Winter can be a difficult time if you fancy getting out and about. Most theme parks are closed, animals at zoos are normally huddling in their wooden boxes trying to keep warm and something tells us a percentage of our disabled readership don’t fancy jetting off on a skiing holiday.
Luckily there are a few places open all year round for your entertainment and one tourist attraction we strongly recommend is Hampton Court.
The Royal palace hasn’t seen a monarch in its residents since the Eighteeth century, although during the Tudor and Stuart periods Hampton Court was a popular residence for members of the Royal Family. Historic figures such as James I (who was born at the Palace), Edward VI, William III, George I, and George II (the last monarchs to reside at Hampton Court) have settled down in this elegant building which can be found in Richmond Upon Thames in Greater London.
During ones visit you can explore the State apartments, pass through the Tudor kitchens which catered for the 600 guests and if you are lucky you may bump into the king himself thanks to the live actors who travel around the palace throughout the day, you will even have the chance to interact with reconstructions – hopefully you will come away with you head still intact unlike those who failed to escape brutal beheadings in the Tudor times.
Talking of having your head cut off, one of the most famous kings who lived at the palace was Henry VIII, infamous for having two of his wives beheaded (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard) You can pass through the kings Great Hall at Hampton Court and learn more about the king’s tender years in the Young Henry VIII exhibition. Surprisingly he used to be a handsome young prince until he put on the pounds!
If you have green fingers you may wish to take some tips from the beautiful gardens which you can quite literality ‘get lost’ in if you pay a visit to the world famous Maze. (Maze only tickets are also available)
Disabled access at the Palace is ‘fit for a king’ (See what we did there?) Upon arrival you can park in one of the nine disabled car parking spaces. If you have a blue badge take it to the Welcome Centre to have it validated – so you don’t have to pay for parking!
Accessibility toilets can be found at the Base Court, Wilderness Garden, Fountain Court and the Tityard Cafe – a map will help you locate them.
Wheelchairs are permitted inside the palace; don’t worry about the staircases as lifts are available to take visitors to the State apartments on the first floor. For safety reasons no more than six wheelchairs are allowed on one floor at a time in case there’s a repeat of the fire of London! Also if you are asthmatic you are in good royal company as William III also suffered from the condition, for that reason the staircases were purposely widely built.
You can hire wheelchairs if they are any spare and even single-people scooters are available so visitors can travel around the gardens. These are just for disabled guests, for obvious reasons!
Blind guests can take advantage of complimentary guide books written in Braille and on the ninth of each month you can pre-book blind or partially sighted tours.
Deaf guests can take advantage of Induction loops can hire guide books free of charge along with audio tours, these services can be found at the Information Centre.
Another perk for disabled guests is that your companion can go with you free of charge.
For more information about Hampton Court go to the Historic Royal Palaces Website
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