It was a choice between watching Roger Federer playing against Novak Djokovic at the Wimbledon final or heading off to Hampton Court Palace to enjoy the Tudor Summer jousting show.
I suppose if we had tickets to watch Wimbledon live we would most certainly head over there but as we didn’t 😉 we have chosen the Hampton Court and… loved every minute of it!
As we arrived we immersed ourselves straight into the jousting spectacle. There were two happening in the day and we managed to see them both, each from a different place which gave us a great overview.
There was an arena set up for Queen Mary I and her husband, Philip II of Spain and their court to sit and watch the jousting. The knights on their horses were galloping alongside the long semi-high wooden wall carefully constructed to resemble the Tudor era. The royal couple has actually hosted the jousting competition in 1557 at Hampton Court Palace celebrating Philip’s return to England after being away from his wife since September 1555 after her first pregnancy proved false. I thought I will mention it – what an innovative way to deal with your marital problems! 😉
It was like a one big spectacle acted with such a skill that it truly made you believe you have transported yourself back into the Tudor Summer Palace. It started with arming of the knights preparing for the joust. All three of our children were taken aback after learning that the armour can be as heavy as 50 kg. They were able to see all the different layers the knights were putting on.
Meanwhile on the arena the fine Andalusian Stallions Spanish horses were put through their paces and performed many interesting tricks.
The joust itself was a great thrill! It was a much-loved sport during the Tudor era and the knights who competed were considered celebrities. Full of excitement and adrenaline, two opponents on horseback rode towards each other at speed. Armed with wooden lance, each would try to strike his opponent’s shield or jousting armour or even knock him off the horse. The live commentary provided by one of the court members was excellent – his jokes and use of historical language contributed to the experience a lot.
The children have learnt that ‘squires’ in not only mummy’s favourite coffee morning meeting place but also the knight in training! ;-).
The spectacle was excellent with audience cheering every time the knights confronted and their lances would hit one another and break into many small pieces flying into the air (they were purposely constructed that way to look more attractive for the watching public ;-)). The first jousting ended with the Spanish knight winning while they drawed second time around.
Arthur was convinced these were the real knights and were fighting for real. He was sitting on my hubs knees watching with his mouth wide open (literally) and taking it all in. He was a little bit apprehensive when the knights first confronted each other but he was smiling with excitement every time from then on.
There was so much happening on the day. The English and Spanish court showed off their dance skills and the traditional musicians were playing a Tudor music.
There was also a tent with some traditional wooden games for the children. Ours spent ages playing with wooden skittles – looked easier than it seemed!
We had a picnic in the Palace gardens and the children explored some royal carriages dating back to XVI century.
A fine day of celebrations! As we were walking back to the car via Bushy park (which is where we normally park when visiting the Palace) the children humming ‘God save the Queen’ which we thought was rather amusing ;-).
PIY (Plan It Yourself):
How to get there:
Hampton Court (35 min from Waterloo)
You can park at the Palace at £1.60 per hour or on Hampton Court Green at £1.50 per hour (Palace postcode is KT8 9AU).
If you however don’t mind some 10 -15 minute stroll via beautiful Bushy Park then it is best to park at their car park for free (TW12 2EJ).
We paid with Tesco Clubcard vouchers (£40) and paid some extra £12 in cash on the day (you cannot purchase a family tickets in conjunction with the vouchers so we had to do it separately namely 2 adult tickets and 2 children tickets, third child under 5).
Adult £19.30 (or £18.20 online)
Child £9.70 (or £9.10 online) under 5s free
Family tickets (2+3) £48.20 (or £44.90 online)
Best SAVING offer:
The best thing you can do to save is to then (and it doesn’t have to be done on the day, I have checked with an Information desk and ‘as long as it is not a ridiculous amount of time ie some one year later’) you can upgrade your tickets into the Membership category.
Membership is a fantastic value for money as it allows you to see ALL five palaces (Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace) for a year (plus an extra 3 months free special offer running at the moment). You can also save an additional £10 when you pay by Direct Debit.
Individual membership £47 (DD £37)
Joint membership – 2 adults £71 (DD £61)
Family membership – 1 adult and up to 6 children (!) £59 (DD £49)
Family membership – 2 adults and up to 6 children (wow!) £90 (DD £80).
So for us as a family of 5 would be £80 minus £10 special offer (so £70) so it would cost us only some £18 to upgrade to a membership category! Planning to do it as soon as we are back from our holidays!