Attraction review: Why visit Hampton Court Palace with the kids

During the Easter break I took my 11 year old son and some of his friends to Hampton Court Palace as part of our discovery tours of all historical landmarks that are important within the national curriculum in both primary and secondary schools. 

We went back in time and walked around the home and gardens of Henry VIII and enjoyed the family activities particularly the Maze and the Magic Garden.

The Maze

We loved get truly lost in the maze. This activity takes around 20 minutes (on average) including reaching the central point inside the maze.

I had given up finding the exit of the maze earlier than that! But the kids seemed much cleverer about it until they really got lost. You could buy a ticket for the Maze without including the Palace. 


The Magic Garden 

We enjoyed letting the kids run wild in the Magic Garden (which has just reopened), which is a modern enclosed park with activities for kids and a huge dragon inspired by the old secret gardens.

The children did not want to leave. We had to drag them out after almost two hours of fun in there.

If you take them there as the first activity, you won’t be able to visit the Palace.

But you can buy a ticket to just visit the Magic Garden without including the Palace. 

Hampton Court Spring events 

During May half term (26 May – 2 June 2018) the Palace will become the set for the Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians, with a live stage production of Horrible Histories. From the long line of King Georges to a deadly outbreak of cholera in Victorian London, children will be transported back in time to the most gruesome parts of British history, all within the palatial gardens of which the Georgian kings called home.

The show runs for one hour and is an outdoor performance in the palace gardens, with guests encouraged to bring a blanket and food for the ultimate historical picnic in the grounds of Henry VIII’s pleasure palace. It sounds really exciting! 


Life at the Tudor Court

Hampton Court is the perfect place to learn about how life was at the Tudor Court. It was in fact THE place to see, and be seen. 

In the 1500s, a monarch’s home was the centre of the nation. Wherever the monarch resided, he or she would be surrounded by the court.

These were people of high rank and their servants. Under the Tudors, Hampton Court Palace was a seat of government, a pleasure palace and a hotel. Here the big decisions were made; where you could seek favour and patronage, but also enjoy yourself in fine style.

Henry VIII had over 60 homes, but Hampton Court was his favourite palace. Once he had taken it from Cardinal Wolsey, the King transformed it still further to demonstrate his power and magnificence.

Henry VIII also knew that the palace design had to work practically to feed, accommodate and entertain his vast court of aristocrats and their servants.  

The long chains of rooms in the palace, each with a guard on the door, were designed to prevent all but the most important gaining access to the monarch’s private spaces. A courtier’s clothes played a vital role in the guards’ decision: the smarter you looked the closer you got to the King!

We also saw the ghost but only briefly. I would have loved to meet a real ghost but I suppose the expectations to find a ghost at Hampton Court Palace is quite high considering all the media attention that it has received. 


The Digital Missions
Before heading to the Palace I downloaded the free Time Explorers App so the kids could choose their digital missions/adventures around the palace and become secret spies at the Tudor court. That was fun and incorporated a bit of modern technology with learning history in a enjoyable way.


The Chocolate workshop 

We learnt how chocolate was made and discovered the story of royal chocolate with lots of hands-on activities including a Royal Chocolate tasting where we concocted our own Georgian style chocolate drink to our taste.

Then we decorated our own ceramic chocolate cup to enjoy our favourite drink at home.

Related features

The Tower of London – The best London landmark for family edutainment from Knight School to live history lessons

The Tower of London – The best London landmark for family edutainment from Knight School to live history lessons (26 May – 2 June 2018)

Historic Royal Palaces. Rufus Murly-Gotto, 3, and Ruby McMenamy, 9, get training at Knight School at the Tower of London. Knight School is an immersive, hands-on live interpretation offer running over the School holidays designed to appeal to domestic family visitors, both for first time and repeat visits.


Facebook Comments