Hampton Court Palace and Gardens, 322m east of Hampton Court Bridge.
Reasons for Designation
Palaces are large residential complexes ranging in date from before the Norman Conquest to the post-medieval period. Medieval palaces were designed to accommodate the household of a sovereign, a close relative of a sovereign, an archbishop or a bishop. They served the dual purposes of residence and the exercise of administration, and therefore usually comprise a series of buildings, including a great hall, which was used both for hospitality and for meetings, a chapel, private apartments, offices and service buildings such as kitchens and brewhouses. Commonly, especially from the 14th century, these buildings were arranged around one or more courtyards, and many palaces were enclosed by walls and/or a moat as a mark of status as well as defence. Medieval palaces are characterised by the finest craftsmanship in construction and furnishing and by an innovation in architectural style, often as a result of contacts with foreign monarchs and clergy. All examples are associated with individuals and events of historical importance. Royal and episcopal courts were mobile in the medieval period and required a number of palaces, both in towns and in the country, although most were located within easy reach of the City of London. Less than 200 medieval palaces have been identified in England. As a rare monument class which provides an important insight into the lives and characters of a group at the apex of medieval European society, all examples with significant surviving remains are considered to be of national importance.
Hampton Court is one of the most significant and best preserved royal palaces in Britain. It exhibits some of the finest craftsmanship and greatest innovation in English architecture. The west front of the palace is perhaps the grandest of its date. The terracotta medallions by Giovanni da Majano are among the earliest manifestations of the Italian Renaissance in England.
The later alterations are also of huge interest. The late 17th century rebuilding work was one of the grandest schemes of Sir Christopher Wren and the east façade is probably the most famous expression of the Baroque Style in England. The sash windows of the palace are among the earliest known. The 18th century restorations by William Kent are an extremely early example of the works of the Gothic Revival. The site is of paramount historic importance as an estate of The Knights Hospitallers, the home of Cardinal Wolsey and a royal residence. Henry VIII spent more resources on Hampton Court than any other royal palace. It was a residence to many of his queens and the birthplace of Edward VI.
The archaeological remains on the site are integral to our understanding of the development of the palace. Partial excavation has shown that remains of the 12th century grange, 15th century house and many Tudor buildings survive below-ground. The site holds a high degree of potential for further investigation and will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to its occupation, use and history.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 24 March 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes a Tudor royal palace and gardens situated on a flood plain on the north side of the River Thames opposite the confluence with the River Ember at Hampton.
The palace was constructed as the residence of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey from 1514, on the site of a 12th century grange and late 15th century house built by Giles Daubeney. The remains of these earlier buildings survive below-ground and in the structure of the present palace. It was altered and enlarged after it was acquired as a royal palace by Henry VIII in 1528. Major additions and alterations were carried out in the 17th and 18th centuries before it was ‘restored’ during the Gothic Revival in the 19th century. The original Tudor ranges are Perpendicular in style and built of red brick with freestone dressings and roofs covered with lead, tiles and slate. However much of the Baroque alterations from the late 17th century are of Portland stone and red brick. The palace is orientated broadly west-east and is centred on four main courtyards. From west to east, leading through the palace, are the Base Court, Clock Court and Fountain Court. On the north-east side of the palace, adjacent to the Fountain Court, is Chapel Court. There are several smaller courtyards surrounded by service buildings along the north side of the palace. These include, from west to east: the Lord Chamberlain’s Court, the Master Carpenter’s Court, Fish Court, Great Hall Court and Round Kitchen Court.
The main approach to Hampton Court Palace is from the west. It runs diagonally, parallel with the Thames, towards the west front and is entered through the 17th century Trophy Gates (renewed 1780). These include four stone piers topped with lead figures of the lion and unicorn as well as trophies of arms. On the north side of the approach road is a long range of two storeys; the Barrack Block. It dates from 1689 and is constructed in brown brick with red brick dressings and pantile roofs. There are casement windows with timber mullions and transoms to each floor and tall chimneys rising above the roof line. The grassed area to the south towards the Barge Walk contains the buried remains of the 16th century service buildings which were demolished in the 19th century. The approach leads to the west front of the palace, which is symmetrical with a three-storey gatehouse at its centre and two wings either side.
The Great Gatehouse is approached by a stone bridge across a moat. The bridge has stone shield-bearing beasts (1950s replacements of Tudor originals) adorning the parapets. The red brick gatehouse was originally five storeys high but was altered in the 18th century. Above the arched gateway is an oriel window, featuring a panel with the arms of Henry VIII, and an openwork parapet flanked by pinnacles. On each side are two-light mullioned windows and octagonal turrets. The wings are of a darker red brick with diapering of vitrified brick and have mullioned windows largely of four-lights. The whole range has an embattled parapet and tall, restored, chimneys with cut-brick shafts. These striking chimneys adorn much of the rest of the palace, including the Base Court, the Clock Court and the north service ranges.
