Category Archives: Museums

More Kings And Queens. 5th August

Hampton Court Palace

Fountain Court

The Palace isn’t just Tudor, it was a Palace for other Kings and Queens too. When William III took the throne in 1689 he asked Christopher Wren to design a new Baroque palace . Originally the Tudor Palace was to be demolished, but the cost was to be too much for the Royal purse. Instead a third of the palace was replaced.

Pistols and daggers, who needs wallpaper

A grand staircase with small steps and huge painting takes you up to William’s state apartments. This was and still is an impressive way to enter. As with Henry VIII, visitors were vetted before being let through to the following rooms. The guard chamber is almost encrusted with weaponry showing Williams hunger for war. These were not just for show, but could be used by the army should the need arise.

Possibly the first chandelier of it’s kind in the country

Next follows a succession of chambers each with a throne and canopy. The further on you got the less fancy the canopy, but the chair beneath got comfier. Large paintings cover the walls and other than the throne there is little furniture in the rooms, instead they would have been filled with beautifully dressed courtiers. By the time you reach the Privy Chamber the chair is fluffed up and plump the canopy has disappeared, a wonderful crystal chandelier hangs in the centre of the room which lines up wonderfully with the Privy Garden outside.

Ginormous bed just for show
A very busy ceiling that would keep anyone awake

A huge bed sits in the Great Bedchamber, this is where the King was dressed in view public, an incredible painted ceiling above faces the on looker not the king. This was all for show, which the King would rather have lived without.

Padded toilet on a chest. Maybe a precursor to a Kilwick

Below the grand rooms are the more private apartments where the King really lived his life. Here his collections of favourite paintings hang on ropes, many of them night time scenes now hard to distinguish their content. The Orangery houses the orange and bay trees during the winter months, gives a great view down the Privy Garden.

The private dining room

These are less flamboyant rooms, cosy and homely. In his private dining room he surrounded himself with full length portraits of the Hampton Court Beauties. The serving area could be closed off after the meal leaving the king and his guests in peace.

Queen Anne followed doing a touch of remodelling herself. The Royal Chapel which had stained glass and a fantastic blue and gold ceiling from Henry VIII’s time was altered. The window frames left in place, but the glass depicting Henry, Katherine and Wolsey are long since gone. Much of the lower walls are now wood, vertical parquet covers the wall behind the alter and huge wooden columns attempt to hold up the Tudor ceiling. Sadly you’re not allowed to take photos here, the ceiling is great.

The Queens staircase

Then came the Georgians. George I built a set of rooms for his son in which he and his wife entertained lavishly. A new kitchen was also built which you can now stay in as it is one of the Landmark Trust properties, The Georgian House.

What a ceiling

When George II succeeded his father in 1727 the palace entered it’s last phase as a royal residence. The Queens staircase had a make over by the architect William Kent with Roman niches and trompe l’oeil panels below another great painted ceiling.

Two jolly chaps

The Queens Guard Chamber has quite a fireplace. Two men, possibly Yeomen of the Guard have the huge mantle piece resting on their hats. Here as else where in the Palace visitors would be vetted before being let further into the rooms.

Napkin artistry

The Public Dining Room is decorated with more impressive painting and a large table shows off a display of napkin artistry.

Wonderful costumes

Stood in the room are white costumes made from fibrous paper, these represent members of the court and have a small resume on their bodices or cuffs.

The period detail sewn into them is wonderful. There is a more sociable feel to these rooms than those of earlier periods. Courtiers would play games, gambling, loosing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

A bit more painting, anyone would think this was a palace!

By 1737 George II no longer wanted to use Hampton Court as a royal palace so it was filled with grace and favour residents. The accommodation not the best, some residents didn’t have access to hot water. Many residents were widows who’s husbands had worked for the monarch. This continued until the 1960’s and there are still a couple of elderly residents still living in the Palace.

A modern addition

In 1838 Queen Victoria decided to let the public see inside the palace and opened up its doors, this proved to be very popular.

Looking back to the house from the Privy Garden

The Privy Garden needed a closer look, especially as there was a nice boat moored just outside the Tijou Screen (a shame they still haven’t finished painting it!). After a fire damaged the palace in 1986 the decision was taken to restore the privy garden back to how it had been in William III’s time. The trees were kept clipped at 7 to 8 ft high and a view of the Thames was possible. This in later years had been left to grow and had got quite out of hand, no longer could the palace be seen from the river.

