“Why don’t you come to court? asked the 16th-century poet John Skelton, who noted that, while the king’s court “should have excellence”, Hampton Court, then owned by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, “has pre-eminence”. It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that Wolsey was “persuaded” in due course to turn it over to Henry VIII.

Today, you can tour the Old Royal Palace, which includes both the original Tudor buildings (including the kitchens) and Christopher Wren’s Baroque wing commissioned by William and Mary. You can also see the gardens where William of Orange met his nemesis in the form of a mole, who would become famous as the “little gentleman in velvet” whose mound was the cause of his downfall and eventual death in horseback riding.

Bushy Park: Wildlife Refuge

King Henry VIII not only took over Hampton Court, but also created three nearby parks – Hare Warren, Middle Park and Bushy Park – for hunting. Today’s Bushy Park encompasses all three sites and is the second largest royal park in London, at 1,100 acres. Although the only private hunt allowed today is from the barrel of a telephoto lens, the park is estimated to have around 320 deer. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, paths of mature trees and a 60-acre woodland garden, and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Hampton Court may have been the home of kings, but if you’re interested in the ‘sport of kings’ you should head to Sandown Park Racecourse, a short taxi ride away. In a typical year, Sandown hosts 26 meetings, including flat and obstacle races. Bookmaker Barry Johnson, who has been in business for 55 years, says Sandown is ‘famous for the quality of the runs and the stiffness of the ground, which you have to take into account when reading the form’. The nearest station is Esher, from where regular trains leave for London Waterloo.

Miter Hampton Court: a charming inn

By the 17th century, Hampton Court had become such a center of royal life that the number of courtiers and visiting dignitaries exceeded its capacity. As a result, King Charles II ordered that an “inn for visitors to the Castle” be created opposite. Today the Grade II listed inn is known as Miter Hampton Court. Acquired in early 2020 by The Signet Collection, founded by Hector Ross and Ronnie Kimbugwe, the hostel was renovated during the first lockdown, with the help of internationally renowned designer Nicola Harding. Harding’s aim was to create a hotel that combined tradition and modernity, with the standards that today’s luxury travelers expect in guest rooms and public areas, while “retaining the best of British hospitality”, as François Plougonven, the reception manager, says. . Looking at the room I stayed in (named after Henry’s son, King Edward VI), they certainly pulled it off. It has a charming country house design, with a mini library, bathroom and shower room. There were lots of thoughtful touches too, including an invitation to enjoy a free drop of ginger liqueur.

1665 and the Coppernose: two excellent restaurants

The Inn has two restaurants, both created by Kimbugwe, trained by Gordon Ramsay, and managed on a daily basis by Senior Sous Chef Simon Dyer, who was executive chef at Richard Branson’s Necker Island. Restaurant 1665 is the most formal riverside restaurant, ideal for dinner at the end of a day of sightseeing. I was impressed with the tempura blanc followed by pan-roasted Cornish monkfish with truffle and parmesan chips, washed down with an elegant glass of house blanc.

If you were looking for a place to take the family on a Saturday night, you might want to consider Coppernose, the laid-back, dog-friendly cafe and wine bar. It’s also a great place to enjoy a hearty English breakfast while reading the morning papers. His full English, available in half or full portions, consists of crispy bacon, wild boar and apple sausage, roasted mushrooms and slow-cooked baked beans.

Le Miter is also available for parties, weddings and business events, with L’Orangerie accommodating up to 70 people for a wedding breakfast and evening reception. It also hosts a monthly supper club.

Matthew was a guest at Miter Hampton Court. Classic rooms start from £200 a night, mitrehamptoncourt.com