April 5 – Castles and Children

6 Apr

The garden side of the palace

Today, we visited Hampton Court Palace and I must say this place had children in mind. When you exchange your London Pass for a ticket, there are rows of velvet robes hanging in various sizes so that you can “dress like a Tudor” for your tour. The audio guides have a general guide, a family guide and an actor’s guide that will allow you to hear characters talk about life in the castle. Just about every area had a hands-on table and the appropriate props are in most rooms. For example, the kitchen has the fireplace actually going, with meats vegetables and breads strewn around the kitchen.

There were period actors in the Tudor section reenacting the day Henry VIII proposed to Katherine Parr. That was exciting to watch.  I kept going back and forth between the audio tour and the live actors. 

The Tudor actors in Base Court in Hampton Court Palace

There is a LOT to see in Hampton Court Palace and I noticed that many families do indeed make the day of it. There was a special family activity that is running through Easter where children need to find golden  bunnies hidden throughout the castle.  When they find them, they are given a chocolate treat.  This had the children actively engaged as in order to get the chocolates from some of the docents, they had to give them a fact from history or the exhibit. Between this activity and the many families getting cozy in the gardens eating lunches and letting the children play, it was nice to see that it appears the castle wants to make this “home” for children. The actors make a special point to engage the children in their scenes and the docents seem so kind and nurturing to all of the children.

I guess to put in perspective for some of you, the castle employees are like Disney cast members (do you see it now?).

The palace also has a “Magic Garden” that is basically a huge play area for children with super sized jungle gyms, slides and swings.

Gardens at Hampton Court Palace

Overall, despite this place being a bit outside of the city (you have to take an overland train to Surrey), it is well worth the trip. I would suggest giving yourself time to experience the whole grounds. Take time in the garden, do the full audio tour, and let the children try the hands on activities and hear the actors tell the stories.

For my Black British History tidbit, I leave you with an image from the Caesar relief painting in the Baroque section  of Hampton Court Palace. This man is in the very front of the first panel of the relief:

An African man included in the front of the relief painting of Caesar’s Triumph subtitled “The Trumpeters and Standard Bearers”

I also bought a book on Black presence in London from Foyle’s Bookstore 😉.


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