In 1514, in the parish of Hampton, Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York began building a magnificent palace on the north bank of the River Thames. Wolsey had water for his new palace running from Coobe Hill in Surrey through lead pipes which traveled through Surbiton to get to Hampton Court. Not much of Wolsey's original building remains due to the remodeling by Henry VIII and later kings. Part of the Great Hall are probably from Wolsey's palace, and the structure of the Base Court looks much like it did in Wolsey's time. The parts of the kitchens from the original building are also very much as they were in Wolsey's first building.

Henry VIII received the palace from Wolsey in the mid to late 1520s, although the Archbishop retained apartments there, as well as at all the other royal palaces until he fell from favor and was arrested (and subsequently died before he could be executed). Henry made many additions to the palace and most of the Tudor parts we still see today were built by him. Henry enlarged and rebuilt his own apartments, parts of the kitchens, the Chapel Royal, replaced most of the Great Hall and added tennis courts. Henry also laid out the overall plan for the gardens at Hampton Court, the basic structure of which is still seen today.

The astronomical clock was made in 1540 by Nicholas Oursian and shows the hours, days of the week, days of the month, the time of high tide, the phases of the moon, the signs of the zodiac and in all its pre-Copernican glory -- the golden sun traveling around an immobile Earth.

Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I all stayed at Hampton Court at times during their reigns, although none made and significant additions or alterations to the palace, as their father had.

Parts of the Tudor palace were pulled down when construction began on a new building for William and Mary. The change in architecture styles is very marked as is the dramatic difference in the colors of the bricks.

Events in Tudor History at Hampton Court

In 1537, Jane Seymour gave birth to the future King Edward VI at Hampton court. The baby prince was christened in the magnificent Chapel Royal a few days later. Jane fell very ill after Edward's birth and died in the palace only two weeks after giving birth to the new heir.

Henry VIII spent three of his honeymoons at Hampton Court, as did his daughter Mary I when she married Philip of Spain. It was at Hampton Court that Henry VIII was told of the infidelity of Kathryn Howard, which would eventually lead to her arrest and execution (and according to some, why her ghost inhabits the Haunted Gallery.) Henry also married his sixth wife, Katherine Parr, in the Holyday or Queen's Closet at the Palace, adjoining the Chapel Royal.