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

Updated 6 August. Hampton Court Palace and gardens (including The Magic Garden) is open 7 days a week through August until 6 September. Entry to the Magic Garden requires a palace admission ticket for non members. The Maze remains closed. Please read our visit information

When

Daily

11:00-17:00

Ticketing information

To ensure social distancing, spaces on the ‘trams’ will be sold per private booth:

£10 for up to 3 spaces, £20 for up to 6.

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

Visit the Hampton Court Shires in the East Front Gardens at Hampton Court Palace.

The Shires are put to a horse-drawn tram giving visitors a relaxed tour of the hidden corners of the gardens, with great views of Home Park and the River Thames.

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 15 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.

The Privy Garden at Hampton Court Palace, showing bright planting and baroque architecture under a clear blue sky
Things to see

Explore the Privy Garden, now restored to its former glory and complete with its intricate Tijou Screen.

Open

Hampton Court Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

The Pond Gardens, looking north. Summer bedding is displayed in the flower beds.
Things to see

Discover the sunken gardens created for Henry VIII and transformed by Mary II.

Open

Hampton Court Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Children looking at jouster wicker sculpture in Hampton Court Palace gardens
Families

Enjoy some long-awaited family fun with our new family garden trail.

Daily

Hampton Court Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)