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Hampton in 1839

Hampton is in Spelthorne hundred, about 15 miles from Hyde-park Corner. The parish, including the hamlet of Hampton Wick, has an area of 3,190 acres, with a population in 1831 of 3,992, of whom 1,463 were in Hampton Wick. In this parish is the royal palace of Hampton Court, the site of which was once the possession of the Knights Hospitallers. On the suppression of the Order the fee of the manor was retained by the crown. Cardinal Wolsey took a lease of the manor from the prior of St. John’s before the dissolution, which lease he surrendered to the king Henry VIII, who formed a royal park or chace, comprehending Hampton and several other parishes, which he enclosed and stocked with deer. This chace was in the succeeding reign broken up on the remonstrance of the aggrieved parishes, but the crown has since retained paramount authority over all game within its limits. While Wolsey held the lease of the manor he pulled down a mansion which stood here, and erected in its place a sumptuous palace, which Henry VIII subsequently enlarged. Here Edward VI was born, and his mother queen Jane Seymour died.

This palace was the scene of the celebrated conference of 1603-4 between the Presbyterian clergy and the bishops and other Episcopal clergy, at which the king James I was moderator, and the lords of the council were auditors. Charles I resided here during part of his confinement, and Cromwell, Charles II, and James II made it their occasional residence. William III rebuilt a considerable part of the palace, and laid out the gardens and park in their present form.

Since the time of George II it has not been the abode of royalty, and is now occupied by private families who have grants of residence from the lord-chamberlain. The number of residents, including servants, is stated to be 700. The palace consists of three principal quadrangles, with some smaller courts. The chapel, the great hall, and some of the subordinate chambers and domestic offices are part of the building erected by Wolsey and enlarged by Henry VIII. The great eastern and southern fronts are the most modern parts of the building; the eastern front has an extent of about 330 feet, the southern of 328 feet. These portions were erected by Sir Christopher Wren, but are neither in keeping with the more ancient portions of the structure, nor distinguished by any great beauty. The palace contains a number of pictures by the old masters, but the Cartoons of Raffaelle constitute its chief treasure. The gardens are laid out in very formal taste. The park has several avenues and fine clumps of trees. Bushey Park and lodge are an appendage of Hampton Court Palace ; the lodge was the residence of William IV when duke of Clarence, and now belongs to the queen-dowager for her life.

The village of Hampton has some substantial houses and handsome villas ; among the latter is that which belonged to Garrick. Hampton races are held on Moulsey Hurst, on the opposite side of the Thames. The living of Hampton is a vicarage of the clear yearly value of £356, with a glebe-house. Hampton Wick is a chapelry of the clear yearly value of £87, in the gift of the vicar of Hampton. There were, in 1833, in the whole parish, nine day-schools (one endowed and one school of industry), with about 350 children : seven boarding-schools, with 94 children ; and three Sunday-schools, with 76 children.