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HAMPTON COURT

Described by Walter Jerrold
Pictured by E. W. Haslehust


[Illustration]


BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED
LONDON GLASGOW AND BOMBAY
1912




[Illustration: THE LION GATE]




Beautiful England

_Volumes Ready_

OXFORD
THE ENGLISH LAKES
CANTERBURY
SHAKESPEARE-LAND
THE THAMES
WINDSOR CASTLE
CAMBRIDGE
NORWICH AND THE BROADS
THE HEART OF WESSEX
THE PEAK DISTRICT
THE CORNISH RIVIERA
DICKENS-LAND
WINCHESTER
THE ISLE OF WIGHT
CHESTER
YORK
THE NEW FOREST
HAMPTON COURT
EXETER


_Uniform with this Series_

Beautiful Ireland

LEINSTER
ULSTER
MUNSTER
CONNAUGHT




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


Page
The Lion Gate _Frontispiece_
The Great Gatehouse, West Entrance 8
A Corner of Wolsey's Kitchen 14
Anne Boleyn's Gateway, Clock Court 20
Master Carpenter's Court 26
Fountain Court 32
The Great Hall 38
The Pond Garden 42
East Front from the Long Water 46
The Wilderness in Spring 50
The Long Walk 54
The Long Water in Winter 58




[Illustration: HAMPTON COURT]

"Close by those meads for ever crown'd with flowers
Where Thames with pride surveys his rising towers
There stands a structure of majestic frame,
Which from the neighb'ring Hampton takes its name."--_Pope._




I


For combined beauty and interest--varied beauty and historical
interest--there is no place "within easy reach of London", certainly
no place within the suburban radius, that can compare with the stately
Tudor palace which stands on the left bank of the Thames, little more
than a dozen miles from the metropolis and, though hidden in trees,
within eye-reach of Richmond. It is not only one of the "show places",
which every traveller from afar is supposed to visit as something of a
duty, but it is a place that conveys impressions of beauty and
restfulness in a way that few others can. It remains ancient without
having lapsed into a state of desuetude that leaves everything to the
imagination; it is a living whole far from any of the garishness that
belongs to contemporaneity. Whether seen from the outside on the west,
where the warm red brick, the varied roofs, the clustered decorative
chimneys suggestive of the Tudor time make a rich and harmonious
whole; or from the south east, where the many-windowed long straight
lines of the Orange additions show the red brick diversified with
white stone, it is a noble and impressive pile. Within, too, are
priceless treasures, themselves alone the objective of countless
pilgrimages. And recognizing the attractions of the buildings and
their contents is to take no account of the lovely grounds, and of the
crowding associations of a place that, since its establishment four
hundred years ago, has again and again been the centre at which
history was made.

Throughout our records for many centuries the valley of the Thames has
been favoured when our monarchs have sought to establish a new home.
Greenwich and London--the Tower, Whitehall, Buckingham Palace--Richmond
and Hampton Court, Windsor, Reading and Oxford, are some of the places
that have at one time or another been the chosen centre of royal life;
and Hampton Court Palace is the newest of those situated close on the
river's bank, though nearly two hundred years have elapsed since it was
a regular royal residence. It was, indeed, for something less than the
same length of time that it was in use as a home of the sovereign, but
within that period it saw two revolutions, and the change of national
conditions from the comparative mediŠvalism of the days of the eighth
Henry to the comparative modernity of the beginning of the Hanoverian
era. It is not, perhaps, overfanciful to see something of the lavish
richness, the opulent homeliness, of the earlier period typified in the
varied buildings, courts, and gateways of the Tudor portion of the
Palace, and the more formal grandeur of the later time in the
symmetrical stateliness of the later part.

