Hampton Court Palace With Kids
Activity: Hampton Court Palace. Tube Stop: Waterloo to Hampton Court. Cost: £19.20/adult, £9.60/child. Hours: 10-4:30
Here's how to get here: take the tube to London Waterloo. You'll need to buy a ticket to get to Zone 6 depending on what Oyster Card you bought (ask the guard at the gate). There is a train that goes right to Hampton Court every 30 minutes and the station is a 5 minute walk from the palace. Plan on staying all day and don't miss the hedge maze.
Welcome to the medieval home of Henry VIII. Are you ready to learn about history that was so dramatic it reads like fiction? Repeat after me. Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. King Henry VIII ruled England from 1509 until 1547. He was married 6 times, completely changed England's religious affiliation, and was either totally insane or the worst chauvinist that ever lived.
Henry's first marriage was to Catherine of Aragon. He and Catherine were married for 24 years during which she was pregnant 6 times. Tragically, only one of the babies lived, a girl named Mary (known as Bloody Mary, who you learned about during The Tower of London tour).
Henry's eye began to wander. The mistresses he impregnated bore him illegitimate children, but Henry wanted a real male heir! Henry soon became interested in Anne Boleyn. Anne turned him down repeatedly and encouraged him to pursue a divorce with Catherine so that they could be wed legally. She was dark-haired with "beautiful features and a lively manner."
Henry petitioned the Pope to cancel his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. The Pope saw right through him and turned him down. Henry became obsessed with finding a way to divorce Catherine and secure his marriage to Anne Boleyn.
After additional petitions to the Pope, Henry decided to sever ties with the Catholic church and start a new church called The Church of England. This decision didn't just involve him, it also involved ALL of England adopting a new religion.
Henry got his way and he and Anne were married in 1533. Anne gave birth to a girl, Elizabeth I, eventual Queen of England. She then gave birth to a stillborn boy, and surprise surprise, Henry got tired of her too and set his eyes on Jane Seymour. Instead of divorcing this time, Henry decided to charge Anne with high treason, incest, and adultery. She was beheaded at The Tower of London after being married to Henry for just 2 years and 11 months.
Wife numba 3 was Jane Seymour. They were married 11 days after poor Anne got beheaded. Henry finally got his heir in King Edward I. Unfortunately while getting his heir, he also lost his wife, as Jane died from complications of childbirth. They were married for 1 year and 4 months and she was the only queen to get a queen's burial. Before Henry died, he asked to be buried next to Jane. She gave him his male heir and so was his favorite wife.
Henry took a short three year break from weddings before marrying Anne of Cleves, a German Princess. He annulled the marriage after only 6 months because Henry found out she was engaged to someone else before they got married. Seems fair, he was married three times and beheaded one of his wives, but she was engaged... better get an annulment. Anne got off nicely though, she got a castle out of the relationship ending, plus she stayed friends with the King and his children. Ultimately, she outlived everyone and was the last wife to die!
Next was Catherine Howard, who did NOT get a castle, but instead lost her head. She and Henry were married for 1 year and 3 months before Henry accused her of cheating on him and OFF WITH HER HEAD!
Last was Catherine Parr. She outlived Henry and actually was married 4 times in total, twice before Henry and once after. They didn't have any children, but Catherine made Henry into a family man and restored national confidence in the royal family. She also secured Mary and Elizabeth to succeed the throne after Edward.
Be glad you weren't born in a time when women's only contribution to society was their ability to bear male heirs. Don't worry, things got slightly better for women very soon after Henry's reign!