Sunday 27th January 2013 started windy and wet from my hotel window. Despite my late night at the 02 I was up and eager to get going on Sunday until I saw the weather. I meet up with fellow London Historian Andrea Veil and we went to the Queen’s House. Many times I had past it but never made it in while I under took work experience at the Fan Museum.
The exterior is stunning it is very Palladian in style and was designed by famous arctect Indigo Jones. He house was originally started for Anne of Denmark the long suffering wife of JamesI. Building stopped in 1619 when the queen died but was restarted again by her daughter in law, Henrietta Maria wife to her son, Charles I, ten years later.
A large part of the experience you get from a place of heritage day out can be made up by the passion and enthusiasm of the volunteers and staff at the places you visit. All the staff we encountered were passionate and knowledgeable and welcoming. This was refreshing after the pervious days experience down the road!
The first marvel was the amazing stair case that spirals like the inside of exotic sea shell which are known as the tulip staircase. You could imagine a wide range of people having walked up and down those steps over the years. Leaving the landing you enter an amazing space with a most exquisite floor. The space looks like something from an Austen novel, it would I all truth make an amazing space to get married in. As you eye follows up you see a balustrade walk way that links the rooms on the second floor.
One of the most interesting facts that Andrea drew to my attention was that the outside courtyard come passage way was once the main road through Greenwich. The house was built over the road! Can you image the noise as carts and common people passed under the house.
The first floor holds a selection of naval pictures, local images and important nobility and royals.
The rooms are beautifully decorated in what I would call heritage colours. While you walk around you’re not made to feel like you are being watched like a hawk. (unlike the national and portrait galleries I always feel like I am being followed like a criminal)
There among the images that stood out were pictures of Elizabeth I, Mary I & Philip II of Spain, the image of the Privy Council, Henry VII who actually looked more like Richard III than Henry VII, Thomas Seymour, Henry VIII and the portraits of Charles I and his wife Henrietta Maria.
In the basement there was an amazing and v large J M W Turner (regular readers will know he is one of my favourite artists) this naval scene was brilliantly executed and unlike his late style blurred and and water coloured but sharp and oil based. It was of the Battle of Trafalgar.
Other highlights include pictures of parts of Greenwich used in the recent blockbuster musical of Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserables, an image of Indigo Jones one of the Architects of the house and an image of Windsor Castle that reminded me of home.
Although it was small and it was quite frankly a great way to spend an hour in good company seeing some beautiful pictures. Highly recommend heading to the National Maritime museum’s new wing for coffee and cake and to slip in to see nelsons uniform complete with bullet hole, though beware it is a buggy park over the weekend. Also please note admission is free! Although there is no shop or tea room, there is the NMM next door were you can by gifts and grab tea. A great way to start a heritage packed day!