Hampton Court Palace is located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and dates from around 1514 when it was built by King Henry VIII for Cardinal Wolsey. He lived in the palace until 1529 when he fell out of favour with the King and from that point on it became the main residence of King Henry VIII who had it enlarged. Over the next two centuries it was enlarged further and remained a principal residence of the Royal Family until the late 18th century.
Today Hampton Court Palace is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Britain and plays host to many events throughout the year, including an annual flower show by the Royal Horticultural Society that attracts over 300,000 visitors.
The palace is open for visiting daily throughout the year (with the exception of a few public holidays over the Christmas period) and several different ticket options are available. Full details of prices along with the opening hours are available on the website.
The history of the castle dates back to the Norman Conquest when one of the Norman nobles, Richard Fitz Herbert, was given land at a crossing of the river Medway. A typical motte and bailey wooden castle was built, but this was destroyed some years later during a rebellion. It was rebuilt in stone and the twin-towered gatehouse was added in the 13th century. The gatehouse still stands and is considered among the finest in England. The castle had a succession of owners but the Civil War saw an end to its existence and parts of it were gradually demolished and used for buildings elsewhere.
The grounds are free of charge and are open daily 8am to dusk. There is an admission fee for the castle which is open 9am to 5pm Mondays to Saturdays, and 10.30am to 5pm Sundays. There is an audio tour which lasts about one hour and is also available in French, German, Dutch and Spanish. The tour offers interactive displays and tableaux recreating medieval life.
Thorpe Park is located in Chertsey, Surrey and offers a selection of 9 different zones viz. Calypso Quay, Lost City, Neptune's Kingdom, Thorpe Farm, Canada Creek, Ranger County, Amity Cove, Port Atlantis and Octopus Garden. There are many rides to choose from, ranging from children's rides to fast white-knuckle rollercoasters. Also on site are amusement arcades and various food outlets as well as a swimming area with a children's pool and water slides.
Reduced tariffs for on line advance bookings are available at the website and the following cards are accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Switch, JCB, Delta, Solo, Electro. Details of opening hours are available at the website.
Crystal Palace Park
The Crystal Palace was constructed for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Originally it was located in Hyde Park, but due to its huge success it was transferred to the London Borough of Bromley and became a venue for the Victorian celebration of the British Empire. The Palace itself was destroyed by a fire in 1936 and little of it still remains, but the Park and its many attractions still exists. One of its main attractions is the newly restored Dinosaur Park, which dates back to 1851 and was the first in the world. Here visitors can view statues of life-size dinosaurs, prehistoric reptiles and mammals, as well as examples of geology which cover 350 million years of Britain's evolution.
The remains of the original palace that can be seen in the park include the Terrace Arches and the Sphinx . Further there is the largest maze in Britain, a Cafe and a children's playground. Football fans might want to incorporate a visit to the National Sports Centre, which is located in the center of the park and home to Crystal Palace FC. The Sports Centre is also a popular venue for concerts and other events. Free parking spaces are available at the Sports Centre and other locations near the main entrances. Toilets, including disabled toilets, can be found all over the park. Entrance to all attractions, apart from the National Sports Centre, is free. Opening times : Daily from 7:30 until half an hour after dusk.
Crystal Palace Parade (North): 2, 3, 63, 122, 137a, 202, 227, 249, 306, 322, 358
Thicket Road, Penge entrance (South): 194, 227, 312
Train stations : Crystal Palace Station, Penge West Station, Penge East Station
Hever Castle in Kent dates back to 1270. It was enlarged into a Tudor dwelling in the early 1500s when it was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn (wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I). The castle was restored by William Waldorf Astor in 1903 with the building of the Tudor Village and the creation of the gardens and lake.
The castle houses portraits, tapestries and artefacts from the sixteenth century. There is a costume exhibition in the Long Gallery and a large display of arms, armour and instruments of torture and execution in the gatehouse. The gardens include mazes, water features and fountains, and the Tudor garden and Rhododendron Walk.
Gardens: 11am - 5pm (March - October)
Gardens: 11am - 3:30pm (November)
Castle opens: 12am
Combined castle and gardens
Adult: £ 9.80
Senior: £ 8.20
Child (5-14): £ 5.30
Reduced price for garden admission only
Family tickets are also available.
There is car parking available in the grounds. Wheelchair access to the castle is restricted.