wife of the founder of the Scouting movement.

In 1796, restoration work began in the Great Hall. In 1838, Queen Victoria completed the restoration and opened the palace to the public. A major fire in the King's Apartments in 1986 led to a new programme of restoration work that was completed in 1995.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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