By Michelle Lin

Last Friday, the ACCENT study abroad program took us to Hampton Court Palace, one of the historic royal palaces of England. This palace was constructed during the Tudor era by Thomas Wolsey, who gifted it to King Henry VIII (yes, the one with 6 wives!).  

Hampton Court Palace is on the outskirts of London, and we took a 30 minute train ride from the Waterloo station. The trains here are super clean, modern, and quiet compared to the Amtrak and Metrolink of California. This ride was a nice break from the bustle and congestion of Central London, as we got to admire the green and quaint nature of the suburbs of London. Hampton Court Palace is located right next to the River Thames, and is about a 10 minute walk from the train station. It was serendipitous to be met with such a beautiful day- the clear blue sky and soft clouds accentuated the picturesque palace with its many different buildings, courtyards, and gates.  

The Inside  

Inside the palace, we saw Henry VIII’s apartment and kitchens, William III’s apartment, and art galleries. The apartments included the grand dining rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms that the royals would use, and artifacts such as old dresses, board games, and hanging deer heads. We saw a replica of King Henry VIII’s crown in all of its gold and pearl splendor, and museum workers who were restoring old dresses and tablecloths. The part that stood out to me the most was the Chapel Royal, Henry VIII’s church inside Hampton Court Palace. Not only was the Chapel Royal beautiful with its elaborate blue and gold vaulted ceiling, but also significant since Henry VIII started the Anglican church after leaving the Roman Catholic Church in order to divorce his wife. 

The Outside  

The outside of the palace is surrounded by many different gardens, including the Great Fountain Garden, the Privy Garden, and the Rose Garden. These gardens are vast in size and overwhelmingly intricate- every aspect is intricately detailed, and you can tell how much effort and time goes into maintaining them.  

Exploring the palace and the gardens made the history nerd in me so happy- it was hard to believe that I was walking in the same halls and staircases as countless monarchs of England. Hampton Court Palace is truly royal inside and out- I spent hours marveling at both the architecture of the building and the preserved artifacts, as well as the well-kept and pristine gardens. I definitely recommend giving yourself around 3 to 4 hours to spend here as a half-day trip from London. This was our first program excursion, and I really enjoyed being able to explore outside of central London and to learn more about the rich culture and history here. 

Michelle Lin studied in London, England in 2018: