Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace in Richmond upon Thames, Greater London, England, 19 km south-west from central London. Redevelopment began to be carried out in 1515 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII. In 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the King seized the palace for himself and later enlarged it. Along with St. James’s Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many owned by King Henry VIII.
The renaissance garden, which Henry VIII made here in the 1530s, was converted to the baroque style between 1660 and 1702. Naturally competitive, Henry VIII wanted Hampton Court to outshine the palace garden at Fontainebleau. Henry VIII’s garden had square plots of grass with lions, dragons and other painted heraldic beasts on posts. There was also a Mount overlooking the River Thames and a Water Gallery leading to a landing stage for the royal barge.
Mary II of England: A Queen of Gardens by Margaret Porter
“Her rooms should be abundantly furnished each day with all kinds of flowers.” – Prince William of Orange (later King William III), to his gardener Charles du Boisson.
“Princess Mary of York, eventually Princess Mary of Orange, and ultimately England’s Queen Mary II was an enthusiastic plantswoman and garden-maker. From her early years, when her education was supervised by the botanically-minded cleric Henry Compton, she was an avid gardener.
From 1689 to 1696, the monarchs’ expenditure on their royal gardens totalled £83,000, in modern currency approximately £7,275,000 or $11,471,000. Three-fourths of the sum was spent at Hampton Court alone”.
The gardens of Hampton Court Palace comprise 60 acres of formal gardens and 750 acres of royal parkland, tended by a team of 38 gardeners and specialists. The garden contains a beautifully calming central pond, adding to the formal structured design.
200,000 flowering bulbs are planted in total throughout the formal gardens each year.
140,000 plants are grown in the nurseries each year.
There are around 8,000 trees in the gardens and estate.
At 580 metres, the Broad Walk herbaceous border is the longest in Britain and in summer is filled with assorted phlox, delphiniums, dahlias and sedums.
95% of the green waste is recycled.
Home Park covers an area of 750 acres and has remained unspoilt since it was first opened to the public in 1894. It has a rich and varied eco-system and provides a habitat for wildlife, including 300 fallow deer (descended from Henry VIII’s original herd), 30-40 ring-necked parakeets and horses.
The Park houses a private golf course and is also the venue for the annual RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show – the largest show of its kind in the world.
The Flower Show (visited in 2010) will be the subject of my next Post.