Mum feeding her not so small chick

During August there is plenty happening. The King Henry VIII’s sporting academy is taking place throughout the gardens. Real Tennis is played on the indoor court, there is fencing and sword fighting, wrestling, crossbow and falconry displays.

Royal Medication of the chilled variety

After quite a busy day we deserved some chilled medication and a good job we got it when we did as the stand closed soon afterwards. Mick had Chocolate Brownie and I had a very good Raspberry Sorbet, no gluten free cones today though!

From the rose garden

Other areas of the grounds are open to the public. The Rose and Kitchen garden were worth a wander around, plenty growing in the vegetable beds, they even had some Royal Blackberries!

Royal Harry
and his mate Dwain

Even though we’d been a touch reluctant to buy two full price tickets to the palace we were amazed at what we got for our money. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, so much to see and do. We didn’t quite manage to see everything so we may come back another time to look at the galleries and go round the maze, however, we’ll try to time that with a two for one offer.


Property Game

This one was built by it’s current owners and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.


Yesterdays Answer

https://www.tudorandco.co.uk/properties/12395356/sales

£1,295,000 no chain and it’s detached!

Sorry Ade, at least you were only a million out this time!

The One Who Survived, She’s Dead Now. 5th August

Hampton Court Palace Gates

Last night we spent some time deciding on what to do. We’d planned on using a two for one days out to go to the Palace today, making it far more acceptable to our pockets. But this is not available during the school holidays! We’d have to pay full price, even Mick wouldn’t get Old Git’s Rate.

One of the kitchens

In the end reason saw through our Yorkshire pockets and we purchased tickets on line, which saved us something. Paying more than £20 each we had to make the most of the day so planned on being at the gates as they opened for the day. This of course didn’t quite happen as we kept forgetting things like a coat should it rain again and a water bottle.

Discussing budgets

Our mooring and advance tickets meant we could gain entrance through a side gate and head straight to the main doors where our tickets were scanned and we were pointed in the right direction for an audio guide. These are well worth getting, plenty of interesting information as you walk round. With maps and guide where should we start? Henry VIII ‘s kitchens.

For the staff
For his royal nibs

The courtyards have atmospheric noises, reminiscent of those at Bletchely Park and footage of Tudor gents plays over bench backs, discussing purchases for the kitchens. The kitchens here didn’t only cater for Henry, his court and guests, but on a daily basis there were 400 people to cater for. Henry not only wanted the best of English, roast beef was always on the menu, but also spices from far afield. The staff would have one meal and the Royals would have another of two courses, but this had many different plates.

Chopping
Boards

The kitchens are huge with high ceilings, at least six fires were used for cooking. Chopping boards line one bench, if you put your hands on the board hands and knives are projected chopping and grinding ingredients.

Roasting by the fire

One fire was lit today with a chap wearing heavy woolen clothing turning a spit. Here two large joints, by modern standards, of beef were roasting. The kitchen each year would use 1.3 million logs to cook the palaces food. The logs piled up were each bigger than our stove on Oleanna.

Wine cellar

Rooms of pewter and linen headed off to the sides of the serving corridor and then a vaulted wine cellar big enough to house several families. The Tudors liked their wine and beer, but they still drank water, it’s not mentioned as much in records, because once the lead pipes were in the water was free. The water for the Palace came from a spring three miles away.

We refrained from buying anything from the Kitchen shop and headed on to Henry VIII’s Apartments.

The Great Hall

Walking into the Great Hall you could hear everyone’s gasps of awe at the sight. Such a wonderful ceiling, which now is tame in colour to what it would have been. Large stained glass windows, wooden carved deer heads and tapestries measuring 5m by 8m, my photos don’t do it justice.

Henry in the window

Tables are laid up with cloths for you to sit at, it was good manners to undo ones’ belt as you sat down rather than when it became necessary during a meal. Here banquets would be held with all the trimmings for such a fine room, but on normal days this was actually the staff canteen and Henry was more likely to eat in his private rooms.

Gilt ceiling

The great Watching Chamber follows with it’s wonderful gilt ceiling. Here Yeomen of the Guard would stand watch controlling access to the state rooms, only high ranking visitors were permitted beyond this room. Through the next few rooms the visitors were filtered, only those of very high rank would make it to the final room and meet the King.

