Phil Spencer explores Britain’s stately homes, finding out how and why they came to be – and how much they cost… In this episode, Phil visits Hampton Court Palace just outside London, most famous as King Henry VIII’s home. But as Phil discovers, after 500 years of royal rebuilding, it is now a fascinating fusion of architectural styles. With special access to both spectacular and secret spaces, Phil unpicks the story of how the palace was built and how much it cost. He has his work cut out with the 1300 rooms and 17 courtyards, but thankfully Hampton Court’s experts help him find the answers. In Henry VIII’s Great Hall, Phil learns how the King ordered his carpenters to carve the initials of his current wife into the ornate woodwork, and how with each new wife, they would have to go back and do it all again. Phil also explores Hampton Court’s labyrinth of abandoned ‘Grace and Favour’ apartments, once given to favoured aristocrats who had fallen on hard times. Despite touring the warren of rooms with a map, Phil and his guide quickly get lost. Finally, Phil learns of the Tudor washroom facilities built for the guests of Henry VIII’s famous feasts: The ‘Great House of Easement’ – a toilet that could seat 30 people – together!
Phil Spencer’s Stately Homes – Wednesday 8pm on Channel 4