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Title: Kensington Palace, the birthplace of the Queen

Author: Ernest Law

Release date: August 9, 2013 [eBook #43428]
Most recently updated: January 25, 2021

Language: English

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Kensington Palace: the Birthplace of the Queen.



1819 MAY 24TH 1899

Image not available: H.R.H. THE PRINCESS VICTORIA AT THE AGE OF FOUR. (From a Painting by Denning.)
(From a Painting by Denning.)

Kensington Palace



H I S T O R I C A L   G U I D E

Ernest Law, B.A.
Author of “The History of Hampton Court Palace;” “The Royal
Gallery of Hampton Court;” “Vandyck’s Pictures
at Windsor Castle,” etc.

Notice.—This Catalogue and Guide are copyright, and immediate proceedings in
Chancery will be taken against any infringers thereof.


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Notice to Visitors.

THE State Rooms of Kensington Palace, and likewise Queen Anne’s Orangery, will be open to the public every day in the week throughout the year, except Wednesdays, unless notice be, at any time, given to the contrary.

The hours of opening will be 10 o’clock in the morning on week days, and 2 o’clock in the afternoon on Sundays.

The hours of closing will be 6 o’clock in the evening from the 1st of April to the 30th of September, both days inclusive, and 4 o’clock during the winter months.

They will be closed on Christmas Day and Good Friday.

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FRONTISPIECE. H.R.H. the Princess Victoria at the age of Four4
Notice to Visitors6
Plate—Kensington Palace and Gardens in the Reign of Queen Anne8
Historical Sketch.
Early History of Kensington17
Building of the Palace18
Deaths of Queen Mary and King William19
Queen Anne at Kensington Palace20
Death of Prince George of Denmark22
Death of Queen Anne22
George I. at Kensington Palace23
George II. at Kensington Palace24
Kensington in George III.’s Reign25
Birth of Queen Victoria26
    Plate—The Duchess of Kent with Princess Victoria (aged Two Years)27
Queen Victoria’s Early Years at Kensington29
The Queen’s Childhood at Kensington Palace30
    Plate—The Princess Victoria in 182531
Princess Victoria becomes Heiress to the Throne34
Queen Victoria’s Accession36
Queen Victoria’s First Council37
Kensington Palace in Recent Years40
Restoration of the State Rooms41
Methods of Restoration42
Arrangement of the Pictures44
Associations with Queen Victoria45
Descriptive and Historical Guide.
Old Kensington Palace Gardens47
Queen Anne’s Gardens49
Queen Anne’s Orangery51
    Terrace of Queen Anne’s Orangery53
    Exterior of Queen Anne’s Orangery54
    Interior of Queen Anne’s Orangery55
    The Alcoves of Queen Anne’s Orangery56
    Restoration of Queen Anne’s Orangery56
Kensington Gardens58
    Queen Caroline’s Improvements in Kensington Gardens58
    Kensington Gardens in the Nineteenth Century59
    Plate—South Front of Kensington Palace in 1819—after Westall61
South Front of the Palace63
    Wren’s Domestic Style63
East Front of the Palace64
    Plate—Plan of the State Rooms66
Public Entrance to the Palace67
Queen’s Staircase68
    Old Oak Wainscoting of the Staircase69
    Window Sashes of the Staircase69
Queen Mary’s Gallery70
    Wainscoting and Carvings of Queen Mary’s Gallery71
    Pictures in Queen Mary’s Gallery. Portraits of the Time of William and Mary to George II73
Queen’s Closet77
    Pictures of “Old London”77
Queen Anne’s Private Dining Room80
    Pictures in Queen Anne’s Private Dining Room81
Queen Mary’s Privy Chamber83
    Pictures in Queen Mary’s Privy Chamber83
Queen Caroline’s Drawing Room87
    Painted Ceiling of the Queen’s Drawing Room88
    Contemporary French and German Portraits88
The Cupola or Cube Room93
    The Painted Ceiling of the Cube Room94
    Plate—The Cupola or Cube Room as it was when the Queen was Baptized in it95
    Painted Walls of the Cube Room96
    General Appearance of the Cupola Room98
King’s Drawing Room99
    Painted Ceiling of the King’s Drawing Room99
    William Kent, the Royal and Fashionable Decorator100
    Plate—King’s Drawing Room101
    Kent the Father of Modern Gardening103
    West’s Pictures in the King’s Drawing Room104
King’s Privy Chamber108
    Portraits of George III.’s Time108
The Nursery113
    Pictures and Prints illustrative of the Queen’s Life and Reign113
    Prints illustrative of the Life and Reign of the Queen114
Queen Victoria’s Bedroom115
    Prints of the Life and Reign of the Queen116
    Mementoes and Relics of the Queen’s Childhood collected in “Queen Victoria’s Bedroom”116
King’s Gallery117
    Decorative Carvings in the “King’s Gallery”117
    Chimney-Piece, Map and Dial118
    Plate—The King’s Gallery119
    Painting of the Ceiling and Wainscot of the King’s Gallery121
    Naval Pictures in the King’s Gallery122
King’s Grand Staircase129
    Kent’s Alterations in the King’s Grand Staircase130
    Plate—The King’s Grand Staircase131
    Painted Walls of the King’s Grand Staircase133
    Painted Ceiling of the King’s Grand Staircase135
Presence Chamber137
    Painted Ceiling of the Presence Chamber138
    Ceremonial Pictures of Queen Victoria’s Reign139

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THE following pages, compiled under the sanction of the Lord Chamberlain of Her Majesty’s Household and the First Commissioner of Her Majesty’s Works and Buildings, are intended to meet the requirements of visitors to the State Rooms of Kensington Palace, now open by command of the Queen to the inspection of the public during Her Majesty’s pleasure. This little book, therefore, is to be understood as aiming only at a descriptive and historical account of the particular parts of the building on view—not, in any sense, as attempting a general history of the Palace. Nevertheless, the author may, perhaps, be permitted to say that, as far as his object extends, he has endeavoured to render the information here given as accurate and complete as possible, by devoting the same amount of time and labour to research and verification, as though he had been writing a book of a critical nature for a restricted circle of readers, instead of a mere handbook for ordinary sightseers.

In this way, the writer conceives, can he best promote the object which, it may be assumed, the Queen and Her Majesty’s Government have had in view in restoring and opening these State Rooms to the public—namely, that they should serve as an object-lesson in history and art, and a refining influence of popular culture and education.

In pursuance of this design the author has had recourse not only to such well-known standard authorities on his subject as Pyne’s “History of Royal Residences,” 1819; Faulkner’s “History of Kensington,” 1820; Leigh Hunt’s “Old Court Suburb,” 1853; and Mr. Loftie’s “Kensington—Picturesque and Historical,” 1887; but also to a large number of earlier and less known historical and topographical works, which have served to illustrate many things connected with the history of this interesting old building.

His main sources of information, however, have been the old manuscripts, parchment rolls, and state papers, preserved in the British Museum and Record Office—especially the “Declared Accounts” and “Treasury Papers,” containing the original estimates, accounts and reports of Sir Christopher Wren and his successors, relating to the works and buildings at Kensington. None of these have ever before been examined or published; and they throw much light on the art and decoration of this palace, while also, for the first time, setting at rest many hitherto debatable points.

The author must here once again—as in works of a similar nature elsewhere—express his obligations for the kind assistance he has received from all those who have charge of the Queen’s palaces—the Hon. Sir Spencer Ponsonby Fane, G.C.B., Comptroller of Her Majesty’s Household; the Hon. Reginald Brett, C.B., Secretary of Her Majesty’s Board of Works and Buildings; Sir John Taylor, K.C.B., Consulting Architect and Surveyor to the Board; and Mr. Philip, Clerk of the Works at Kensington Palace.

At the same time he wishes to make it clear that for the information contained herein, and for the opinions and views expressed, he himself is alone responsible.

Here also the author must make his acknowledgments to the editor of “The Gentlewoman,” who has kindly lent him the blocks for the portraits of the Queen.

It may be as well to take this opportunity of emphasizing what is more fully insisted on in subsequent pages, that Kensington Palace, as a public resort, is not to be considered in the light of an Art Gallery, but as a Palace with historical pictures in it. The clear understanding of this may prevent misapprehension as to the scheme followed in restoring the state rooms to their original state, where the pictures—and their frames—are arranged on the walls as a part only of their furniture and decoration.

Finally, it may be observed that though the outline of the history of the Palace, prefixed to the description of the State Rooms, has necessarily been brief, the Queen’s early life, and the interesting events that took place here in June 1837, seemed to require a fuller treatment. These, therefore, have been described in detail, mainly in the words of eye-witnesses, which, though they have often been printed before, may, being repeated here, acquire—the compiler has thought—a new vividness and interest, when read on the very spot where they were enacted; and thus insure for these famous scenes an even wider popularity than before.

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H I S T O R I C A L   S K E T C H.

Early History of Kensington.

KENSINGTON PALACE, built by William and Mary, occupied by Queen Anne as one of her favourite residences, enlarged by George I. and greatly appreciated by George II. and his queen, Caroline, has received a greater renown and more interesting associations from having been the birthplace and early home of Queen Victoria. In celebration of the eightieth anniversary of that ever-memorable and auspicious event, Her Majesty decided on opening the State Apartments free to the public on the 24th of May, 1899, during Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Before recapitulating the events of the Queen’s early life here, we must give a brief outline of the history of the Palace since it became a royal residence.

The original building, of which it is probable that a good deal still stands, was erected mainly by Sir Heneage Finch, Lord Chancellor and Earl of Nottingham, who acquired the estate, including some hundred and fifty acres of meadow and park—now Kensington Gardens—from his brother Sir John Finch. Hence it was known as Nottingham House; and under that title it was bought from Daniel Finch, the second earl, for the sum of 18,000 guineas, in the summer or autumn of 1689, by King William III., who was anxious to have a convenient residence near enough to Whitehall for the transaction of business, and yet sufficiently far to be out of the smoky atmosphere, in which he found it impossible to breathe. The King, assisted by his Queen, at once set about enlarging and embellishing the mansion, and laying out new gardens.

Building of the Palace.

THE works seem to have been begun on or very soon after the 1st of October, 1689. We learn this from the enrolled account of “Thomas Lloyd, Paymaster of Their Majesties Workes and Buildinges,” made up from “paybookes subscribed with the handes of Sir Christopher Wren, Knight Surveyor of the workes; William Talman, Comptroller; John Oliver, Master Mason; and Matthew Bankes, Master Carpenter, and with the hand of Nicolas Hawkesmore, clerke of the said workes, according to the ancient usual and due course of the office of their Majesties workes.”

In the second week of November a news-letter informs us that the new apartment, then being built, “suddenly fell flat to the ground, killing seven or eight workmen and labourers. The Queen had been in that apartment but a little while before.”

By February 25th, 1690, they were sufficiently advanced for Evelyn to record in his diary: “I went to Kensington, which King William has bought of Lord Nottingham, and altered, but was yet a patched building, but with the garden, it is a very sweete villa, having to it the Park, and a straight new way through this Park.” The making of this new road cost just about £8,000.

Building operations were continued during the King’s absence in Ireland; and the day before the news of the battle of the Boyne reached Queen Mary she spent a few quiet hours in the gardens here, writing the same evening, July 5th, to William: “The place made me think how happy I was there when I had your dear company.” Until his return she continued to overlook the building, and on August 6th following, writes again as to the progress of the building: “The outside of the house is fiddling work, which takes up more time than can be imagined; and while the schafolds are up, the windows must be boarded up, but as soon as that is done, your own apartment may be furnished.” And a week after: “I have been this day to Kensington, which looks really very well, at least to a poor body like me, who have been so long condemned to this place (Whitehall) and see nothing but water and wall.”

The work of improving Kensington House continued for another year or more, costing during this period £60,000. It was, however, far from finished, when, in November, 1691, a serious fire occurred, necessitating re-building at a cost of upwards of £6,000. From the year 1691 to 1696 another £35,000 was spent in further “altering the old house,” and in additional works of decoration in the galleries and other rooms—details as to which will be given in our description of those apartments.

Extensive alterations and improvements were also in progress at the same time in the gardens, which at this period were confined to the ground east and south of the Palace, as to which we shall refer again.

Deaths of Queen Mary and King William.

ERE the work, however, was completed, Queen Mary was taken ill at Kensington with small pox in December, 1694. On learning the nature of her illness she locked herself in her closet, burned some papers, and calmly awaited her fate, which quickly came a few days after, the 28th of December.

Evelyn visited Kensington again in 1696, and speaks of it then as “noble but not greate,” commending especially the King’s Gallery, which was then filled with the finest pictures in the royal collection, “a greate collection of Porcelain, and a pretty private library. The gardens about it very delicious.” Peter the Great’s visit to William III. in this same gallery is referred to in our description of it below.

The next event of moment is William III.’s own death at Kensington Palace, after his accident in Hampton Court Park. “Je tirs vers ma fin,” said he to Albemarle, who had hurried from Holland to his master’s bedside; and to his physician: “I know that you have done all that skill and learning could do for me; but the case is beyond your art, I must submit.” “Can this,” he said soon after, “last long?” He was told that the end was approaching. He swallowed a cordial, and asked for Bentinck. Those were his last articulate words. “Bentinck instantly came to the bedside, bent down, and placed his ear close to the King’s mouth. The lips of the dying man moved, but nothing could be heard. The King took the hand of his earliest friend and pressed it tenderly to his heart. In that moment, no doubt, all that had cast a slight passing cloud over their long pure friendship was forgotten. It was now between seven and eight in the morning. He closed his eyes, and gasped for breath. The bishops knelt down and read the commendatory prayer. When it ended William was no more. When his remains were laid out, it was found that he wore next to his skin a small piece of black silk ribbon. The lords in waiting ordered it to be taken off. It contained a gold ring and a lock of the hair of Mary.”

