Are you going to Hampton Court to see Terrible Tudors from the Horrible Histories team at the Birmingham Stage Company this half term? We went yesterday (Saturday 28th May).
Terrible Tudors is the latest Horrible Histories play we went to see. Horrible Histories, how I love thee. How I wish you had existed when I was at school doing history as some of the information I’ve learned from watching the shows I’ve retained. I’ve always been convinced that had my entire schooling been in the form of a 1980s lyric I’d have got A’s in everything; but as it was, it didn’t, so I failed most of my exams. Things are so different for H. She LOVES history – my dad would have loved that she does too – he was a massive history fan and owned his own wargames business on the back of it.
So whenever Horrible Histories put on a performance nearby we do our very best to go and see it. This time it was Terrible Tudors at Hampton Court Palace; talk about a perfect setting for that period of time.
The stage is set up to the east front gardens of Hampton Court Palace – if you’ve ever been to their open air screenings of films it’s further over so as to keep the main gardens open, and has just three stalls. You have cushion hire (£1.50 per cushion or £5 for four), a Tudor Store (takes cards, there’s a fantastic Royal Historic Palaces magazine you can buy for £2.99 – and don’t forget your membership discount in this shop – I did!) and a drinks and snacks store (cash only, no discount).
The area opens up an hour before the performance, so we headed to Hampton Court for midday, going straight to the Magic Garden now it’s fully open. I’ll come to it more in detail at the end, but it was the perfect place to have a picnic while the kids got to have a play, plus we wanted to see how much had changed since we had first visited. When we moved to the theatre area they both got a bit restless as it involved a lot of sitting down waiting, plus you’re in the sun so there isn’t a lot of shelter. Not a huge problem but if you want to get a decent space to see the production you need to aim to get there early. They have requested people don’t take chairs, though cushions are fine – I was able to lie down towards the end but still see the stage.
You can have picnics in that area too, and there’s plenty of space. Each performance has around 900 tickets sold – and I believe only a couple of dates have tickets left.
Terrible Tudors is an hour long and takes you from the reign of Richard III and the Wars of the Roses to James I succeeding after the death of Elizabeth I. Obviously, the centre of the show is Henry VIII and again, lots of “and this happened just over there at the Palace” type moments because you’re right next to an amazing piece of history, learning about it all 500 years later. It has just the three actors, but gets everything across brilliantly – even I’m retaining information!
There are plenty of laughs, plenty to entertain adults and kids at the same time (to paraphrase, “Richard III, he was mean so they buried him somewhere rubbish – under a car park in Leicester because nobody ever wins anything in Leicester” – topical and us football fans all had a laugh!). They explain religion and the differences with the catholics and protestants via supporting football teams which again is amusing! Anyway, if you’re going, you’ll love it. If you’re not then hurry up because Terrible Tudors tickets are set to sell out.
Afterwards we headed back to the Magic Garden until it was time to leave. We had been given coloured wristbands – you get about three hours play in there (or alternatively you could be sitting chatting in the main area next to the arena – we got seats every time and you could see the entire play area so always knew the kids were safe), then you have to leave the park for an hour before you can come back in. It was full but not too full, and it seems like they have crowd numbers well under control.
There’s a drinking water fountain which we refilled bottles with, and the small kiosk was also popular as it was a gorgeous hot day. They ran out of Calippo’s but we spotted a delivery of more fairly soon afterwards. The toilets are now open inside the play area too, and seemed absolutely fine – with one low sink and one higher one so good for smaller children.
The water play area was fenced off – it looks like maybe some younger children fell in, so they’re revamping it at some point – understandable as it was quite open. Having said that, H and her friend still had plenty to do. The park looked wonderful and colourful as you can see from the pictures.
Hampton Court is open every day until 6pm. Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors is on every day this half term, and they’ll be back with a Best of Barmy Britain in the West End soon too – and I know there’s some productions arriving in Wimbledon soon as well. We love Horrible Histories, and love that the Birmingham Stage Company keep putting on these productions (10 years now!). It’s a great time to be young and to love history! Book your tickets here – adults are £10 and children £5.