tands on the northern bank of the Thames, about 12 miles due west from Hyde Park Corner and is situated in the parish of Hampton, in the hundred of Spelthorne, and county of Middlesex.
Cardinal Wolsey, when in the height of his power, having determined upon building a palace for his principal residence in the vicinity of the metropolis, fixed on Hampton Court for the site of it, as being one of the healthiest and most pleasant spots in the south of England. He therefore obtained from the prior of St. John a lease of the manor and manor-house, and in 1516 commenced the erection of a magnificent mansion, which he furnished in a style of corresponding splendour; and in 1526, before the structure was completed, he presented it to the king, together with the interest in the manorial estate. In return for this present, Henry VIII. bestowed upon Wolsey the manor of Richmond, an old and favorite residence of himself, as it had been of Henry VII. The palace then became the property of Government, who have retained it from that period to the present day.
It would be impossible for us to attempt a description of the structure, beyond that it consists of three principal quadrangles. The western court is 167 by 162 feet, and is divided into several suites of apartments, occupied by private families. The middle quadrangle is 134 1/2 by 134 feet, and is called the Clock Court, from a curious astronomical clock being placed over the gateway; over the archway are the arms of Cardinal Wolsey, with his motto, Dominus michi adivtor (God is my help). And on all the small towers are the busts of the Roman emperors in terra-cotta; viz. — on the east side Titus, Otho, Galba, Julius; on the west side Vitellius, Augustus; in the first court are Trajan, Adrian; and at the western entrance are the emperors Tiberius and Nero; they have lately been restored, but were originally sent from Rome by Pope Leo X. to Cardinal Wolsey, to decorate this palace.
In the archway between the two courts a flight of stone steps leads to
THE GREAT HALL, Or, as it is generally designated, Wolsey's Hall, adorned with thirteen new stained-glass windows, each of the windows 20 feet high, and of considerable width: they contain the armorial pedigrees of the six wives of Henry VIII. The interior of the room is of magnificent extent and proportions, being 106 feet long, 40 wide, and 60 high; the roof is designed with a flowing freedom, elaborately carved, and richly decorated with the arms and badges of Henry VIII.; an oriel window beautifully constructed with mullions, etc., and filled with splendid tracery.
THE CHAPEL, Northwards from the eastern archway, must not be overlooked. It was unfinished at the period of Wolsey's disgrace, and was completed by Henry VIII. Its interior is worth seeing, and the exterior forms a conspicuous object when viewed from the river.
On the south side of the inner quadrangle visitors enter a beautiful colonnade of the Ionic order, erected by Sir Christopher Wren, which leads to
THE KING'S GRAND STAIRCASE.
This spacious approach to the state apartments was painted by Verrio, in which his exuberant pencil has portrayed, in his florid style, gods, goddesses, emperors, kings, etc. The allegories are highly complimentary to William and Mary. Passing from the Grand Staircase, the visitor will commence his inspection of the paintings; but in consequence of the locality of the pictures being frequently changed, we shall enumerate the number only that are generally in each room, with the names of the principal artists.
GUARD CHAMBER, A large, lofty, and nobly-proportioned apartment 70 feet in length, 87 wide, and 30 in height, decorated with various groups of halberts, swords, and pistols, sufficient for the equipment of 1,000 men. There are seventeen pictures by Romano, Bockman, Bugendas, Canaletto, and Zucchero.
THE KING'S FIRST PRESENCE CHAMBER. The carvings of foliage, flowers, fruit, etc, over the doors and chimney-pieces, are chiefly by Grinlin Gibbons. The canopy of King "William's throne, with the motto, "Je main tien dray". There are forty-four pictures in this room, some of them portraits of the beauties of the court of William and Mary, by Kneller, etc.; with others by Titian, Rousseau, Tintoretto, Holbein, etc. In
THE SECOND PRESENCE CHAMBER, There are forty-five, by Correggio, Vandyke, Velasquez, Carlo Maratti, Sir J. Reynolds, etc.
THE AUDIENCE CHAMBER, Contains forty-three, by Cignani, L. da Vinci, S. Bicci, Griulio Romano, Titian, etc. In
THE KING'S DRAWING ROOM, There are twenty-three only, by Tintoretto, Luca Giordano, Sir William Beechey, etc.
