Though Greenwich was personally more important to the Tudor family, Hampton Court is likely what comes to mind when planning a Tudor-heavy itinerary. That’s because this is where the Tudors held court. The palace served as the seat of government, played host to visiting dignitaries, and boasted the country’s most enviable parties.
As you tour, keep an eye out for pomegranates… yes, pomegranates. This is a nod to Catherine of Aragon’s royal emblem—the Spanish princess’s family was the most powerful in Europe, and pomegranates were symbolic of their potency. Based in love, Henry VIII’s marriage with Catherine of Aragon was his most successful. They remained married longer than his other five marriages combined, and most believe she was the only wife he truly loved.
But Catherine of Aragon isn’t the only wife whose memory is preserved in Hampton Court Palace. The Great Hall was a gift to Anne Boleyn. After her execution, he had any trace of her removed, but one small symbol was missed by the workmen and can still be spotted today.
The palace now holds Tudor-themed events and seasonal fayres, often with actors dressed to reenact pivotal moments throughout Tudor history, including medieval jousts (Henry VIII’s favourite sport). Hampton Court also boasts an extensive Tudor artwork collection, including an iconic portrait of Elizabeth I and the remaining cloth from a gown that bears a striking resemblance to the one she wears in the painting.