The Base Court is surrounded on the north, south and west sides by Wolsey's two-storey battlemented lodgings ranges. The windows are largely of three-lights with four-centred heads. On the east side of the courtyard, adjacent to the Great Gatehouse, is Anne Boleyn’s Gateway. Above the archway is an oriel window with a panel of Henry VIII’s arms, another mullion and transom window, and a clock brought by William IV from St James's Palace. In the octagonal turrets on each side are terracotta roundels. These feature elaborate busts of the Roman emperors and are part of a set designed by Giovanni da Majano in 1521. There are also two on the opposite side, four on the east gateway of the Clock Court, and two on the turrets of the Great Gatehouse. Behind the north range of the Base Court are three small 16th century courtyards; Chamberlain’s Court, the Master Carpenter’s Court, and the Fish Court. These include the kitchens, with large fireplaces, ovens and serving hatches, necessary to feed the Tudor household.
Beyond the Base Court is the Clock Court. Facing into the courtyard is the east side of Anne Boleyn’s Gateway, which houses an astronomical clock made by Nicholas Oursian in 1540 and below it a restored terracotta panel of Wolsey’s arms. On the north side of the quadrangle is the Great Hall built in 1532-5 to replace Daubeney's Hall. The cellar is lit by a series of small windows, above is an expanse of brickwork and then five four-light transomed windows with four-centred heads. These are separated by lofty buttresses topped with gilded vanes. In the east bay is a large oriel window attributed to Wolsey, featuring a pair of windows each with five transoms. The ends of the hall have eight-light traceried windows and smaller windows in the gables. The interior includes an impressive hammer-beam roof enriched with carving, colour and gilding and featuring sixteen great pendants along its length. In the east bay, lit by the oriel window, is an intricate fan vaulted ceiling. Beneath the Great Hall is the King’s Beer Cellar, which is divided by rows of octagonal posts and has a stone pier supporting the hearth in the hall above. The south side of the Clock Court is fronted by a 17th century colonnade of Portland stone with a cornice and balustrade upon which are two trophies and vases. Behind the colonnade is a well-preserved Tudor façade and above it are 17th century round-headed windows. The east side of the Clock Court includes an entrance feature by William Kent. It is an early example of the Gothic Revival restoration and is of a similar appearance to the Tudor gatehouses with octagonal towers, embattled parapet and transom and mullion windows. However above the arched entrance is a lancet window decorated with quatrefoil tracery.
Fountain Court was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the late 17th century to replace an earlier courtyard. At ground floor level is a Portland stone arcade and cloister walk and above this are three levels of windows and stone dressings set in red brick. At first floor level are tall rectangular windows topped by pediments. Above these are circular windows on three sides but in the south side are circular panels depicting the Labours of Hercules, painted by Louis Laguerre in 1691-4. In the attic storey are small square windows and above is a balustrade. The interior contains state apartments and lodgings for courtiers.
North of the Fountain Court is Chapel Court, which has Tudor brickwork to the ground floor and a turret with a lead cupola in the north-east corner. In the east range was originally Henry VIII’s tennis court but this was replaced in the late 17th century by royal lodgings. The south range accommodates the Chapel Royal, which was remodelled in the 18th century but retains a 16th century timber lierne vaulted ceiling. The reredos, featuring Corinthian columns supporting a broken segmental pediment, was carved by Grinling Gibbons in the early 18th century. Between Master Carpenter’s Court and Chapel Court are the Great Hall Court and Round Kitchen Court. On the north and east side of Round Kitchen Court are two-storey cloister walks with four-light windows. On the west side is Henry VIII’s Great Watching Chamber. It has a semi-circular bay window and a panelled ceiling with shields at the intersections of the moulded ribs.
The east front of the palace is a late 17th century Baroque design by Sir Christopher Wren. It is constructed of red brick and Portland stone and is 23 bays wide. At the centre is a seven bay ashlar-faced symmetrical projection, the central three-bays of which also extend forward. Running along the façade at ground floor level are segment-headed windows and above these are, in sequence, tall rectangular windows, small round windows, small square attic windows and a balustrade. The three middle bays have square-headed gateways above which are Corinthian half-columns supporting a pediment. The two bays each side have Corinthian pilasters supported by piers. The central pediment is carved with a relief of ‘The Triumph of Hercules over Envy’ by Caius Gabriel Cibber. Below this, over the middle window, is a composition of trumpet, sceptre and crown, incorporating William III and Mary II’s monogram.
