Tag Archives: history

A Visit to Hampton Court Palace and A Giveaway!

Haddon Hall copy (2)

First, Let me say that I am proud to be a tourist. I love to visit new places, and I’m always taking pictures where ever allowed. A huge dream-come-true for me was my first trip to England. Another was when my mother accompanied us on a later trip. She and I had talked for years about visiting England together, and it was so wonderful when my husband suggested that we take her with us when we made another trip.

My mother and I had the opportunity to visit Hampton Court Palace on a lovely day.

Hampton Court Palace, taken by me

Hampton Court Palace,
taken by me

We went all over the palace, and thoroughly enjoyed it all, looking for the initials of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn that were overlooked when he redecorated after her death, walking in the beautiful gardens, the William and Mary rooms, and all. It was a delightful day, a memory that I cherish.

However, Hampton Court is so much more than a wonderful place to visit. Its history is fascinating. In the 13th century, there was a manor house at Hampton, which was acquired by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John Jerusalem. They used the site to store produce, basically as a barn. As time went on, it was noticed that this was a convenient location between the royal palaces at Sheen and Byfleet, so new construction was done to improve accommodations for royal guests in transit. The property was leased out to tenants of increasing importance. Henry VII’s Lord Chamberlain Giles Dubeney leased the property in 1494 (before becoming Lord Chamberlain) because of the site’s convenience to London. As he rose in prominence at court, he began receiving visits from members of the royal court who required suitable accommodation. After his death in 1508, the next tenant was Thomas Wolsey who acquired the lease in 1514.

During Wolsey’s tenure at Hampton Court, the estate was transformed out of all recognition. In a five-year period, he expanded a private home into a grand palace. He lavished money on the place, establishing luxurious rooms for himself, and magnificent accommodations for Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon and Princess Mary. The palace was laid out in a design of two eight pointed stars side by side, from an Italian Renaissance design. Fabrics, plate, everything was ostentatiously of the best, to the point it caused talk that Wolsey’s palace was grander than the king’s court. In 1528, Wolsey gave the palace to Henry VIII, in a bid to save himself after he fell from grace for failing to procure Henry’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon. (Wolsey’s coat of arms can still be seen at Hampton Court.)

Henry VIII also devoted time, attention and money to Hampton Court Palace. His building program expanded Hampton Court into a modern and lavish royal palace, complete with the Great House of Easement (a multiple lavatory which could seat 28 people)with piped-in water that flowed through lead pipes, and a huge kitchen. Henry’s fondness for outdoor pursuits resulted in pleasure gardens, a hunting park kept filled with game, bowling alleys and tennis courts. An eight-acre tiltyard had five towers for spectators to watch jousting. Henry provided for accommodations for his children and for courtiers, servants and guests. A beautiful chapel was constructed as well. (I think this is my favorite part of Hampton Court.)

Hampton Court Palace Chapel by Charles Wild 1819

After Henry’s death, his surviving children used Hampton Court. However, it was in such good and modern condition, little additional work was done. Mary Tudor spent time at Hampton Court with her husband, Philip of Spain. Elizabeth I used it as a place to welcome and impress foreign diplomats and delegations. Under the early Stuarts, it was used for relaxation and as a party palace. Cromwell also enjoyed it. Under William and Mary, however, major changes were completed.

William III thought the palace should be razed and a new one built. He and Mary hired Christopher Wren to do the work. Wren’s original plan demolished all but the Great Hall. Unfortunately for his plans, time and money did not allow for such a drastic scheme. Ultimately, a remodel was the result. Construction stopped in 1694 when Queen Mary died, and did not resume until 1697. William III increased the pressure to finish, and brought in Wren’s assistant William Talman to get it done. Hampton Court Palace evolved from the modern Tudor palace that was Henry VIII’s pride to an elegant baroque structure with moldings and fireplaces carved by Grinling Gibbons. Amazingly, it also came in under budget! William III also commissioned the yew tree maze sometime around 1690-1700, which has been and is still a draw for visitors.

After William III’s death, Queen Anne used it for hunting and as a country home, but preferred Windsor Castle and the palace at Kensington. After her death, the Hanoverians took over. George I spoke no English and spent most of his time back in Hanover. His wife, the queen, never came to England. His son and daughter-in-law, the Prince and Princess of Wales (later George II and Queen Caroline) took great interest in Hampton Court and the Queen’s Apartments were finally completed-a painted ceiling, magnificent furnishings and an elegant state bed resulted in a magnificent suite of rooms. Unfortunately, as the result of multiple issues, the King banned the Prince of Wales from the royal palaces in 1717. George I held court and Hampton Court Palace for a brief period, and did finally reconcile with his son. However, St. James Palace became the chief official residence of the king, and Hampton Court was seldom used between 1719 and the death of George I in 1727.

