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The Palace

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Member Reviews

Gareth Russell remains one of my favourite historians for a reason, and The Palace shows that he still has it. (His biography of Katherine Howard, Young and Damned and Fair, is my favourite biography, and I’ve read many.)

Russell uses Hampton Court Palace to shed light on the thousands of people who lived at the Palace, visited the Palace, and worked at the Palace. When you think about just how many people that covers, this book becomes all the more impressive. It did not feel rushed in any way but also did not feel like a textbook that is crammed with information. He brings these historic figures (from all walks of life) alive for us, and reminds us that while Kings and Queens lived at Hampton Court, so did many other people.

This book has roughly one building or location at Hampton Court per each chapter, and it is a clever framing devices that allows Russell to cover different stories. He also divides the book into the different dynasties. This particularly interested me because I am fascinated by the Stuart and Georgian half of the Palace, and Russell covered it admirably instead of ignoring it for the Tudor palace as so many people do.

Who Is This For- Anyone who is interested in royal history or historical sites!

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The Palace by Gareth Russell reads like a who's who of people that have lived and walked through Hampton Palace. Whenever I travel, I love to visit historical sites. I am always wondering if these walls could talk what would they say? Or just simply trying to imagine what it was like to live in a place during a certain time. This book gives you that and more. You get biography not only the Palace but of the people and about events. It is not an architectural history but there are mentions on things destroyed, rebuilt, and preserved.

Thank you Netgalley for an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. I'd recommend to those interested in British History or enjoy books in microcosm. Would have loved to see more images added.

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The Palace is a very informative and interesting historical account of the various parts of Hampton Court Palace, how and when they were built, and the people whose lives were intertwined with the building.

For me, this was a thoroughly researched, interesting account. Visiting Hampton Court was one of the highlights for me on my trip to England in 2018, and I am always curious to learn more about it. I especially enjoyed the fact that the author spent more time on the Stuart and Georgian (Hanoverian) kings and queens that lived in the palace, since I was more familiar with the Tudor aspect. Learning about James I, Charles the 1st and 2nd, James III and Mary II and Queen Anne among others was very enlightening for me, as well as finding out some of the modern people who lived there once part of the palace became grace and favour apartments.

Other than a few typos that I am sure have already been edited out, I had no issues whatever with this book. It was an entertaining read, and I would happily read any other historical books this author publishes. Thank you to Netgalley and Atria Books for the advanced reader's copy. This is a voluntary review and all opinions expressed are my own.

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This book was clearly well-researched, though at times it felt a bit rushed as it tried to cram 500 years worth of history into a single volume. Russell weaves in the history of the physical palaces of the British royal family with fascinating tidbits about the families themselves. This would probably be most interesting to those who have an interest and background in the subject matter in order to be familiar with the main players in the book already.

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As a Anglophile, I can wholeheartedly say that this was an utter delight to read. It's not often you find a history of a palace when delving into the royal family, so it was an approach that was entertaining and fresh. Gareth Russell clearly knows and loves what he's doing, and that comes across clearly on the page. I've recommended this to people looking for something to read after "Spare".

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Gareth Russell, and Atria Books for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This was interesting, but it didn’t stand out for me. I never really heard Russell’s voice, and I felt like the book kind of dragged. Tudor history is my favorite topic ever, so I enjoyed reading this and learned a lot!

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The Palace, by Gareth Russell, is an incredibly well-written history of Hampton Court, a royal palace populated by the Tudor, Stuart, and Windsor families. Although this particular palace is most closely associated with the Tudors and is rumored to be haunted by certain deceased residents, the palace was used by later royal families and changed to suit their tastes and needs. Russell’s account manages to be informative and chatty simultaneously. It is also very well-documented. I found it thoroughly enjoyable but must confess that I am a history buff with a particular affinity to Henry VIII’s wives and their inadvertent impact on history. Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for the opportunity to read a digital ARC.

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This is just the book I needed! I LOVE Tudor history and have been to Hampton Court, so it was lovely to be able to dive into a bit more info about that time and place. I was worried I would lose interest as my favorite characters left the scene, but the book held my interest throughout and I learned so much more about British history after the Tudors. Great read!

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The Palace is a fascinating, if somewhat brief, look at 500 years of history. With each chapter showcasing a different royal from the times of the Tudors, the Stuarts, the Hanovers, the Georgians, up to and including the Wales, Mr Russell serves up intriguing morsels of history.

Very well researched and very engagingly written, I fully enjoyed this and learned much. This would be an excellent gift for the British Royal history, and book, fan in your life. I also think this one will be extra enjoyable to listen to in audiobook form.



Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for the DRC!

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This was a very well-written book, and clearly a lot of research went into it! Covering 500 years of history in less than 500 pages (I think, I read the e-reader version) is quite a feat. I particularly liked the chapters that focused on the history of the building changes and what you can see vs what was torn down- so William and Mary (not my favorite history time period) ended up being my favorite chapter because Russell did such a great job explaining how they started tearing down the palace to rebuild it and how they stopped (thankfully!) when they ran out of money. That did such a great job of explaining what I'd seen when I visited! I also loved the chapter on the Chocolate Kitchens, and the transition to tourist attraction by Victoria and Albert was interesting, and I would have liked to learn a bit more there. I wish more of the book had been like that, explaining how the different rooms reflected specific instances of history, or had been affected by the current monarchs- I had hoped for lots about Henry VIII and details about his building projects, but it didn't feel like we got a lot of details on those.

The history of the people was interesting (though this often seemed to go into tangents separate from what was happening at Hampton Court), and a history of the people as seen through Hampton Court's 'eyes' is an interesting idea. Overall, the book was ok, and worth reading, but wasn't quite what I'd been hoping for.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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The Palace by Gareth Russell is an overview of the people and events of Hampton Court Palace and grounds over 500 years from King Henry VIII to Queen Elizabeth II. Hampton Court is beautiful to behold and Russell's vivid imagery whisked me off into different eras in a nanosecond. It is easy to hear the rustling skirts, fervent gossipy whispers in the halls, kitchen pans clanging and busy tennis courts but this book is all sensory.

For me the most striking aspects are the ordinary details which contextually become extraordinary. Many highlights include Elizabeth II practicing for her coronation, effects of disfiguring smallpox, efficacy of rushes on floors, "the Sweat", amusement in the indoor bowling alley, Protestantism and Catholicism, origin of the King James Bible, daily lives and duties of staff, the Unknown Warrior and connection with Marshal Broz Tito.

Immerse yourself in The Palace and enjoy learning about the importance of time and place in British history.

My sincere thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this engrossing book. The above opinions are honest and solely mine.

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I want to thank Netgalley and Atria Books for an uncorrected proof of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have followed Russell's work for a while now and when I heard that he had written a new book I knew that I had to obtain a copy. Russell once again has written a gem of a book!

Russell's ability to make the melodrama of history come alive throughout this book makes every chapter feel like you are actively observing the events being discussed. Whether it is sitting with Margaret Douglas trying to understand the events unfolding around Catherine Howard's downfall, working in the chocolatier house, or learning of the Prince and Princess of Wales running away in the middle of the night you are completely transported as the reader. Russell also has this brilliant ability to make the individuals he highlights throughout the book as complicated and as vibrant as they no doubt were when they were alive.

This book highlights the 500-year history of Hampton Court throughout the Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, and Windsor periods. Although the entire book is interesting my favorite section was the one focusing on the Stuarts. I had no idea that Hampton Court played such a central role in the Stuarts' reigns. The focus on Henrietta Maria and Catherine of Braganza in particular was my favorite part of the book. These two women played such a major role in the events of the period and their connection to Hampton Court was both fascinating and heartbreaking.

I also really liked how the connections between Ireland and to a lesser extent Scotland and Wales were interwoven into the stories discussed throughout the book. Particularly, the figures of James Butler and Barnaby Fitzpatrick during the Tudor era and the events in Ireland that impacted Henrietta Maria's popularity. Although Hampton Court was located in England, Russell did an excellent job of highlighting how the location impacted political events across the United Kingdom & Ireland.

The way that the drama of the monarchy was outlined from the perspective of a single location was such a refreshing way to learn history. Russell is a master of history prose and if you are a lover of the United Kingdom's history or history more generally this book is sure to be one you'll love.

Content Warnings
Graphic: Violence, Alcohol, Religious bigotry, Infidelity, War, and Miscarriage
Moderate: Infertility, Classism, Chronic illness, Cancer, and Toxic relationship
Minor: Slavery

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🏰Detailed history, broader scope than I expected📜

I had no issue with the author's research or his ability to construct a whole history of the social, religious, political and dynastic changes that Hampton Court's halls, rooms and grounds have witnessed since the fifteenth century. This is a meaty mouthful, full of not just the royals, aristocracy, the big events occurring at the palace and changes they wrought to Hampton Court and its grounds. If the reader is looking for a bigger picture, The Palace covers so much more than Hampton Court's role in Britain's history.

