Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace

by Brad Nelson   9/12/14

I watched this interesting documentary last night about Hampton Court, London. You can stream it on Netflix or view it in a grittier resolutions here on YouTube. I’d recommend not bothering with YouTube because the camera spends much of its time panning across the architecture which is quite bold and finely detailed. You can also find the video for sale here on Amazon.

For just an hour-long program, it gets a lot in. It’s not so much a detailed examination of the architecture of Hampton Court but a history of the kings and queens who resided there. The art that still hangs about in the palace gets some mention, but this is by no means a treatise on its architecture.

Still, it’s an engaging story, particularly when it comes to Henry VIII and his wives. The editorial review at Amazon sums it up thusly:

Hampton Court is the ultimate royal pleasure palace, embodying an indulgent and grandiose lifestyle built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and furthered by King Henry VIII. Its many rooms chart Henry VIII’s decline from fit young warrior to bloated womanizer, and they tell the vivid stories of the ladies who became his queens. Later, King William III and Queen Mary II commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild Hampton Court, demolishing half of the red brick Tudor palace and replacing it with an exquisite Baroque castle, making Hampton Court one of the most unique palaces in the world. Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace digs beneath the brick and stone to unveil an abundance of art and lore that bring Hampton Court to life.

You’ll have to take the documentary at its word regarding the remodeling of Wren because it glosses over any details of that remodeling.

King George III was the last British monarch to live at Hampton Court. Since then it has become a national treasure and one of the few remaining buildings that shows off the grandeur of the Tudor period, as well as many other unique features (such as the gargantuan kitchen, one of the few remaining 16th century kitchens of its kind).

It’s a wonderful documentary, but don’t expect it to explore much of the building itself. As one reviewer noted, it’s as if the documentary filmmakers, like the tourists, were restricted behind the velvet ropes. But it will certainly whet your appetite to learn more about Hampton Court and is a must-see video if you ever plan to visit there in person.


Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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5 Responses to Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    One interesting thing about official buildings is that they often present some very nice art (paintings, sculptures, and architecture). Elizabeth and I have visited a number of state capitols (usually joining the regular official tours) — and note that those are still working buildings, though occasionally former capitols are available (as in Jackson, Mississippi).

  2. Misanthropette says:

    On the subject of England and Netflix, I’ve been watching “Poldark”. I believe it debuted on Masterpiece Theatre back in the 70s, afore my time. The trials of Ross and Demelza, and their nemesis, George Warleggan, keep me spellbound. The language is mesmerizing.

    Given the muslim problem in Britain and the upcoming Scottish vote for independence come Monday, it might be safer to watch documentaries about Britain than visit. That’s a shame because I would dearly love to see Cornwall.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I never saw Poldark (I didn’t start watching Masterpiece Theater until they did I, Claudius), but I recall Alistair Cooke mentioning (in one of his introductions) that someone complained about following Upstairs, Downstairs with Poldark.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks for the recommendation of “Poldark.” That looks very old-school to me, which is a good thing.

      I see that Netflix doesn’t have it for streaming, only via DVD. I’ll see if I can find it elsewhere and then report back.

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