Christopher Wren's Baroque Palace

Explore Hampton Court Palace's 17th-century architecture and design

By Historic Royal Palaces

Karey Draper, Buildings Curator, Hampton Court Palace

Detail of Corinthian column on the East Front facade of Hampton Court Palace (2017) by Simon JarrattHistoric Royal Palaces

Explore the palace in the following Street View tour. Use the arrows and click-and-drag functions to look around the historic spaces and get up close to the Baroque architectural details.

Clock Court Colonnade, Hampton Court Palace (2018) by Robin Forster PhotographyHistoric Royal Palaces

Clock Court Colonnade

Hampton Court saw a new phase of construction and expansion that began in 1689 following William III and Mary II’s rise to the throne. The clean, countryside atmosphere surrounding the Palace eased William's asthma, so the new monarchs decided to establish this as their home.

Architect Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to design an entirely new palace in the Baroque style. Initially, he proposed to demolish the whole of the Tudor palace and start anew, but this plan was deemed to be too costly and would take too much time.

It is here at the Clock Court Colonnade that one can best see how Wren externally knitted together the older Tudor palace with the new extension for William and Mary. Use the click-and-drag function to turn around and see the contrast in styles.

Fountain Court at Hampton Court Palace (2021) by Richard Lea-HairHistoric Royal Palaces

Fountain Court

Fountain Court is the quadrangle and decorative heart of the Baroque Palace designed by Christopher Wren for William and Mary. It holds both private and state apartments, one wing for the King and one for the Queen.

The exterior roundels were fitted with painted panels by artist Louis Laguerre in 1691-94 with scenes from 'The Labours of Hercules.' Other rooms inside the Baroque palace were used to accommodate courtiers and servants, as well as for working spaces.

The Chocolate Kitchen

On the ground floor, there was even a kitchen dedicated entirely to the making of chocolate.

The King’s Staircase

Wren created this extravagant approach to the King’s State Apartments. Decorated by the Italian artist Antonio Verrio in 1700, the staircase's paintings depict mythical stories that relate to William III's monarchy.  Use the click-and-drag function to take in the painted scenes.

King's Staircase, Hampton Court Palace (2019) by Richard Lea-HairHistoric Royal Palaces

The intricately designed wrought-iron handrail was created by  the talented French craftsman, Jean Tijou.

The King's Guard Chamber, Hampton Court Palace (2017) by Kwame LestradeHistoric Royal Palaces

The King’s State Apartments

These rooms were designed for William III. They begin on the first floor with the Guard Room. Here courtiers would wait and hope to see the King.

The King's Presence Chamber, looking north east by James BrittainHistoric Royal Palaces

The King's State Apartments extend  from the Presence Chamber, through five state rooms. These public rooms had very little furniture in them. This allowed space for the large numbers of courtiers to visit, but also because no one was allowed to sit except for the King.

Carved oak overmantel by Grinling Gibbons and James BrittainHistoric Royal Palaces

The ornate wood carvings seen in these rooms was the work of Grinling Gibbons who was also responsible for much of the decorative stone carvings we can see on the exterior of the Baroque palace. 

The King's Closet by James BrittainHistoric Royal Palaces

The King's Closet

The further one was allowed access through the King's State Apartments was a reflection of one's status and closeness to the King. Very few were allowed access to this final room. This was an intimate and snug space with a connecting door that led to the Queen's Apartments.

The Queen's Staircase

The Queen’s Staircase was intended to provide a grand entrance route from Fountain Court up to the Queen’s Apartments, in a similar way as the King’s Staircase. 

Although these stairs were designed for Queen Mary, and also contain a wrought-iron handrail by Tijou, the space was not finished before her death in 1694. The final decorative work was completed by William Kent for King George II and Queen Caroline around 1734. 

The enormous glass lantern chandelier was fitted here during their reign and is still a focal point lighting the room. The grand artwork above the base of the stairs is Gerrit van Honthorst's Mercury Presenting the Liberal Arts to Apollo and Diana.

This painting was originally commissioned in 1628 for the Banqueting House, and depicts Charles I and Henrietta as Apollo and Diana. It is best viewed from the top landing. 

Aerial view of Great Fountain Garden (2017) by Aerial VueHistoric Royal Palaces

East Front Gardens

Designed by Daniel Marot from around 1689 to complement the new Baroque palace. A Great Parterre was created using plants and gravel to create decorative swirling patterns on the ground. Marot also installed more than a dozen fountains here, all fed from the Longford River.

Privy Garden

Under William and Mary, this private garden for the monarch’s personal use was redesigned and decorated. A terrace was erected to the west of the parterre with an elm bower planted to form a tunnel, whilst a new wall was constructed to the east with an elevated walking path.

Privy Garden, Hampton Court Palace (2017) by Aerial VueHistoric Royal Palaces

A fountain was also installed with a statue of Arethusa placed at its centre. Wren’s designs of the Palace provided direct access to the garden for the King from his private apartments on the ground floor. 

At the far end of the garden you can see the famous Tijou Screens – wrought iron gates and fencing intricately designed by French Huguenot Jean Tijou. These gates provided the monarch with exclusive riverside access where he could come and go through the Privy Garden.

Come and enjoy the Baroque splendour when you visit Hampton Court Palace.

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