Our Musical Heritage

From its beginnings as a royal chapel in 1528, the greatest 16th century composers and musicians worked within its precincts: Thomas Tallis – made Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1542, where he composed and performed for Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth; William Byrd – Gentleman of the Chapel Royal from 1572 – and recorded as Chapel organist during Elizabeth I’s reign; and Thomas Morley, a student of William Byrd’s – possibly whilst he was at Hampton Court, who was himself sworn and admitted a Gentleman in 1592.

During the 17th century this musical tradition continued: Orlando Gibbons was the organist from 1615 to 1625 – and composers Pelham Humfrey and John Blow both lived in Hampton.

By the end of the century, the organ at Hampton Court was being affectionately known as “Purcell’s Pipes” after the composer Henry Purcell, whose father had been a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal and who at the age of twenty-three was himself in 1682 appointed its organist.

This concentration of talented musicians and prolific composers produced a style of composition and performance that was copied by cathedrals, churches and chapels throughout the land – and this tradition of musical excellence continues through to the present day – the choir regularly performing works by living British composers such as Sir Nicholas Jackson, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, James MacMillan and Jonathan Dove.

Most recently, Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II broadcast her Christmas Message to the Nation from the Chapel Royal Hampton Court Palace in 2010.

Visiting Choirs

We are delighted to welcome visiting choirs to the Chapel Royal on certain days throughout the year. Our 2024 programme is currently as follows:

Services of Choral Evensong

  • Saturday 27th April 4.30pm – The Charter Choir, Homerton College, Cambridge
  • Wednesday 1st May 4.30pm – The Choir of Godolphin & Latymer School
  • Wednesday 12th June 4.30pm – The Choir of King’s College School, Wimbledon
  • Thursday 5th July 4.30pm – The Choir of Hampton Court House School


  • Saturday 1st June 12.30pm – St Andrews Madrigal Group

Click here to find out who’s performing next in our latest recital, and details of upcoming concerts in the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. 


Learn more about the people who shaped our musical heritage

The Organ

Find out more about the history of the organ

The Choir

Find out more about what it's like to sing in the choir

Music List

Music for May-June 2024

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