With the 2012 London Olympics still in full swing, let’s head back for another week of Great Places in London. Hampton Court Palace is located south and west of central London, in Richmond, just a few miles upriver on the River Thames. Originally built in the 1500’s by the powerful Cardinal Wolsey, the palace was taken by Henry VIII after Wolsey fell out of favor with the king. The king enlarged the palace, as did many of his successors. In the 1600’s, William III sought to outdo Versailles with his expansion project, although it never reached the grand scale of Versailles. Because of these two major expansion projects, the palace has two contrasting architectural styles, both Tudor and Baroque.
The grounds show the contrast of these two as well. While traditional English gardens were more organic in form and structure, French gardens are much more geometric, linear, and precise. The older grounds are much more English in style, while the “newer” grounds designed during the time of William III are much more French, with long, broad avenues and allees of trees.