George II and Queen Caroline returned to Hampton Court, and George II constructed rooms for his son the Duke of Cumberland. However, this was the last time Hampton Court was used by the royal family as a home. George III chose not to live there. Subsequently, other than the royal suites, the palace was divided into individual units used as “grace and favor” residences by persons granted rent-free homes there after giving great service to king or country. Former residents include the Duke of Wellington’s mother Lady Mornington and his sister. Hampton Court Palace was listed in Regency era guide books as a popular excursion destination, with the park, gardens, maze and State Apartments available for viewing. (In 1803, it cost 1 shilling to view the State Apartments.) Queen Victoria threw Hampton Court open to the public, and during her reign interest in the surviving Tudor parts of the palace rose. Money was spent on restoring and conserving the palace.

In the 20th century, tourism at the palace was a primary focus which resulted in various activities and exhibitions and improvements. A fire in March 1986 damaged the Kings Apartments. The repairs resulted in a recreation of William III’s King’s Apartments, with various items that had been removed being returned including art, tapestries and furnishings. Other areas were refreshed and restored. While there are still some ‘grace and favor’ residences at Hampton Court, more of the palace is now available for viewing. The Royal School of Needlework is also located at Hampton Court Palace, which is well worth a visit all on its own. The Queen still retains certain privileges, and it has been used for state occasions, such as the state dinner given by visiting Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands for Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother in 1982.

Sources include:
Historic Royal Palaces website: http://www.hrp.org.uk
Edgar, Donald. THE ROYAL PARKS. London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1986
Feltham, John. THE PICTURE OF LONDON FOR, FOR 1803: Being A Correct Guide to All the Curiosities, Amesements, Exhibitions, Public Establishments, And Remarkable Objects, In And Near London. Originally published London: R Phillips (Preface is dated August, 1802). Reprinted by Nabu Public Domain.
Phillips, Charles. THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ROYAL BRITAIN. New York: Metro Books, 2010, 2011.
Picture of the Royal Chapel is from Wikimedia Commons http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b6/Hampton_Court_Palace%2C_Chapel%2C_by_Charles_Wild%2C_1819_-_royal_coll_922125_313698_ORI_2.jpg/381px-Hampton_Court_Palace%2C_Chapel%2C_by_Charles_Wild%2C_1819_-_royal_coll_922125_313698_ORI_2.jpg

The Castles Blog Hop is a celebration of the release of CASTLES, CUSTOMS AND KINGS True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors. The official release day is 9/23/13, but it is available for purchase from Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Castles-Customs-Kings-English-Historical/dp/0983671966/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379798386&sr=1-1&keywords=castles+customs+and+kings) and other sites. Please don’t miss out!

Final Front Cover

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
In honor of the release of our book, I am including a giveaway. I have a copy of CASTLES OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND by Rodney Castleden (with a surprise or two!) for one winner in the US or Canada. This is a beautiful book, filled with wonderful pictures and fascinating details. This giveaway is open from 9/23/13 until 10/1/13. Please leave a comment for a chance to win! Don’t forget to leave your contact information. Good luck!

Visit these other fine blogs which are also in the Castles Blog Hop. Who knows what treasures await?

Gillian Bagwell – http://nellgwynn.blogspot.com/

Maria Grace – http://RandomBitsofFascination.com

Susanna Calkins – Winchester Palace – http://www.susannacalkins.com

Helena Schrader – http://schradershistoricalfiction.blogspot.com/

Grace Elliot – Carisbrooke Castle – http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com

Linda Root – http://lindaroot.blogspot.com

Katherine Pym – http://novelsbykatherinepym.blogspot.com/

Katherine Ashe – Kenilworth Castle – http://wwwlongview.blogspot.com/

Deborah Swift – Sizergh Castle – Www.deborahswift.blogspot.com

Teresa Bohannon – Cardiff and Caerphilly Ancient Welsh Castles
http://myladyweb.blogspot.com/2013/09/castles-and-customs-and-kings-blog-hop.html

Scott Higginbotham – Rhodes Castle – http://scotthigginbotham.blogspot.com/

Maggi Andersen – http://www.maggiandersen.blogspot.com

J.A. Beard – Porchester Castle – http://riftwatcher.blogspot.com

Prue Batten – http://www.pruebatten.wordpress.com

Sandra Byrd – Hever Castle – http://www.sandrabyrd.com/blog/

Elizabeth Ashworth – Hornby or Pontefract – http://elizabethashworth.com/

Debra Brown – Castello di Amorosa – http://authordebrabrown.blogspot.com/

Nancy Bilyeau – Stafford Castle – Http://nancybilyeau.blogspot.com

Peter St. John – Evacuation http://jennospot.blogspot.fr/

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Home Entertainment

Today, when we think of home entertainment, we usually watch something on television, maybe pop in a DVD or listen to music. Some people play video games; others may still do the old-fashioned thing and play games-board games, cards, etc. Today I received in the mail a reminder of an earlier way to have fun: home theatricals.