Queen Anne at Kensington Palace.

FOND as William and Mary had been of Kensington, Queen Anne was even more attached to it still;—and it became her usual residence whenever it was necessary for her to be near the great offices of state. She seems to have remained satisfied with the palace as it had been finished by her predecessors, except for the addition of one or two small rooms “in the little court behind the gallery,” perhaps because King William bequeathed to her a debt of upwards of £4,000 for his buildings at Kensington.

She devoted, however, a great deal of care and expense to the improving and enlarging of the Palace gardens—as to which we shall have more to say when we come to describe them. Queen Anne, indeed, was, in this respect, thoroughly English. She loved her plants and flowers, and would spend hours pottering about her gardens at Kensington. The appearance of her gardens will best be seen from our reduced facsimile of Kip’s large engraving, published about 1714 in his “Britannia Illustrata.” In the right distance is seen that most beautiful building called the “Orangery” or green-house, erected by her orders—which we shall fully describe on a subsequent page.

Besides enlarging the gardens round about the Palace, Queen Anne greatly extended the area of the park-like enclosed grounds attached to Kensington Palace. Mr. Loftie has declared that “neither Queen Anne nor Queen Caroline took an acre from Hyde Park.” But this we have found not to be the fact. In an old report on the “State of the Royal Gardens and Plantations at Ladyday, 1713,” among the Treasury Papers in the Record Office, there is a distinct reference to “The Paddock joyning to the Gardens, taken from Hyde Park in 1705, and stocked with fine deer and antelopes;” and again in another document, dated May 26th in the same year, being a memorial to the Lord High Treasurer from Henry Portman, Ranger of Hyde Park, it is stated that “near 100 acres had been enclosed from the park of Kensington, whereby the profits he had by herbage were much reduced.” Later on, in George II.’s reign, in 1729, we find a grant of £200 made to William, Earl of Essex, Ranger of Hyde Park, “in consideration of loss of herbage of that part of the said park which is laid into his Majesty’s gardens at Kensington.

Death of Prince George of Denmark.

IT was at Kensington Palace that Anne’s husband, Prince George of Denmark, at length succumbed, in 1708, to a prolonged illness of gout and asthma. During his last sickness and death, Anne had the “consolation” of the Duchess of Marlborough’s “sympathy.” Her Grace’s deportment, according to an eye-witness, “while the Prince was actually dying, was of such a nature that the Queen, then in the height of her grief, was not able to bear it.” She actually forced her way, as Mistress of the Robes, to the poor Prince’s deathbed, and only drew into the background when peremptorily ordered by the heart-broken wife to leave the room. After Prince George had breathed his last, she stepped forward again, and when all the others had left, insisted on remaining with poor Anne, who was “weeping and clapping her hands together, and swaying herself backwards and forwards” in an agony of grief. The Queen was at length induced to accede to the Duchess’s advice to leave “that dismal body” and remove to St. James’s.

Two years later, in these very same state rooms of Kensington Palace took place the famous final interview between the Queen and her whilom favourite, also subsequently noticed in our description of “Queen Anne’s Private Dining Room.”

Death of Queen Anne.

IN the summer of the year 1714 Queen Anne was seized, at Kensington Palace, with apoplexy, brought on by political worries. She had been failing in health for some time; and on July 27th had an attack of blood to the head, while presiding at her Cabinet Council, and was carried in a dead faint to her bed. Four days after, Charles Ford, an official of the government and a correspondent of Swift, wrote: “I am just come from Kensington, where I have spent these two days. At present the Queen is alive, and better than could have been expected; her disorder began about eight or nine yesterday morning. The doctors ordered her head to be shaved; while it was being done, the Queen fell into convulsions, or, as they say, a fit of apoplexy, which lasted two hours, during which she showed but little sign of life.” At six in the evening of the same day, another anxious watcher within the palace walls, says Miss Strickland, wrote to Swift: “At the time I am writing, the breath is said to be in the Queen’s nostrils, but that is all. No hopes of her recovery,”—and in effect she breathed her last the following day, in the fiftieth year of her age. “Her life would have lasted longer,” wrote Roger Coke, in his “Detection,” “if she had not eaten so much.... She supped too much chocolate, and died monstrously fat; insomuch that the coffin wherein her remains were deposited was almost square, and was bigger than that of the Prince, her husband, who was known to be a fat, bulky man.”

George I. at Kensington Palace.

THE day after the death of Queen Anne, King George was proclaimed her successor; and soon after his accession he entered into possession of Kensington Palace. Taking, on his part, also, a fancy to the place, he decided, about the year 1721, to erect a new and additional suite of state rooms, the building of which was intrusted to William Kent, as we shall fully explain in our description of the new state rooms constructed by him. Otherwise, we hear scarcely anything of George I. in connection with Kensington. He lived here, indeed, in the greatest seclusion with his German favourites, and was scarcely ever seen, even in the gardens, which in his reign first became the fashionable promenade, where, in the words of Tickell, who wrote a poem on the subject, in imitation of Pope’s “Rape of the Lock”—

“The dames of Britain oft in crowds repair
To groves and lawns, and unpolluted air,
Here, while the town in damps and darkness lies,
They breathe in sunshine, and see azure skies.”

George II. at Kensington Palace.

IN the reign of George II. Kensington became more than ever the favourite residence of the court, and much insight into life within the walls of the Palace at this time is afforded us by such books as Lady Suffolk’s “Memoirs,” Lady Sundon’s “Letters,” Walpole’s “Reminiscences,” and, above all, of course, by Lord Hervey’s “Memoirs.” Here is a malignant little sketch drawn by that treacherous, satiric hand: “His Majesty stayed about five minutes in the gallery; snubbed the Queen, who was drinking chocolate, for being always ‘stuffing;’ the Princess Emily for not hearing him; the Princess Caroline for being grown fat; the Duke of Cumberland for standing awkwardly; Lord Hervey for not knowing what relation the Prince of Sultzbach was to the Elector Palatine; and then carried the Queen to walk, and be re-snubbed, in the garden.”

It was the Princess Emily just mentioned who played a practical joke one evening at Kensington on Lady Deloraine, by drawing her chair from under her just as she was going to sit down to cards, thus sending her sprawling on the floor. The King burst out laughing, and, to revenge herself, Lady Deloraine played his august Majesty the same trick soon after, which not unnaturally led to her being forbidden the court for some time.

Although Queen Caroline had to put up with a good deal of snubbing, she managed, at the same time, usually to get her own way. She was very fond of art; and it was she who discovered, stowed away in a drawer at Kensington Palace, the famous series of Holbein’s drawings. These she had brought out, and she arranged all the pictures in the State Rooms according to her liking. Her substituting good pictures for bad in the great Drawing-Room during one of the King’s absences in Hanover, led to the famous and oft-quoted scene between Lord Hervey and his Majesty, who, nevertheless, did not interfere with the Queen’s alterations.

Caroline was also devoted to the then fashionable craze of gardening, and was continually planning and altering at Kensington. It was at her instance—as we shall see presently in greater detail—that the large extent of land, formerly the park of old Nottingham House, and also a portion of Hyde Park, was laid out, planted, and improved into what we now know as “Kensington Gardens.”

Queen Caroline died in 1737, while George II. survived her twenty-three years, expiring at Kensington Palace on the morning of the 25th of October, 1760, at the age of seventy-eight. His end was extremely sudden. He appeared to be in his usual health, when a heavy fall was heard in his dressing-room after breakfast. The attendants hurried in, to find the King lying on the floor, with his head cut open by falling against a bureau. The right ventricle of his heart had burst.

Kensington in George III.’s Reign.

GEORGE II. was the last sovereign to occupy Kensington Palace, which thenceforth, during the long reign of George III., was left almost entirely neglected and deserted. Several members of the royal family, however, occupied, at various periods, suites of apartments in the Palace. Among others, Caroline of Brunswick, when Princess of Wales, lived for a short time here with her mother. Her behaviour greatly scandalized the sober-minded inhabitants of the old court suburb. “She kept a sort of open house, receiving visitors in a dressing-gown, and sitting and talking about herself with strangers, on the benches in the garden, at the risk of being discovered.

Another but more worthy occupant of the Palace in George III.’s reign was our present Queen’s uncle, the Duke of Sussex, who collected a magnificent library here of nearly fifty thousand volumes, which he spent the last years of his life in arranging and cataloguing.

Destined, however, to invest Kensington Palace with associations and memories far transcending any that have gone before, was the advent here of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, seven months after their marriage. They occupied most of the old state rooms on the first and second floors of the easternmost portion of the Palace. Three lives then stood between the duke and the throne, and little could the newly-married pair have imagined that from their union would spring the future Queen and Empress of such a vast and mighty empire as now owns the sway of their first and only child.

Birth of Queen Victoria.

THE Queen was born on the 24th of May, 1819, at a quarter past four in the morning. “Some doubt,” says Mr. Loftie, “has been thrown on the identification of the room in which the future Queen was born; but the late lamented Dr. Merriman, whose father attended the Duchess, had no doubt that a spacious chamber, which has been marked with a brass plate, was that in which the happy event took place.” This room, which is on the first floor, exactly under the “King’s Privy Chamber”—the State Rooms being on the second floor—has a low ceiling, and three windows, facing east, looking into the “Private Gardens.” It has been identified by the Queen as the one Her Majesty was always told she was born in. The brass plate, put up at the time of the first Jubilee, in 1887, states: In this room Queen Victoria was born, May 24th, 1819.

(After a picture by Sir William Beechey.)

Faulkner, writing the year after the event, confirms this identification, insomuch that he says: “The lower apartments in the south-east part of the Palace, beneath the King’s Gallery, have been for some years occupied by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, whose premature decease—eight months after the birth of his daughter—this nation has so recently and deeply lamented; and they are still the residence of Her Royal Highness the Duchess.”

This is how the event was noticed in the “Memoirs” of Baron Stockmar: “A pretty little Princess, plump as a partridge, was born. The Duke of Kent was delighted with his child, and liked to show her constantly to his companions and intimate friends with the words: ‘Take care of her, for she will be Queen of England.’”

An interesting letter of the Duke of Kent’s, written a few weeks after to his chaplain, Dr. Thomas Prince, who had addressed a letter of congratulation to him while, at the same time, somewhat condoling with him that a daughter and not a son had been born to him, was published in the “Times” at the time of the Jubilee of 1897. In it the duke remarked: “As to the circumstance of that child not proving to be a son instead of a daughter, I feel it due to myself to declare that such sentiments are not in unison with my own; for I am decidedly of opinion that the decrees of Providence are at all times wisest and best.”

Queen Victoria’s Early Years at Kensington.

THE next reference we have found to the future Queen, is in a letter, written on 21st of July, 1820, when, consequently, Her Majesty was a little more than a year old, by Mr. Wilberforce, who mentions being received at Kensington Palace by the Duchess of Kent that morning. “She received me with her fine animated child on the floor, by her side, with its playthings, of which I soon became one.”

Most of the future Queen’s early years were passed at Kensington Palace in great privacy and retirement. She was often seen, however, in Kensington Gardens, her constant companion in her walks being Miss, afterwards Baroness Lehzen.

Leigh Hunt, referring to this period, mentions in his “Old Court Suburb,” having seen her “coming up a cross path from the Bayswater Gate, with a girl of her own age by her side”—probably the Princess Feodore, her beloved half-sister and constant companion of her girlhood—“whose hand she was holding, as if she loved her.... A magnificent footman in scarlet came behind her.”

The youthful Princess was sometimes driven in a goat or donkey carriage in the park and gardens, and, as she grew older, in a small phæton, drawn by two diminutive ponies. The following gives a little glimpse of our Queen at this early period of her life:

“A party consisting of several ladies, a young child, and two men servants, having in charge a donkey gaily caparisoned with blue ribbons, and accoutered for the use of the infant ... who skipped along between her mother and sister, the Princess Feodore, holding a hand of each.”

The Queen’s Childhood at Kensington Palace.

IN further illustration of the Queen’s life as a little girl with her mother at Kensington Palace, we cannot do better than quote what Mr. Holmes, writing with authority as the Queen’s Librarian at Windsor Castle, tells us in his interesting work, “Queen Victoria,” which, as he remarks, presents for the first time an accurate account of the childhood of the Queen. “During these early years, and before a regular course of studies had been attempted, the family life at the Palace was simple and regular. Breakfast was served in summer at eight o’clock, the Princess Victoria having her bread and milk and fruit on a little table by her mother’s side. After breakfast the Princess Feodore studied with her governess, Miss Lehzen, and the Princess Victoria went out for a walk or drive. It has been repeatedly said that at this time she was instructed by her mother; but this is not the case, as the Duchess never gave her daughter any lessons. At two there was a plain dinner, when the Duchess had her luncheon. In the afternoon was the usual walk or drive. At the time of her mother’s dinner the Princess had her supper laid at her side. At nine she was accustomed to retire to her bed, which was placed close to her mother’s....”

Image not available: THE PRINCESS VICTORIA IN 1825. (After a picture by G. Fowler.)
(After a picture by G. Fowler.)

“It was not till the Princess had entered her fifth year that she began to receive any regular instruction.... In this determination not to force her daughter’s mind, the Duchess of Kent acted on the counsel of her mother, who had advised her ‘not to tease her little puss with learning while she was so young.’ The advice was justified by results, for the Princess made rapid progress.”

