Hampton Court Castle & Garden
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
Sir Rowland's great-grandson sold Hampton to Sir Humphrey Coningsby in 1510, and it remained in the Coningsby family for 4 centuries. A later Lord Coningsby was a key supporter of William and Mary's bid for the throne, and showed his support by adding 'Court' to his manor's name, in honour of Hampton Court Palace outside London, one of the new monarchs' favourite royal residences. Coningsby etablished Dutch-style parterre gardens and canals at Hampton, following the popular fashion for all things Dutch after William and Mary's ascent to the throne.
Richard's son and heir, John Arkwright had the house rebuilt in early Victorian Gothic style to designs by Charles Tracy (later Lord Sudeley). The most obvious addition to the house were striking battlements, truly giving it the look of a medieval castle. However, relations between architect Tracy and owner John Arkwright were strained at best, and at one point Arkwright claimed in a fit of exasperation that he wished he had 'never touched a stone' of Hampton. Perhaps it would have been better if he hadn't, for the cost was enormous, and by the turn of the 20th century Arkwright's son was bankrupt.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. In 1848 the family called in Joseph Paxton to design an ornate conservatory behind the house (now used as a cafe). Paxton went on to design the famous glass hall for the Great Exhibition of 1851, using many of the same principles employed at Hampton Court.
The gardens at Hampton Court represent one of the most ambitious modern garden projects anywhere in England. The core of the gardens is encircled by the original Victorian garden walls. Within the walls you will find a wide variety of distinct garden areas, separated by canals, islands, and avenues of pleached trees. Then there are a recreated area of Dutch parteres and canals with island pavillions creating wonderful focal points. There is a wonderful wisteria tunnel, over 150 years old, leading through hedges to wide lawns in front of the house.
There is a separate kitchen garden which provides organic produce for the castle restaurant. One nice feature during the summer months is that the head gardener is available at set times to answer any gardening questions you might have.
Visiting Hampton Court
Many people come to Hamptton purely to enjoy the garden. After I visited it was easy to see why. I was especially keen on the house, but the garden proved to be an absolute delight. The Dutch style water gardens were wonderfully attractive, and overall there wa a perfect mix of formal and informal garden areas, with plenty of space for children to run about and lots of quiet corners for adults to enjoy at a slightly slower pace! The colours in summer when we visited were simply stunning. As you might expect, the maze was especially popular with children, though it seemed when I was there that at least as many adults were trying their hand at finding a way to the centre as there were children! And it is worth it; the view from the top of the tower is wonderful, with an excellent panorma over the walled and water gardens to the towers of the castle itself.
Garden: One of the most ambitious garden reclamation projects of the 20th century, the historic gardens at Hampton Court stretch to over 10000 acres, including a yew maze, riverside walks, Victorian walled garden, and a recreated 17th century Dutch garden with parterres and canals. Superb, and well worth a visit.
About Hampton Court Castle & Garden
Address: Hope-under-Dinmore, Leominster, Herefordshire, England, HR6 0PN
Attraction Type: Castle
Location: Off the A417, near its junction with the A49.
Website: Hampton Court Castle & Garden
Phone: 01568 797777
Historic Houses Association
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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