Posts tagged ‘History’

Hampton Court Palace

Below is a gallery of images from our trip last year to Hampton Court, the world-famous historic royal palace on the banks of the river Thames about 13 miles southwest of central London.

The palace did not start out as a royal residence. It was built from 1516 onwards by Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor and Chief Minister. However in 1528, in a vain attempt to ingratiate himself to the notoriously fickle monarch, Wolsey gifted the palace to the king. Henceforth Hampton Court has enjoyed a long and prestigious association with the British royal family.

Henry spent vast fortunes on the palace, literally ensuring that it was fit for a king and his royal court. Subsequent monarchs from Elizabeth I through to Charles II also adapted the buildings to suit their needs. However it was William and Mary and finally Queen Anne who, in the decades either side of 1700, hired Christopher Wren (the architect responsible for St Paul’s Cathedral in London) to radically remodel the east and south wings in a style inspired by Versailles, Louis XIV’s famous palace outside Paris.

Unsurprisingly two centuries of almost constant building and re-development has resulted in a vast, sprawling complex of buildings with a mix of architectural styles. So although aesthetically it may not be the most beautiful palace in the world, it’s rich and fascinating history as the main royal residence of both the Tudors and Stuarts (two of the most famous British royal dynasties) is undeniable.

Under the early Hanovarian kings of Great Britain from George I who came to the throne in 1714 to George III who died in 1820, Hampton Court gradually fell out of favour as a royal residence with both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle being preferred. In 1838 the palace, it’s grounds and the vast expanse of the surrounding Bushy Park was opened to the public, and it has continued as a major tourist attraction ever since.

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

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Siena’s Cathedral – Exterior

Siena’s other main tourist attraction (along with the Piazza del Campo) is the magnificent striped Duomo mainly built-in the 13th/14th centuries with various later alterations. 

I’ve seen so many cathedrals, castles and stately homes in my 43 years (many at home in the UK) that it is easy to take them for granted…….but we really shouldn’t. The skill, craftsmanship, determination and ambition that went into the construction of these monuments is truly staggering, I doubt very much whether we would even contemplate building something like this these days. So each time we visit one we should doff our caps to the “greater fools” of a bygone age who masterminded their construction.

Cathedral Exterior, Siena, Tuscany, Italy

Cathedral Exterior, Siena, Tuscany, Italy

Cathedral Exterior, Siena, Tuscany, Italy

In case you’re wondering I first came across the phrase “Greater Fool” in Aaron Sorkin’s excellent TV series “The Newsroom”:

“The greater fool is someone with the perfect blend of self-delusion and ego to think that he can succeed where others have failed” – Sloan Sabbith to Will McAvoy in “The Newsroom”.

© Mark Simms Photography (2015)

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