Friday, November 26, 2010

Richmond Palace - an Evocative Experience

Have you been listening to the wonderful serialisation of Giles Tremlett's biography of Catherine of Aragon, on Radio 4?  It has had me enthralled, for fifteen minutes, each morning - this week.  Deeply evocative - it moves me to think of how I feel, whenever I walk close to the remaining walls of Richmond Palace, where Catherine lived when she first came to these shores, from her native Spain.

If you fancy investigating, for yourself, when you're walking along the riverside, in beautiful Richmond, continue along until you come to Old Palace Lane. Turn-in, stay alert (as many people miss-out on the experience) and, after a few paces - on the right-hand side - you’ll notice an understated pale plaque, on the centuries-old brick wall.  In pale lettering, it informs that this is the site of the former Richmond Palace, where Queen Elizabeth I spent many of her days and, where she died, in 1603.

Sadly, most of the Palace was demolished after Charles I was executed; plans for its later rebuilding - designed by Sir William Chambers - never came to fruition. Further on, though, if you wander up to the top of the very pretty lane, you’ll see some additional remaining walls - together with a smaller, light-blue plaque commemorating the site.

I often stop here when I’m walking close-by and have a few moments spare for contemplation. It never fails to move me and to transport my imagination to how people lived then; to envisage late Tudor times and the experiences - sad and joyous - of the 'Virgin Queen’.

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