Hampton Court Palace was the centre of many of the bluff King Henry's
hunting parties--and the scene of some of his marital excitements, and
here, too, his long-hoped-for son was born; it was the scene of
Elizabethan pageantry, and of the attempt on the part of the Virgin
Queen's successor to force other men's religion into his own
particular groove; at Hampton Court Charles the First was seen at his
best in the domestic circle and--after the interregnum--where his son
was seen at his worst in anti-domestic intrigues. Here Cromwell sought
rest from cares greater than those of a king, and here he was
stricken with mortal illness; here William and Mary dwelt, and here
the former met with the seemingly trivial accident which cost him his
life. That the "story" of Hampton Court is, indeed, a full, splendid,
and varied one is shown in the three fine volumes in which it is set
forth by Mr. Ernest Law, a work to which no writer on the history of
the Palace can help feeling indebted. Those who would learn the
intimacies and details of the history of the place have Mr. Law's
history, and those who seek a "guide" are well provided for in the
official publications. Here, I am concerned with the history of the
place only in its broader and more salient points, and with the minor
details necessary in a guidebook not at all; I seek rather to give
something of an impression of the past and present of the Palace,
something that shall at once indicate the associations of the place,
indicate its story, and hint at what there is to see, and that shall
serve as souvenir and remembrancer of that which has been seen.

[Illustration: THE GREAT GATEHOUSE, WEST ENTRANCE]




II


It was just before he became a cardinal that Thomas Wolsey, on 11
January, 1515, took a ninety-nine years' lease of the manor of Hampton
Court from the Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem, and at
once set about building the magnificent pile which remains his most
enduring monument. There appears to have been here an earlier manor
house or mansion, for there is a record of Henry the Seventh visiting
it a few years before the lease was granted; but probably Wolsey did
away entirely with the older building and planned the whole place
anew. Rapidly rising in royal favour the Cardinal designed a lordly
pleasure house on the banks of the Thames, where he could worthily
entertain his pleasure-loving sovereign, and where he could hold state
in a manner that should prove impressive in the eyes of ambassadors
and other important visitors from foreign Courts.

It is said that Wolsey's health was such that it was necessary for him
to have a residence away from London, yet his position made it
essential that he should still be within easy reach of the capital;
therefore he "employed the most eminent physicians in England and even
called in the aid of doctors from Padua, to select the most healthy
spot within twenty miles of London", and the result was the selection
of Hampton and the erection of the princely Palace which has seen its
royal neighbours of Hanworth and Richmond pass from palaces to mere
fragments, and Nonsuch disappear entirely.

Having acquired his new manor Wolsey lost no time in getting his
designs carried into execution, and the magnificent edifice, built
about five courts or quadrangles, grew so rapidly that in 1516 he was
already able to entertain Henry the Eighth here. The whole Palace was
of red brick, and surmounted by many castellated turrets topped by
ornamental lead cupolas. The western portion of the buildings probably
gives us a very fair idea of the whole as it was planned, though all
the turrets from this aspect are wanting their cupolas, though the
gatehouse is less lofty than it was originally and though some more
westerly buildings have disappeared.

As the Cardinal waxed in importance his stately palace grew until its
magnificence set tongues wagging, and it was said that the Churchman's
residence outshone in splendour the castles of the King. John Skelton,
in his satire _Why come ye not to Court?_ probably only gave fuller
expression to things which many people were saying, when the powerful
favourite was approaching the period of his declination:

"Why come ye not to court?
To whyche Court?
To Kynge's courte,
Or to Hampton Court?--
Nay, to the Kynge's court:
The Kynge's Courte
Shulde have the excellence;
But Hampton Court
Hath the preemynence.
And Yorke's Place
With my lord's grace,
To whose magnifycence
Is all the conflewence,
Sutys and supplycacons
Embassades of all nacyons."

York Place was Cardinal Wolsey's scarcely less magnificent residence
at Westminster.

Whether inspired by jealousy owing to the things said of the state
upheld by Wolsey, or whether his repeated visits simply inspired the
monarch with envy of his Chancellor's new palace cannot be said, but
when Hampton Court had been building for ten years King Henry, we are
told, asked the Chancellor why he had erected so magnificent a place.
"To show how noble a palace a subject may offer to his Sovereign," was
the reply of the Cardinal--a truly courtly and an unquestionably
costly compliment. The King accepted the noble gift, but Wolsey
continued from time to time to occupy his own whilom palace at Hampton
and was besides given permission to make use of the royal palace at
Richmond.



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