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Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is a former royal place in Surrey, England, nowadays open to the public and a major tourist attraction for visitors to the London area.

Hampton Court was designed and built by Thomas Cardinal Wolsey for his own use but was appropriated by Wolsey's master King Henry VIII of England in about 1525, although the Cardinal continued to live there until 1529. In the following century, during the reign of William and Mary, the building was extended (partly under the supervision of Sir Christopher Wren), and the state apartments were in regular use. In later reigns, they were again neglected, and it was Caroline of Ansbach who restored them to their former status, employing architects such as William Kent to design new furnishings. Later monarchs tended to favour other London homes, and Hampton Court became the historical monument it is today.

Hampton Court
''Historic royal palace. ''

The remaining Tudor sections of Hampton Court suggest that Wolsey intended it as a Renaissance bishop's palace along the lines of the Italian models. King Henry himself added the Great Hall and the tennis court. (This was designed for the game of real tennis, not the present-day version of the game.) During the seventeenth century, Wren demolished some of Henry's work, on the orders of King William III, to make way for a new wing. It was at Hampton Court that King William died in 1702, after falling from his horse in the grounds. Later, under King George II of Great Britain and his queen, Caroline, further refurbishment took place. The Queen's Private Apartments are still open to the public, and include her bathroom, bedroom, and private chapel.

Queen Jane Seymour gave birth to Prince Edward, the future King Edward VI at Hampton Court in 1537 and died there twelve days later, and her ghost is said to haunt the staircase in the Palace still. Queen Catherine Howard was arrested there in 1542 and is said to have run along the Long Gallery screaming for King Henry VIII to save her, before his guards caught her and dragged her away. A ghost is said to haunt the Palace, sometimes screaming in the same hallway. Others report seeing the notorious King Henry VIII.

In December 2003, it transpired that in October a closed-circuit security camera at Hampton Court had recorded an indistinct image of "a mysterious figure in a long coat closing the fire doors." According to one report, "the palace... maintained that the footage provided conclusive evidence that ghosts exist." [1] A female palace visitor worte in the visitor book that she may have seen a ghost in that area during this time, also. Explianation for the phenonomena have ranged a psychology researcher's suggestions that it could have been "a member of the public thinking they were being helpful by shutting the doors" to other researchers suggesting thermal effects.

The Maze

Hampton Court is the site of a famous hedge maze, planted in 1690, covering a third of an acre, and containing half a mile of paths. The world-famous Hampton Court Palace maze is on the 60 acres of riverside gardens. The maze is described in Jerome K. Jerome's novel, Three Men in a Boat:

"We'll just go in here, so that you can say you've been, but it's very simple. It's absurd to call it a maze. You keep on taking the first turning to the right. We'll just walk round for ten minutes, and then go and get some lunch."

...Harris kept on turning to the right, but it seemed a long way, and his cousin said he supposed it was a very big maze.

"Oh, one of the largest in Europe," said Harris.

"Yes, it must be," replied the cousin, "because we've walked a good two miles already."

Harris began to think it rather strange himself, but he held on until, at last, they passed the half of a penny bun on the ground that Harris's cousin swore he had noticed there seven minutes ago.

Jerome K. Jerome exaggerates the hazards of the maze. The maze has relatively few places at which the path forks, and at each fork the wrong choice leads to a dead end at the end of a short corridor. The maze actually can, in fact, be threaded from entrance to center and back by the method of always remaining in contact with the wall on one's right. This method guides the traveller into (and then out of) out of some dead ends and is thus not the shortest path.

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