(active 1514-1534 in London)

Exterior view

begun 1514
Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames

Hampton Court Palace is situated on the north bank of the River Thames, c. 23 km upstream from central London. In the building that survives, two main periods of work can be seen: the remains of the Tudor royal palace, begun by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey between 1514 and 1529 and completed by Henry VIII between 1529 and 1547; and the Baroque palace built for William and Mary between 1688 and 1702 by Christopher Wren. The palace has also been continually altered and repaired up to the present day. The Tudor part of the building is probably the most important surviving example of early Tudor domestic architecture in England, and the Wren building contains one of the finest collections of early 18th-century decorative arts in situ.

The earliest buildings (destroyed) on the site belonged to the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. The first important period of expansion began c. 1500, when a manor house of brick and stone was constructed within the original moated enclosure, incorporating the earlier buildings on the site.

The second major phase of expansion began in 1514, when Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, took a lease on the manor house and the surrounding parkland. Wolsey's principal works survive: Base Court, containing double and single lodgings opening off a gallery; the south range (which replaced an earlier south range), with its geometrical ribbed ceiling; the eastern kitchen (much extended by Henry VIII after 1529); and a chapel and cloister, also altered by the King. The staterooms, which were arranged after the French fashion, with the King's lodgings on the principal floor, those of the Queen above, and Wolsey's long gallery, which projected 100 m into the gardens laid out around the house, were later destroyed.

Wolsey fell from favour in 1529. The subsequent works of Henry VIII did not differ significantly in style from those of his minister; both he and Wolsey built in red brick with stone dressings, the façades of the buildings articulated by bay windows and by turrets surmounted by lead cappings. The brickwork was generally painted and the heraldic carvings that crowned gables, turrets and cappings held ephemeral vanes and banners.

Henry's principal works, the royal lodgings (built on the site of the present Cloister Court), were later destroyed but his Great Hall (1532-34), with its hammerbeam roof and grotesque decorations, gives some idea of the scale and magnificence of his ideas. The other surviving works of this period are the kitchens, a low range of domestic buildings on the north side of the palace; the indoor tennis-court, which was converted into lodgings in the 17th century; the Prince's Lodgings (built for the future Edward VI), sited on the north of Chapel Court; and the ceiling of the chapel, a deep-ribbed structure with antique cherubs clasping the pendants.

The photo shows the Great Gateway with an oriel window (a set of windows, arranged together in a bay, that protrudes from the face of a building on an upper floor and is braced underneath by a bracket or corbel), designed by Henry Redman (active 1495-1528).

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.