We enter the precincts of the palace by the Trophy Gate and pass through the Outer Court or Barrack Yard, on the left of which are the stables built by Charles II. In the mellow red-brick west front of the palace rises the Great Gatehouse, which, though its original five stories were reduced to three under George III., retains its oriel windows of Wolsey's time, with the arms of Henry VIII. below. The moat in front of it is crossed by a fine battlemented bridge, built by Henry VIII. and rediscovered and restored in 1909. The ten figures of the 'kynge's beestes' are modern imitations. The Green or Base Court, beyond the gatehouse, is the largest of the three principal courtyards around which the palace buildings are grouped. On some of the gateways between the principal courts are terracotta medallions of Roman emperors made for Wolsey by Giovanni da Maiano.
On the left (north) of the Base Court lie the 'Master Carpenter's Court,' the 'Lord Chamberlain's Court,' and other picturesque passages and courts affording an excellent idea of domestic Tudor architecture.
Anne Boleyn's Gateway, with a fine groined roof (restored), leads to the Clock Court. On the left in the archway, is the staircase ascending to the GREAT HALL (105 by 40 feet, and 60 feet high), built by Henry VIII. in 1530-35, but at present closed for repairs. The single hammer-beam Roof of this hall, in the Perpendicular style, with elaborate pendants, is unrivalled in its richness of decoration, and in the roof of the south bay window is delicate fan-vaulting. The stained glass, showing the arms of Henry VIII. and his wives, is by Willement (1840-46). The Tapestries from the walls, illustrating the history of Abraham (probably from the designs of Bernard van Orley) are temporarily in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The hall communicates with the Great Watching Chamber. The Clock Court is so called from the curious old astronomical clock above the entrance. This, made for Henry VIII. in 1540, has modern works. Its bell, which antedates Wolsey, is the oldest thing in the palace; the legend is that it ceases to sound when a resident in the palace dies. Below the clock are the arms and motto ('Dominus michi adiutor') of Cardinal Wolsey. On the left side of the courtyard is the exterior of the Great Hall. On the right side is a graceful, but incongruous, Ionic colonnade, built by Wren; the entrance to the state apartments is at its farther (east) end.