8 August 2014

Hampton Court Palace & Henry's Kitchen

Hampton Court Palace, home to King Henry VIII, the RHS Flower Show and the BBC's Good Food Festival (on the 23-25th August), is an English Rose. By this I mean it is one of the most stunning buildings in terms of architecture and interior design, is rich in English heritage and has beautifully styled gardens where even the kitchen garden is pruned to perfection.

Dan and I took the day off work on the Monday to visit Hampton Court Palace and Gardens in the very first week of July. Unintentionally, it was the day before the RHS Flower Show opened so unfortunately we missed out on the show and a stroll through Henry's old hunting grounds (Home Park) but actually this worked out quite well as the grounds were largely empty of people so it meant more exploring for us and less forcing our way through crowds round the palace (be aware you will most likely be faced with this task at the weekend!). 

You don't need to be told you're visiting the home of Royals past looking at Hampton Court, at a size that dwarfs Dan in the photo above, the palace has an opulent exterior with romantic scenes above large archways that would make the Romans want to stake a claim to it. And while the palace itself is beautiful it's the gardens that blew me away.

It may come as a shock to some of you but I am a self-proclaimed foodie. If you are also a food lover, then the Kitchen Garden at Hampton Court Palace is the one thing you have to visit if you go, and  you literally can't miss it as it is right by the entrance. With such a variety of different herbs, fruits and vegetables to look at, you could stay there all day. And if you haven't had enough food by now, you can always take a stroll around the orchards, grab a bite at the restaurant or find out the history of Henry VIII's chocolate kitchens, that's right whole kitchens devoted to chocolate!

(You may find the chocolate kitchens too much to bare as chocolate is no longer made there, our greatest British travesty.) 

While we were at Hampton Court we had to try out Dan's maze theory after he read that if you keep your right hand on the maze wall at all times you would make it to the center and not get lost. And I hate to say this, but he was right, it worked!

Walking through this gorgeous vine clad tunnel to emerge in front of Hampton Court Palace felt like we were walking the path of where the old great romantics had trodden, perhaps where Henry wooed one or two of his wives.

The quads inside of the palace remind me of the university I went to and the architecture is very similar, with both borrowing ideas from French Chateaus of the 1500s. The Chapel Royal has the most beautiful gold gilded ceilings and in the halls the enchanting biblical scenes extend from the walls onto the ceiling which is also something to be admired.  

Did you know Hampton Court Palace has the largest grape vine in the world? No, I didn't either!

Wisterias probably have my most favourite smelling flowers, with an overwhelming fragrance that's a cross between Jasmine and Freesias it's a beautiful scent. 

After visiting Hampton Court Palace, we went for a spot of lunch that turned into an afternoon in Henry's Kitchen with teas, coffees and a bottle of white wine.

For lunch we had a selection of small plates including the crispy duck, cucumber and watercress salad, griddled breads and haloumi served with hummus, guacamole and aubergine caviar (baba ganoush by any other name), and wild boar and thyme scotch eggs with mustard mayo.

The scotch eggs were by far the star of the meal and I smeared the creamy mustard mayo across everything I could (no dish was safe!). The salad was good with a really tangy Mediterranean dressing, which was not what I was expecting but was really tasty. And I am a sucker for baba ganoush, so all in all it was delicious!

As part of the Sustainable Restaurant Association I couldn't even feel guilty that we also had dessert (i.e., cake, lots of cake)!

Just looking at this last photo, makes me wish everyday was spent outside in gardens and inside whiling away an afternoon at a Henry's or somewhere similar.  


  1. Heyy, had a read at some of your posts! Love your dress in this post, looks like a great day! x x

    1. Thanks Lauren, I bought it on ebay but I think it's from Hooch. It really was!

  2. Wow, these grounds are so gorgeous. My UK friends seems to always be exploring some incredible estate or castle. We don't have anything like that here! And I think I'd have trouble convincing my boyfriend to take a day off work so we could go, haha.


    1. Hey Cat, that's such a shame! I love Europe for all our castles and chateaus, you'll have to visit one day but in the meanwhile at least you can pick your favourite ones before you go through your friends!! We took the day off to get home from a festival but because it rained so badly we didn't stay the night in the end so garden walks for us instead! Although, honestly it's not hard to get Dan to take a day off work..he gets more days holiday than I do!!