Shire horse carriage rides

Meet Henry VIII's Great Horses and enjoy a tram ride through 500 years of history

Meet Henry VIII's Great Horses and enjoy a tram ride through 500 years of history

When

Weekends and Bank Holidays from 01 May - 30 June


Ticketing information

£10 per bench. Under 2 years old: Free

Both card and cash payments are accepted.

Tickets can be purchased from the carriage operator.

Please note, shire horse rides are weather dependent and will not run in adverse weather conditions, including rain and snow.


Separate ticket

Once ubiquitous across London, today Shire horses are rarer than pandas, and Hampton Court Palace offers a unique opportunity to meet Henry VIII's gentle giants.

Rides last approximately 12 minutes and will be following social distancing guidelines. Our trams are fully accessible and can accommodate wheelchairs.

Please note, shire horse rides are weather dependent and will not run in adverse weather conditions, including rain.

Blessing the Shire horses at The Chapel Royal

The Shire horses at Hampton Court are part of the last herd of working Shire horses in London. They live in Home Park, where they also help maintain the wildflower meadows.

Each November, on Shire Horse Sunday, the herd is blessed by HM’s Chaplain prior to evensong at The Chapel Royal.

The history of Henry VIII's Shire horses at Hampton Court

Nearly 500 years ago, Henry VIII started the process to acquire the ultimate war horse. In 1535 and 1540, he instigated two acts that governed the breeding of horses in England, with the aim to develop a horse that could carry a man in heavy armour into battle.

The King is credited for naming this powerful new breed of horses Shire – from the Saxon word schyran, which means to shear or divide, hence the name synonymous with 'county'.

Since then, the Shire became important both in agriculture and industry, until the combustion engine took over, making them almost disappear overnight.

Horse-drawn vehicles such as the tram became popular during Victorian times at Hampton Court, after Queen Victoria opened the gardens to the public in 1838.

Photograph of Standing with Giants installation at Hampton Court Palace in the East Front Gardens, depicting artwork featuring silhouettes of two World War soldiers. A wreath of poppies is positioned between them.
Things to see Events

A new temporary art installation commemorating soldiers camped at Hampton Court Palace gardens in 1919.

03 - 28 November 2021

Hampton Court Palace

10.00-16.30

Included in palace admission (members go free)