A-Maze-Ing Hampton Court Palace
Running around a magical palace is every (big) kid's dream! This week, my sister and I did just that, our cheeks still hurting from all the fun we had!
With exquisite rooms brimming with history and endless enchanted gardens to prance around in, Hampton Court Palace is always somewhere I have wanted to go to.
It's amazing how such a magnificently sprawling palace lies so close to London - less than an hour from Waterloo, the fun started as soon as we hopped off the train!
As soon as we crossed the bridge from the station, I could see the Palace - it was huge and truly fit for a king! Although when we arrived the skies were grey and gloomy, the sun soon cloaked the Palace in a delightful warm glow and it shone in all its glory.
Up close it was even more beautiful - the rich colour of the Tudor red brick, the Gothic ornate windows, the King's Beasts statues, we were immediately transported back in time.
Our excitement levels already sky high, we were told we could dress up so without hesitation, we ran over to the glorious gowns and swishy cloaks which lined the wall - perfect for kings, queens, princes and princesses.
I opted for a rather charming cloak whilst my sister chose an elegant drapey jacket. We were ready!
Now we were completely in the role, where to even begin?!
The Palace is impressive in every way - each and every luxurious room, lavish staircase, grand window...
And not forgetting the small details which really added to the whole extravagance of the Palace; pretty tiled floors, prized hunts lining the walls and intricate portraits hanging from the corridors.
There was so much to see and do - the Palace had us completely enthralled.
It was amazing that hundreds of years ago, this Palace was buzzing with life, a hive of activity - people running up and down these very corridors which we were walking through!
But my favourite parts of the Palace were definitely those which showed the behind-the-scenes of it all. Yes it was sumptuous and rightly so, it was after all, the home of King Henry VIII, but I really loved seeing the working life behind the Palace - how it was run day-to-day.
From the enormous kitchen complete with life-sized pies to the Privy Council where we could sit amongst the debates (I obviously chose to sit in the main chair to lead the debate even though I had no clue what I was doing...)!
But nothing could have engaged us more than the live interactive performance that led us through the Palace and entranced us with the story of Thomas Culpeper and Catherine Howard (Henry VIII's 5th wife), who were accused of adultery and sentenced to death.
Finally, it was time to explore the gardens and to say they were breathtaking would be an understatement.
I'll let the photos speak for themselves but you have to be there to see for yourself just how stunning the grounds were - it really were as if we were wandering around a wonderland!
And finally of course, there was the famous maze of Hampton Court to conquer! Sadly I don't have that many photos of the maze because I was too determined to figure out how to find the centre!
After walking around aimlessly, we finally decided to follow a more logical approach (run your hand along the left-hand wall and follow it) and we finally found the centre. Feeling triumphant and pleased with ourselves, it was time to call it a day!
Time for one final coffee before we headed back to London, absolutely knackered from all the running around but oh so very happy - it was such a memorable day filled with adventure.
I can't recommend this extraordinary Palace enough but make sure you give yourself plenty of time as we spent hours on end exploring all the nooks and crannies of it!
Hampton Court Palace is open everyday from 10.00am - 4.30pm up until 24th March 2016 with extended summer opening times from 25th March 2016 to 29th October 2016 when it's open until 6.00pm.
Buy your tickets online for a discounted rate starting at £17.10 for adults and £8.60 for children.