Hampton Court

Hampton Court

Hampton Court .—Hampton  is about 13 miles from London by railway, and 24 by water.  Trains run there very frequently, and at low fares, from Waterloo Station.  The village is unimportant, but rendered pleasant by its large and open green.  The chief object of attraction is Hampton Court Palace, situated within an enclosed garden near the north bank of the Thames.  The palace was originally built by Cardinal Wolsey, and a portion of the structure which he reared is still extant in the northern quadrangle.  Here was the scene of the humiliation and forfeiture of that favourite of Henry VIII., who at this place often held his court, and made it the scene of his Christmas festivities; there Edward VI. was born; here were held the masques, mummeries, and tournaments of Philip and Mary, and Elizabeth; here James I. held his court and famous meeting of controversialists; here Charles I. was immured as a state prisoner, and took leave of his children; here was celebrated the marriage of Cromwell's daughter and Lord Falconberg; here Charles II. sojourned occasionally with his dissolute courtiers; here lived William and Mary after the revolution of 1688; and here, till the reign of George II., royal courts were sometimes held.  The palace, in external appearance, is a lofty and magnificent structure of red brick, with stone cornices and dressings.  The older part, including the famous Great Hall, the scene of the court masques and revels, is of the time of Henry VIII.; the eastern part, including the public rooms and the long garden front, was built by Wren for William III.  Altogether, the edifice consists of three quadrangles.  Entering by the grand staircase, which is decorated with paintings by Antonio Verrio, the visitor is conducted through a suite of lofty and large apartments, furnished in an old-fashioned style.  The guard-room, which is first in order, contains, besides a series of English admirals by Kneller and Dahl, a variety of ancient warlike instruments.  In the next apartment are portraits of various beauties of Charles II.'s court, painted by Sir Peter Lely, who has here depicted several lovely countenances, though a sensual character is common to them all.  In the third room, or audience-chamber, is seen what is generally regarded as the finest painting in the palace—a portrait of Charles I. on horseback, by Vandyck.  The third room has also some good pictures; among others, a painting of the family of Louis Cornaro, a person celebrated for his extraordinary temperance.  The picture, which is from an original by Titian, shews Cornaro and three generations of descendants, who appear in the act of adoration at a shrine.  There are likewise portraits of Titian and his uncle, painted by Titian himself, and a spirited battle-piece by Giulio Romano.  The fourth apartment, or Queen's drawing-room, is enriched with an exceedingly fine painting of Charles I., a whole length, by Vandyck, esteemed the best likeness we have of that monarch.  There is a well known and beautiful print from it by Sir Robert Strange, the prince of English line-engravers.  In the next room, or state bedchamber, the visitor will see a portrait of Ann Hyde, daughter of Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, and mother of the successive queens, Mary and Anne.  The Queen's dressing-room and writing-closet, and Queen Mary's state bedchamber, which follow, contain many fine pictures, by Holbein, Sir Peter Lely, Sebastian del Piombo, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Durer, and others.  A series known as the Beauties of the Court of William and Mary comprises portraits (by Kneller) more staid than those of the court of Charles II., and, it must be admitted, more tame and dull.  After having traversed these stately and silent halls, one of which contains a valuable collection of historical portraits, the visitor is led out through the gallery lately containing the famous Cartoons of Raphael—which were transferred in 1865 to the South Kensington Museum.  Another room contains a fine series of Cartoons by Andrea Mantegna.  The whole of the pictures at Hampton Court are little less than 1000 in number.

The palace garden has a Vinery, where there is a grape vine ninety years old, which has sometimes yielded 3000 bunches of grapes in one year.  The garden also possesses a Maze, a source of great delight to holiday juveniles.  On the opposite side of the Hampton Wick Road from the palace gardens, is Bushy Park, a royal domain, embellished with an avenue of horse-chestnut trees, which present a splendid sight when in full bloom.  The palace grounds are also exceedingly beautiful.  Bushy Park is open for omnibuses and other vehicles, as well as for pedestrians.  The palace is open free every day except Friday, from 10 till 4 or 6, according to the season; and the grounds or gardens till dusk.  This is one of the very few public buildings in or near the metropolis open on Sundays.