Wednesday Wander – Hampton Court Palace

Okay, so I’ve not wandered too far this week – a train ride, rather than a plane ride, away. Still, it’s to a rather interesting place. London is home to some wonderful palaces – I have another post about the Tower of London still to write – and Hampton Court Palace is one of the finest, a treasure trove of history, design and architecture.

Built by Cardinal Wolsey and taken over several years later by Henry VIII, the palace was constructed between 1515 and 1694. Not much of the original Tudor palace remains in its original state, as successive monarchs each sought to put their stamp on the building.The palace remained a royal residence until Victorian times, though George II was the last monarch to reside there. However, the monarch with whom the palace is most closely associated is Henry VIII. Oranges carved over an internal doorway are symbols of Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife, while the clock above is the Hampton Court astronomical clock, set in the Anne Boleyn gate, named for his second wife. Jane Seymour, his third wife, gave birth to their son Edward, and subsequently died there, two weeks later. It was also at Hampton Court that Henry learned of the infidelity of his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Imprisoned in her rooms, it is said she escaped and ran the length of the Haunted Gallery, screaming for mercy, but was recaptured and, eventually, executed.

Large landscaped gardens surround the building, running alongside the river Thames. One of the original 16th century tiltyard towers remains, part of Henry VIII’s jousting range, as does his Royal Tennis Court. My friend and I also walked the Hampton Court Maze, planted between 1689 and 1695 for William of Orange, the ancient green hedges taller than we were.

This is the Fountain Court, designed by Sir Christopher Wren during the reign of William and Mary, when a huge program of renovation took place at the palace. William and Mary wanted the design to reflect their status as equal monarchs, so two sets of apartments, equal in size and stature, were designed, as well as two identical interior staircases. However, when Mary passed away, William lost interest in the renovation project and work ceased.With all this history, it’s not surprising that the palace is reputed to be haunted. Several tourists have reported strange occurences, and then there’s ‘Skeletor’, a famous image captured on the CCTV cameras which has not been adequately explained. We didn’t see any ghosts, but we did see a rather dishy fellow, a cross between Damien Lewis and Tom HIddleston, decked out in full Elizabethan regalia, including a single pearl drop earring. Seeing him on the train later in civilian clothes rather spoiled the illusion… 😀

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Thursday Doors – In The Village

img_5301I had a little time after work the other day, so decided to photograph a few of the lovely Georgian doors in the village where I work. It’s a small high street, 16th century half-timbered pubs next to Victorian villas and tiny cottages, older timber framed buildings ‘modernised’ with Georgian facades. The village dates back to Saxon times and is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. In the 12th century it was home to one of the royal Plantagenet palaces, since demolished.

img_5298It’s a lovely place to work, the river running in the valley below next to the more placid waters of the old canal. I’ve seen a kingfisher, flash of brilliant blue, along the river, and at the moment there are snowdrops on the banks – it’s nice to have the option to walk to work, too.

img_5314And I also took a shot of this wonderful fellow. He obligingly stopped so I could take his photo – isn’t he great?

img_5304This is my response to Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors Challenge, for door-lovers from around the world. For more doors, or to add one of your own, visit Norm’s site and click the link.


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Wednesday Wander – The Brighton Pavilion

img_0137You may think that this week I’ve chosen to wander somewhere exotic, a Moroccan souk or Indian palace. Actually, I’m only an hour or so from where I live, in the lovely but much-less-exotic Brighton, on the south coast of England. This is the Brighton Pavilion.

img_0141The Pavilion actually started life as a much more modest farmhouse, which the Prince of Wales, later George IV, rented as a convenient place to see his longtime love, Maria Fitzherbert, whom he was forbidden to marry. In 1787 he decided he’d like grander accommodation, so incorporated the farmhouse into one wing of a larger building. Construction continued until 1822 and took several stages, with renowned architect John Nash overseeing the final phase, giving it the appearance it has today.

img_0132Brighton at the time was gaining in popularity as a seaside town, thanks to the Prince’s uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, who had held a residence there for several years. For many years the Pavilion was the summer home of the Royal Family, until Queen Victoria decided it was too ‘cramped’ and not private enough. She decided to move to the Isle Of Wight for her summer holidays instead, and so the Pavilion was sold to the town of Brighton in 1850, for the sum of £53,000, a fortune in those days (and not too bad today, either!)

img_0139The Pavilion is now open to the public, and features the most wonderfully opulent interiors. I didn’t go inside on my last visit but plan to do so next time, and of course I’ll share the photos when I do.

img_0135Even though the day I visited was bitterly cold, it was bright and clear, perfect for viewing fantasy minarets against an azure sky. In some ways it reminded me of Hearst Castle, another place built by a man to spend time with the woman he loved but couldn’t marry – a perfect folly.

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Thursday Doors – Haven

img_4972I’ve been posting in Thursday Doors for a while now. Some weeks the doors have been grand, entrances to cathedrals or palaces. Other weeks they’ve been more humble, just like my door this week.

Yet a door, no matter the size or shape, represents possibility. None of us know what lies behind until we choose to open the door and enter. There’s a reason that Let’s Make A Deal, with prizes hidden behind doors 1, 2 and 3, is such an enduring pop culture icon. The idea of doors representing choice, a metaphor for change, is a powerful one. Doors often feature in fairytales, either with a caution that they are not to be opened (usually disobeyed), or as pathways to a quest, representing levels of wisdom or challenge. Spirits in haunted houses are said to wander through doors no longer there, perhaps symbolic of their status as lost souls.

And this little blue door, with its welcoming light, seems to represent a haven. Doesn’t it look welcoming, with the tiled path and the little arch, the plants and the golden light beyond? On a cold dark light it’s almost a beacon, a promise of respite for a weary traveller. This is not my front door – in fact, I have no idea who lives here. But it’s nice to think that, hopefully, they feel happiness when they see their front door, a feeling that they are home.

This was my entry to Thursday Doors, via Norm 2.0. For more doors, or to add one of your own, visit Norm’s site and click the link.


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.