Terrible Tudors at Hampton Court and Revisiting the Magic Garden

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 at hampton court palace

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.

horrible histories terrible tudors hampton courtThe 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).

horrible histories hampton court terrible tudors

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.

Hampton court magic garden crown mound

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.

hampton court magic garden h on dragon

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.

Hampton Court Magic Garden May 2016

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 Magic Garden large slide

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.

Hampton Court Magic Garden

We’re Historic Royal Palace members this year, and as luck would have it so is one of our friends, and H’s best friend at school – so when she received an email inviting her to a special event today to try out the new Hampton Court Magic Garden, we all went along as it sounded pretty awesome.

Hampton Court Magic Garden amphitheatre

The Hampton Court Magic Garden is described by them as “a truly unique and immersive children’s play garden at Hampton Court Palace which translates the stories of the palace into Tudor-inspired design and features a liberal sprinkling of magic!” – so what did we think?

Hampton Court Magic Garden - spotty

We LOVED it. It’s awesome. For me it has the spirit of the Diana playground in Kensington, but with less sand (there is a water and sand play area there), where children are safe, can be left to get on with playing with minimal adult supervision, and there’s plenty of space for their imagination to run riot. It’s suitable for young kids and older ones – with enough space that nobody gets in each other’s way.

As it was a test weekend when we get to check how things work, some features weren’t available (the toilets weren’t ready, but Hampton Court itself has plenty).

Hampton Court Magic Garden crown hill view

There’s a large mound with a tunnel-slide through it and a crown on the top. There’s towers, the Tiltyard Towers (and while the Magic Garden was being built they found what might be one of the original towers), a smoke-breathing dragon you can climb on (which is awesome), a water area where you can pull a boat from one side of the water to the other, or just walk across on stepping stones instead.

Hampton Court Magic Garden Water play area older kids

There’s plenty on offer – a dragon cave, two slides – one in a tunnel and one from the tallest tower over the other side of the park, suitable for older kids. A giant fireman’s pole which H loved and said it felt like she was going down it forever. We easily spent almost two hours in there – us adults sitting chatting while H and her friend had the best time ever!

The Hampton Court Magic Garden felt safe, well thought out and fun. We had perfect weather for it – there’s an amphitheatre area too which is fun for just running or rolling around in (good hills, y’see). On top of the mound is a crown – H and her friend had races from the top to the bottom.

Hampton Court Magic Garden crown hill

There’s a climbing area leading to a long fireman’s pole, and an even longer slide – both kids loved it and kept going back.

Hampton Court Magic Garden dragon and water sand play area

Then there’s the sand area which has water you can pump from various places, there are wooden dams, and when the Hampton Court Magic Garden opens you’ll have buckets and spades too.

Hampton Court Magic Garden tree house

Oh, and the tree house. Oh my word, it’s awesome. H and her pal stayed in there quite a lot, climbing up there to get away from us adults. We wanted to join them! How amazing does this look?

Hampton Court Magic Garden towers with mirrors

As for us adults, there wasn’t space for us to sit anywhere so we perched in an area which looks like it has hooks for something, next to the fire breathing dragon (well, smoke, anyway) – and grabbed a reasonably priced drink from the nearby cafe (within the Magic Garden) – there are snacks and ice creams on offer there too.

The Hampton Court Magic Garden opens on the 21st March – keep an eye on their website for more information. You can buy a maze and Magic Gardens ticket, otherwise it is included in the cost of your Hampton Court Palace admission ticket. For members it’s included in your membership package.

It was really difficult to take photos to try and show how amazing the playground is, without there being other people on it. I’ve tried to blur out faces where I can, and can only apologise if you spot yourself and wonder why you have no face. Sorry!

Hampton Court Palace

We headed over to Hampton Court Palace, as newly signed up members of the Historic Royal Palaces gang – we figure we can visit three times and make our membership fees back, so it’s worth it.

Hampton Court

Hampton Court Palace is somewhere I’ve visited since I was very young. My Great Aunt and Uncle lived in Teddington, and we’d stay with them whenever we visited London. This would always involve a visit to Bushy Park, with a walk through to the maze at Hampton Court. Living so close to it these days, there was no way H was going to miss out on something I’d loved when I was her age – the only question was, would it still be the same?

Having the Historic Royal Palaces membership helped a lot – they’ve just finished a 50% off entry offer, and prices are increasing – plus of course there are additional things to do when you’re there. But as the gentleman who showed us to our seats in the ticket office said, “with this membership you’ll never need to queue again” (I like it already!) We also get 10% off food and any purchases in the gift shops – every little helps!

Hampton Court

Hampton Court has a lot to offer. There are the gardens, which are enormous and largely unaltered since the early days of the Palace, as well as the maze. Oh the maze. I would go in it when I was young, and did manage to get to the middle once in record time. Today it wasn’t to be, all I could remember was keep around the outside and you get to the middle, which didn’t work at all (even though it was the right thing to do). H has decided she has “a terrible sense of direction”!

Inside Hampton Court Palace there is so much to see – and we’re going to need to go back to finish off. Somehow, weirdly, I had never been there when we’ve visited in the past. I don’t know why, but that is no longer the case. We wandered around rooms Henry VIII will have dined and existed in – H was excited about this – one of her favourite subjects at school is history. You can see a crown of Henry VIII’s however they were starting to set up in the church part, so weren’t letting people in any more – another thing to go back and do!

Hampton Court

Inside Henry VIII’s kitchen there were displays of cookery as well as how to make ink. H got to use a quill to write with too.

We arrived around midday, and left at 4pm, tired and having walked for ages – and yet there’s still so much to see – and having our Historic Royal Palaces membership we can go back as often as we want!

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