The Earl of Albemarle, who was in attendance on the Duke of Sussex at Kensington, thus describes in his “Recollections” the appearance of the Princess when seven years old: “One of my occupations on a morning, while waiting for the Duke, was to watch from the window the movements of a bright, pretty little girl, seven years of age. She was in the habit of watering the plants immediately under the window. It was amusing to see how impartially she divided the contents of the watering pot between the flowers and her own little feet. Her simple but becoming dress contrasted favourably with the gorgeous apparel now worn by the little damsels of the rising generation—a large straw hat and a suit of white cotton; a coloured fichu round the neck was the only ornament she wore.”

Her education was now conducted on a regular system. Writing, arithmetic, singing lessons, dancing lessons by Madam Bourdin, “to whose teaching may be due in some measure the grace of gesture and dignity of bearing which have always distinguished Her Majesty,” drawing, and the French language. “German was not allowed to be spoken; English was always insisted upon, though a knowledge of the German language was imparted by M. Barez. The lessons, however, which were most enjoyed were those in riding, which has always been since one of the Queen’s greatest pleasures.”

Princess Victoria becomes Heiress to the Throne.

THE death of the Duke of York, and the remote probability of the Duke and Duchess of Clarence having any offspring, drew increasing attention to the movements of the Duchess of Kent and her daughter. “Many stories are current,” continues Mr. Holmes, “of the behaviour and appearance of the young Princess. The simplicity of her tastes was particularly noticed and admired. It was this simplicity of living and careful training in home life, which endeared not only the Princess, but her mother also, to the hearts of the whole nation.” Charles Knight, as well as Leigh Hunt, whom we have already quoted, has recorded the pleasing impression made upon him by the young Princess. In his “Passages of a Working Life” he says: “I delighted to walk in Kensington Gardens. As I passed along the broad central walk, I saw a group on the lawn before the Palace.... The Duchess of Kent and her daughter, whose years then numbered nine, were breakfasting in the open air.... What a beautiful characteristic, it seemed to me, of the training of this royal girl, that she should not have been taught to shrink from the public eye; that she should not have been burdened with a premature conception of her probable high destiny; that she should enjoy the freedom and simplicity of a child’s nature; that she should not be restrained when she starts up from the breakfast table and runs to gather a flower in the adjoining pasture; that her merry laugh should be fearless as the notes of the thrush in the groves around her. I passed on and blessed her; and I thank God that I have lived to see the golden fruits of such a training.”

The Queen was just on the eve of her ninth birthday when, on May 19th, 1828, Sir Walter Scott dined at Kensington Palace with the Duchess of Kent. He records in his diary: “I was very kindly received by Prince Leopold, and presented to the little Princess Victoria, the heir-apparent to the Crown, as things stand.... This little lady is educated with much care, and watched so closely, that no busy maid has a moment to whisper, ‘You are heir of England.’ I suspect, if we could dissect the little heart, we should find some pigeon or other bird of the air had carried the matter.”

Sir Walter’s surmise, Mr. Holmes informs us, was not altogether without foundation; and two years later, when, by the death of her uncle, George IV., only the life of William IV. stood between her and the throne, she was formally made acquainted with her position.

“The early part of the year 1833 was passed at Kensington. There the course of study was kept up as before, but the Princess now went out more into society and was seen more in public.... The Princess’s amusements were her pets, and her walks and drives, and during the spring and summer she much enjoyed riding.”

It was at Kensington, in the summer of 1836, that the Queen first saw her future husband. The Prince in his diary recorded that his aunt, the Duchess of Kent, “gave a brilliant ball here at Kensington Palace, at which the gentlemen appeared in uniform and the ladies in so-called fancy dresses. We remained until four o’clock.... Dear Aunt is very kind to us, and does everything she can to please us, and our cousin also is very amiable.”

The Princess Victoria was at Kensington when she attained her majority, on the 24th of May, 1837. She was awakened by a serenade; she received many presents, and the day was kept as a general holiday at Kensington.

Queen Victoria’s Accession.

LESS than a month after, King William IV. died at Windsor at twelve minutes past two on the morning of June 20th. As soon as possible the Archbishop of Canterbury, with Lord Conyngham (the Lord Chamberlain), started to convey the news to Kensington, where they arrived at five o’clock in the morning.

“They knocked, they rang, they thumped,” says “The Diary of a Lady of Quality,” “for a considerable time before they could rouse the porter at the gate; they were again kept waiting in the courtyard; they hurried into one of the lower rooms, where they seemed forgotten by everybody. They rang the bell, desired that the attendant of the Princess Victoria might be sent to inform Her Royal Highness that they requested an audience on business of importance. After another delay, and another ringing to inquire the cause, the attendant was summoned, who stated that the Princess was in such a sweet sleep, she could not venture to disturb her. Then they said, ‘We are come to the Queen on business of State, and her sleep must give way to that.’”

“In a few minutes she came into the room,” says Mr. Holmes, “a shawl thrown over her dressing-gown, her feet in slippers, and her hair falling down her back. She had been awakened by the Duchess of Kent, who told Her Majesty she must get up; she went alone into the room where Lord Conyngham and the archbishop were waiting. The Lord Chamberlain then knelt down, and presented a paper, announcing the death of her uncle, to the Queen; and the archbishop said he had come by desire of Queen Adelaide, who thought the Queen would like to hear in what a peaceful state the King had been at the last.

Queen Victoria’s First Council.

AT nine o’clock the Prime Minister was received in audience alone; and soon afterwards an informal gathering of Privy Councillors, including the Queen’s uncle, the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of Wellington, and a dozen or so of ministers, prelates, and officials, was held in the anteroom to the Council Chamber, when an address of fealty and homage was read aloud and signed by those present.

After this the doors were opened, “disclosing”—to quote the words of Mr. Barrett Lennard, now the sole survivor of the scene, except the Queen herself—“a large State Saloon, close to whose threshold there stood unattended a small, slight, fair-complexioned young lady, apparently fifteen years of age. She was attired in a close-fitting dress of black silk, her light hair parted and drawn from her forehead; she wore no ornament whatever on her dress or person. The Duke of Sussex advanced, embraced and kissed her—his niece the Queen. Lord Melbourne and others kissed hands in the usual form, and the Usher taking the address, closed the doors, and the Queen disappeared from our gaze. No word was uttered by Her Majesty or by any present, and no sound broke the silence, which seemed to me to add to the impressive solemnity of the scene.”

The room where this took place is low and rather dark and gloomy, with pillars in it, supporting the floor of the “Cube Room” above.

The subsequent meeting of the Queen’s first Council, which took place at eleven o’clock, is familiar to everyone from Wilkie’s well-known picture—“though, at the expense of truth he has emphasized the principal figure by painting her in a white dress instead of the black which was actually worn.” Her Majesty was introduced to the Council Chamber by her uncles, the Dukes of Cumberland and Sussex, and at once took her seat on a chair at the head of the table.

In describing this famous scene, it is useless to attempt anything beyond quoting once more—often as it has been quoted—the admirable account given by Charles Greville, Clerk of the Council:

“Never was anything like the first impression she produced, or the chorus of praise and admiration which is raised about her manner and behaviour, and certainly not without justice. It was very extraordinary, and something far beyond what was looked for. Her extreme youth and inexperience, and the ignorance of the world concerning her, naturally excited intense curiosity to see how she would act on this trying occasion, and there was a considerable assemblage at the Palace, notwithstanding the short notice which was given.... She bowed to the Lords, took her seat, and then read her speech in a clear, distinct and audible voice, and without any appearance of fear or embarrassment. She was quite plainly dressed and in mourning.

“After she had read her speech, and taken and signed the oath for the security of the Church of Scotland, the Privy Councillors were sworn, the two Royal Dukes (of Cumberland and Sussex) first, by themselves; and as these two old men, her uncles, knelt before her, swearing allegiance and kissing her hand, I saw her blush up to the eyes, as if she felt the contrast between their civil and their natural relations, and this was the only sign of emotion she evinced. Her manner to them was very graceful and engaging: she kissed them both, and rose from her chair and moved towards the Duke of Sussex, who was farthest from her and too infirm to reach her. She seemed rather bewildered at the multitude of men who were sworn, and who came one after the other to kiss her hand, but she did not speak to anybody, nor did she make the slightest difference in her manner, or show any in her countenance, to any individual of any rank, station or party. I particularly watched her when Melbourne and the Ministers and the Duke of Wellington and Peel approached her. She went through the whole ceremony—occasionally looking at Melbourne for instruction when she had any doubt what to do, which hardly ever occurred—with perfect calmness and self-possession, but at the same time with a graceful modesty and propriety particularly interesting and ingratiating. When the business was done she retired as she had entered.

“Peel said how amazed he was at her manner and behaviour, at her apparent deep sense of her situation, her modesty, and at the same time her firmness. She appeared, in fact, to be awed, but not daunted, and afterwards the Duke of Wellington told me the same thing, and added that if she had been his own daughter he could not have desired to see her perform her part better.”

This description of Charles Greville’s, whose pen was given to anything but flattery, is confirmed by the testimony of many others present. Earl Grey wrote to Princess Lieven: “When called upon for the first time to appear before the Privy Council, and to take upon herself the awful duties with which at so early an age she has been so suddenly charged, there was in her appearance and demeanour a composure, a propriety, an aplomb, which were quite extraordinary. She never was in the least degree confused, embarrassed or hurried; read the declaration beautifully; went through the forms of business as if she had been accustomed to them all her life.” Lord Palmerston says in a letter to Lord Granville: “The Queen went through her task with great dignity and self-possession; one saw she felt much inward emotion, but it was fully controlled. Her articulation was particularly good, her voice remarkably pleasing.”

Next day, the 21st of June, at ten o’clock in the morning, Her Majesty was formally proclaimed Queen of Great Britain and Ireland at St. James’s Palace, when a salute was fired in the Park, and she appeared at the window of the Presence Chamber, returning afterwards to Kensington Palace. On the 13th of July the Queen, accompanied by her mother, the Duchess of Kent, took her final departure from the place of her birth and the home of her childhood.

Kensington Palace in recent Years.

SINCE the accession of the Queen, Kensington Palace has had a quiet and uneventful history—though Her Majesty has frequently, in the course of her reign, privately revisited her old home, where the Duchess of Kent retained her rooms until her death in 1861; and where, soon after that date, Princess Mary and the Duke of Teck also came to reside for a period. Here their daughter, Princess May, now the Duchess of York, was born in the State Room called “the Nursery,” in 1867.

In the meanwhile, the apartments in the south-west corner of the Palace, occupied by the Duke of Sussex until his death in 1843, were afterwards tenanted by his widow, the Duchess of Inverness, who died in 1873, when they were granted by the Queen to Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne, who still reside in them.

During all these sixty years the Palace had been suffered gradually more and more to fall into a deplorable state of disrepair. The walls were bulging in many places, and merely remained standing by being shored up; the rafters of the roof were beginning to rot away, tiles and slates were broken and slipping off, so that it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep the rain and wind at bay. The floors, also, were everywhere deteriorating, the old panelled walls and painted ceilings of the grand reception rooms slowly, but surely, crumbling to decay.

“More than once,” said a leading article in “The Times” of January 12th, 1898, “it has been seriously proposed to pull the whole building down, and to deal otherwise with the land, and Her Majesty’s subjects ought to be grateful to her for having strenuously resisted such an act of Vandalism, and for having declared that, while she lived, the palace in which she was born should not be destroyed.

Restoration of the State Rooms.

THE Queen, it is believed, had long desired that her people’s wish to be admitted to inspect the Palace of her ancestors, and her own birthplace and early home, should be gratified; and it seemed a fitting memorial of the Diamond Jubilee that this should be done. An obdurate Treasury, which, as we have hinted, had looked forward rather to demolition than restoration, was at length induced to recommend the expenditure necessary to prepare the State Rooms for the admission of the public, and thus, on the 11th of January, 1898, it was possible to make the following gratifying announcement in the press:

“Her Majesty, in her desire to gratify the wishes of Her people, has directed that the State Rooms at Kensington Palace, in the central part of the building, which have been closed and unoccupied since 1760, together with Sir Christopher Wren’s Banqueting Room, attached to the Palace, shall after careful restoration be opened to the public, during her pleasure; and the Government will forthwith submit to Parliament an estimate of the cost of restoration.”

Accordingly the Board of Works proceeded to prepare estimates and on March 4th following, the First Commissioner, Mr. Akers Douglas, M.P., submitted a vote of £23,000 for the purpose. By a unanimous vote of the House of Commons on April 1st, the amount required was at once agreed to, and great gratification was on all sides expressed that so happy solution had at length been arrived at. Forthwith, the restorations were put in hand—the most pressing repairs having, indeed, been begun in anticipation, previous to the passing of the vote—and for many months they consisted entirely in solid structural works, which scarcely seemed to affect the appearance of the building at all. It was found necessary to rebuild and underpin walls, to reslate practically the whole of the roof over the State Apartments and renew the timbers that carried it; and also almost all the floors. After these heavy works, and those consequent on the installation of the hot-water warming apparatus, were completed, the more interesting, but much more difficult, business involved in the restoration of the old decorative ironwork, woodwork, and paintings of the State Rooms was taken in hand.

