King James I’s London – 9. Hampton Court Palace

It’s fitting given the important role Hampton Court Palace played in the creation of the King James Bible that we include it in this series. But Hampton Court Palace is also notable for some other events during King James I’s reign. First, however, we turn to the Hampton Court Conference…

It was in 1604 that King James I meet at Hampton Court with representatives of the Church of England, including one party led by Archbishop John Whitgift (representing the church hierarchy) and another party led by John Rainolds (representing the Puritans), to discuss complaints made by the Puritans concerning a range of matters. While a new Bible wasn’t initially on the agenda, the three days of discussions did eventually lead to King James I commissioning the creation of a new Bible which eventually became known as the King James Version.

King James I was already familiar with Hampton Court Palace – it was in the palace that he had celebrated his first Christmas as king the previous year. Notably, it was during this Christmas and New Year period that Shakespeare’s acting company, the King’s Men, performed in the palace’s Great Hall for the king and his court.

At that stage, the palace hadn’t been dramatically updated since Tudor times – in fact, it wasn’t until after the accession of King William III and Queen Mary II following the “Glorious Revolution” in 1689 that the Tudor palace was given a major overhaul.

King James I continued to visit Hampton Court during the remainder of his reign and his visits, which were generally proceeded by a program of repairs, were noted for the lavish entertainment that took place when they occurred.

It was also at Hampton Court Palace that James’ wife, Queen Anne, died of dropsy in 1619. And where his son King Charles I, who had commissioned some improvements to the palace, was imprisoned for a period during the Civil War. But more of that another time…

WHERE: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey (nearest station is Hampton Court from Waterloo); WHEN: 10am to 6pm everyday (winter hours 10am to 4.30pm from 31st October to 26th March); COST: Adult £15.40, Concession £12.65, Child under 16 £7.70 (under fives free), family tickets, garden only tickets and online booking discounts available;

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