Henry VIII

Cardinal Wolsey first acquired Hampton Court in 1514 and transformed it from a manor house into a Palace for Henry. He collected tapestries and treasures for the palace, but lost them all to the King when in 1529 he fell from power. The King loved to show off and Hampton Court was just the place to do that.

Not bad for a clock tower

The Young Henry VIII’s story is just that, the story of his earlier years as King. Rooms are laid out with large backed oak chairs telling his story. He was the first king in 100 years to inherit the throne peacefully from his father. Once king he soon married Katherine of Aragon, she had been briefly married to his brother before he died. Katherine produced children, three boys all of whom died soon after birth or were still born, only Princess Mary survived past the age of seven weeks. Was the Kings marriage a cursed one, him having married his brothers wife?

Anne Boleyn came on the scene, the King fell in love and secretly married her in 1532, still married to Katherine whom he managed to divorce a year later. This is where the saying Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived started from. As a child I never learnt this, but Mick did. However he did today add that the one who survived Henry, she’s now dead!

Still having our tickets meant that we didn’t have to folk out £20 plus for lunch and could return home instead. We handed back our audio tour and had a comfortable sit down back at Oleanna.


Property Game

5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms with river moorings.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 cheap internet tickets, 2 4 1 not available in school holidays, 2 days mooring booked, 2 audio tours, 400 mouths to feed, 6 fires, 1.3 million logs, 6 wives, too many wonderful chimneys to count.

Yesterdays Answer

https://www.watersideresidential.co.uk/property-for-sale/?id=10245&type=2

£799,950 for 3 bedrooms with pedestrian access, but with two moorings.

Sorry Ade you were miles out with £2.7 million.

Twice As Big As The One On EasyJet. 3rd August

Pyrford Marina to Byfleet Cruising Club

The voice of Houdini woke us this morning, we were breakfasted and cruising far earlier than normal. Not far to go by boat this morning, just over a mile which brought us very close to the M25 and it’s constant rumble. We pulled in just after the Byfleet Cruising Club moorings on what we thought were visitor moorings. Our pack of info from the National Trust had suggested here as a mooring, but it seems that we might have pulled in on space meant for the cruising club. One chap asked if we were staying long and if it would be okay if we got breasted up to, (which it was as) another tried to make them sound a touch more friendly by inviting us to use all their facilities. We made sure that they knew we’d been pointed to the mooring by the NT.

Far away plane

We walked up to the busy main road which crosses the canal and then very soon afterwards the M25. Here we caught a 436 bus to Tescos. The route took us around the houses before it reached the huge store, another couple of stops and we thought we’d reached our destination. However we still had quite a walk, it did mean that we had chance to watch people zooming along a race track and on skid pans in shiny cars at Mercededs Benz World. All a bit too fast for us.

We were at Brooklands. The worlds first purpose built motor racing circuit which opened it’s 2.75 mile track in 1907. It is also the site of one of Britain’s first airfields which also became Britain’s largest aircraft manufacturing centre by 1918. Here they produced military aircraft such as the Wellington and civil airliners like the Viscount and VC-10. The first British Grand Prix was held here in 1926.

Part of the race track

The race track banks up around the site, roads now cut their way through it, Tescos at one end and Brooklands Museum at the other. In 1987 a trust was set up and a 30 acre site was ear marked for the museum where the heritage of Brooklands could be celebrated. The finishing straight of the race track is on the site and the northern half of the runway was still used occasionally until 2003, in 2004 it was sold off and is now Mercedes Benz World.

Brooklands clubhouse

Brooklands hosts collections of racing cars, motorbikes, aeroplanes and the London Bus Museum. We’d been warned that there was far too much to do in just one day so we decided to concentrate on the planes and buses.

Concord

Mick’s Dad flew with the RAF during WW2 and then with BEA on civil airliners. Because of this we headed straight out to see the planes. The first production Concorde sits in central position, you can pay extra to go on board, but we decided just to look from the outside. Her total flying hours 1,282hrs 9 minutes lags somewhat behind Oleannas 2,540hrs. It would have been nice to look inside the narrow plane, but we had far more important planes to look at.

