The Gardens and Parks at Hampton Court Palace

By Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

HAMPTON COURT PALACE is famed throughout the world and regularly draws over a million visitors each year. Host to garden shows and spectacular concerts, it is a major tourist attraction, a must-see on every overseas visitor's itinerary and the subject of many school visits and weekend outings. With its stunning buildings, vistas and gardens, it is a haven for those seeking peace from the busy London streets that surround it; a place to wander in the footsteps of its many royal visitors over the centuries and to marvel at the fact that a building that originated in 1086 has survived, albeit with many changes, to the present day.Known as a royal palace, it was actually only host to the royal family themselves for about two centuries, after which it became a place of rest for aging courtiers and grace-and-favour inhabitants and this change of use is reflected in the surrounding 2000 acres of gardens and woods. The keen horticulturalist Cardinal Wolsey was the first to stamp his personality on the grounds with the development of knot gardens, fishponds and a privy orchard during the early 1500s. Successive occupants embellished his initial ideas with the addition of the infamous maze, the tennis courts, even the formation of its own river, the Longford, which remains to this day.This fascinating tour of the parks and gardens is written by the Gardens Advisor to Hampton Court Palace and Vice-President of the London Historic Parks & Gardens Trust, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan. A veritable champion of the site, he gives a highly readable, informative account of its development over the years, accompanied by the stunning photographs of Vivian Russell. Archive material mingles with current shots of the palace and its grounds, highlighting the changes that have occurred during the palace's turbulent history. With its vast redesign and renovations over the last few decades, the gardens now reflect the regality of the buildings they surround and this book makes an apt celebration of all the hard work that so many gardeners at the palace have undertaken. More than a souvenir book, it is a heritage work that every visitor - or would-be visitor - should own.

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