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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Royal Wedding Wednesdays~ Royal Residences Part II

Welcome to part two of the Royal Residences series. In this post we will begin with Windsor Castle which is located in the town of Windsor, Berkshire county.  Several parts of the castle can be traced back to the 14th century. It is the largest inhabited castle in the world with over 500 people living and working on the estate. It is also the oldest castle to be in continuous occupation for over 900 years.

It is H.M. the Queen’s official weekend residence. The Royal Standard flies over the Round Tower of Windsor Castle when the Queen is in residence and at other times the Union Jack flag flies in its place.

After Windsor Castle survived the English Civil War, during which the castle was used as a military headquarters for parliamentary forces, it was restored and rebuilt with Baroque interiors under Charles II with the assistance of architect Hugh May. It was neglected in the 18th century, then George the III and George IV both renovated and rebuilt  the castle to feature the current design of the State Apartments which are full of Baroque, Gothic and Rococo furnishings. These design elements can be seen in the Green Room.

The State Apartments  are formally decorated rooms that are used for state and official functions. While the rooms themselves are works of art you will also find paintings and sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, Van Dyck, Canaletto and Rubens. Over 100 rooms suffered from a fire in 1992 and  great pains were taken to restore the parts of the castle that were lost.

The public is able to visit Windsor Castle. It’s open every day except Garter Day, Easter, Christmas, and one or two other days during the year. Opening times and access may be restricted at certain times of the year due to state functions. Wouldn’t you love to see the Grand Reception Room?

The history of Windsor Castle is quite extensive but it is quite easy to find information on the many Kings and Queens that have graced its hallowed halls. The opulence is truly awe inspiring as visible in the the bedchamber of the King.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, also known as Holyrod Palace, is another official residence of the monarch. It is located in Edinburgh, Scotland on the Royal Mile on the opposite end of Edinburgh Castle.  David I, King of Scots, founded Holyrood Abbey in 1128. The Palace has served as a principal residence for the Kings and Queens of Scotland since the 15th century.


H.M. the Queen, spends one week in residence at the palace at the beginning of each summer, where she carries out a range of official engagements, state ceremonies and official entertaining. It is said that the Queen enjoys being seated at the center of the dining table so that she may converse with all of her guests. 

The wooden ceilings of the main rooms in the North West tower were created during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. Her monogram, MR (Maria Regina) and the IR monogram (Jacobus Rex) refer to Mary and her son, James VI. The suite contains an audience chamber and the Queen's bedroom, leading from which are two turret rooms. In the northern turret room, on 9 March 1565, the infamous murder of  David Rissio took place in Mary's presence. Tourists were often convinced that they could see his blood stains on the floor. During my visit I felt that I could indeed see the markings of this gruesome piece of history.

The Kings Closet is an extraordinarily beautiful room which features an elaborately detailed plasterwork ceiling, lovely Brussels tapestries and truly fine furniture.

Sandringham House is located near the village of Sandringham in Norfolk, England. The house, which is surrounded by 20,000 acres of land, is privately owned by the British Royal family.

In 1771 architect Cornish Henley built Sandringham Hall. It was modified in the 19th century by Charles Spencer Cowper and designed by Samuel Sanders Teulon. The hall was purchased in 1862 by Queen Victoria at the request of her son, the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) as a home for himself and his wife Alexandra. The royal couple commissioned A J Humbert to create a larger building in 1865. The red brick home was completed in 1870 in a somewhat mid-Victorian country house design.

King George VI died at Sandringham in 1952. It has been Queen Elizabeth II’s custom to spend the anniversary of her father's death with her family at the house. It is her official base from Christmas until February each year.

The home is often used for shooting parties. Edward VII had such a fondness for hunting on the estate, that he ordered all the clocks to be set half an hour ahead of  GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) to allow more time for the sport. This tradition was kept on the estate from 1901 until 1936 until King Edward VIII ended the custom.

As it is primarily a hunting estate the interiors reflect a design of a luxurious hunting lodge fit for nobility.

As Sandringham House is the private property of the British royal family and not part of the Crown Estate the house became an issue in 1936, when Edward VIII abdicated his throne. As Edward had inherited the house from his father, George V, the estates did not automatically pass to his younger brother, George VI, when he abdicated. George, during his reign, made periodic payments to Edward as compensation for both Balmoral, (which was featured in last weeks post), as well as Sandringham. As the transactions were private it is unknown whether or not the titles were ever actually transferred.

Our last castle to be featured in this post is St. James’s Palace which is located on Pall Mall street in the City of Westminster, London.  The palace was commissioned by Henry VIII on the site of a former leper hospital which was dedicated to Saint James the Less which gave the palace its name. It was constructed between 1531~ 1536 in the red-brick Tudor Style.

St James Palace

The State Apartments of the Palace contain many beautiful items such as Mortlake tapestries and several displays of armor. As it is often in use for official functions St. James Palace is not open to the public. 

Recently, H.R.H. Prince William of Wales announced his engagement to Catherine Middleton at St. James’s Palace.

The official engagement portrait of the couple, by Mario Testino, was taken in the Council Chamber of St. James’s Palace.

The State Apartments in the Palace also contain an interesting range of Royal portraits from the time of Henry VIII. For those of you who have seen “The King’s Speech” you may remember the scene in which King George VI is surrounded by several austere portraits of previous Kings and Queens. St. James’s Palace was also the location where King George gave his inspiring speech that inspired the film.

This is a superb film which shows a very humanistic side of the monarchy. Although it does have an “R” rating due to language, it is a must see film worthy of its numerous Oscar nominations. (Good luck my dear Mr. Darcy Firth.)

The entire cast is stellar and Queen Elizabeth has given her approval which is saying quite a lot as the principal storyline of the movie is about Her Majesty’s father.

Just for fun I want to include an image of the grand staircase located in Buckingham Palace which is also featured in the film. Happy design ahh’s and sighs.

A gentle reminder that the High Tea Tablescapes link party is coming up soon!!! It  will  be held on February 23rd. Two separate English themed grand prizes will be awarded to the participants who design a tablescape or vignette that is “Fit For A Queen” or “Royally Scrumptious”. I will announce our esteemed judges as well as provide a peek at the prizes for the event next week.


How will you dress your table for the tea?


There is also an open invitation to come celebrate at the Bloggers Tea on March 26, 2011. It will be held at the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree, Arizona. The owner, Joanne Gemmill, is authentically English.



ImagiMeri said...

Dear Laura,

You are bringing back so many memories of my many trips over there. Every once in a while I pull out my photo albums and look at some of the almost identical photo's. Hope you're having a wonderful week.


jeanette from everton terrace said...

Another wonderful tour and quite informative post Laura - enjoyed all of it as usual. That portrait of the queen at Sandringham is stunning. Saw the movie, loved it.

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Ohhhhhhhh how I would LOVE to visit there someday!! GORGEOUS!!! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

Vicki said...

(sigh) What a great way to start the day. I have so enjoyed the buildings. Not only are they gorgeous inside, but outside as well. I'm already looking forward to next RWW!

My Cottage Charm said...

I can't even begin to wrap my mind around living with such opulence! That's amazing to me! Would love to visit there someday! Oh swoon!
Beautiful post my dear!

TRay said...

Beautiful pics & great information. Thanks for including Holyrood! I agree, you CAN see evidence of the crime that occurred there, even today.

I love all those rooms & the portrait of the Queen is one of the best I've ever seen.



marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Such grandeur is unreal to most of us. I remember seeing some of the Castles I toured in Germany. Totally unreal. Loved seeing all the pics. Hugs, Marty

Ann said...

Just love your posts, they bring back great memories of my trips to England with my mother. And of course we visited EVERY place that was open to the public. said...


You give the most wonderful and informative 'house' tours! I love that library.

Your Friend,

Ceekay- Thinkin of Home said...

It is so interesting isn't it? We can't even imagine a life like that.

Deanna said...

Applauding you!!!
I completely enjoyed your post.

The decorative ceilings are what caught my eye this ornate details.

The portrait of the queen is lovely. Noticing the door open so one can look out toward the beautiful grounds was a treat, but the Queen looks serene here. Very pleasant.

God bless,
d from homehaven

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Another informative & entertaining post! Can you just imagine wandering through those rooms everyday? I wonder if the Royals take the splendor for granted after awhile?

Liz said...

Another awesome post! I loved seeing all of the castles. We weren't able to see most because our time was so very limited. I want to go back again!

Hey! FYI.... TLC is having a 2 hour special on Sunday night about QE. It looks wonderful .... I know you said that you don't watch to much TV so I didn't know if you knew about it or not.

Mom in High Heels said...

Another wonderful post! Windsor Castle was one of my favorite castles when we went to London. Queen Mary's Dollhouse had me ooohing and ahhhhing for a long time. Sadly, Liz was not in residence when we were there. How rude. The chapel there is stunning too.
James Bond and I saw The King's Speech last week and it was FABULOUS! Colin Firth deserves the Oscar.

Mary Ellen said...

Such magnificent beauty in these ancient castles!! I cannot imagine living in such place and wonder how they can keep their jaws from dropping every morning as they wake from sleep to see where they are!

To think that it is common place for them seems sad- I do hope they enjoy the beauty they have been blessed with-

bee blessed

Hadn't heard about the high tea linky party! How fun!

Shirley said...

I think I would remove my shoe's before starting to climb that beautiful staircase. I think I would have to take it one small step at a time..Just to devour it's beauty!

heartfelt living said...

Thank you so much for all your Royal Wedding Post. They are all so informative and very exciting. These homes are just amazing. I would love to visit each of them some day!

Mimi said...

I am going to be taping the Royal shows on TLC this week!!
I want to see the KING'S SPEECh, I may have to go alone!!
I hope to participate in the table scape, I need my daughter to help me do the linky thing,I will I promise!!

Nezzy said...

Wow....I'm just blown away. Don't ya just hate to the the Royals ruffin' it like that??? Heeehehe!!!

The table on the Ponderosa is always set with ordinary placemats cloth napkins with my Pfaltzgraff dinnerware. I have my tea wearin' my yoga leggins. Anything else would cause a ruckus 'round here.

God bless ya and have a marvelous day!!!

Shirley said...

Dear Laura,
You are an amazing lady. I don't know how you do always pay me a visit after I visit your lovely blog. With over 1400 followers and many, many comments on your blog you still find the time to say hello. I want to thank you for that. It really makes me feel good. I have left MANY comments on other high follower bloggers who I adore and never seem to recieve a response. I just assumed it was because there were so many comments, but also felt a little sting when seeing them post on other blogs. You have made me see, it's the person behind the blog! Thank you!

In response to Romeo & was re-told for teen, but I love it. The last page also talks about what would Romeo & Juliet write on facebook..too cute.
~Yours Sincerely,

Janis said...

I have never been to Windsor Castle but would love to see it....and oh yes, I want to see The King's Speech too very soon! Thanks for another very well-researched post....

Cfycup said...

I just love your Royal Wedding Wednesdays! Thank you for posting such a whimsical, magical and dream worthy post each week. I've been to Windsor castle, Buckingham Palace, St. James and Kensington Palace but didn't have time to go inside any of them. It's so nice to get insider peaks of the beautiful interiors! Here's looking forward to next week :-)

Ta ta for now!

Sherry said...

I have the High Tea on my calendar. I am working on a special goodie to put on the table. I hope I get it done. I can't wait to see the link party, I know it will be fun! Love your Royal Weds. The palaces sigh....what fun to view! I wasn't aware they had so many properties. Lovely!

bj said...

I can't wait for the virtual tea and I just wish I could come to the REAL one...:((
Excuse me now...I have to plan A HIGH TEA..(that is where FOOD, not just cookies, is served)so I need to "plan my menu" it all.
xoxo bj

Terri said...

Yikes! I almost missed this post! I was sitting at work today and it popped into my head that I had not read it yet! Here I am, late but still here!

Garden Antqs Vintage said...

Hi Laura, such beautiful images you've shown here. I wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog. Hope you have a great week and Valentine's Day tomorrow.

MessyMissy said...

What a lovely tour you gave us. I am an avid history fan, so this was an especially nice treat. I am so inspired by your ideas and your blog!! What a nice visit!!