Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, began building the palace as a residence for himself in 1514. When he fell out of favor with the king in 1529, Henry VIII took over and expanded the palace. It was Henry VIII's favorite residence and all six of his wives lived there. The palace remained a royal residence until 1737. It was then divided into "grace-and-favor" apartments, given rent-free as an award for outstanding service to the country. In 1838 Queen Victoria opened Hampton Court Palace to visitors.
Hampton Court Palace is a mix of architectural styles. The original buildings were constructed in Tudor style. Nearly 150 years later, William and Mary began a comprehensive rebuilding project to redo the palace completely in Baroque style, but this work was never completed because William abandoned the project after Mary's death.
Visitors to Hampton Court Palace shouldn't miss the Great Hall, the Chapel Royal, the gardens, and what may be the world's most famous maze.
A Famous Visitor
William Shakespeare visited Hampton Court Palace in 1603. He and his company performed plays in the Great Hall for King James I.
Like every old castle, Hampton Court Palace has its share of ghost stories. Its most famous phantom is Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife, who was put under house arrest for adultery in the palace and later beheaded.