A selection of events are set to be held in the gardens of Hampton Court in 2016, depicting important events from the Palace’s history as well as some of its best-known residents.
Easter will see the reopening of Henry VIII’s tiltyard, where tournaments and jousts will be held, just like it was in the Henrician period, with the help of Chelsea award winning landscape architect Robert Myers. It was here that the King fell from his horse and lay unconscious for hours – many think this was the beginning of his decline, damaging his cerebral cortex which can change someone’s personality.
The Magic Garden, as the event is to be called, will to be set here, bringing the Tudor court to life. It will include a 25 metre dragon, and the entire garden will form part of the feature, great for exploring. Children will love the battlements and towers to play make-believe.
April marks the 300th anniversary of Capability Brown’s birth; the landscape architect worked at Hampton Court in the 1700s as Chief Gardener. His work influence Catherine the Great of Russia, and The Empress and the Gardener will tell the story of the English influence of the Russian Empress’ palaces and gardens.
A collection of watercolours of Hampton Court Palace and gardens by Brown’s draughtsman, John Spyers, will also go on display; they were once owned by Catherine, being redescovered at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg in 2002.
Throughout the year, visitors will be able to discover more about the work of today’s team of 35 specialist gardeners, in a special film following their work through the seasons. Home Park was where Henry VIII once hunted, while the formal parterres show the Baroque side of the palace, home of William and Mary; the Georgian Kitchen Garden, opened by Sophie, Countess of Wessex will also be open for the public to view.
Henry VIII is also to be recreated – in topiary – next year, and guests will be able to travel in regal style, with horse-drawn carriage to tour the vast grounds of Hampton Court.
For those wanting to be more involved, a community project will see mysterious gnomes appear, recounting secrets and tales from the palace’s past.