The narrative frequently strayed from Hampton Court to a great deal of broader social and political history, and so many minor players and their lineage. I preferred the parts that were more anecdotal and related to the lives and loves of the British royals residing there opposed to, for example, the rise of science and the political and religious configuration and division of Ireland and the rest of Europe. I would have preferred a more limited focus.

The Tudor and Stuart years I had expected but I was definitely intrigued by the description of the estate's evolving role from the reign of George III to the present as the royal family abandoned Hampton Court as a royal residence.

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for sharing a complimentary advance copy of the book; this is my voluntary and honest opinion.

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Scandals and chocolate. Who can ask for anything more? Gareth's Russell's The Palace looks at 500 years of Hampton Court and all of the very colorful characters who walked through its doors. There were quite a few and "colorful" might be putting it mildly.

There is a lot to love about this book and its scope includes the biggest names in British history. Russell is such a good writer that even chapters with less intrigue still hold your attention. I also especially enjoyed Russell's sincere attempts to balance historical perspective. There are not many who take the time to defend Mary I, and you have to appreciate an author who is dedicated to balance. Except Charles I, because what a mess that guy was.

My sole issue with The Palace is that I often found myself disappointed when chapters ended. This is due to Russell's writing ability as I wanted him to dig more into most chapters. The book's focus on Hampton Court meant he needed to move on to keep with the through line of the book, but I was left wanting more in a bad way. It's not a minor criticism but it should in no way discourage someone from reading this book if you think it seems interesting. I still very much enjoyed it.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Atria Books.)

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This book offers a fresh perspective on British history, exploring the role of Hampton Court Palace from the reign of Henry VIII through Elizabeth II. Showcasing events like Shakespearean performances and the commission of the King James Bible, the book chronicles the social, economic, and political forces shaping each era through the lens of the palace’s evolution.

I enjoyed this focused look at British history through events that occurred at the palace. It's an intimate look at historical figures and how the world has progressed from the Tudors to the modern age.

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

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This is a lovely and charming book about the history of Hampton Court Palace.I was very much impressed with just how much history it did indeed contain.While I think this was a very good thing I was hoping for more of a room by room history or an historical objects tour contained within the famous and infamous palace walls.There are some mentions of these but they were rather footnotes to the story as a whole.Over all I enjoyed it and I hope to see something else on this topic from the author in the future.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Atria books for an ARC copy of this!

This is my second book by Gareth Russell and my favorite of the two. He covers a long span of time in English history all centered around the people and events that occurred at Hampton Court. Russell starts off the book with an expectation that this is not about the architecture or building history, and he sticks to that.
I really enjoyed the breadth of content he covers in this book- from royal engagements, babies, and scandals, to the non-royals who lived and worked there. I was most touched by the chapter on the tomb of the unknown soldier at Westminster Abbey and how it has ties back to Hampton Court. Russell has clearly done his research, and tells the story in a way that is easy to read and flows well off the page. I only wish I had read this book before I visited Hampton Court last summer.

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A wonderful journey through the history of Hampton Court Palace! Gareth Russell provides the reader with history as well as anecdotes that provide extra color to the palace. This is definitely a book for history buffs.

Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for this ARC, which I voluntarily read and reviewed.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC!

This is an excellent and entertaining book, looking at a famous building in England that I have visited but drawing it in a new and more nuanced light as you are taken through the eras of history and the generations of occupants and what happened in the building. Very neat!

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First line: As it has done for centuries, Hampton Court Palace draws thousands of visitors every year – as far back as the reign of Elizabeth I, staff were supplementing their incomes by offering tours to visitors, and the fascination shows no signs of dwindling.

Summary: Gareth Russell’s new book looks at the important events and people who resided at Hampton Court Palace from the age of the Tudors until the present day royal family. This royal palace has seen many of the most thrilling times and stood the test of revolutions, regime changes and remodeling. It is one of the most famous and long standing palaces in England, which the author shows us through this new book.

My Thoughts: I have visited Hampton Court three times in my life and hope to go many more times. There is something magical about this place and its history. As you approach there is the wonderful Tudor brick entrance, the courtyards, the great hall and the original kitchen complex. But as you move through the styles change to the remodeled section designed by Christopher Wren. It truly is a wonder to see and imagine the lives that have lived here.

I enjoyed how the author broke down the book into chapters covering the palace during each of the reigns since the days of Henry VIII to the present day. Rather than cover architectural history the author dives into the events and people who lived and worked at the palace. The early years are the ones I am more familiar with but I found the information of the Stuart and Georgian times to be fascinating. Plus the idea that people were given Grace and Favor apartments is such an interesting idea. I would have loved to live in such a historical building.

I highly recommend this for lovers of English history and if you have been or are planning to visit Hampton Court.

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