The more substantial but less salient work having been carried out, the decorative works were next proceeded with, under the constant supervision of Sir John Taylor, K.C.B., Consulting Architect and Surveyor to H.M.’s Board of Works, and the continual and immediate control of Mr. Philip, temporary Clerk of the Works for Kensington Palace. Moreover, the Hon. Reginald Brett, C.B., Secretary of the Board, to whose initiative the whole scheme of the restoration, we may say, has been mainly due, has given a constant close personal attention to everything that has been done. Nor has any trouble, labour, or research been spared to render everything as historically and archæologically correct as possible.

Methods of Restoration.

THE principles on which the restorations have been carried out will more fully appear, in the description we give in our subsequent pages, in regard to every detail of the work. Here we need only say that the most studied care has been taken never to renew any decoration where it was possible to preserve it—least of all ever to attempt to “improve” old work into new. On the contrary, repairing, patching, mending, piecing, cleaning, have been the main occupations of the decorators, to an extent that would render some impatient, slapdash builders and surveyors frantic. Yet it has been all this minute—though no doubt sometimes costly—attention to details, this laborious piecing together of old fragments, this reverential saving of original material and work, this almost-sentimental imitation of the old style and taste where patching in by modern hands was inevitable, which has produced a result and effect likely, we think, to arouse the admiration of all who relish the inimitable charm of antique time-mellowed work.

Never before, we may safely say, has the restoration of any historic public building been carried out with quite the same amount of loving care as has been lavished on Kensington Palace. The spirit has been rather that of a private owner reverentially restoring his ancestral home, than that of an ordinary public official, with an energy callous to all sentiment, sweeping away the old to replace it with a spick-and-span new building. This method of treatment has nowhere been applied more scrupulously, and we venture to think with greater success, than in the treatment of the old oak panelling and the beautiful carving, all of which had been covered over with numerous coats of paint, so long ago—we have discovered from the old accounts in the Record Office—as 1724. In the cleaning off of these dirty incrustations, various processes have been resorted to, as they suited the nature of the work, and so thoroughly has this been done that the closest inspection would give us no inkling that any part, either of the flat surface or of the most delicate carving, had ever been painted at all. Equal pains were taken in finishing the surface with oil and wax polish—no stain whatever being used on the panelling, doors or cornices—so that the real true colour of the wood is seen, varying only with its natural variation, and exhibiting all its richness of tone, and its fullness of grain. It makes one almost glad it should have suffered so many years of long neglect—that when at last it has been taken in hand, it should have been done when the historical significance and the technical and artistic value of such things are more truly appreciated than formerly. There can be little doubt that if an early nineteenth century upholsterer had got hold of this Palace, most of the beautiful old work would have been cleared out to make way for vulgar plaster-work of white and gold.

Substantially the same principles have been followed in the cleaning and restoration of the painted walls and ceilings, which work has been executed with the utmost sympathy for the old work, and the most careful efforts to preserve it. There has not been a touch of paint applied except to make good portions absolutely destroyed, so that these ceilings—whatever their merits or demerits—remain exactly as they were when first completed, save for the more subdued and modulated tone they have taken on from the softening hand of Time.

Arrangement of the Pictures.

A WORD should now be said about the pictures, which have been brought from various Royal residences to furnish these State Apartments, and to illustrate the history of this Palace. The bulk of them have come from Hampton Court, and a large number are pieces which were removed when the State Rooms were dismantled by George IV. and William IV., from the very walls where they now once again hang. Their return here from Hampton Court, in the overcrowded galleries of which it has been impossible ever properly to display them, has been a most auspicious thing for that Palace, and has rendered feasible many long-desired rearrangements and improvements.

In selecting the pictures which seemed most suitable for hanging at Kensington, the principle has been followed of restricting them almost entirely to portraits and historical compositions belonging to the epoch with which the Palace is connected—the reigns of William and Mary, Queen Anne, and the Georges, and, finally, of course that of Queen Victoria.

In the carrying out of this plan an endeavour has been made to group the pictures together in the various apartments as far as possible according to the periods to which they belong—making separate collections, at the same time, of the curious topographical subjects relating to “Old London,” in the Queen’s Closet; of the interesting series of Georgian sea-pieces, sea-fights, and dockyards, in the King’s Gallery—where for the first time they may now at last be really seen and examined—and the ceremonial and other pictures, relating to the Queen’s reign, in the “Presence Chamber” and the actual rooms originally occupied by Her Majesty in her youth.

Having given these general indications as to the arrangements, it will not be necessary to do more than refer to our subsequent pages for the details of the scheme. Nor need we dwell on what will at once be only too obvious to the connoisseur, that anyone who expects to behold in this Palace a fine collection of choice works of art will certainly be disappointed. Kneller and Zeeman, Paton and Pocock, Huggins and Serres, West and Beechey, are not exactly names to conjure with—nor even, indeed, Scott, Monamy, Drouais, or Hoppner, in their somewhat second-rate productions here. Moreover, it is to be clearly understood, that it is not as an Art Gallery that these rooms are opened to the inspection of the public, but as a Royal Palace, with pictures hung in it illustrative of its history and associations, and as furniture to its walls.

Nevertheless, it is not high art only, nor great imaginative works, which can interest and instruct; and, historically, these bewigged, ponderous, puffy personages of the unromantic eighteenth century, whose portraits decorate these walls, are more in accord with their setting, than would be the finer, simpler, and nobler creations of the great epochs of art.

Associations with Queen Victoria.

ON the other hand, the Victorian pictures, and the apartments in which they are arranged, stand apart on a different footing of their own. It is to the three small, plain and simple rooms, with their contents, in the south-eastern corner of the building, that all visitors to the Palace will turn with the liveliest interest, and with the keenest, the most thrilling emotion. Romance, and all the thoughts and feelings of tender, natural affection, which appear to have been smothered in the preceding century and a half of powder and gold-lace, seem to awaken and revive once more with the child born in this Palace eighty years ago, in the little girl playing about in these rooms and in these gardens, in the youthful Queen, who stepped forth from her simple chamber here to take possession of the greatest throne in the world!

It is as the scene of such memorable events that Kensington Palace possesses, and will hereafter ever possess, abiding interests and engrossing charms altogether its own; and that it will ever inspire, among those who come to visit it, thoughts and memories moving and deep. And not to us only in these islands; not to us only of this age; but to thousands and thousands likewise across the seas; to countless millions yet unborn, will this ancient structure become, now and in the ages yet to be, a revered place of loving pilgrimage as the birthplace and early home of Queen Victoria.

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D E S C R I P T I V E  A N D  H I S T O R I C A L
 G U I D E.

Old Kensington Palace Gardens.

BEFORE making our way to the public entrance to the state rooms of the Palace, let us take a glance at the history of the gardens lying round it, and the exterior of the building; and first as to the gardens on the east and south of the building. The whole ground here down to the highway was laid out quite early in the reign of William and Mary; but its present uninteresting appearance gives us but little idea of how it looked at that time. We find from the old accounts that large sums, amounting to several thousands of pounds, were expended on garden works—for levelling, gravelling, and planting, all in the formal Dutch style, with figured beds and clipped trees—and also much ornamental work, such as urns, stone vases, statues, and seats. There are, for instance, many items such as these:

“To Edward Pearce for carving a chaire for the garden with a canopy of drapery, £43 16s.; more for carving 4 chairs and 2 seats with Dolphins, scollop shells, etc., and other works done about the said gardens, £43 2s. 4d.—in both £86 18s. 4d.

We have also a contemporary account of the gardens as formed by William and Mary, in a “View of the Gardens near London,” dated December, 1691: “Kensington Gardens are not great, nor abounding with fine plants. The orange, lemon, myrtle, and what other trees they had there in summer, were all removed to Mr. London’s and Mr. Wise’s greenhouse at Brompton Park, a little mile from them. But the walks and grass laid very fine; and they were digging up a flat of four or five acres to enlarge the garden.”

The northern boundary of King William’s gardens is marked by two piers of excellent red brickwork, evidently erected by Wren at that time. They are surmounted by very fine vases of carved Portland stone; and are perhaps two of the “Four great fflower-pots of Portland stone, richly carved,” for which, we find from the old bills, the statuary Gabriel Cibber, the father of Colley Cibber, was paid £187 5s. Between these piers, which stand 39 feet apart, there was probably, in old days, a screen and gates of fine wrought iron. They stand at the south end of what was called “Brazen Face Walk,” and between them the visitor passes to the public entrance to the Palace. The fencing in of this part of the gardens is perhaps referred to in the following entry belonging to the years 1692-95:

“William Wheatley for makeing and setting up Pallizadoes and gates in and about the said Palace—£152 5s. 10d.

To the north of these piers lies the north-west corner of the now so-called “Kensington Gardens,” where were formerly situated that part of the old gardens appurtenant to the Palace, laid out by Queen Anne. The present bare uninteresting appearance of the ground round about is now entirely different from what it then was.

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Queen Anne’s Gardens.

BOWACK, in his “Antiquities of Middlesex,” writing in the reign of Queen Anne, in 1705, tells us of her improvements: “There is a noble collection of foreign plants and fine neat greens, which makes it pleasant all the year, and the contrivance, variety, and disposition of the whole is extremely pleasing, and so frugal have they been of the room they had, that there was not an inch but what is well improved, the whole with the house not being above twenty-six acres. Her Majesty has been pleased lately to plant near thirty acres more towards the north, separated from the rest by a stately green-house, not yet finished; upon this spot is near one hundred men daily at work, and so great is the progress they have made, that in less than nine months the whole is levelled, laid out, and planted, and when finished will be very fine. Her Majesty’s gardener had the management of this.” Of Queen Anne’s “stately green-house” we shall speak in a moment.

Addison, also, in No. 477 of the “Spectator,” expatiated on the beauties of the gardens: “Wise and London are our heroick poets; and if, as a critic, I may single out any passage of their works to commend, I shall take notice of that part in the upper garden, at Kensington, which was at first nothing but a gravel pit. It must have been a fine genius for gardening, that could have thought of forming such an unsightly hollow into so beautiful an area, and to have hit the eye with so uncommon and agreeable a scene as that which it is now wrought into.”

The cost of these improvements amounted to several thousands of pounds—in levelling, planting, turfing, gravelling. The appearance of the east and south gardens in the reign of Queen Anne will, as we have already said, best be conveyed by Kip’s plate; the general plan of the new enclosed garden to the north, north-east, and north-west, by Rocque’s engraving, published in 1736. From this we see that Queen Caroline, who embarked in so many gardening enterprises, left Queen Anne’s new gardens substantially intact; though she made a clean sweep of all the old fantastic figured flower beds and formal walks of William III.’s parterres to the south and east of the Palace; substituting therefor bare and blank expanses of lawn and wide gravel paths.

During the reigns of George III. and George IV. all the gardens were allowed to become more and more uncared for; and at last those to the north of the Palace were destroyed altogether. The “old Wilderness” and “old Gravel Pit” of Queen Anne and the early Georges now exist no longer—converted by an insane utilitarianism partly into park land, the rest into meadow.

The old gardens to the east, already flattened out and spoilt by Queen Caroline, now exist but in part; the small portion, which has not been covered with hideous forcing houses and frames, is, however, to a certain extent nicely shrubbed, and closed in by trees and hedges. The site of the old south gardens, curtailed now to a small enclosure, which retains little of the old English picturesque air, might with advantage, we think, be less stiff and bare. There is here little more than a clump or two of trees and shrubs, a wide gravel path, and two large vacant lawns, separated from the public walk by a wire fence, and between this and High Street mere expanses of grass. Fortunately, the devastating notions of the “landscape gardener” whose one idea was so to arrange the ground surrounding a house as to look as if it stood plump in the middle of a park—for all the world like a lunatic asylum—are not quite so much in favour as they were.

The blankness and barrenness of all the ground between the south front and the street was even more painfully apparent in Leigh Hunt’s time, who in his “Old Court Suburb” drew attention to this salient defect nearly fifty years ago. “The house,” he remarked, “nominally possesses ‘gardens’ that are miles in circumference.... There is room enough for very pleasant bowers in the spaces to the east and south, that are now grassed and railed in from the public path; nor would the look of the Palace be injured with the spectator, but rescued from its insipidity.” His suggestion has been acted on to a certain extent in recent times, but too partially in our view.

Queen Anne’s Orangery.

QUEEN ANNE is the sovereign to whom we owe the erection of this exceedingly fine specimen of garden architecture—one of the most beautiful examples of the art of the Renaissance in London, if not in England. If we could say with truth that there ever was a “Queen Anne style,” this would, indeed, be a representative and unrivalled example of it—as it certainly is of Sir Christopher Wren’s, which, developing in the reign of Charles II., was definitely formed and fixed in that of William and Mary.

To an artist like Wren to beautify the ordinary and useful was to give expression to one of the highest functions of architecture; and therefore in this mere store-house for the Queen’s treasured plants and flowers, probably also a place where Queen Anne liked to sit and have tea, we have a building—unimportant though its object may be considered—which attains the very acme of his art, exhibiting all his well-balanced judgment of proportion, all the richness of his imagination in design.

The building of this greenhouse was begun in the summer of the year 1704. A plan, prepared by Sir Christopher at Queen Anne’s express orders, was submitted to and approved by her, and the original estimate, which is still in the Record Office, dated June 10th, 1704—probably drawn up by Richard Stacey, master bricklayer, and entitled: “For building a Greenhouse at Kensington” at a cost of £2,599 5s. 1d.—was accordingly laid before the officers of Her Majesty’s Works, Sir Christopher Wren, John Vanbrugh, Benjamin Jackson, and Matthew Bankes, for a report thereon. Their opinion, after “considering the measures and prices,” was that “it may be finished soe as not to exceed the sum therein expressed, viz., £2,599;” and the Lord Treasurer was accordingly prayed “to pay £2,000 into the Office of Works that it may be covered in before winter, according to Her Majesties expectation.”

