The first thing we planned to see was the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
To get to the Palace, we first traveled through St. James Park,
Until we reached Buckingham Palace.
which was actually a little disappointing. Some of the ceremony happened behind the gates of the palace, where we couldn't see.
After the changing of the guard had ended, we hurried to Waterloo station, and caught a train to Hampton Court Palace, about 15 miles up the Thames (to the west) from central London.
Hampton Court Palace is the 500 year old palace of King Henry VIII (although, it was first the home of Cardinal Woolsey, until the King decided he wanted it). The Tudor palace was also a home to Elizabeth I and Charles I, and Christopher Wren later made updates for William and Mary.
As you walk up to the main entrance of the palace, fantastical beasts great you.
When you walk inside and turn back towards the front, you'll see the entrance to Henry VIII's kitchen.
(one of the fireplace in the huge kitchen, which would feed 600 courtiers)
Below are some of the best pictures I took from the Tudor palace:
(Anne Boleyn gate with the Tudor rose in the ceiling)
(Henry VIII's banqueting hall ceiling)
(Stained glass window in the banqueting hall with Henry VIII in the center)
(Henry VIII and courtiers in the hall. I might have stalked them and they graciously stopped so I could take a quick picture of them--without me even asking!)
(Jane Seymour Room, named for Henry VIII's wife that bore him his only son, Edward, but died in childbirth)
(ceiling in the Woolsey Closet, the only personal room of Henry VIII that survives).
After finishing with Henry VIII's rooms, we crossed over into the newer part of the palace, built for William and Mary.
The King's chambers follow a traditional progression for receiving rooms (as I learned during the many palace visits during this trip), and the further in you get, the closer you are to the King.
(King's Guard Chamber)
(Presence Chamber. Even if not filled, visitors had to bow to the chair before continuing on.)
(Great Bedchamber. The King would not actually sleep here, but would get dressed in this room. He would entertain here as well.)
The gardens were huge--and numerous. Here are some of my favorite pictures of the gardens.
Below is the other side of the William and Mary era palace that faces the gardens.
It also bears their insignia.
And now for the tea moment! While I was in one of the gift shops in the palace, I bought these two little books:
The Etiquette of an English tea is a cute little book with recipes, anecdotes, tea quotes, ideas for themed teas, and other miscellaneous information. Here is a little excerpt: