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500 Years of History: 2015 at Hampton Court Palace

Historic Royal Palaces has announced an exciting year of exclusive events to celebrate 500 years of Royal history.

This year will mark 500 years since Cardinal Wolsey leased Hampton Court and began a massive refurbishment transforming Hampton Court into an extravagant palace. A palace that would eventually be relinquished to his one-time supporter and friend, King Henry VIII as part of his ‘penance’ for the debacle of Henry’s divorce from Kathrine of Aragon.

Five centuries later, Hampton Court Palace is a national treasure, a place like no other that one must see if visiting the UK.

Throughout 2015, the palace will hold a series of exclusive events, displays and entertainments in what is heralded as a “vast sweep of half a century of history: from the tumultuous reign of Henry VIII, to the small army of curators, conservators and gardeners who keep the palace ticking over today.”

The palace is a treasure trove of Royal history. During its storied history, it has witnessed honeymoons, was the venue for births as well as deaths, saw a King imprisoned and another meet his death by accident. If the walls could speak, they perhaps may recite an excerpt of one of Shakespeare’s performances or a piece from Handel’s Chapel Royal performance.

Henry VIII joins in the celebration at Hampton Court Place. Photo Courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces.

Henry VIII joins in the celebration at Hampton Court Place. Photo Courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces.

Laura Hutchinson, Acting Media and PR Manager for Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, and Kew Palace told Royal Central: We’re very excited to be putting on a whole year of celebrations to mark Hampton Court’s 500th anniversary. From Tudor jousts, to lavish Baroque parties, there’ll be events throughout the year for all ages – including wine for the grown-ups as the famous wine fountain flows once again!”

To commemorate its spectacular history, Hampton Court Palace plans to “bring all 500 years of history to life, with a series of celebrations to mark the survival of this remarkable building.”

Scheduled events include:
  • The BBC and Historic Royal Palaces partnership programme: ‘Britain’s Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court’. Presented by Historic Royal Palaces Chief Curator Lucy Worsley, and Dr David Starkey, the BBC Two programme explored one of the most famous nights in Hampton Court’s history: the christening of Henry VIII’s much longed for son Edward VI, and featured palace staff, in full Tudor costume, re-creating the baby prince’s christening procession.
  • From February, Historic Royal Palaces will be recruiting 5,000 young people and families to contribute to a very special new animated film, retelling 500 years of history in 5 minutes. A year of movie-making activities and workshops at the palace will culminate in the creation of a film by Aardman Productions, which will premiere at the palace in October.
  • From Easter, the famous wine fountain will flow once more, offering up a toast to 500 years of Hampton Court every afternoon. Visitors will be able to get up close and personal with a cast of characters from across the palace’s history, as costumed actors playing kings, queens and courtiers bring Hampton Court’s history to life. On any given day, visitors might witness Catherine Howard’s attempted flight towards Henry VIII to save herself, stumble upon Charles I and Oliver Cromwell deep in conversation, or see Elizabeth I’s giant porter brought to life in the Tudor rooms he once guarded, where his portrait now hangs.
  • Over the Easter weekend a state of the art 3D film projection onto the Palace’s south façade, will take a kaleidoscopic journey through the building’s history, re-modelling and life of the palace in four ‘movements’. The Palace will be dressed for a celebration, with carriages from different eras parked outside the famous Tudor gatehouse.
  • For May Bank Holiday Weekend, a ‘Time Quake’ quest will be held for families, inviting visitors to travel back in time and meet some of the key characters who have shaped the Hampton Court’s history. Specially written for the anniversary year by best-selling author Damien Dibben, an exciting reward will await those who complete the journey!
  • The summer will see two large garden parties staged, celebrating a ‘palace of two halves’ and giving visitors the opportunity to explore great moments from Hampton Court’s past. Bringing the Tudor Palace to life, King Henry VIII will put on a show to impress the ambassadors, with sporting prowess on display in a magnificent Tudor joust, dancing in the Elizabethan knot garden, and the Tudor Kitchens cooking up a storm. Meanwhile, in a special Baroque themed weekend, Charles II, his new Queen and a selection of ravishing court beauties will celebrate a masque in the formal gardens.

The celebration is certainly something to not be missed this year. Royal Central will continue to cover the many events throughout the year.

For ticket information visit: Hampton Court Palace.

Historic Royal Palaces is an independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers.

Photo Courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces

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