Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Stately Homes

Claire and I visited two stately homes this weekend.

They was a very large contrast between the two. The first one Southside House. on the south side of Wimbledon Common is a 16 century house. Well, it's two houses built with an adjoining wall and made into one in the last century.

The interest of this house is the story of the people who lived there. It is a small dwelling by stately homes standards, and all visitors are treated to a guided tour. And this is the interest. The story of the house and it's people is told by the guide. It's a story of tragedy, strong will and absence of true love. So it's good to learn the lesson here.

The other home, by contrast, is an enormous royal palace, the Hampton Court Palace. Half Tudor and Half Georgian. Another story of tragedy, strong will and absence of true love. A famous inhabitant was King Henry VIII.

We were fortunate to be visiting on the Bank Holiday Monday of the Easter weekend because they had actors the whole day depicting the state visit to the Palace (at that time belonging to Cardinal Wolsey) of King Henry and his first wife Katherine of Aragon. To make the story interesting, a lady called Anne Boleyn was in the party and Cardinal Wolsey gave a key to the gate to the King so he could come and go to his apartments there as much as he wished, but the king misunderstood and thought he had been given the whole palace. Of course you don't argue with the king.

Claire and I witnessed the last two scenes in Henry's apartments, which was great because reference was made to events that had happened earlier in the day so it didn't feel like we'd missed anything. Apparently the king and the lady Anne Boleyn had been flirting durting the dancing. The actors were very good. The public, mostly children, were given the opportunity to wear 'velvet' robes so they could feel part of the scenes. In fact we were part of them.

The reason we arrived later was because we spent the first part of the day in the beautiful gardens. In fact I think the best part of the visit was sitting on a bench surrounded by a sea of daffodils dancing with the breeze in the sun.