The south front of the palace is similar to the east elevation and includes the same type of window designs. It is 25 bays wide with a four bay projection at each end. At the centre is a stone composition with Corinthian columns supporting a cornice inscribed ‘Gulielmus et Maria RR.F’ to commemorate the rebuilding by William and Mary. Above several of the first floor windows are small pediments, swags of fruit, and royal arms.
On the south-west side of the palace is a 17th century single-storey orangery. It is built of red and brown brick with a pitched slate roof and sash windows. In the perimeter wall south of the palace is a small single-storey banqueting house. It is built of brick with a semi-circular split pediment on the consoles around the doorway, sash windows and a castellated parapet. Adjacent to The Broad Walk on the north side of the palace is a 17th century covered tennis court. It is built of brick with 18th century clerestory windows and a hipped tiled roof.
An extensive area of gardens and parkland surround the royal palace. These have been completely altered by successive monarchs since the 16th century. The main focus is the Fountain Garden on the east side, which was grassed over by 1708. It includes three radial tree-lined walks within a semi-circle of lime trees. In the centre is a pond with fountain. To the east of Fountain Garden is Hampton Court Park, which retains much of the original level ground imparked by the early 16th century and originally named House Park. It is dominated by The Long Water dug for Charles II in 1661-2, which is about 1km long and lined by double avenues of lime trees.
On the south side of the palace is The Privy Garden, designed for William III and restored in the late 20th century. Adjacent to it are the early 20th century Pond Gardens enclosed by 15th century walls. North-west of the palace is the Tilt Yard Garden, a rectangular area on the site of the 17th century Kitchen Garden. It is overlooked by the remains of the 16th century Tiltyard Tower, which is constructed of red brick with a castellated parapet. It is the only upstanding tower of five, which originally overlooked the Tiltyard.
North of the palace is The Wilderness, a busquet dating from the 17th century on the site of Henry VIII’s Great Orchard. In the north-west corner is the Triangular Maze, first planted in 1702. In the north boundary wall are the early 18th century Lion Gates. These include two huge Portland stone piers surmounted by armorial plaques and lions between which are wrought-iron gates.
The site of Hampton Court was acquired as part of the manor of Hampton in 1236 by The Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem. A grange was built on the site, where produce was stored and accounts kept of their agricultural estates. In 1494, the site was leased to the courtier Giles Daubeney who constructed a large house. King Henry VII visited on several occasions as a favoured retreat. In 1514, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey transformed the private house into a palace. The original design appears to have been confined to the quadrangle now represented by Clock Court, together with the chapel and cloister to the east of the court, and the Kitchen. Shortly before the fall of Wolsey, the building passed to Henry VIII who made extensive alterations between 1529 and 1540. These included adding wings to the west front of the palace, rebuilding the Great Hall, and the construction of a tennis court, a bowling alley and a tiltyard. The privy kitchens were added by Queen Elizabeth I. In 1689, William III commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild Hampton Court. The Fountain Court (replacing the earlier Tudor Cloister Court), the Green Court and the colonnade in Clock Court were all built. However a shortage of resources prevented Wren’s ambitious plans from being fully realised. Further alterations were carried out in the early 18th century with redecoration of much of the interior. In 1760, George III abandoned Hampton Court as royal residence and the palace was split up into apartments. In 1838, it was opened to the public and a series of restoration works were carried out. In the 19th century much of the Tudor appearance of the palace was restored. It suffered only limited damage during the major conflicts of the 20th century but in 1986 a fire severely damaged the King’s Apartment, which was repaired in the following decade.
Partial excavation was carried out on the site in 1909, 1966-7, 1969, 1973-4, 1976-9, 1983-7, 1991-6, 1998, 2000-2, 2005 and 2008. These recorded buried remains of some of Cardinal Wolsey’s earlier palace buildings, several of the tiltyard towers and Henry VIII’s bowling alley. The remains of the 12th century grange and late 15th century house have also been identified. The site will contain buried remains relating to the Tudor garden landscape and the conduit which provided the water supply for the palace. These below-ground remains and deposits are included in the scheduling.
Hampton Court Palace, the Barracks, the Lower Orangery, the Tennis Court, Banqueting House, the Tilt Yard Tower, Trophy Gates, Lion Gates, Flowerpot Gate and several walls and railings are Grade I listed. The Wilderness House, Ivy House, garden wall and gate piers, and The Kings Arms Hotel are Grade II listed. Several features and statues in the Fountain Garden, Sunk Garden and Privy Garden are also listed. Hampton Court is a Grade I registered park and garden.