The work was consequently put in hand forthwith, but there is some reason to suspect that Wren’s original intentions were departed from, and that the estimate approved by the Board of Works was afterwards cut down by the Treasury by a thousand pounds or so. This appears probable from the fact that Richard Stacey, the bricklayer who contracted for the work, and who, in a petition dated September 13th, was clamouring for payment of £800, on account of money then already disbursed by him, referred to that sum as part of a total of £1,560, “lately altered from the first estimate.”

Whether this is so or not, the details of the original estimate are interesting. The bricklayer’s charges came to £697; mason’s, to £102; “Glass windows, doors, and the window shutters, £340; Glazier for Crowne Glass, £74; Carpenter, £363,” etc.; added to which was: “More to be laid out the next year: The mason to pave it with stone fine-sanded, £246; more for stone steps to go up into it, £72; more for wainscoting and painting the Inside up to the top, £264.”

The last item is especially noteworthy, proving, as it does, that the woodwork was originally painted.

The beauty of Wren’s masterpiece of garden architecture seems to have been thoroughly appreciated in the time immediately succeeding its erection; but with the steady decline in taste during the Georgian epoch, it fell more and more into disregard, until, when the court deserted Kensington in 1760, it was abandoned to complete neglect. Britton and Brayley, writing in 1810 in their “Beauties of England,” refer to it regretfully: “The whole is now sinking into a state of unheeded decay.” Soon after this, however, it seems to have undergone some sort of repair, so, at least, wrote Faulkner, ten years after, who added: “It is now filled with a collection of His Majesty’s exotic plants.” He called it a “superb building,” and clearly regarded it with a much more appreciative eye than did its official guardians, who probably about this time perpetrated the barbarism of cutting windows in the north wall, right through the fine panelling and cornice!

Faulkner, nevertheless, was of course quite wrong in declaring, as he did, that “it was originally built by Queen Anne for a Banqueting House, and frequently used by Her Majesty as such.” There is absolutely no foundation whatever for either part of this statement, though it has often been repeated and was improved upon by Leigh Hunt, who asserted that “balls and suppers certainly took place in it.” Funny “balls” they must have been on the old brick floor! Hunt has nothing more to say of it than rather scornfully to call it “a long kind of out-house, never designed for anything else but what it is, a greenhouse.” In so great contempt, indeed, does it appear to have been held about this time, that it is said the idea was once seriously entertained by some official wiseacre of pulling it down and carting it away as rubbish! And this while the State was annually devoting hundreds of thousands of pounds to art education, art schools, art teachers, and art collections, leaving one of our most precious monuments to perish from decay! “Out-house” and “greenhouse” though it be, we would rather see it preserved than half the buildings of recent times.

Terrace of Queen Anne’s Orangery.

BEFORE examining the orangery in detail, let us stand a moment in front of it, on the terrace, platform, or estrade—by whichever name we may call it—of Portland stone, with steps going down from it in front and at both ends. Here formerly stood, in the summer, some of Queen Anne’s choicest exotics; and here Her Majesty doubtless often sat to have tea, gossiping with the Duchess of Marlborough or Abigail Hill. In front the steps led down into a formal parterre.

Now, however, the most prominent objects to the eye here, are the glass-houses, and the tops of the forcing frames, in which the whole stock for the bedding out in the park and gardens has been reared for the last thirty or forty years. It is truly an amazing thing that a piece of ground, situated as this is, close under the windows of the Palace, and opposite this orangery, should have been appropriated to so grossly disfiguring a use. This particular spot is the very last, one would have supposed, which would have been pitched on for the purpose. It will not be long, we trust, before the whole ground will be cleared, and devoted once more to an old-fashioned sunk formal garden, with such quaint devices as clipped shrubs, trimmed box, figured beds, sundials, leaden vases—such as still survive in many an old country house.

Nor do we see why such restorations should stop here, nor why much of the ground around the Palace should not be laid out in the old English style, with some, at any rate, of the many embellishments for which Evelyn pleaded as suitable for a royal garden: “Knots, trayle work, parterres, compartments, borders, banks, embossments, labyrinths, dædals, cabinets, cradles, close walks, galleries, pavilions, porticoes, lanthorns, and other relievos of topiary and horticulan architecture, fountaines, jettes, cascades, pisceries, rocks, grottoes, cryptæ, mounts, precipices, and ventiducts; gazon theatres, artificial echoes, automate and hydraulic music!”

Barring the last half dozen items, something in the antique formal style would, indeed, be a relief from the tedious monotony of modern “landscape” gardening.

Exterior of Queen Anne’s Orangery.

AS a specimen of an unaffectedly ornamented exterior of brick, this elevation to the south, aiming rather at simplicity and plain dignity than magnificence or grandeur, is to our view admirable.

In the centre is a compartment, more decoratively treated than the rest, with four rusticated piers or pillars of brick, supporting an entablature of the Doric order, mainly in stone. The cornice, though probably modelled on the original, must be modern, for it is in Roman cement, a material which did not come into use in England until about a hundred years ago; and it so happens that the date, 1805, has been found on part of the woodwork adjoining. Above the cornice, over the central window, or rather doorway, is a semi-circular window, apparently to give light into the roof. On each side of the central compartment are four high windows, with sashes filled with small panes; and at each end are slightly projecting wings, or bays, with window-doors, extra high, and reaching to the floor level, to admit tall-grown oranges and other plants. These are flanked by plain rusticated piers of bright red brick; beyond which are plain brick niches, with small brackets above them.

A very similar arrangement of windows and niches is repeated at the east and west return ends of the building; where, however, the large window is surmounted by a small semi-circular recess or panel, and the whole overhung by the deep, wide eave of the gable of the roof.

The total exterior length of the building is 171 feet, the width 32 feet.

Interior of Queen Anne’s Orangery.

IT is not, however, the exterior of this building, but the interior, which will arouse in those who behold it the greatest admiration, for it is here that we can appreciate Wren’s imaginative and constructive genius at its very best. The longer we know and contemplate it, the more supremely beautiful does it strike us, both in the mass and in its details. We will not describe it with any minuteness; but content ourselves with recording that the central portion of each wall, is treated more elaborately than the rest, being ornamented with Corinthian columns, supporting a richly carved entablature. The rest of the walls, both between the windows on the south side, and on the unbroken surface of the opposite north side, are panelled in deal wood, with beautiful carved cornices above. At each end, both east and west, there is an arch, flanked with panelled niches, and surmounted by festoons of Gibbons’ carving. These, we may observe in passing, proved, after being cleaned, to be so worm-eaten, as to necessitate their being repainted—mere staining not being sufficient to prevent their falling to pieces. They are now in fact, held together by the coatings of new paint.

The dimensions of this main portion of the interior are: 112 feet long and 24 feet wide between the brick walls, three inches less each way between the woodwork. The height to the ceiling is 24 feet 6 inches, and to the top of the cornice 22 feet 9 inches.

The Alcoves of Queen Anne’s Orangery.

FINE, however, as is the main and central portion of this interior, the alcoves, into which we pass through the arches at each end of it, impress us still more with their admirable proportions, their supreme grace of design, the exquisite beauty of their decorative detail.

Their shape is circular, with fluted Corinthian columns, supporting highly-carved architraves and cornices, and flanking the entrances, the windows opposite these and on the south, and the panelled spaces on the north wall. There are also intervening niches with semicircular heads, springing from richly carved imposts. The ceilings, which are circular, rising in coves from behind the cornices, are “saucer-domed.”

The dimensions of these alcoves are: east one, diameter, 24 feet, west one, 24 feet 4½ inches; height to the centre of the dome, 24 feet 2 inches, to the top of the cornice 20 feet.

Restoration of Queen Anne’s Orangery.

THE whole of this beautiful interior, however, now presents a very different appearance from what it did when taken in hand about a year ago.

This is how it was described in an interesting article in “The Times” on the 28th of January, 1898: “The exquisite interior has been the victim not merely of neglect, but of chronic outrage. For, as the little garden between this and the Palace has been found a convenient place on which to put up the glasshouses, frames and potting-sheds necessary for the park gardeners, what more natural, to the official eye, than that the Orangery close by should be pressed into the same service? Accordingly, at some time or other, which cannot have been very many years ago, more than half the beautiful high panelling of this building was torn down and has disappeared, the gardeners’ stands have been let into the walls, and there the daily work has proceeded with no thought that it was daily desecration.”

The work of restoring all these beautiful carvings, which has been in progress during the last fifteen months, has now put an entirely different aspect on this interior, and not in vain has every piece of old carving been treasured up, cleaned, repaired, and patched in, with scrupulous care.

When this work was completed, the question arose, whether the woodwork was to be all painted over white, as it doubtless originally was, or merely lightly stained. White painting would, perhaps, have been artistically, as well as archæologically, the preferable course. But it was thought that white paint, in the smoky, foggy atmosphere of modern Kensington, and with the clouds of dust particles from the tread of numberless visitors, would soon take on the dirty tinge of London mud; and thus have required such frequent renewal as eventually to choke up again all the sharpness of the delicate chiselling of the foliated capitals, architraves and cornices.

The decision eventually come to, therefore, was to stain it, with a tone of colour like oak, which gives full prominence and clearness to the carved surfaces. This staining alone, apart from the previous cleaning, has involved no less than eight distinct processes: (1) washing down; (2) vinegaring over to take out lime stains; (3) the same repeated; (4) sizing to keep the stain from penetrating the wood; (5) the same repeated; (6) staining; (7) varnishing; (8) flat-varnishing.

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Kensington Gardens.

THE modern so-called “Kensington Gardens” are, as we have already explained, identical with the original domain of old Nottingham House, increased by the addition of some hundred acres or more taken from Hyde Park. When William III. first acquired the Nottingham estate he appointed his favourite, Bentinck, Earl of Portland, “Superintendent of Their Majesties’ Gardens and Plantations within the boundary lines of Their Majesties’ said house at Kensington”—an office distinct from that of Ranger of Hyde Park—and some planting and other improvements seem to have been carried out at that time in these “plantations.”

Queen Anne’s inclosure of a hundred acres from Hyde Park to form a paddock for deer we have already noted.

Faulkner’s exaggerated statement that nearly three hundred acres were taken in and added to Kensington Gardens by Queen Caroline has been confuted by Mr. Loftie; but he has gone to the other extreme in declaring that no alteration whatever was, at any time, made in the boundary between the park and the gardens. Nevertheless, it is still doubtful whether Queen Caroline is to be held responsible for any “rectification” of these frontiers. The reference already quoted, in the Treasury Papers of the year 1729, for an allowance of £200 to the ranger “in consideration of loss of herbage of that part of the said park, which is laid into His Majesty’s gardens at Kensington,” may of course refer to the portion previously taken in by Queen Anne.

Queen Caroline’s Improvements in Kensington Gardens.

TO Queen Caroline, however, is certainly due the main credit of the creation of Kensington Gardens, as we now know them; for it was her reforming and transforming zeal which made the great “Basin” or “Round Pond;” turned a string of small ponds, in the course of the “West Bourne,” into the Serpentine; laid out the “Broad Walk,” and designed the diverging and converging vistas and avenues of trees intersecting the grounds in all directions.

In all these extensive works of improvement Charles Bridgeman, the King’s gardener, was employed; and we find from the old Treasury Minute Book that in 1729 no less a sum than £5,000 was due to him “for works in the paddock and gardens at Kensington.”

About the same date, Queen Caroline, during one of George II.’s absences in Hanover, issued an order that:

“The King’s ministers being very much incommoded by the dustiness of the road leading through Hyde Park, now they are obliged to attend Her Majesty at Kensington, it was her pleasure that the whole of the said road be kept constantly watered, instead of the ring in the Park; and that no coaches other than those of the nobility and gentry be suffered to go into or pass through the Park.”

Kensington Gardens in the Nineteenth Century.

AT that period the gardens were opened to the public only on Saturdays, when the company appeared in full dress. This was the time of the great fashionable promenade. During the reign of George III. they were opened every day in the week, summer and winter, under certain regulations, “and the number of the gatekeepers,” says Faulkner, writing in 1819, “have lately been increased, who are uniformly clothed in green.” He adds: “The great South Walk, leading to the Palace, is crowded on Sunday mornings in the spring and summer with a display of all the beauty and fashion of the great metropolis, and affords a most gratifying spectacle, not to be equalled in Europe.”

In the middle of this century the tide of fashion set back towards Rotten Row and Hyde Park Corner; and Kensington Gardens have, for the last sixty or eighty years, been very little frequented by the “world.” Their attractions, however, have not suffered on this account in the view of the poet, the artist, and the lover of nature. “Here in Kensington,” wrote Haydon the painter, “are some of the most poetical bits of trees and stump, and sunny brown and green glens and tawny earth.”

But it is not within the scope of these pages, confined as they are to topics directly connected with Kensington Palace as a new public resort, to describe these two hundred and fifty acres of delightful verdant lawns, sylvan glades, and grassy slopes. We must resist the temptation, therefore, to wander away into the attractive prospect, which unfolds itself beneath our gaze when looking out from the windows of the state rooms, or into which we can saunter when we quit the Palace. Moreover, their charms, as they were and are, have been drawn by too many master hands—by Tickell, Leigh Hunt, Thackeray, Disraeli—to encourage any attempt at their description here. In our own day they have still been the favourite resort of many a jaded Londoner, in which to snatch a few hours of quiet and repose, out of the whirl of the great city around. Matthew Arnold’s charming poem, “Lines written in Kensington Gardens,” will occur to many, especially that stanza:

“In this lone open glade I lie,
Screen’d by deep boughs on either hand;
And at its end to stay the eye,
Those black-crown’d, red-boled pine trees stand.”

