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In the past two days, I’ve toured two historic palaces, The Tower of London on Friday and Hampton Court Palace with Michael on Saturday.  London is dripping with history, and the stories associated with these palaces and their royal (and not so royal) residents are fascinating.

The White Castle, Tower of London

The Tower of London tour by one of the beefeaters was especially entertaining horrifying with stories of blood and gore, especially during King Henry VIII’s reign.  But the Tower dates back to the end of 1066 when it was founded by William the Conqueror.  The original part of the fortress is the White Tower, which served as a royal residence and a prison.  Later expansions brought in more defensive features as well as other purposes, such as a royal mint.  Today, the Tower houses the Crown Jewels, an incredibly impressive display of wealth.  Photographs are not permitted in the building, but you can see them in this video clip:

While I was at the Tower, I saw a group of students with unusual school uniforms.  The students said they attended a boarding school, and this was their uniform.  It looked just like this painting, though the girls I saw wore lacy cravats.  Their outer coat was floor length and they also wore yellow stockings.  I was thinking Hogwarts and wondered how Visitation or Interlochen students would enjoy wearing these uniforms.

On Saturday, Michael and I took the train out to Hampton Court Palace.  This palace originally belonged to Cardinal Wolsey, an important advisor to King Henry VIII.  When Wolsey fell out of favor with the King, the palace passed on to Henry VIII as one of his many palaces.  Later, William III and his wife Mary tried to rebuild and renovate the palace in the style of Versailles, but that project was never completed.  This place is so huge, we didn’t get the chance to see everything.  There are audio tours available, but the format (a pretend servant taking you around on Henry VIII’s wedding day) tends to get tedious and I wanted more straightforward information.

The gardens were especially beautiful.  I’ve posted some photos on my Flickr account (you can click on the photos in the right column to see them), but I also put together another panorama, a little better than my first one.

Panorama of Hampton Court Gardens