Cover image for Hampton Court : a social and architectural history
Hampton Court : a social and architectural history
Thurley, Simon, 1962-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for studies in British art, Yale University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
ix, 450 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 32 cm
General Note:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA690.H2 T48 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



This fully illustrated study of what is `probably Britain's most important secular historic building complex' is based on the premise that the architecture of Hampton Court cannot be understood without a consideration of the agendas of the remarkable people who built it. Soundly based on a multitude of sources, including many original plans and surveys as well as recent archaeological evidence, the book begins with the earliest Court built by Lord Daubeney in the 15th century; a structure that has almost entirely disappeared. Thurly goes on to examine the plans and structures of Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII and the Tudors, demonstrating how the `rapid and sometimes astonishing turns in Henry's private life' impacted on his building programme at Hampton Court. The book compares and contrasts the use of the Court by the Stuarts, who largely regarded it as a place for entertainment and hunting, before examining its transformation under William and Mary who saved it from a long decline. The evolution of the gardens, the embellishments of the Georgians, the destruction of the Victorians, the influx of tourists and the conservation efforts of today are all illustrated and authoritatively discussed by the Chief Executive of English Heritage.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

For more than 600 years, Hampton Court has been an integral part of the social and architectural history of England. Innovative structures built for kings and their courts, and singular formal gardens planned for their pleasure, became a center for royal activities, intrigues, and political machinations. Thurley (chief executive, British Heritage) offers fascinating insight into those who planned, executed, and peopled the most spectacular secular complex of its time, and ours. A rigorous scholarship pervades the work, as architectural detail, archaeological discoveries, and personal papers are all assembled to bring to life the many characters who played a role in Hampton Court. This is architectural and social history at its best, as it offers a fresh view of the world of Tudors and Stuarts, the newlywed Anne Boleyn, Oliver Cromwell, William of Orange, Christopher Wren, and others. More recent occurrences, such as the controversy over opening the buildings to the public, are also documented. With finely detailed architectural drawings and lavish photographs, this is a fitting tribute to centuries of English creativity and imagination. Highly recommended for art, architectural, and social history collections, as well as large public libraries.-Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This thoroughly researched, beautifully illustrated, and clearly written account of the famous English palace of Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII, and William and Mary, just west of London, sets the architecture in its full social and political context in a lucid and compelling manner. Using archaeology, written and visual documents, and his own work as a curator at the palace and the other Historic Royal Palaces along with subsequent experiences, Thurley (chief executive of English Heritage), who had researched Hampton Court for his graduate work, tells the story of the building from its earliest construction in the Middle Ages to the present day. He looks at the fabric, with its many changes and additions, and the gardens and examines the role the building played in British history and the way in which it was used for both everyday life and court ritual. He also charts the numerous restorations and the philosophies behind them, the adaptation to grace-and-favor apartments, and the advent of tourists. With 413 illustrations, many of them in gorgeous color, in a large-format size, it is a feast for the eye as well as a very well documented account with extensive endnotes. ^BSumming Up: Essential. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through faculty. D. Stillman emeritus, University of Delaware