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Sunday, 4 August 2013

Hampton Court Shoes

When the summer weather is so fine, there is nothing I prefer more than a wander around a creaky old building of notoriety. Hampton Court, marketed as the home of Henry - don't marry me or you're for it - VII (and y'know later less BBC period drama inspiring monarchs too) beckoned. I'd been told that the Tudor kitchens would leave a lasting impression, but I have never really been one for social history - or the history of what the people used to eat - so found it really only vaguely interesting. I enjoyed the banqueting hall and chapel much more, partially because they were aesthetically much more pleasing. I like pretty things.

I did love Mantegna's Renaissance masterpiece The Triumph of Caesar, as all who know me will testify that I am both an art geek and classics freak. Thankfully, yet also sadly, the exhibit had very few visitors when I went so I got to drink the procession in in relative solitude. Mantegna was the first painter to become famous, in the modern sense, outside of his own city. The lack of footfall for such splendid and historical importance made me think of a documentary I had seen by the late art historian and critic Robert Hughes, The Mona Lisa Curse. I feel this may warrant a post of it's own at some point.

The Secrets of The Royal Bedchamber Exhibit was quite interesting, although I had noticed some foreign visitors, who have no need to have knowledge of the throne's succession over the last 400 years or so, struggling somewhat as the exhibit to an extent assumed that the visitor would be able to jump across time as easily as walking into another room. I was very grateful of the chance to lie down on the giant mattresses provided at the beginning of the exhibit as by that point my silly shoes had started to rub. The film, cleverly being shown on the ceiling, imparted very little clever knowledge. 

In all truth I can get quite snobby about museums as I always assume that average person must be aware of history to a much greater extent than the curator presumes and that the public are being treated like children (same goes for most TV documentaries).

All in all a lovely day was had, I bought some pear drops, wandered round the gardens, paid through the nose for a sandwich and saw the early modern tennis courts. Being unpatriotic though I have to say that I preferred visiting Versailles...

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