KING WILLIAM III.'S BEDROOM. The state-bed of Queen Charlotte. The ceiling, representing Night and Morning, was painted by Verrio. The clock at the head of the bed (made by D. Quare) goes twelve months without winding up. The portraits in this room, twenty-one in number, are beauties of the court of Charles II., by Vandyke, Lely, Verelst, etc. Next are the king's writing closet and queen mart's
CLOSET, In which there are subjects by Russel, Hanneman, Cepper, Baptist, etc.
THE QUEEN'S GALLERY, A large room containing seventy-nine pictures, many of them fine and curious old portraits by Rubens and Holbein predominate here.
THE QUEEN'S BED-ROOM. The ceiling, by Sir James Thornhill, represents Aurora rising out of the Sea. The state-bed of Queen Anne, the velvet hangings of which were wrought at Spitalfields; chairs and stools to correspond. The pictures, forty-one in number, are by Guido, Kneller, Titian, Baptist, etc.
THE QUEEN S DRAWING ROOM. The ceiling of this apartment, by Verrio, represents Queen Anne in the character of Justice. The whole of the paintings of this room are by West. In
THE QUEEN'S AUDIENCE CHAMBER, There are forty-two pictures by Mytens, Jan de Mabuse, Holbein, West, etc.
THE PUBLIC DINING-ROOM. On the south side of this room, which is hung with arras tapestry, are two of the ancient pieces belonging to the series in the Great Hall relating to the story of Abraham. These represent Rebecca at the Well (Genesis xxiv. 18); and Abraham and Melchizedek (Genesis xiv. 18).
On the west side of the room is the story of Midas; on the north side Tobias and the angel taking leave of his father Tobit, and his mother grieving for his departure; here also is Elymas the sorcerer struck with blindness, after Raphael. A model palace at Moorshedabad in Bengal, designed by Major General McLeod of the Bengal Engineers, with pictures Nos. 542 to 547, by Spagnoletto, Murillo, etc,
THE PRINCE OF WALES PRESENCE CHAMBER AND THE PRINCE OE WALES'S DRAWING-ROOM, Comprise Nos. 548 to 618, where will be found subjects by Bellini, Veronese, Spagnoletto, Guido, Lely, Knapton, etc.
ANTE-ROOM, With four views by Dankers.
THE QUEEN'S PRIVATE CHAPEL. Model of Kew by Nash. Pictures 623 to 645, by Verrio, Van Orlay, Van Ley den, Steenwyck, etc.
PRIVATE DINING-ROOM, (With the state-beds of William III. and his queen Mary,) and two closets contain Nos 646 to 704, where Vandyke, Veronese, Zeeman, Bassano, Pens, and Fetti, with subjects by various other masters, will be found.
THE QUEEN'S PRIVATE CHAMBER. A model of a palace designed by Sir W. Chambers, intended for Richmond Gardens, with portraits by Kneller, Lely, Cranach, Gainsborough, and others, Spanish Boy by Murillo, and, to make up the list to No. 725, a landscape by Dankers.
THE KING'S PRIVATE DRESSING ROOM. This apartment is hung with tapestry representing the battle of Solebay in 1672. The Delft vases were brought to England by William III. 727 to 730, four Doges of Venice by Fialetti, etc.
GEORGE II.'S PRIVATE CHAMBER, And a closet; we have a model of a palace, designed by Kent, intended for Hyde Park by George II; with pictures, 731 to 768, by Baptiste, Campidoglio, Vander Meulen, etc.
