by Brad Nelson 9/12/14
I watched this interesting documentary last night about Hampton Court, London. You can stream it on Netflix or view it in a grittier resolutions here on YouTube. I’d recommend not bothering with YouTube because the camera spends much of its time panning across the architecture which is quite bold and finely detailed. You can also find the video for sale here on Amazon.
For just an hour-long program, it gets a lot in. It’s not so much a detailed examination of the architecture of Hampton Court but a history of the kings and queens who resided there. The art that still hangs about in the palace gets some mention, but this is by no means a treatise on its architecture.
Still, it’s an engaging story, particularly when it comes to Henry VIII and his wives. The editorial review at Amazon sums it up thusly:
Hampton Court is the ultimate royal pleasure palace, embodying an indulgent and grandiose lifestyle built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and furthered by King Henry VIII. Its many rooms chart Henry VIII’s decline from fit young warrior to bloated womanizer, and they tell the vivid stories of the ladies who became his queens. Later, King William III and Queen Mary II commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild Hampton Court, demolishing half of the red brick Tudor palace and replacing it with an exquisite Baroque castle, making Hampton Court one of the most unique palaces in the world. Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace digs beneath the brick and stone to unveil an abundance of art and lore that bring Hampton Court to life.
You’ll have to take the documentary at its word regarding the remodeling of Wren because it glosses over any details of that remodeling.
King George III was the last British monarch to live at Hampton Court. Since then it has become a national treasure and one of the few remaining buildings that shows off the grandeur of the Tudor period, as well as many other unique features (such as the gargantuan kitchen, one of the few remaining 16th century kitchens of its kind).
It’s a wonderful documentary, but don’t expect it to explore much of the building itself. As one reviewer noted, it’s as if the documentary filmmakers, like the tourists, were restricted behind the velvet ropes. But it will certainly whet your appetite to learn more about Hampton Court and is a must-see video if you ever plan to visit there in person.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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