A Level History students visit Hampton Court Palace
Henry VIII was arguably England’s most notorious monarch, and Vandyke’s A Level historians recently followed in the king’s girthy steps by visiting his favourite residence, Hampton Court Palace. The trip was run by the History department as part of the Sixth Form programme of study, which encompasses the entire Tudor reign; covering topics such as the establishment of the dynasty, religious changes under successive monarchs, and the changing nature of society.
Students got the opportunity to explore various palace buildings associated with the Tudors. They discovered that at Hampton Court you receive two palaces for the price of one: the Tudor palace which tells the story of Henry VIII and his wives, and the baroque extension built under the joint reign of William III and Mary II. Students were able to tour the Great Hall, where Henry VIII hosted festivities; the Privy Council chamber, where some of the most significant issues in the nation’s history were debated; the Royal Chapel, where Henry wed his final wife Katherine Parr; and the kitchens, where thousands of animals were roasted for the benefit of the nobility.
On the day, students received a specialist workshop on the driving factors behind the Reformation, a crucial aspect of their A Level studies. A Hampton Court historian guided them around the palace, pointing out significant features, prompting topics for discussion and providing primary evidence to analyse the relative importance of various causes of the English Reformation. The students were fascinated by an exhibition dedicated to the young Henry VIII, and were fortunate enough to trial the brand new interactive audio-visual guide, which provided valuable insights and posed thought-provoking queries.
Jacob Townson had the opportunity to sit on (a replica of) Henry VIII’s throne, and Alice Hargreaves challenged the Hampton Court Palace expert with a number of pertinent enquiries. The students were also able to enjoy lunch in the café and explored the Tudor knot gardens, beneath the finest weather that September had to offer.
Despite three hours spent stuck in traffic on the M25 on the return journey, the Vandyke historians agreed that it had been an enjoyable and valuable experience; which allowed them to consolidate their learning on a vital topic. “It was the best day of my life”, suggested Erin Roberts.
Thank you to all staff and students involved for an excellent day!