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

  • Selected dates in April-November 2019
11:00-17:00

Ticketing information

Adults: £5
Children under 12: £3

Tickets can be purchased from the carriage operator or the Gardens Shop.

Separate ticket

Visit the Hampton Court Shires in the East Front Gardens, from Easter until the end of October 2019 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.

Dates and times

Tram rides operate between 11:00 and 17:00 on the following dates:

April: Easter school holidays, starting on 05 April 2019
May/June: Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays
July, August and September: Daily*
October and November: Saturdays, Sundays and school holidays until 03 November 2019

*Shire horse rides will not run from 1 - 7 July 2019 due to the Hampton Court Flower Show.

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. A full tour is provided. Our trams are fully accessible and can accommodate wheelchairs.

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 whole 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.

Aerial view of a formal garden with green lawns on either side of a main path running towards the baroque palace. A fountain runs in the foreground at the centre of the path
Things to see

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

Open daily

Hampton Court Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

A gold crown sits on a bright pink background covered in pink flowers
Events

Join us for a fun-filled celebration of summer in the stunning setting of Hampton Court Palace.

04-07 July 2019 (Preview evening: 01 July, RHS Members' Days 02 and 03 July)

Hampton Court Palace

Monday: 17:00-22.30; Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00-19.30; Sunday: 10:00-17.30

Separate ticket (advanced booking required)

Visitors explore Henry VIII's Kitchens after re-interpretation in 2018.
Things to see

Transport yourself back to the heyday of Tudor feasting and entertainment in Henry VIII's Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace.

Open daily

Hampton Court Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)