Queen's House review
Queen's House is one of those buildings that gets eulogised in all the guidebooks, but when you actually come and see it you'll think... huh, okay. Is that it?. If you weren't told it was famous beforehand then you wouldn't have a clue it was.
Can you see the Old Royal Naval College on the other side of the road? That's where the Tudor Palace used to be. Whenever you read about Henry VIII and Elizabeth I staying at Greenwich Palace then that's where it was. James I added Queen's House in 1616 but when the English Civil War kicked off in 1642 the king and court were forced to flee from London and Greenwich Palace fell into disrepair. That spelled the beginning of the end for the building, and when the monarchy was restored in the 1660s it was decided to knock it down and replace it with Christopher Wren's Royal Hospital instead (now called the Old Royal Naval College).
It's always been a puzzler to me why they chose to knock down the palace and not the house, but it seems that Tudor palaces were ten-a-penny in those days -- London still had Whitehall Palace, St. James's Palace, Nonsuch Palace and Hampton Court still standing, plus the recently demolished Richmond Palace. Queen's House, however, was regarded as a true original. When Inigo Jones was commissioned to build it he had just come back from his grand Italian tour and poured everything he saw into this -- the first truly classical building in Britain. It's hard to imagine what people thought of it in the 1630s -- it must have been like Elvis doing Heartbreak Hotel. To us it just looks rather plain.
The King's bedchamber, presence chamber, closet and other Royal rooms are all long gone -- they've been stripped out and turned into galleries for the National Maritime Museum's art collection. They're mostly naval-related, so you've got seascapes, sea battles, and portraits of old captains and admirals.
The Queen's bedchamber is much more opulent and still has its red and pink painted ceiling, and instead of naval paintings you get scenes of Whitehall and Westminster instead (definitely worth a look). Her Privy Chamber has some very famous paintings of the Tudors and Stuarts -- everyone from Henry VIII and Elizabeth I to Francis Drake.
What do you think?Please leave a comment
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