The Winning Widow-A Parlor Comedy 1916

The Winning Widow-A Parlor Comedy 1916

This is my grandmother’s copy of a 2-act play, designed for home performance. Published by T. S. Denison & Company of Chicago, the fly leaf contained a partial list of available plays (a large catalogue was available for free). Ranging from two to four acts, the list includes the number of male and female parts, and an approximate length. The Winning Widow was expected to take about two hours to perform. The booklet includes the story of the play, a synopsis for one’s program, costume information, and a list of props-the costumes and props were things likely to be found at home. There is even a scene plot for the stage.

Home theatrics have a long history. Jane Austen wrote and performed in plays at home with her family. An important element to the plot of MANSFIELD PARK is the activity surrounding an intended performance of Lovers’ Vows proposed by Tom Bertram. It’s very interesting to see a connection to that tradition in my own family!

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Happy Anniversary, English Historical Fiction Authors!

     This week, the English Historical Fiction Authors’ blog is celebrating its one year anniversary!   Author Debra Brown, who spearheaded this blog, has written a great article providing some highlights, the top ten posts and other items of interest.   (One of my posts is number 3!)  Be sure to take a look at the various posts-there is truly something for everyone, from food to fashion to politics and war.  There is also a great giveaway of books by associated authors to celebrate this milestone.  Please go HERE http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/   and check it out!  You’ll be glad you did!

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Food In History-What is a “Pupton”?

One of the pleasures of reading history, whether fiction or non-fiction, is learning about the day-to-day living of people in the past.  I am particularly interested in the Georgian era in England, especially the Regency period.  Recently, I was reading a novel, in which a menu for a particular meal was detailed and “a pupton of cherries” caught my attention.  It sounded like some kind of sweet dish, and I wondered what was in it, so I tried to look it up.  Not as easy as I expected!

First of all, I could not find a definition of “pupton.”  Thanks to the miracle of Google books, I found several old cookbooks on-line.  In THE ART OF COOKERY by John Mollard (4th edition published in 1836), I found arecipe for a “Pulpton of Apples” (p. 251) in which quartered apples were stewed until tender, sieved, and mixed with spices, eggs, and breadcrumbs soaked in cream.  This concoction was baked in a buttered mould and served turned out on a dish with sifted sugar over it.   A recipe for a pulpton of apples also appears in the 1802 edition of Mr. Mollard’s cookbook.

Hannah Glasse, whose popular cookbook THE ART OF COOKERY Made Plain and Easy was first published in 1747, and was released in numerous editions until the last in 1843, includes a recipe for a “pupton” of apples as well.  In her version, the fruit was cooked with sugar and only a small amount of water, until the fruit was the consistency of marmalade.  She also combined the cooked fruit pulp with eggs, spices, cream and breadcrumbs, with some butter, baked it and served it on a plate.

Title Page from Hannah Glasse’s Cookbook

Both of these recipes sounded good to me, and I could see how this recipe could be adapted to almost any kind of fruit, including cherries.  However, this was not the end of the pupton! Looking over the tables of contents, I found recipes for savory puptons as well.  These sound remarkably like pate’s and terrines served today, as at least a portion of the fish, meat or poultry component is cut finely with equal portions of suet, then pounded into a paste, called forcemeat.  If used alone, the paste would be seasoned, then it could be rolled into balls and poached in a sauce or fried; it could be put into a bag of some kind (one recipe I found took a chicken, removed all the meat, made the paste, seasoned it, and put it back in the chicken skin) and stewed, or baked.  A fascinating recipe I found in THE LONDON ART OF COOKERY And Housekeepers Complete Assistant by John Farley (4th edition, published in 1787) included a “French Pupton of Pigeons” on page 127.  This recipe took a quantity of forcemeat, made a very thin layer (similar to a pie crust), and then proceeded to layer thin bacon, squabs, asparagus, mushrooms and several other ingredients (a few of which may seem odd in combination today, including cocks’ combs).  This was then topped with another thin layer of forcemeat, like a pie, and baked.  When done, it was to be served in a dish with gravy poured around it. 

Either sweet or savory, the pupton sounds like a wonderful and tasty dish!  I love this kind of detail, as it makes the people of the past come alive.   Food is something we all have in common.

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Filed under History, Jane Austen, thoughts, Writing