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Royal Tennis Court, Hampton Court, Hampton Court Palace, Surry, Elmbridge District, London KT8 9AU
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Royal Tennis Court, Hampton Court

Royal Tennis Court, Hampton Court hotels title=Set in 60 acres of beautiful gardens, Hampton Court charts the last 500 years of royal history from the time of Henry VIII. Not only that, it is home to the oldest still-in-use Real Tennis court in the world. Nowhere near as well known as its relatively recent descendant, Lawn Tennis, Real Tennis is the granddaddy of all racquet sports. Its history stretches back to 5th century Tuscan villages where locals would hit balls up and down the street with their hands. Over the centuries gloves were adopted to protect players hands, to which cords were then attached and, out of this, the modern racquet was born. Familiarity with tennis and squash can help, but it's by no means the simplest of games. Players whack a ball - made from cork, bound in cloth and covered in felt - about an irregularly-shaped, walled court (no two are the same). It's even harder to understand due to the arcane terminology involved, reflecting the game's lengthy past. A history of exclusivity - it was the preserve of royals and nobles for centuries - means Real Tennis is not widely known or played. In fact, the Royal Tennis Court at Hampton Court is one of only 27 courts in the UK. Today, the thriving club has over 500 members and is open every day of the tear - from 7am to 11pm - except Christmas Day. Along with clubs at Radley and the Australian city of Melbourne, the Royal Tennis Court records the highest court usage in the world. One of fewer than 50 Real Tennis courts the world over, Hampton Court is one of the few courts where the public can watch this intriguing, if a little archaic, sport. For more information, please visit

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