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Preview of episode two of Majesty and Mortar: Britain’s Great Palaces

Majesty and Mortar: Britain’s Great Palaces

After last week’s insightful episode which gave audiences a glimpse into the Tudor buildings which used to, and some of which still do, dominate our landscapes, such as the White Tower at the Tower of London, Hampton Court and Nonsuch Palace, in the next episode historian Dan Cruickshank takes viewers through the classical architecture movement which began to occur in the seventeenth century.

In the second episode of the series, called Inventing a National Style, Cruickshank highlights how this new style of Roman architecture initially began with the household name Indigo Jones, who created the masterpiece that is the banqueting hall for James I at the Palace of Whitehall. Cruickshank highlights how monarchical propaganda and the divine right of kings became a fundamental influence over the style of palace architecture in this turbulent century, and continued to influence style in centuries to come.

Cruickshank presents the idea that although the detailed and symbolic ceiling artwork by Rubens that hangs above visitors of the Banqueting House may have begun as a piece of Stuart propaganda, later on it ironically became the setting of Charles I’s beheading as he took to a scaffold erected outside of the palace in 1649.

Cruickshank also looks at how palaces, such as Buckingham, Kew and Kensington, also became the homes of our monarchs, rather than simply places for our Kings and Queens to live and rule from. Cruickshank also meets with Lee Prosser from Historic Royal Palaces, who explains the innovative technology and craftsmanship that Sir Christopher Wren used at the time to build Kensington Palace.

Inventing a National Style will be broadcasted on BBC Four at 9pm on Wednesday 25th June. It will then be available to view online soon after. This episode was directed and produced by Edmund Moriarty.

Featured photo credit: BBC/Historic Royal Palaces.

Article photo credit: BBC/Christian Stacey

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