Hampton Court Castle, the favorite of King Henry VIII, has a history of mystery, drama and intrigue. The castle originated in the thirteenth century as a great barn used by the Knights of Hospitallers of St. John Jerusalemea for storing agricultural produce. Over the centuries it grew to be one of the most luxurious castles in England.
The intrigue begins with Cardinal Wolsey who purchased the manor and turned it into a fabulous palace. Poor Cardinal Wolsey, unable to manage a divorce for Henry VIII, fell from Henry’s favor. Henry sentenced Wolsey to be executed. Wolsey died before the sentence was carried out.
The infamous King Henry VIII took ownership of the castle and remodeled it over the years spending more than 62,000 pounds ($27 million today). Much of the remodeling related to the drama surrounding Henry’s six wives. He spent three of his honeymoons at Hampton Court and all six of his wives spent time at the castle. Most of them remodeled their quarters. It was at Hampton Court that Henry was told of the infidelity of Kathryn Howard. He had her arrested and executed. Mystery buffs will love knowing that Kathryn’s ghost walks the Haunted Gallery.
Mysterious circumstances surround Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour. She gave birth to the ill-fated future King Edward VI at Hampton Court. Jane died in the palace two weeks after giving birth to Edward.
Henry continued the drama in his life by marrying three more wives. He married his sixth wife, Katherine Parr, at the Hampton Court.
Hampton Court was King Charles’ palace then prison. In 1647 at the end of the war between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists, the deposed King Charles I was brought to Hampton Court as a prisoner. He was executed in 1649.
One of the most public dramas concerned Frederick, Prince of Wales. He had a long running battle with his parents King George II and Queen Caroline. George II wanted his second son to become king, not Frederick or Frederick’s heir. Frederick went so far as to steal his pregnant wife – Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg – away from Hampton Court in the middle of the night, while she was in labor. The birth of their first daughter on 31 August 1737, took place at St James’s after Princess Augusta was forced by Frederick to travel to London, simply to prevent his hated parents from being present at the birth.
Hampton Court Castle’s history of mystery, drama and intrigue is certainly rich fodder for writers.
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