Central London is packed with attractions that celebrate all things royal. But hop on a train and within an hour, you could be enjoying a fabulously royal day out. Here are some of the ways you can spend a day soaking up royal history and events, from past to present.
Richmond Park, Richmond upon Thames
Richmond Park, a former hunting ground of Henry VIII, is still home to red and fallow deer, as well as some 2,500 acres of hills, woodland and grassland. A walker’s paradise, the protected Royal Park is the perfect place to escape the hustle of central London and is just 45 minutes away.
Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames
Gone are the days of musty museums and dull exhibits, as visitors will find at Hampton Court Palace. The Palace’s Time Explorers digital app allows you to step back in time via an interactive adventure that keeps everyone engaged, from the young to the young-at-heart. Discover fascinating stories of life in the Tudor court and keep your eyes peeled for haunted sightings of two of Henry VIII’s wives, Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard.
Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
A place with significant historical significance, Hatfield House is an unmissable royal attraction, 20 minutes by train from central London; it was here in 1558, in the Old Palace, that Elizabeth I learned she would become Queen. From 31st March 2018, you can tour the halls, gallery, library and chapel; the Grand Staircase is particularly impressive.
The Chalybeate Springs, Royal Tunbridge Wells
Tunbridge Wells received its ‘Royal’ prefix in 1909, when King Edward VII realised how popular Tunbridge Wells was with royal ‘holidaymakers’ including his mother, Queen Victoria. Members of the aristocracy would take the short journey from London to experience the curative waters at the Chalybeate Spring. Follow in their footsteps for some hydro-healing before wandering the colonnaded walkways of The Pantiles and its independent shops, galleries and restaurants.
Opera House, Royal Tunbridge Wells
For pre-dinner drinks, visit the Opera House pub. Originally built as an opera house in 1902 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, it became a cinema in 1931 before it was transformed into a bingo hall then a pub. You can still see the stage, grand balcony and original stalls and the pub even returns to its theatrical beginnings with opera performances twice a year.
Windsor Castle, Berkshire
Even today, Queen Elizabeth often spends weekends at Windsor Castle while the county of Berkshire was the childhood stomping ground of the Duchess of Cambridge. Tour the castle’s state rooms and grounds — you’ll see more of this area when the location plays host to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding this May.
Eton College, Berkshire
Eton College is where Princes William and Harry were educated, but the jury is out on whether Prince George will be enrolled here too. On Sunday afternoons, the college opens up its exhibition spaces — the Natural History Museum, Eton Museum of Antiquities and Museum of Eton Life — with collections of rare books, art, manuscripts and specimens. Start with the Museum of Eton Life which presents the college’s history and traditions across six centuries.
Royal Ascot, Berkshire
Visitors who like the odd flutter should book tickets for one of the race meetings at Royal Ascot, one of Great Britain’s leading horse-racing courses and just six miles from Windsor Castle. The course maintains a close association with the Royals, frequented by the Queen each year for the Royal race days in June and July.
Book a VIP Gondola on the Royal Windsor Wheel for aerial views of Windsor Castle.
Visit Windsor Great Park, the Royal Park home to award-winning gardens, ancient forest and woodland walks.
Explore the 14th-century Penshurst Place and Gardens, Kent once used as a hunting lodge by King Henry VIII.
Discover the beautifully located Leeds Castle in Kent, once used by King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the private home of six of England’s medieval queens.
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