Thursday, July 23, 2009

'Enery the Eighth, I Am...

I, like millions of other people fascinated with the English monarchy system, have always enjoyed reading about Henry VIII. He was a pretty interesting guy, and that whole six wives thing was definitely eyebrow raising. Not to mention he catalyzed a religious war in England because he wanted a male heir so bad.

Last Saturday, a friend and I went to Hampton Court Palace. While Cardinal Wolsey (Henry VIII's main advisor in the Catherine of Aragon period) was the one who built it, it was eventually inhabited by the king himself once Wolsey had been demoted. It was here that Anne Boleyn stayed (wife #2), here that Jane Seymour (wife #3) gave birth to the child that would later be known as King Edward VI, and here that Henry married Kathryn Parr (wife #6).

Hampton Court Palace

We were once again lucky to experience a piece of history on a beautiful day, and we took our time investigating the different sections. Oddly enough it was the historical re-enactments that interested me the most. Several character actors were playing the different parts in the marriage of Henry VIII to Kathryn Parr. The man playing Henry was excellent and I even had the opportunity to help him cheat at a game of cards with Thomas Seymour (his third wife's brother and the former flame of Parr herself (and her husband after Henry died)). I also really liked the special exhibit they had on the six wives.

Thomas and Henry, Playing Cards

The Ancient and the Modern

I have often wished that I could go to these places, not just as a tourist, but to sit and read in the gardens. Most of the palaces in England have amazing green spaces, and I feel remiss that I have not had more time to sit in them and just soak in the beauty of these tremendous parks.

We took a boat cruise along the Thames home (around 3 hours). It wasn't as picturesque as the earlier parts of the day since it became much colder and rained a little, but I still enjoyed looking at the crowded banks and imagining a royal barge going much the same route 500 or so years ago.

As for this week, history has been on the backburner as I finish my class responsibilities. Yesterday was the last day of classes, so today we went to see a play (The Monster Under the Bed) at the Polka Theatre and soon we will be meeting up at a pub for our last meal together.

I came home alone today after the theatre, and the one thought that struck me as I was riding an escalator in one of the tube stations was that this place is as familiar to me now as Roanoke. England has become another home to me. England. Who would have imagined....

London By Boat

1 comment:

Gina said...

England may be another home to you... but we can't wait to have you back here in your other home... in the US !! Love you !! Mom