Open to spectators during summer hours.
The first tennis court at Hampton Court was built for Cardinal Wolsey, between 1526 and 1529.
As a young man, Henry VIII was a keen and talented tennis player who spent hours on court. His second wife Anne Boleyn was gambling on a game of tennis when she was arrested to be taken to the Tower of London. She even complained that she couldn’t collect her winnings!
There has been a tennis court on this site since 1625 when this one was built for Charles I. Three of these walls are 17th century, the external wall to the right of the viewing gallery is Cardinal Wolsey’s original. One of the first English guides to tennis in 1553 claimed, ‘this game has been created for a good purpose, namely, to keep our bodies healthy, to make our young men stronger and more robust, chasing idleness, virtue’s mortal enemy, far from them and thus making them of a stronger and more excellent nature’
Real tennis is the original indoor racquet sport from which the modern game of tennis is descended. It only acquired its ‘real’ tag at the end of the 19th century to distinguish it from the new-fangled ’lawn’ tennis.
The tennis court has displays along the visitor route viewing gallery. These include interactive handmade balls, life size character illustrations and custom made racquets.
The Hampton Court Palace tennis club is for private members. Non-members and visitors are only allowed into the viewing gallery to watch a game during the summer months (April to October). Its members only during the winter. They may also close the club at short notice for private events and maintenance. However, it is a very active club, with a lot of members, so your chances of seeing a game in play when the viewing gallery is open are very high.
Would you like to try your hand at real tennis? The club offers an introduction to the game, and if you like it you can apply to be a member.
The Royal Tennis Court club
Step into the dangerous declining years of Henry’s VIII’s reign. Choose your enemies, choose your friends, but choose wisely.
Daily until 15 April 2018
Hampton Court Palace
11:00, 12:45, 14:30
Re-opening 30 March 2018. Come face to face with mysterious mythical beasts, storm the battlements and discover the secret grotto in the Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace.
The Magic Garden is closed - re-opening 30 March 2018. (2018 season planned closures - 21 May, 16 July and 10 September 2018.)
Hampton Court Palace
Join Siobhan Clarke at the Banqueting Hall for an exclusive tour of this revolutionary building.
21 (sold out) and 27 July (12pm tour sold out) 2018
Starting promptly in the Undercroft at 10:30 and 12:00