Hampton Court:
A Social and Architectural History

Simon Thurley

Publicaton Date
May 2003
Standard Number
Yale University Press
450 pages

This fully illustrated study of what is 'probably Britain's most important secular historic building complex' is based on the premise that the architecture of Hampton Court cannot be understood without a consideration of the agendas of the remarkable people who built it. Soundly based on a multitude of sources, including many original plans and surveys as well as recent archaeological evidence, the book begins with the earliest Court built by Lord Daubeney in the 15th century; a structure that has almost entirely disappeared. Thurly goes on to examine the plans and structures of Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII and the Tudors, demonstrating how the `rapid and sometimes astonishing turns in Henry's private life' impacted on his building programme at Hampton Court. The book compares and contrasts the use of the Court by the Stuarts, who largely regarded it as a place for entertainment and hunting, before examining its transformation under William and Mary who saved it from a long decline. The evolution of the gardens, the embellishments of the Georgians, the destruction of the Victorians, the influx of tourists and the conservation efforts of today are all illustrated and authoritatively discussed by the Chief Executive of English Heritage.