Stepping down from the Sultan of Oman s VC-10

There are plenty of volunteers on hand, they range from men who know everything about how a plane worked and tell you all about it (so much so we could most probably service a VC10 now), to ones who tell you how the planes were used, to ones interested in your own connections to the planes,

Us reluctantly having our photo taken, I’ve had to zoom in quite a long way!

to one who insisted on taking our photo in front of a Hawker Harrier (it was easier just to let him do it), to one who was far more interested in hearing about our life on a narrowboat than telling us anything about the cockpit we manged to get sat in.

Twice as big
Toilet and bidet with ten times more space

There are two VC-10’s, one without wings or a tail. A family were looking round in front of us ‘That toilet’s twice as big as the ones on EasyJet!’ They were most probably right, I’d hate to have heard what they had to say about the toilet on the Sultan of Oman’s plane, it was half the size of Oleanna! There were also double beds with seat belts and everything covered in chrome green velour.

Seat belts on your bed

These planes are really quite big when you take all the seats out of them. The smell of the fixtures and fittings along with years of cigarette smoke that worked it’s way in behind all the panels was quite evocative.

Viscount

Mick’s Dad flew Vicker’s Viscounts and Vanguards and here we got chance to go on board. The Viscount was most probably the first plane Mick ever went on with it’s big oval windows.

Plenty of controls

On the Vanguard a team of old chaps who had been ground engineers at Heathrow chatted away to Mick. These fellows had most probably known his Dad, Mick found an old photo on his phone of him in uniform, but it was badly lit so hard to see his face properly. This plane had been used for cargo, all the windows covered up, horses had been transported to the Olympics in Barcelona. Up front we could sit in the cockpit, Mick taking the Captains seat, was this a seat his Dad had actually sat in? We’ll have to check with those who hold Peter’s log book.

Mick sat in a seat his Dad almost certainly sat in

Unfortunately the chap who was going to tell us all about the flight deck was more interested in our life and gave us absolutely no information even though we kept trying, he was also a touch deaf. What will happen in such places when all the old chaps who volunteer have passed away?

The best design

There are new modern exhibitions in the Aircraft Factory where Mick managed to design a plane suitable to carry cargo using a runway of 1km.

The Stratosphere Chamber door rolled out of the way

There’s also a Stratosphere Chamber where Barnes Wallis carried out experiments to do with temperature and pressure. There are rooms laid out as if in the 20’s when the circuit and airfield were busy.

Horse Drawn

After a sit down and some lunch we looked around the London Bus Museum. Here the collection starts with a horse bus built around 1890 and the collection of rescued vehicles brings you almost up to date. The plaque saying that the Routemaster was the last vehicle designed for London Transport is a bit out of date as the Boris bus now drives round London.

The displays and information boards are huge, matching the size of the buses a shame a few of them are hidden behind the buses.

Winding the blind

You can wind a destination blind and go on board a couple of the latter buses where turnstiles would allow you to buy your own ticket. I don’t remember these, maybe they didn’t exist in York.

Conductor
Our tickets

The opportunity to ride on an RT was not to be missed, sadly we didn’t get the front seat, but it was still good. Mick used to get these to school in Ealing and the conductor today took our £1 coins and turned the handle on his ticket machine to produce our tickets. The amount of windows you could open are far better than on a Boris bus, but the suspension could have been better.

No 65
Twin Rover a bit early to have been one of Mick’s

A hunt round the displays and we found the Bus 65 time table, an often used route and a Child’s Twin Rover ticket. Mick and his mate Tony Silver used to get these when they’d saved up enough pocket money to spend a Saturday on the buses, going from one end of a route to the other and then getting on the next bus and seeing where that got them.

A quick look at some of the cars before we left and walked our way down where the runway had been towards Tescos. A few items were purchased before we caught the bus back to Oleanna.

Advert on a bus

Tilly had had a busy day keeping an eye on our new neighbour. What a composed fluffy ginger cat. For a while we wondered if it was alive, then eventually it did a considered slow blink.

What a stare
Slow blink

0 locks, 1.31 miles, 3 buses, 4 tickets, 6 planes, 2 cockpits, 1 seat sat in, 18,300 planes built, 1st Grand Prix, 5s twin rover, 65, 165, 2 jacket potatoes, 1 bored cat, 1 confupuss neighbour, M25 to rock us to sleep just 200ft away.

With the sound turned up!