THE CARTOON GALLERY. The interior was designed by Wren to receive the Cartoons. The walls are divided into seven compartments to admit the Cartoons, and are covered with oak panelling, enriched with Corinthian pilasters and embellishments, such as wreaths, carved by Gibbons. These celebrated paintings, designed by Raphael about the year 1520, as patterns for tapestry to decorate the Sistine Chapel at Rome, according to the orders of Pope Leo X., are greatly prized. Each of them has been called an epic poem; and artists consider that the phrase is no exaggeration of their extraordinary merits. They represent subjects from the Evangelists and Acts of the Apostles. The tapestry was executed at the manufactory of Arras in Flanders. The Cartoons were bought for Charles I. by Rubens. They represent; — 769. The Death of Ananias. 770. Elymas the Sorcerer. 771. Peter and John at the Beautiful Grate. 772. The Miraculous Draught of Fishes. 773. Paul and Barnabas at Lystra. 774. Paul preaching at Athens. 775. Christ's Charge to Peter.
AN ANTE-ROOM. 676 to 797, by Oldenburg, Parcelles, Guido, Kent, etc.
THE PORTRAIT GALLERY, 798 to 855. 805 to 813, nine pictures, each 9 feet by 7, representing the Triumphs of Julius Cæsar, painted by Andrea Mantegna for the Marquis of Mantua, about the year 1476; they were purchased with the rest of the Mantua collection by Charles I. for £80,000.
THE QUEEN'S STAIRCASE. The ornamental ceiling by Vick and Kent. 856, according to Walpole, Charles I. and his Queen as Apollo and Diana, seated in the clouds; the Duke of Buckingham as Mercury introduces to them the Arts and Sciences; while several Genii drive away Envy and Malice — G. Honthorst. From this staircase visitors enter
THE QUEEN'S GUARD CHAMBER, Containing Nos. 857 to 928. Here we have Holbein, Titian, Tintoretto, Hoppner, Cignani, Daniel Nes, T. Dance, with other subjects by a host of first-rate masters.
AN ANTE-ROOM, With thirteen sea-pieces, views, and hulls of ships, by Marshall, Cleveley, Paton, and Wright. We next proceed to
THE QUEEN'S PRESENCE CHAMBER. 940 to 1,027, an assemblage of sea-pieces, battles, destructions of fleets, with Greenwich Hospital, Church, and Park, by Marshall, Vandevelde, etc.; with six views of the Thames and, one of St. James's Park by James, a landscape-painter in the time of George II., who was employed by Canaletto during the two years that artist was in England. With this apartment terminates the exhibition of Hampton Court Palace.
Descend the Queen's Staircase, it leads into the
FOUNTAIN COURT, The whole exterior of which is by Sir Christopher Wren, being 117 feet by 110 feet wide. In this court is the celebrated frieze by Andrea Mantegna, illustrative of the triumphs of Julius Cæesar. It consists of nine distinct compositions occupying the entire length of a gallery on one side of the court; and in every figure and ornament there is something to admire, each figure being impressed with the motion and business of the scene. The groups follow each other in a picturesque manner: the victor's spoils are borne in triumphal display; instruments of war jostle those of peace; the warrior and musician, men, women, and children, form, in natural array, an excited throng; and this long train of figures terminates with Cæsar seated upon a magnificent car, wearing an expression of serene dignity and power.
And now for a refreshing lounge in the magnificent
GARDEN, Looking at the gold and silver fish previous to a stroll among its shrubs and flower-beds, and along its gravelled walks and sheltered groves. Nor must we forget the
VINERY, Measuring 70 feet in length and 14 in breath, the interior wholly occupied with one vine of the black Hamburgh kind, planted in 1769, and has, in a single year, produced 2,200 bunches of grapes, each bunch weighing on an average one pound. And previous to bidding adieu to Hampton Court Palace and its multitudinous associations, kill time for half-an-hour by a visit to the
LABYRINTH OR MAZE, Which is productive of much amusement to numerous visitors; and by no means omit to pass through the "Lion Gates," in order to pay a visit to the magnificent avenue of chesnut-trees in
BUSHY PABK, And the large herds of deer, with their broad spread antlers towering aloft. Nor is even this spot without its heart-stirring associations; for to a magnificent house here the accomplished Mrs. Jordan was a frequent visitor, who, alas, in the evening of her days, was deserted, and died in indigence in a foreign land.
Retrace your steps by a gentle walk through the village; and should you be so disposed, cross the bridge, and return to town by the South Western Railway, which will complete our western excursion up the Thames.Hogben's Strangers' Guide to London, By John Hogben (1850)
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