Hampton Court Palace Sleepover – The Midnight Flit

14 May 2014

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Oh my dears, my DEARS. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it and I’m sorry for that, I really am. I wish I had a really good excuse for staying away for so long, but I’m afraid that I have NOTHING to give you other than a mumbled and rather vague ramble about being ‘busy’ and things being ‘hellish here’ right now. That’s not exactly all in the past BUT I am determined to start afresh and try to post a bit more regularly from now on – despite all the insidious brain weasels.

Anyway, last time we talked, I was just about to head off for an evening of Georgian fun at Hampton Court Palace with two of my best girls, Cassandra and Laura and I was really REALLY looking forward to it as the last Hampton Court Sleepover last September was just amazing and I had every expectation that this one would be just as good. My expectations were not disappointed! I’m always saying this I know, but when it comes to putting on a bloody good show, the Historic Royal Palaces team really do lead the way.

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I met up with Cass at Waterloo for the trip to Hampton Court and after a brief excursion to a nearby pub for a couple of gins and a bit of a catch up we were raring to go. I learned last time that the best spaces in the Cartoon Gallery are against the wall so as soon as we’d checked in at the foot of William III’s wonderful painted staircase we SPRINTED with all of our assorted luggage to get a good spot in the far corner and there set up what would become known as Camp Corner Camp for the three of us – a bastion of sanity and cosiness, if you like, in a really quite odd but rather awesome world.

After this, and a bit of fun involving one of our fellow campers who didn’t really warm to us, it was time to head down to the wine reception laid on in the former cellars. This was a really good way to get to know our fellow campers and also mingle a bit with ROYALTY as Prince Fred and Princess Augusta came in to greet us all. I think I got on like a BLAZING HOUSE with the always charming Lord Hervey, although he seemed a bit dubious about agreeing to a ‘selfie’ until I said that it was Hogarth (ie Laura) taking the photo.

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Now, I’m not sure quite how it happened but SOMEHOW we all ended up getting rather drunk, which was rather ace and made even acer by the fact that we were inside a PALACE. I mean, it’s one thing to get to SLEEP in a palace but to get roaring giggling drunk in one? It was AMAZING. And so much fun.

After a bit of running about, we went in for dinner which was inspired by the Georgian food fad for CURRY. I was very pleased about this as this instantly made it a million times better than the Tudor menu, which seemed to be inspired by a sixteenth century food fad for freaky anony-stew. Accompanying the curry was a lot of wine – or at least, WE somehow managed to have a lot of wine thanks to employing various STEALTH methods to acquire it.

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The dinner was followed by a series of tours of the palace at night, including one of the Georgian rooms and another of the Tudor rooms alongside, which was amazing as always as it’s a huge treat to see Henry VIII’s Great Hall lit up at night and that wonderful stained glass window in the Presence Chamber looks awe inspiring and so beautiful lit up from inside.

After this it was time to trot back to the Cartoon Gallery and get ready for bed, which I attempted to do very sedately inside my sleeping bag. Which mixed success. Then the lights went out and we settled down to sleep only for the door beside us to open and Prince Fred to appear, dragging poor pregnant Princess Amelia down the gallery to the carriage that was waiting to whisk them off to St James’ Palace. Yes, in all the drunken super fun, we’d managed to forget that we were there to commemorate The Midnight Flit of Frederick and Amelia, after he’d decided to get away from his overbearing parents, George II and Queen Caroline and have their first child under a different roof.

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After more drama and excitement as the court hunted for the now long departed Prince and Princess, we eventually settled down to sleep and THIS TIME, Dear Readers, my slumbers were not disturbed by snoring. This is only because I came prepared though and listened to my iPod while going to sleep. My friend Cass was rather less fortunate and ended up seriously CRANK-AY the next morning. Not that I was exactly full of PERK either but that’s where getting drunk then sleeping on a wooden floor gets you.

As if the night before wasn’t amazing enough, the next morning we were treated to a pre-breakfast tour of some parts of the palace not open to the public and then a walk through the (gloriously sunny!) gardens to take a look at the banqueting house, which is usually off limits to most visitors. I’ve always wanted to take a look inside the banqueting house as I’ve heard that the painting in the salon is really spectacular and, well, it really didn’t disappoint. Wow, is all that I can say. If you ever get a chance to take a peek inside, don’t pass it up as it’s really something else.

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One of the best things about going to one of the Hampton Court Palace sleepovers is that you get to see a whole new side of the building and start to feel a bit like, well, like it BELONGS TO YOU because you’re getting some sort of exclusive access. This never fails to lead to feelings of aggrieved disgruntlement the next day however when everyone else is allowed in and you have to share your precious secret space with TRESPASSERS. We were gracious though and after stowing our stuff away, we had a really nice long ramble around the palace before agreeing that enough was enough and we needed to all head back to London to sort ourselves out before embarking on yet more fun times again that night.

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It was the most amazing fun though and, seriously, if you ever get the chance to take part in a Hampton Court sleepover then I wholeheartedly urge you to SEIZE it because you won’t regret a second of it.

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Camp Corner Camp FOREVER.

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