Monday, April 16, 2012
I am a History buff and since that was also the subject for my Masters I have a very deep interest in it.Besides being raised in the long shadow of the British Raj--even after India's Independence-----British History dominated our studies next to our own.The colourful chapter of King Henry the Eightth and his Six Wives---fascinated me immensely.As a student I read up as much of it as I could but the film "Anne of a Thousand Days" where Genevieve Bujold played Anne to Richard Burton's Henry was simply superb!!!Today I really have a conviction that Anne was innocent----for any woman who could bend the wilfull Henry to her demands wouldn't have let go of her position due to deceit and deception--and never adultery--for there was so much at stake for her!!However the scheming of the Seymours coupled with Henry's lecherous nature and the treachery of Anne's own enemies led to her downfall and execution.
Therefore I was very interested in visiting Hampton Court----the very place where this love story blossomed and endured till it finally culminated in marriage in 1533.Anne first came to Henry's notice in 1526--and very cleverly played him like a fish till he was completely hooked.She asked to be only"his Queen and not his Mistress" as her sister Mary had been earlier and though she gave in to his demands in late 1532 her immediate pregnancy forced him to marry her--to legitimise the baby for Henry was convinced that his male heir was finally on the way!!That the child born grew up to become The Virgin Queen Elizabeth the 1st. is another story!!!On Saturday,14th. April we visited this beautiful Palace.It was really very wonderful to walk along those very Rooms and passages that these two and Cardinal Wolsey--the original owner of this place--had trod on.Henry's Kitchens were immense in keeping with his huge appetite and number 55 chambers in all--along with a Cooking Staff of 200 people!!!These are really well lighted and airy and very well equipped with all the implements needed--in perfect working conditions!!The best part was when actors playing the parts of Henry and Ann walked among us----answering queries with great Wit and Repartee!!!
The magnificence of Hampton Court is unmistakable--built as it is in two parts.The Tudor part is where the huge Rooms of Henry are open to public---and the latter part built by Sir Christopher Wren in the Baroque style in accordance to the wishes of William the 3rd.(Of Orange) and his wife Mary the 2nd.These rooms really reflect the grandeur of their Court and the beautiful Furnishings,Furniture and some pieces of Plate do add to the complete allure of this fascinating place.The extremely beautiful Gardens and Flower Beds are really very eye pleasing--some of the vast areas just seeded with flowering Daffodils----stretched out under the beautifully tended Trees to create the effect of rolling Meadows.The manicured Trees in the Royal Gardens are trained into a conical shape---set beautifully in the manicured and lush Green Lawns!!We took a Tram ride of these in a Horse drawn Tram---and were shown the longest Herbaceous Border and the Hunting Grounds populated by Fallow Deer--the White ones descendents of the original Herds.
It was a beautiful and long day--where the tramping up and down myriad Staircases was very tiring--though the areas that these led me to were very exhiliarating to see and experience!!!We lunched in the Tiltyard--now a covered Dining area--once the place where Henry and his Nobles jousted!!!There is also the Privy Cafe near Henry's Kitchens--still serving some Tudor style Pies and Soups.The wonderful Lamb Stew that we had was very succulent and filled with a large number of Lamb chunks--and the Fried Fish was very fresh,crisp and just right!!!This was a day that Sudhir would have loved--given the sunny Day---good Food and a Train Journey that took us from London to Hampton Court.We passed the beautiful Countryside and saw the type of England we associated with our childhoods----
I missed him so badly that day that it was like a physical ache!!!!