London: The Queen’s House Greenwich

This gem of a Georgian palace adorns the front of  Greenwich Park in the city of London and there is so much to love about the Queen’s House.

For a start it was designed by Inigo Jones, a famous architect who pushed orderly, classical principles of design in opposition to the flamboyant Renaissance-style decoration favoured by the Elizabethans and Jacobeans.

It was built between 1616 and 1619, and was one of Inigo Jones’ earliest achievements in London and the first classical building to be constructed in Britain. He was influenced by Roman and Palladian architecture in Italy.

Back in the 17th century it would have made quite a contrast to the rambling red-brick Tudor Palace of Greenwich then next door.

Maritime Greenwich is now a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Today, from the top of the hill, next to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park, it forms a lovely contrast to the towers of Canary Wharf and the redevelopment of London’s Docklands.

The Queens House, Greenwich Park, London

The Queen’s House was built first for James I’s queen, Anne of Denmark, and then refurbished for the consort of Charles I, Henrietta Maria.

The cream-coloured, beautifully symmetrical royal residence lies elegantly on the bright green grass. Inside dark oak furniture and bright tapestries are set above a woven rush-matting floor.

The windows are in the new ‘sash’ style introduced from the Netherlands, rather than old-fashioned casements.

The calico curtains are from Calcutta in India, block printed with amazing red and green flowers and paisley shaped leaves with peacocks in the branches. Hunters, gods and spotted creatures peer out from tree roots.

The London 2012 Olympic equestrian events were staged just behind the Queen’s House and the modern pentathlon further into Greenwich Park.

It may not have a river view any more as the Maritime Museum blocks it out but it still has a marvellous view up the hill to the Royal Observatory.

By Natasha von Geldern

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