16th Century Hampton Court Palace on New Royal Mail Stamps

23 Jul 2018  Mon

Royal Mail released a set of 10 stamps on 31st July featuring photos of Hampton Court Palace of King Henry VIII. The palace is situated in Richmond and reflects two different architectural styles: Tudor and Baroque.

Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey started the original Tudor palace in the early 16th century. Wolsey wanted a palace not only for the king and the royal court but also to host monarchs from all over Europe. He invested a lot of money and built such a wonderful palace that Henry himself took Hampton Court.

King Henry VIII’s palaces had long hallways so that people could not get too close to private rooms. Apart from that, people were automatically led to the spaces as per their rank. Hampton Court is the largest surviving example of this type of architecture.

When William III and Mary II were enthroned 1689, Christopher Wren was appointed to build a Baroque-style palace. He created the Fountain Court and without completely destroying the original Tudor architecture. Many royals like Georgian kings and princes lived in the palace till 1737. Queen Victoria opened the palace to the public after almost a hundred years.

Two se-tenant strips of three stamps each were issued. The first strip of three non-denominated stamps features three exterior photos of the palace. The south and east exteriors were designed in Baroque style while the west front exterior was constructed in the Tudor style.

The three £1.55 stamps on the second strip feature Pond Gardens, the maze and the Great Fountain Garden respectively. The Pond Gardens had freshwater fish that were eaten at Tudor banquets. The late 17th-century maze is the world’s oldest hedge maze. The Great Fountain Garden was simplified by Queen Anne to minimize costs on maintaining royal gardens.

A single souvenir sheet contains the other four stamps. The first two out of them are non-denominated first-class stamps depicting the Great Hall and the King’s Great Bedchamber. Tudor court dined and partied at the Great Hall. Shakespeare plays were performed for James I. Wonderful tapestries particularly designed for the hall during King Henry VIII’s times are conserved. William III had a gilded railing at the King’s Great Bedchamber to keep his guests back from his red velvet bed under a painted ceiling. Carver and sculptor Grinling Gibbons created the beautiful woodwork.

The two £1.45 stamps in the souvenir sheet feature Chapel Royal and King’s Staircase. The blue and gold vaulted ceiling of Chapel Royal was constructed in Berkshire and brought to the palace via barge. The best view of this ceiling is from the balcony, where the king and queen prayed.

The King’s Staircase takes you to the king’s state apartments. Visitors could enter in Georgian times only after they were frisked. An 18th-century court with interesting characters is painted on the walls of the staircase by William Kent. Italian artist Antonio Verrio painted the ceiling with coded messages about the power of William III, who built this room to keep up with the standards of French king Louis XIV’s home Versailles.

The sheet’s background image is part of an official ordnance survey from 1914. A stamp booklet with two first-class stamps from the souvenir sheet and four non-denominated red first-class Queen Elizabeth II Machin definitives will also be offered. First-day covers; a presentation pack with six stamps, the souvenir sheet and information; a press sheet of 10 souvenir sheets; and 11 postcards with 10 stamps and the souvenir sheet are also available.

Image Courtesy: The Royal Mail

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