Grand houses and their gardens, particularly ones with royal associations, attracted both British and foreign tourists in the eighteenth century, as they continue to do so today. Prints such as the one featured here, showing a view of Hampton Court Palace would have been popular with those who visited (or aspired to visit) such places; for instance connoisseurs or a relatively small elite group of people. In the present view, the palace is shown in the setting of its gardens, which are populated with fashionably dressed men and women.
Hampton Court Palace is most commonly associated with King Henry VIII, but it predates him; and the part of the palace which dominates this print was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built under William III and his queen consort Mary. The first major resident of the building was Cardinal Wolsey, who took over the pre-existing property in 1514. Wolsey extended the building and provided a suite for Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon; after Wolsey fell from favour, Hampton Court was given to the King. Henry spent time there with his wives, although it was not his favourite palace, and made many alterations. It retained its Tudor character into the reign of Charles I, who resided there as both king and prisoner. Parliamentary forces took control of Hampton Court in 1645, and it later became a residence for Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector. On the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II added a suite of rooms, but the major alterations to the palace as we know it today came in the reign of William and Mary.
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