The Courtyards

Previous page: Introduction


From the Trophy Gate the way lies past the long range of stables built by Charles II and subsequently used as barracks, and crossing the newly restored bridge over the moat (observe the heraldic Beasts on the parapets), one passes through the Great Gatehouse, which was built by Wolsey and much reduced in height in the time of George II.

The first court, enclosed by low Tudor buildings, is the Green or Base Court. Directly in front is another Tudor gatehouse, known as Anne Boleyn's Gateway and adorned, as are the fronts of the other gatehouses, by terracotta medallions of Roman emperors that were presented to Wolsey by Pope Leo X (1515-22).

On passing through this gateway, notice on the east front the arms of Wolsey, with the motto Dominus michi Adjutor (The Lord is my Helper), and that remarkable example of medieval craftsmanship, the Astronomical Clock, which was set up by Henry VIII and tells the time of day, the phases of the moon, the day and month of the year, amongst other things.

The second court is called after it, the Clock Court, and is flanked on one side by the Great Hall (entered from Anne Boleyn's Gateway) and on the other by a somewhat incongruous Classical colonnade by Wren. From this colonnade the State Apartments, which enclose the Fountain Court built by Wren, are entered.

A cloister walk skirts the latter court and leads into the gardens. From the cloister a passage runs off, past the Chapel on one hand and the Great Kitchen and Serving Place on the other, to Tennis Court Lane.

Observe on each side of the door of the Chapel the arms of Henry VIII, impaled with those of his third wife, Jane Seymour, finely carved and coloured.

Abutting on Tennis Court Lane are King Henry VIII.'s "Newe Wyne Seller" and a range of small but very picturesque Tudor courts - the Chapel, the Fish, the Master Carpenter's, and the Lord Chamberlain's courts - that the casual visitor is apt to miss.

Next page: The Gardens