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Image not available: SOUTH FRONT OF KENSINGTON PALACE IN 1819. (After Westall.)
(After Westall.)

South Front of the Palace.

WE may look upon this façade as architecturally the most interesting portion of the existent Palace of Kensington, for it shows us the exterior almost exactly as finished by Wren for William and Mary, about the year 1691. While unpretentious and plain, it is well and solidly built, and altogether appropriate to the purpose which it was intended to serve, namely, that of a comfortable, homely, suburban residence for the King and Queen and the court.

The long lower building of two main storeys, in deep purple-red brick, to the left, forms the south range of the chief courtyard; and there is every reason to believe that it is a part of the original Nottingham House, altered and improved by Wren. The loftier building, to the right, of three storeys, in bright red brick, is unquestionably entirely Wren’s, and in the old accounts is referred to as “the new Gallery Building.” All the windows on the top or second floor here, except the two on the extreme right, are those of the “King’s Gallery” (described on page 117). The floor beneath consisted, and consists, of the sovereign’s private apartments. The four fine carved vases of Portland stone, surmounting the four pilasters of the same, are probably those mentioned in the old accounts as carved by Gabriel Cibber for £787 5s.

Wren’s Domestic Style.

THOSE who are at all acquainted with Wren’s style and inclinations will not be surprised at the marked plainness of his work here—so little accordant with ordinary pompous preconceived notions of what befits a regal dwelling-house. In planning habitable buildings we find he always mainly considered use and convenience—adapting his external architectural effects to the exigencies of his interiors. Ever ready, indeed, to devote the full range of his great constructive genius to the commonest works, rendering whatever he designed a model for the use to which it was to be put, he was, in these respects, essentially a “builder” before all; not only a designer of elevations and a drawer of plans, but a practical worker, thinking nothing useful beneath his notice. There was, in fact, nothing of the lofty, hoity-toity architect about him; on the contrary, absorbed with questions of adaptability and convenience; searching into details of material and workmanship; we find him in his seat at the head of the Board of Works rigorously testing, sifting and discussing estimates, values, specifications and “quantities.” It is due to this side of his mind that so much of his work has endured intact to this day; while we owe it to his positive intuitive genius for rendering his creations well-proportioned and dignified, as well as convenient and comfortable; to his wonderful skill in arranging positions, sizes, and shapes to meet the exigencies of light and air, that his houses still remain so habitable, and are distinguished by so homelike an air.

East Front of the Palace.

THIS aspect of Kensington Palace, which we almost hesitate to dignify with the name of “Front” consists mainly of two distinct portions: first, the “return” or end of Wren’s “Gallery Building,” on the left, distinguished by its fine red brickwork and its deep cornice, similar to the same on the south side; and on the right, the building tacked on to it, built for George I. by Kent, as already mentioned on page 23, and further referred to on pages 86, 93, and 99. We must frankly say—and few are likely to differ from us—that Kent’s building here is about as ugly and inartistic as anything of the sort could be. It is not alone the common, dirty, yellow, stock brick with which it is built, but the whole shape and design, with its pretentious pediment, ponderous and hideous, the prototype of acres upon acres of ghastly modern London structures in the solid “workhouse” style. It is amazing that Kent, with so excellent a model of plainness and simplicity in Wren’s buildings on each side, should have stuck in this ill-formed, abortive block between them. Fortunately, his taste as a decorator was greatly superior to his powers as an architect, so that the interior portions of this building of his, which consists of additional state-rooms, are not entirely deficient in merit, as we shall see. The three central windows are those of the “King’s Drawing Room,” (see page 99).

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To the north-west of the structure comprising Kent’s state apartments lies another of the older parts of the Palace, a low building of two storeys, in deep russet brick, of uniform appearance, with fifteen windows in a row on the first floor. This range, built, or, at any rate, altered and improved by Wren, and forming the east side of Princess’s Court, comprises the state and habitable rooms of Queen Mary and Queen Anne. At its extreme north end is the “Queen’s Staircase,” now the public entrance to the state rooms.

Public Entrance to the Palace.

ACCESS to the state rooms open to the public being by way of the “Queen’s” or “Denmark Staircase,” situated in the northernmost angle of the building, visitors approach it from the north-west corner of “Kensington Gardens,” where, as we have already explained, were formerly situated those parts of the old formal gardens attached to the Palace, which were laid out by Queen Anne, called the “Old Gravel Pit,” the “Wilderness,” etc. The path here, leading straight up to the present public entrance, was then known as “Brazen-face Walk.” Going along it southwards, we pass between a pair of fine gate-posts of red brick, surmounted by richly-carved vases of Portland stone, evidently designed by Wren, already referred to in our account of “Old Kensington Palace Gardens” on page 48; and then between a privet hedge and a wire fence up to the public doorway into the “Queen’s Staircase.

This doorway, on the north wall, is very commonplace; with a porch in the later Georgian style, consisting of a couple of pillars of Portland stone, glazed between, and supporting a hood above.

Round the corner, however, on the east wall, is a very different doorway, both interesting and picturesque. It is the one which originally gave access to the staircase, and was designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren, probably in the year 1691. The space within the hood or circular pediment above the door is filled with beautiful stone carving, in the centre of which is a shield or panel bearing the initials W. M. R. Above this is a brick niche with a bracket, on which stands an old urn or flower-pot. Something very similar probably stood here formerly, and was thus charged for in the old parchment accounts for the years 1689-91:

“Henry Long for a large vase of earth (terra-cotta) wrought with handles and festoons painted with gilt £6 10s.

Queen’s Staircase.

THIS forms the entrance by which the public are admitted into the State Rooms. Built by Sir Christopher Wren for Queen Mary on the “Queen’s Side” of the Palace, it was called the “Queen’s Staircase,” while being situated in that part of the Palace which was at one time occupied by Queen Anne and her husband, Prince George of Denmark, it has also been occasionally known as the “Denmark Staircase,” as this portion of the building itself has been called the “Denmark Wing.”


In the view of the ordinary Londoner, with eye too much dazzled and demoralized by the tawdry vulgarities of the over-gilded, over-looking-glassed, blazing, modern “Restaurant” style of decoration, this beautiful staircase, in its just proportions and its subdued simplicity, may appear plain, if not mean.

Yet as an example of the genuine, unaffected old English treatment of oak wainscoting, as a cover and ornament to large wall spaces, nothing could be more pleasing and more appropriate. The deep rich, almost ruddy, tone of colour of the wood, the admirable proportion and balance of the stiles and rails to the sizes of the panels, their adjustment to the rise of the stairs, and their fitment to the various spaces on the walls, produce an effect of soundness and comfort, most admirable and nowhere to be matched.

Old Oak Wainscoting of the Staircase.

WHEN the work of cleaning down this woodwork was taken in hand last autumn, it was, as the phrase is, “as black as your hat;” and it was then supposed to have been smeared over, at some time or other, with a black stain. It proved, however, to be only ingrained with dirt and dust, which had been coated over with red-lead and boiled oil, and which quickly yielded to cleansing.

Nevertheless, the oak is not English, but probably Norwegian, which seems to be richer in the grain than our own native tree. It is clear that the wood must have been carefully cut in such a way as to show as much “figure” as possible—the cuttings being, with this distinct object, as nearly as possible radiating from the centre of the trunk of the tree—the “medullary rays” of the wood being, in fact, sliced through, instead of intersected transversely. This has the effect of displaying the largest amount of the grain.

Window Sashes of the Staircase.

THE visitor should notice the difference in the sashes of the two windows on the left-hand side of the stairs as you go up, as compared with the other two on the landing at the top. The first two windows have had large panes of glass—2 feet 1 inch high by 1 foot 2½ inches wide—and thin bars, substituted for the original smaller panes—12½ inches high by 9½ inches wide—and the thick moulded bars, which still remain in the landing windows. This side by side comparison enables us to estimate how deplorable and stupid was the want of taste, which led to the destruction here, as elsewhere in this Palace, of the picturesque, well-proportioned spacings of the window panes, to insert instead ill-proportioned panes and thin bars.

Not until the time of George II. did this foolish, inartistic fancy come into vogue. Wren, of course, knew what he was about when he selected the sizes of the spaces and bars. He determined them on definite principles of scale and proportion, according to the sashes they were intended to fill, and according, also, to the dimensions of the room, and the plan and shape of the surrounding wainscot. He had, in fact, eight or ten different types of sashes—the mouldings, as well as the widths and sizes of the bars varying, and the shapes of the panes—square or upright—varying also; not like your ingenious modern builder, who runs out “mouldings” at so much a foot, mitres them up into equal spaces, and, regardless of scale and proportion, sticks in the same sized sashes, panes, and bars everywhere, in large lofty rooms or small low ones—all alike.

The dimensions of this staircase are 24 feet 3 inches long by 22 feet 10 inches wide, and 25 feet high.

Queen Mary’s Gallery.

QUEEN MARY and Queen Anne are the sovereigns with whom this gallery is mainly associated; and indeed, it is now—since the restorations of the last twelve months, which have mainly consisted in repairing the panelling, and removing the paint with which it was all smeared over in the reign of George I.—to be seen for the first time for a hundred and seventy-four years, exactly as it appeared in their time. It remains, indeed, more intact than any other room in the Palace; and with its beautiful deep-toned oak panelling, its richly-carved cornice, its low-coved ceiling, and its closely-spaced, thick-barred window-sashes, it has a most comfortable, old-fashioned air.

There is no storey above this gallery, but only a span roof; and it was originally—we do not know exactly when—a true “gallery” in the old English meaning of the word, that is, a long chamber with windows on both sides. The window spaces or recesses, on the right or west side, still remain behind the panelling, and are exactly opposite the existent windows on the left or east side. We may observe, also, that the room seems at one time to have terminated just beyond the sixth window, reckoning from the entrance, the line of the wall behind the wainscot on the right, setting back at this point about a foot; while on the left side, both inside and out, there is a straight joint in the brickwork, and a break in the line of the wall.

Wainscoting and Carvings of Queen Mary’s Gallery.

The wainscoting, as we have already indicated, was fixed here in the early years of the reign of Queen Mary. The panels, which are very thin and of unusual breadth, nevertheless have remained but little twisted or buckled to this day, owing to Wren’s particular and invariable insistence that only the best seasoned wood should be used in all the work under his charge. In the course of the restorations, it has, however, been necessary to take it all to pieces in order to repair the injuries of nearly two centuries of misusage and neglect. Here, as in the staircase, are to be noticed the extreme richness in grain of the old oak, and its deep warm tone of colour.

From the old enrolled parchment accounts of the years 1689-1691, we find that Henry Hobb and Alexander Forst were the joiners who made the wainscoting, as well as the “shashes,” shutters, window-boards, chimney-pieces, picture frames, shelves, etc.; while Nicolas Alcocke, William Emet, and Grinling Gibbons carved “1,405 feet Ionick medallion and hollow cornish; 942 feet of picture frame over the doors and chimneys, and 89 feet of astragall moulding, about the glasses in the chimneys.” Another item of payment in the same accounts, also relating to the work here, is the following:

“To Gerard Johnson, Cabinet maker, for severall pannells of wainscot, covered with looking-glass for chimney pieces in the King’s dining-roome, the gallerie, and over the doors, and for putting them up—£100.”

Among others here referred to were doubtless the looking-glasses over the two chimney-pieces in this gallery. These are particularly fine and worthy of notice. When the restorations were begun last summer, they were literally dropping to pieces, falling in shreds, we might say. The greatest care has been taken to piece the bits together; and to replace the missing portions. Only such patched and added parts have been regilt; the old gilding still remaining almost as bright and untarnished as when these glasses were first put up, two hundred years ago, by Gerard Johnson, cabinet maker, and Robert Streeter, serjeant painter. Honour to their names, as two good old English handicraftsmen, whose honest work thus survives to this day!

Over each of the four doors are long richly-carved brackets of oak, similar to those on which rest the looking-glasses over the chimney-pieces. We know from Pyne’s drawing in 1818, that these brackets over the doors then still supported looking-glasses, with richly carved frames. Unfortunately, all trace of them has now disappeared.

The chimney-piece of the first fire-place on the right as you enter the gallery is the original one of Wren’s design, of marble streaked and veined blue-grey. The second, of white marble streaked with red, technically known as “Breche-violett-antico,” is new—copied from the first. This fire-place was, until last summer, filled with a common cooking range, inserted many years ago for the use of the soldiers, when this gallery was used as a barrack!

The window-sashes in this gallery are of the charming old-fashioned type, divided by thick, deeply moulded bars, into small rectangular spaces. Through these windows we have a pleasant view eastward of the private gardens of the Palace, and of Kensington Gardens beyond.

The dimensions of this gallery are: 88 feet 4 inches long by 22 feet broad by 13 feet 3½ inches high to the top of the cornice, and 17 feet 13 inches high to the highest part of the ceiling.

Pictures in Queen Mary’s Gallery. Portraits of the Time of William and Mary to George II.

1 Queen Mary . . . . . Kneller.

Full-length, standing, in royal robes; her left hand lifting her ermine cloak; her right holding the orb on the table by her side, on which also is the crown on a cushion. In the right distance is seen the parapet of the roof of Wren’s building at Hampton Court.

