Tuesday, November 08, 2005

London--Hampton Court Palace


Despite the photos (and the postcards Mom, Annie, Grandmother), this was not the most beautiful palace ever, BUT, it was entirely fascinating for its history and the prominent figures who made use of the place. Henry VIII, Elizabeth I (my favorite) handled some of their business here, and it was A TRIP to walk through the place myself! I went with my friend Maurice, and although we had the audio tour, we couldn't be bothered to actually listen to it. It was enough to just see it and imagine our own scenarios. I can see that I am having less and less patience as time passes...

Clock courtyard.

So the story was that this part of the Palace was added (after tearing down an older part) by William and Mary to copy the style of the French palaces like Versailles. So this part is very different to the other parts of the palace. This place is HUGE, by the way!

Henry VIII. OK, some might consider him a bit of a bastard for imprisoning and beheading (and divorcing?) his wives when he wanted to trade them in for a new one--and produce a male heir. HOW DARE THEY have...daughters!! But, having the advantaged perspective of centuries and not being subject to his authority, I can kind of admire him for his drive and determination. Church doesn't allow divorce? Invent a new church! Invent a new policy toward marriage! I love it. No silly tradition would stand in his way. That's vision. Just glad I wasn't one of his more unfortunate wives. But hey, they got to be Queen for a while. That has to count for something. Right??? I really don't see what the big deal was. He finally had a son, but he didn't last too long, and his DAUGHTERS became the monarchs anyway...so what was all the fuss about? Elizabeth did a fantastic job!

In the brick (alcove). Just chillin' between walks through the various parts of the castle.

At the Royal Tennis Courts. I HAD to go and see this! It was a surprise though. It wasn't tennis courts that are royal; it was the courts of Royal Tennis! A game on a court that looks nothing like the tennis I know and love. I can't even explain it. Just know it is DIFFERENT! I even saw people playing. And I CAN tell you that they play off of walls and things, kind of like racquetball, and squash (So I am told. I've never seen squash).

Now we are getting to the really incredible and interesting part of the palace:the kitchens. I love cooking--I mean, eating! I love EATING! Especially when I don't have to cook! This place was really cool!

Maurice and the "oven." Just to give you some perspective on how large this cooking place was, Maurice is standing in front of the fireplace. And this isn't the only one in the kitchen. I think I heard there were eight. Makes me wonder how much sweat was included in the menu. It had to be some kind of inferno!

Kitchen pots. So this kitchen was some addition made by Henry VIII after he took over the palace from his buddy, who fell out of favor and probably lost his head for it. (I'm pretty sure he did.) So Henry had to have kitchens that could prepare food for a LOT of people when he was holding court there. A minimum of 600 people (and often MANY more!) had to be fed twice a day. They had to eat in shifts and it was an enormous and complicated undertaking.

Peacock! Apparently you ARE what you eat. Or WHO you are reflects WHAT you eat. And vice versa. Anybody who was anybody was eating a diet of Boar-Venison-Swan-Peacock. And people of status wouldn't be caught dead eating things like... vegetable soup (Or something that wasn't B-V-S-P). That was for peasants! I hear they ate a diet of 75% meat and 3-4 times the calories we eat today! Per day!

More kitchen

Maurice again and work station. Another shutterbug. And a kindred spirit. =) Remember, Maurice, I never promised you you wouldn't be on the blog. In fact, I refused to make any promise of that sort.

Another cooking station

Food sample. Fake food, of course, but...I heard that 40 times per year, they actually do a cooking demonstration here, using the actual kitchen, methods, and menu of Henry VIII's kitchen! Maurice said he read my mind when I heard this: I was thinking, "What?! I have to see this! Do they let you eat the food?? When will it be?? I have to come back!!" I was fascinated, thrilled, awed, intrigued. Hmmm.

The tree! A peculiar looking tree. I fancied it full of peacocks' nests. But I really don't know what those round things are...

The river. Of course the palace has river-access, and boat launches. This was a nice view of the river area. We were about out of juice here and ready to go back to town and head for the theatre!


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