Hampton Court Palace exist in two halves. The earlier structure, built during the reign of King Henry VIII, reflects the medieva architecture of the Tudor dynasty. The latter half, built during the reign of King William III, was built in the Baroque style so common in Europe during the 1700s.
Hampton Court started its life as a private residence of Thomas Wosley, Archbishop of York and chief minister of Henry VIII. Wosley's palace was among the most opulent buildings in the country, the purpose was to impress foreign dignitaries and embassies and display the luxury and wealth of the chief adviser of the Tudors.
Wosley would soon fall from grace, his rivals at court ensuring that he would lose Henry's favour. To placate the king Wosley gave him Hampton Court Palace as a parting gift. Henry soon expanded the palace, adding the famous tennis court and the Great Hall, perhaps the most distinctive feature of ths section of the palace. The Great Hall, the last such to be built by a medieval English monarch, would be the site of feasts and banquets. The Great Hall is instantly recognisable for its hammerbeam ceiling. A hammerbeam ceiling, made of timber, is unique to English Gothic and is formed of multiple short beams projecting from the sides of the ceiling.
The palace's next famous custodian would be William III. William, who as the Prince of Orange-Nassau and a protestant came to power during the Glorious Revolution, directed the country's most famous architect, Sir Christopher Wren, to expand the palace. Wren would replace much of the Tudor palace with work in the Baroque stlye. The idea was the build a palace that resembled King Louis XIV's Versailles. Versailles had come to take the place of the ideal palace in the imagination of the monarchs of Europe.
The interior of Wren's palace was painted by William Kent. Sir James Thornhill, who had collaborated with Wren at St. Paul's Cathedral and the Old Royal Naval College, was originally considered for the job but Kent, who had recently returned from his travels in Italy, undercut him and won the contract.