Saturday, October 27, 2012

Renaissance architecture: France 1, England 0

Désolée, mes amis Anglais, but having conducted a completely biased and unscientific survey during my recent travels, I am hereby declaring Francois 1er the winner in the 'I’ve got a better chateau than you' stakes. Seriously, look at Chambord:
I mean, no wonder Henry VIII was jealous. Okay, so he had to boot Cardinal Wolsey out before he could pinch Hampton Court but even with his subsequent renovations, at the end of the day it's still a rather grim-looking brick pile:
Sure, there is a nice view from the walled rose garden of the wacky collection of Tudor chimney pots (and that's Henry VIII's chapel on the left, where he married Anne Boleyn) ...
but they aren't a patch on the Disney-esque fantasy that is the roof of Chambord. (Though I'm sure that actually living up there amongst the chimneys and pigeon poo, as the lower-ranking courtiers were expected to do, was less romantic and a damned site smellier than Sleeping Beauty ever experienced.)

Hampton Court has also suffered a bit from later episodes of the historical version of 60 Minute Makeover. Here is the rather awkward result of William III’s (William of Orange) attempt at modernisation, c/- one Sir Christopher Wren (who really should have known better):
Yes, they have simply cut through the old Tudor building halfway down the gallery (right through the windows, in fact!) and cobbled a baroque monstrosity onto the side of it. The half-assed look to this part of the palace was actually the result of that timeless enemy of home renovation projects everywhere: the vision was bigger than the budget and the money ran out. (What would Kevin McCloud say?!)


Steve Muhlberger said...

I was once given a tour of Cambridge aarrchitecture by a knowledgeable young scholar. His story: all the great buildings still existed only because plans to knock them down ran out of money!

Bavardess said...

Yes, it's funny in a way. Some of the loveliest old buildings in New Zealand are in small rural towns where the money and prosperity ran out before the 'improvements' could be made.

White Horse Pilgrim said...

Somehow I thought that having plans that cost more than the budget is a prerequisite for getting onto Grand Designs! Anyway, England is a part of northern Europe, dour and dull compared to all that southern European frippery, but solid and prudent. I mean, where is the French royal family now? Quite lost their heads, I gather.