This and its companion piece of King William, at the other end of this gallery, were painted by Kneller about 1692, in which year he was knighted.

2 George II. (718) . . . . . By Shackleton, after Kneller.

Seated, in robes of the Garter, facing to the left.

3 Unassigned.

4 Frederick, Prince of Wales (619) . . . . . Vanloo.

Full-length, face turned to the right. His right hand is extended, his left holds back his crimson and ermine cloak. His dress is blue with rich gold lace. He has a short wig. On canvas, 7 ft. 9 in. high, by 4 ft. 9 in. wide.

Vanloo came to England in 1737, and this portrait was probably painted about two years after. He became a very popular artist, and made a great deal of money, for, as his French biographer observes:—“L’Angleterre est le pays où il se fait le plus de portraits et où ils sont mieux payés.” Engraved by Baron.

This picture, therefore, dates from the time when the Prince was about thirty-one years of age, and had been expelled from St. James’s Palace, and was in declared enmity with his father. His insignificant character, which excited contempt rather than dislike, is very happily satirized in the famous epitaph:

“Here lies Fred,
Who was alive and is dead;
Had it been his father,
I had much rather;
Had it been his brother,
Still better than another;
Had it been his sister,
No one would have missed her;
Had it been the whole generation,
Still better for the nation;
But since ’tis only Fred,
Who was alive and is dead,
There’s no more to be said.”

5 Unassigned.

6 Caroline, Queen of George II. (784) . . . . . Zeeman?

Full-length, standing, figure to the left, face a little to the right. Her left hand holds up her cloak, her right is on a table, on which is a crown and sceptre. She wears a blue velvet dress trimmed with broad gold braid, and a white satin skirt, richly worked with gold and jewels. Her hair is short and powdered. On canvas, 7 ft. 9 in. high, by 4 ft. 9 in. wide.

This was formerly attributed to Kneller, but it cannot be by him, as she is represented as queen, while Kneller died four years before her accession. Caroline was forty-five when her husband became king.

“Her levées,” says Coxes, “were a strange picture of the motley character and manners of a queen and a learned woman. She received company while she was at her toilette; prayers and sometimes a sermon were read; learned men and divines were intermixed with courtiers and ladies of the household; the conversation turned on metaphysical subjects, blended with repartees, sallies of mirth, and the tittle-tattle of a drawing-room.”

7 Unassigned.

8 Portrait of George I. (782). . . . . Kneller.

Seated, facing in front. He is in the robes of the Order of the Garter. His left hand on the arm of the chair, his right on a table, whereon are a crown and a plumed helmet. On canvas, 7 ft. 9 in. high, by 4 ft. 9 in. wide.

George I. was the tenth sovereign who sat to Kneller, and for this portrait, which was painted soon after his accession, the king made him baronet. Addison refers to it in his “Lines to Sir Godfrey Kneller on his picture of the King,” beginning:

“Kneller, with silence and surprise
We see Britannia’s monarch rise,
A godlike form, by thee displayed
In all the force of light and shade;
And, awed by thy delusive hand,
As in the Presence Chamber stand.”

9 William III. when Prince of Orange (864). . . . . Kneller.

Half-length, facing to the right, with his right hand extended.

10 George II. in his Old Age (598) . . . . . By Shackleton, after Pine.

Full-length; in a rich dress, with the Order of the Garter, his left hand on his sword, his right in his bosom. His eyes are cast upwards.

11 Peter the Great, Czar of Russia (60). . . . . Kneller.

Full-length, in armour, with a truncheon in his left hand, and his right hand on his hip. From his shoulders hangs a mantle lined with ermine and embroidered with the double eagle. To the left is a table, on which is the crown imperial. The background, which shows some ships, is said to be signed by W. Vandevelde, but no trace of this exists. On canvas, 7 ft. 9 in. high, by 4 ft. 9 in. wide. There is also an inscription, of which I can only make out the words: “Petrus Alexander Magnus Domimus Cæsar & Magnus Dux Moscouiæ ... Eques. Pinxit 1698.” Engraved by Smith.

This picture was painted for William III. during Peter the Great’s visit to England, in the early part of 1698, and probably in the house in Norfolk Street, where he took up his residence and lived in close seclusion. It is considered one of the best portraits of the Czar extant, and well portrays “his stately form, his intellectual forehead, his piercing black eyes, and his Tartar nose and mouth.” His age was then twenty-six years. He naturally excited the greatest curiosity, and became the principal topic of conversation. Every one was full of stories of him; “of the immense quantities of meat which he devoured, the pints of brandy which he drank, the fool who jabbered at his feet, the monkey which grinned at the back of his chair,” and last, but not least, of his filthy habits. When he went to stay at Evelyn’s house, Sayes Court, at Deptford, in order to more conveniently indulge in his favourite pursuit of shipbuilding, Evelyn’s servant writes to him:—“There is a house full of people, and right nasty. The Czar lies next your Library, and dines in the parlour next your study. He dines at ten o’clock and six at night, is very seldom home a whole day, very often in the King’s Yard or by water, dressed in several dresses.” Evelyn himself afterwards remarked “how miserably the Czar had left his house, after three months making it his Court.”

Peter visited King William in Kensington Palace, as we have noted in our “Historical Sketch,” and as we shall notice again in our account of the King’s Gallery.

12 King William III . . . . . . Kneller.

Full-length, in royal garter robes; his left hand by his sword, his right on his hip. The crown and orb are on a table on his left; pillars and a curtain behind.

This is a companion piece to the portrait of Queen Mary at the other end of this gallery.

13 Portrait of Mrs. Elliott . . . . . John Riley.

Half-length, seated; turned to the left, but facing in front. She is dressed in black; her right hand rests on the arm of the chair; she holds a handkerchief on her lap in her left.

This was in Queen Anne’s catalogue, No. 331:—“Mrs. Elliott at half-length.” It is a good specimen of a portrait-painter who flourished in the time of Charles II. and James II., and whose talents have hardly had justice done them.

Mrs. Elliott was the wife of Mr. Elliott, Gentleman of the Bedchamber to Charles II., and sister to Secretary Craggs.

14 Two Daughters of George II . . . . . . Maingaud.

The eldest is to the left, standing, her right arm clasping a stem of tree, round which twines a vine; her left hand giving a rose to her younger sister; she is dressed in white. Her sister is kneeling to the right, facing in front, and takes the rose with her left hand; her right rests on a lictor’s fasces. On canvas, 4 ft. 6 in. high, by 3 ft. 7 in. wide.

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Queen’s Closet.

This small room, which is but 23 feet 3 inches long by 12 feet wide, and 12 feet 9 inches high, is called in Pyne’s drawing, published in 1817, “The Queen’s Closet,”—and this most probably is its correct designation, though in Faulkner’s “History of Kensington,” published but three years after, it is described as the “Queen’s Dressing Room.” Its walls were at that time still entirely panelled with the oak wainscot with which Wren had covered them. Afterwards all this was removed and the walls plastered and distempered, the room being used as a kitchen. The existent oak chair-rail and cornice, inserted during the last few months, are copied from old models in this palace.


Across the angle, where was originally the fire-place, is temporarily fixed a very beautiful stone chimney-piece, formerly in Westminster Palace, in one of the rooms on the north side of Westminster Hall. When the old law-courts on that side were removed, this chimney-piece was preserved by the Office of Works. It is one of the finest specimens extant of a late Tudor domestic chimney-piece work, bearing the initial and crown of Queen Elizabeth.

Pictures of Old London.

IN this chamber are collected various pictures of Old London, moved from Hampton Court and other royal palaces. Few of them, excepting one or two attributed to Scott, have much artistic merit, but they are interesting as representations of the topography of London, and especially of the banks of the Thames.

20 View of the Horse Guards from St. James’s Park (1022). . . . . James.

The buildings of the Horse Guards are seen on the right, and in the centre distance, Westminster.

21 View on the Thames—Old London Bridge and Fishmongers’ Hall (1044). . . . . James.

The view is taken eastward; and right across the picture is the old bridge, with the houses built on it. On the left are Fishmongers’ Hall and the column on Fish Street Hill.

These are two of a series of views of Old London from the Thames, by William James, an imitator and probably a pupil of Canaletti’s, though he resembles him in little except his mechanical precision. His works, however, are interesting to the antiquarian, as they are almost photographic in their accuracy.

22 View on the Thames—Old Somerset House and Temple Gardens (1023). . . . . James.

The north bank of the Thames is seen, looking eastward, from about the position of the middle of the present Waterloo bridge. On the extreme left is old Somerset House, with its landing-stairs, next comes the Temple, and in the distance St. Paul’s. Behind are seen the spires of St. Mary-le-Strand, St. Clement Danes, St. Bride’s, Fleet Street, etc. On canvas, 2 ft. high, by 3 ft. 8 in. wide.

23 View on the Thames—The Savoy, the Temple, &c. (1031). . . . . James.

On the left is the old Savoy Palace with its curious chequered brickwork; more in the middle old Somerset House, the Temple, etc. On the right is seen a portion of the south bank of the Thames.

24 View on the Thames—Old Fleet Ditch (1043). . . . . James.

The mouth of the Fleet Ditch is in the centre of the picture, crossed by a stone foot-bridge of a single arch. On both sides of it are large buildings.

25 View on the Thames—The Adelphi, Whitehall, and Westminster (1032). . . . . James.

The view is of the north bank looking westward, and shows, on the right, Inigo Jones’ water-gate; next the octagonal tower of the waterworks, then Whitehall, and beyond, Westminster Abbey and the old bridge.

26 View on the Thames—Greenwich Hospital (1079). . . . . James.

The view is taken eastward, and shows Greenwich Hospital on the left, and the church to the right.

27 View on the Thames—Old Savoy Palace (1045). . . . . Scott?

The view is the same as No. 23. In an old inventory there is an entry relating to it:—“Recd. 23rd March 1819. View of the Savoy, with old Somerset House, on the banks of the Thames, painted by Scott, the English Canaletti. Bought of Colnaghi, £265.” Samuel Scott, the marine painter, is the artist referred to. He was a companion of Hogarth’s, and a jovial one too—but he was also much more, being an admirable painter of marine and topographical subjects. There are three characteristic views of London by him in the National Gallery, where is also his own portrait by Hudson.

28 The Thames from the Hill above Greenwich (1016). . . . . Danckers.

To the left is the Observatory rising high up. Below is Greenwich and the Hospital, and the river winding round the “Isle of Dogs,” and London seen in the distance. Though hitherto unnamed, this is doubtless:—“The Landscape of Greenwich, the prospect to London; by Danckers,” in James II.’s catalogue, No. 195. (Royal Catalogue.)

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Queen Anne’s Private Dining Room.

This picturesque little room remains almost exactly in the same state as it was when finished about 1690 for Queen Mary, who, perhaps, as well as Queen Anne, used it as a private dining room. It is, indeed, a very characteristic example of one of Wren’s comfortable and eminently habitable rooms. The protruding doorway in the right-hand corner, the picturesque recess on the left-hand side of the fireplace, and the porch-like treatment of the similar recess on the other side—where is the doorway into the Queen’s Closet—all show how the accidents of construction and convenience may be so judiciously laid hold of, as to render what would otherwise have been a mere uninteresting commonplace room, a charmingly homelike and picturesque one. Such an example as this of Wren’s artistic adaptability should be a most valuable “object-lesson” to modern builders, who, when not planning exactly rectangular rooms, go to the other extreme of straining after a designed and artificial “quaintness.”

The coved ceiling, rising from behind the oak cornice, adds greatly to the apparent height of the room.

The dimensions are: 17 feet 9 inches long by 14 feet wide.

It was in this and the similar adjoining rooms that took place those many curious intimate conversations between Queen Anne and the Duchess of Marlborough, both when “Mrs. Morley” and her “dear Mrs. Freeman,” were all in all to each other, and also when “Atossa” vainly endeavoured by fury, invective, and torrents of reproaches and tears, to regain her fast-waning influence over the dull and feeble, but stolid and obstinate, mind of the Queen. It was at Kensington Palace too, and perhaps in this very room, that took place their famous interview, one April afternoon in the year 1710, when the only reply which the great Duchess Sarah could get to her inquiring entreaties was the phrase “You desired no answer and you shall have none,”—reiterated with exasperating and callous monotony by her whilom friend and mistress.

Pictures in Queen Anne’s Private Dining Room.

40 Installation of Knights of the Garter at Kensington Palace, on August 4th, 1713, by Queen Anne . . . . . Peter Angelis.

There has been some question as to the exact ceremony, which is depicted here, but there can be but little doubt that it represents the Chapter of the Order of the Garter, held by Queen Anne at Kensington Palace on August 4th, 1713, when Henry Grey, Duke of Kent, Robert Harley, first Earl of Oxford, Charles Mordaunt, third Earl of Peterborough, and John, Earl Poulett, were installed as Knights of the Garter. The chapter was the last held by Queen Anne, and was held at Kensington, and not at Windsor, owing to her physical infirmities. Two of these noblemen kneel on the lowest step of the throne, and have already been invested with the mantle and collar of the Order and the Garter itself. The Queen places her hand upon the joined hand of the two Knights of the Garter. It is uncertain which of the noblemen are represented here, but the Knight kneeling on the right of the picture would appear to represent Harley. One of these noblemen is attended by a page boy in grey silk, and the other has two black boys supporting his long blue mantle. Among the Knights of the Garter in attendance, and they all wear their full robes and collars, one figure is prominent holding a long slender wand. This is probably Charles Talbot, Duke of Shrewsbury, who was Lord Chamberlain of the Household, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and for a brief period Lord High Treasurer. Two yeoman of the Guard, in the well-known costume, but without ruffs or rosettes to their shoes, holding halberds, stand prominently forth on the extreme left. Through a wide door, in the distant apartments, may be seen a crowd of courtiers waiting for admission, and through the large square panes of the window in a garden are seen clustered various persons in dark and formal attire, peering anxiously through the glass as if to obtain a sight of the ceremonial.

