Monday, March 27, 2017

Hampton Court

Our last day in London, we traveled out to Hampton Court.  In my preparation for the trip, I didn't research Hampton, but I did watch the Masterpiece series on PBS about Queen Victoria.  Many of the scenes are at Hampton.  However, I stepped through the gate with no real knowledge.  As we walked into the first rooms, I was delighted to discover half of Hampton was restored to Henry VIII's day.  What a delight!  I have always been fascinated with Henry, all his wives, Bloody Mary, and Elizabeth I.

For the record, I only was able to see a pearl from Elizabeth I's age.  I need to go back to find were Elizabeth items are.  I truly love her.  She was an amazing woman.  Since being in England, I am reading a book about Elizabeth I and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scotland.  I definitely am a fan more of Elizabeth, but both women fascinate me.  Both are determined to rule, but destiny only allows for one.  In my studies this past year, I have enjoyed learning about Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II, but my favorite is Elizabeth I.  I was disappointed not to tour anything about her.  Next time, I hope.  Also of note, I still have a spot in my heart for Bloody Mary, Elizabeth I's older sister.  Her life was filled with so much suffering and hatred.  She is truly a tragic character in history.

But, I digress.  The day prior, I saw many tapestries.  The tapestries at Hampton Court amazed me even further.  I have always loved the thought of sitting around a fire doing needle work.  I know I would have done tapestries if I lived in the era.  If I didn't love gardening and writing so much, I would be tempted to try my hand at the task.  So, walking into the dining hall of Henry VIII, my jaw must have hit the floor.  The walls were lined with tapestries, just like in the books.  Stained glass windows adorned the upper reaches of the walls.  And in the ceiling beams, the heads of a king looked down on the diners to remind them the king is always watching.  My skin tingled.

Touring through Windsor and Hampton, workers keep watch of the tourists and answer questions.  The ones I talked to were delightful.  I wondered onto a stairwell landing and the guide joined me as I looked up on the wall at a display of mounted stag antlers.  He pointed out the largest rack.  The antlers were found in a bog in Ireland.  He said they were 10,000 years old.  After he left, I thought of my dad.  He would love to hear that story.

A little later, as I entered the Chapel Royal, I was greeted by the smell of incense.  My first thought was that even after all these years, the smell lingered.  However, they still hold services in the church.  Amazing.  Thus, the smoke lingered from the day prior.  The affect still transported me to the days of Catherine of Aragon.  I stood in the balcony and to the right a little day chapel was roped off which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  This was were Catherine must have spent hours in prayer while her husband plotted to divorce her so he could marry Anne Boleyn.  I prayed here in the balcony.  My second experience in a holy place.


My favorite piece of artwork was a family portrait of Henry VIII and his family.


I was disappointed in not being able to see the gardens of Hampton Court in their entirety.  I caught glimpses of them through the windows.  I longed to wander, but I grew tired as did my companions.  Again, I will have to come another time to this spot in the spring or summer to witness the grandeur of such manicured plants.  My heart did patter as I looked out towards one sight.  Just in the past couple of months, I saw this very scene on the show about Queen Victoria.  She walked here.  Everywhere I walked in the palace, I am sure she was in the same spots along with other historical figures.  In fact, I watched the episode of when Victoria gave birth to her first child.  I have been there.  Extraordinary!!!

My other favorite part of the tour was the armor room.  The displays amazed me.  I have always found weapons beautiful.  Yes, they kill senselessly when in the wrong hands.  But they also defend and provide sustenance.  When it comes to firearms, they are fun to shoot.  Walking through the display I drank in the artistry of how they showed the items.  Dad and Jerry would appreciate the room.

We stopped in a gift shop.  I picked my items and chatted with the clerks.  My heart flowed with excitement and awe.  I laughed with the women and in a hurry took my leave.  Going through the kitchens, another gift shop enticed me with a thimble like corkscrew and a cork stopper.  As I opened my handbag, my credit card was missing.  I panicked but had cash.  I dug through everything.  My sister ran to the first shop and she backtracked our steps.  I opened the two pockets in my backpack I never use.  The card was in one of them.  The rest of the trip, I double checked for my credit card.  I haven't been that scared in ages.  Geez, in England with no card!  I could have made it work, but I thanked God for finding the small piece of plastic!

Looking back through the pictures, Hampton Court was my favorite of the three castles we went through.  I would love to study Elizabeth I to see if she spent a lot of time in this grand home.  I really could envision myself living there back in the days of old.  The ceilings, lanterns, furniture, all were extremely beautiful.  I think I will always feel this trip was only in my dreams.

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