On canvas, 2 ft. 5¼ in. high by 1 ft. 11¾ in. wide. Lent by the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery.

41 William, Duke of Gloucester, son of Queen Anne (885). . . . . Kneller.

Bust; in an oval turned to the left, face seen in full. He is in armour, and has a blue ermine-lined cape. On canvas, 2½ ft. high, by 2 ft. wide.

The young duke, though of feeble constitution, was not deficient in martial spirit. When but a boy of six years old, he came to meet his uncle William of Orange, who had just returned from a campaign, with a little musket on his shoulder, and presented arms, saying, “I am learning my drill, that I may help you beat the French.” The king was so pleased that he made him a knight of the Garter a few days after. Many men have received that honour for less. He died in July 1700.

42 Prince George of Denmark, Husband of Queen Anne (884). . . . . Dahl.

In an oval, to the shoulders; in armour.—His death in this Palace has been mentioned on page 22.

43 John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough . . . . . Jan Wyck.

Three-quarters length, in armour; face turned three-quarters to the left. His left hand is on his hip, his right on a table by his side, on which is a plumed helmet. A battle scene is shown in the lower right background. On canvas, 3 ft. high, by 2 ft. 4 in. wide. Lent by the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery.

This portrait would seem to represent him as a comparatively young man—about twenty-three—after he had distinguished himself at Maestricht, when he was nicknamed by Turenne “the handsome Englishman.” It was the period of his famous liaison with the Duchess of Cleveland, who had fallen a willing victim to his beauty and his charm of manner. Lord Wolseley, in his “Life of Marlborough,” describes his appearance at this period as: “Strikingly handsome, with a profusion of fair hair, strongly-marked, well-shaped eyebrows, long eyelashes, blue eyes, and refined, clearly-cut features. A wart on his right upper-lip though large, did not detract from his good looks. He was tall, and his figure was remarkably graceful, although a contemporary says: ‘Il avait l’air trop indolent, et la taille trop effilé.’”

Queen Mary’s Privy Chamber.

Except for the oak panelling, which covered the walls of this room as late as the beginning of this century, but which was removed now many years ago, we see it exactly as it was finished for Queen Mary. Her initial, with that of her husband, King William, appears in the fine carved oak cornice. The ceiling is coved.

At one time this room was called “The Admiral’s Gallery,” on account of the series of copies of portraits of British Admirals by Kneller and Dahl, which formerly hung here—until their removal in 1835 to Hampton Court, whence they have now been brought back to decorate again the walls of these state rooms at Kensington. They are now hung, as we shall see, in “The King’s Gallery.”

The dimensions of this room are: 25 feet long by 17 feet 10 inches wide, by 12 feet 7 inches high to the top of the cornice, 15 feet 8 inches to the highest part of the ceiling.

Pictures in Queen Mary’s Privy Chamber.

50 Queen Mary, when Princess of Orange (23). . . . . W. Wissing.

Seated, nearly full length. She is dressed in blue in the costume of a lady of the time, and with a crimson mantle edged with ermine. Her left hand rests on a table, over which her mantle falls. Engraved by John Verkolje.

This picture is signed on the left-hand side, and is the original of many replicas or copies at St. James’s Palace, at Burley-on-the-Hill, Woburn, The Grove, etc. It was painted for James II., who sent Wissing over to the Hague for the purpose. His popularity as a portrait-painter was great, and was partly due no doubt to his making such flattering likenesses. “When any lady came to sit to him whose complexion was any ways pale, he would commonly take her by the hand and dance her about the room till she became warmer.”

51 William III. when Prince of Orange . . . . . W. Wissing.

Three-quarters length, standing; facing to the right, in a rich dress. This is the companion piece to the foregoing.

52 Portrait of James Stuart the Pretender (664). . . . . B. Luti.

Half-length; facing in front, inclined to the right; his right hand only is seen. He is in the robes of the Order of the Garter, of which the jewel hangs on his breast, and has a long full-bottomed wig, a lace cravat and cuffs. On his left is a table on which is the royal crown of England. The background is gray, with a red curtain. On canvas, 3 ft. 3 in. high, by 2 ft. 6 in. wide.

The canvas is new. Behind was formerly this inscription:—“James son of James II.; by the Cavaliere Benedetto Luti, from the Cardinal of York’s collection at Frascati.” (Note in the Royal Inventory.) This picture and No. 839 were bequeathed to George III. by Cardinal York, the old Pretender’s son, and the last of the Stuarts, who died in 1807.

It was no doubt painted at Rome, some time between the year 1718, when Prince James accepted the asylum in the Eternal City offered him by the Pope, and the year 1724, when Luti died there. In 1720 he was married to the Princess Sobieski, and at the end of the same year the young Pretender was born.

The Pretender’s countenance has that heavy, sodden appearance, and that weak dejected look, which were due partly to his inert character, partly to his misfortunes, and not less to the debauched and indolent life he led. His person, indeed, was never impressive; and even an adherent, writing of the events at Perth in 1715, admits:—“I must not conceal, that when we saw the man, whom they called our King, we found ourselves not at all animated by his presence, and if he was disappointed in us, we were tenfold more so in him. We saw nothing in him that looked like spirit. He never appeared with cheerfulness and vigour to animate us. Our men began to despise him; some asked him if he could speak.”

Gray the poet gives a similar account of him some years after:—“He is a thin, ill-made man, extremely tall and awkward, of a most unpromising countenance, a good deal resembling King James II., and has extremely the air and look of an idiot, particularly when he laughs or prays; the first he does not do often, the latter continually.” Horace Walpole observed that “enthusiasm and disappointment have stamped a solemnity on his person, which rather creates pity than respect.”

53 Frederick, Prince of Wales, at a Party (606). . . . . M. Laroon?

The Prince is at the head of the table, round which eight ladies and gentlemen are seated. He is pouring wine into a glass. Some thirteen persons, attendants, and a clergyman, are also in the room. Most of them are probably portraits. Altogether twenty-three small figures. On canvas, 3 ft. high, by 2 ft. 10 in. wide.

This picture, though long labelled “Vanderbank,” is probably by Marcellus Laroon, the younger, to whom it is attributed in an old catalogue. The likelihood that he is the painter is greatly strengthened by the close resemblance in style between it and the similar piece that follows—the personages evidently being the same.

It is not certain what is the subject represented; though it has borne the above title for many years. In one of the Lord Chamberlain’s old inventories it is stated to represent “a fête in honour of the marriage of the Duke of Wharton.”

54 A Royal Assembly in Kew Palace . . . . . Marcellus Laroon.

This represents some Royal assembly, apparently Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and her friends, in Kew Palace. The Princess in blue is pouring out the tea; a lady in white is singing; Handel is at the harpsichord, and “Orator” Henley close by. The equestrian portrait on the wall appears to be George II.

Signed Mar. Laroon, and dated 1740. Lent by Mr. Humphry Ward.

55 Matthew Prior . . . . . . By Thomas Hudson, after Jonathan Richardson.

Half-length, seated, almost in profile to the right. On canvas, 3 ft. 4 in. high, by 2 ft. 9 in. wide. Lent by the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery.

Prior—poet, statesman, and diplomatist—published with Charles Montagu, afterwards Earl of Halifax, in 1689, “The City Mouse and the Country Mouse,” intended to ridicule Dryden’s “Hind and Panther.” He was patronized by Dorset, who introduced him to the Court; and he was often employed in diplomatic offices.

56 Flower-Piece—over the mantelpiece (826). . . . . Baptiste.

A green glass vase with chrysanthemums, poppies, honeysuckles, etc. Baptiste was a protégé of Queen Mary, and painted a great number of flower-pieces to decorate Kensington and Hampton Court.

57 Portrait of Robert Boyle the Philosopher (56). . . . . Kerseboom.

Nearly full-length, seated in a big armchair; turned to the right, but facing in front. He leans his right arm on the chair; his left is turning over the leaves of a book on a table in front of him. He wears a large full-bottomed wig. This picture has been engraved by Baron several times.

Boyle, the famous chemist and experimental philosopher, was the seventh son of the first Lord Cork, and from him received a fortune of £3,000 a year, which he devoted in a great measure to scientific research and the promotion of the Christian religion. He was never married, being of opinion that “a man must have very low and narrow thoughts of happiness or misery who can expect either from a woman’s conduct.” For his life, see his Philaretus.

Frederic Kerseboom was a native of Germany, who worked at Paris and Rome under Le Brun and Poussin. He was in England during William III.’s reign, and painted a few indifferent portraits.

58 Portrait of John Locke (947). . . . . Kneller.

Half-length, standing; turned to the right, but facing in front. He rests his left hand on a table, on which are an inkstand and a pen; his right hand in front of him. He wears a plain black coat, with part of his shirt showing; and he is without his wig, and shows his long white hair.

This is one of Kneller’s best portraits. It was evidently painted in the philosopher’s later years, for he looks here on the point of dying of the asthma to which he succumbed in 1704. “Pray,” said Locke in a letter to Collins, “get Sir Godfrey to write on the back of my picture ‘John Locke;’ it is necessary to be done, or else the pictures of private persons are lost in two or three generations.”

59 Sir Isaac Newton (957). . . . . Kneller.

Three-quarters length; turned to the left, facing in front. His right arm is by his side, his left leans on a table, on which are a globe and a book. He wears a dark, loose robe, and a large wig. On the left is inscribed: “I Newton Esqre Ætatis 47. 1689.”

There is a similar portrait to this at Petworth, which is engraved in Lodge. Newton was at this time member of the Convention Parliament, for the University of Cambridge.

59A King William III. (779) . . . . . Kneller.

Three-quarters length in armour, directed to the right; face turned round to the left. He wears a blue and gold sash. In the left background is a black servant, perhaps the one whose marble bust is now in this palace.

Queen Caroline’s Drawing Room.

In entering this room we pass from the portion of the palace built in 1690 by Sir Christopher Wren for William and Mary, to that constructed by William Kent about 1723 for George I. The visitor has thus a good opportunity of comparing the styles and tastes of the two architects and of gauging their relative powers. Wren had been driven from his office, in 1718, by a shameful backstair intrigue; and two years afterwards, Kent, doubtless by the influence of his patron, the Earl of Burlington, was commissioned to build a set of new state rooms.

How very mediocre were his talents, the exterior of his addition to Wren’s work will, as we have already said, ever remain a palpable proof; and though for internal construction he shows less incapacity, still this room exhibits all his false ideas of pseudo-classicism—developed, as we shall see, to a most extravagant extent in the adjoining “Cube or Cupola Room.”

Examining the decoration in detail, we perceive everywhere evidences of his awkward, graceless style. The doorways, for instance, are unnecessarily lofty and gaunt, and with their heavy cumbrous architraves, flat moulded, with little light and shade, greatly impair the proportions of the room. In the tall semi-circular headed central window also, surmounted by a purposeless oak bracket—even in such details as the mouldings of the panelling and of the framing of the doors, and the flatness of the raised panels and their relative sizes to the width of the rails and “stiles,”—we detect his marked inferiority to Wren in the designing of such fittings.

The chimney-piece, which is one of Kent’s plainer and less ponderous ones, is of a choice marble, veined black and gold.

The dimensions of this room are: 32 feet 9½ inches long, 24 feet 2 inches wide, and 19 feet 2 inches high to the top of the cornice, 24 feet to the ceiling.

Painted Ceiling of Queen Caroline’s
Drawing Room.

BUT it is by the ceiling especially, with its great heavy oval frame of plasterwork, and its appearance of overhanging crushing weight, that we can most accurately appreciate Kent. The central recessed panel, containing an allegorical representation of Minerva, attended by History and the Arts, gives us a measure of his powers as a pictorial artist. The decorative painting of the cove of the ceiling, above the oaken cornice, is more satisfactory. In the four angles, and in the middle of each side, are classical pediments with volutes.

Besides, the workmanship of the wainscoting being very good, and the original rawness of the ceiling somewhat faded, this room, with its new oak floor, its gorgeous paper, its Georgian furniture, probably designed by Kent, and the magnificent frames of some of the pictures on its walls, presents a fine and stately appearance.

Contemporary French and German Portraits.

60 Madame de Pompadour (986). . . . . Drouais.

Half-length, seated, turned to the left. She wears a dress of figured brocade, worked with coloured flowers and foliage on a white ground, and trimmed with white ribbons; her sleeves are short and edged with lace. On her head is a sort of mob cap, or headdress of lace, tied under the chin with a striped ribbon; her hair is short and powdered. In front of her is a frame of embroidery called tambour-work, which she is working, her right hand being above, and her left under the canvas. The background is grey, with a red curtain to the right. Painted in an oval. On canvas, 2 ft. 7½ in. high, by 2 ft. wide.

This picture has been attributed, but quite unwarrantably, to Greuze, who does not appear to have painted Louis XV.’s mistress at all, and certainly could not have done so when she was as young as she is here represented. It is in fact a replica (and by no means a bad one) of a portrait by Drouais, of which a great many repetitions are extant, and of which the original—a full-length—is now at Mentmore, Lord Rosebery’s. The Mentmore picture was purchased for £1,000.

Drouais was an indifferent artist whose name would long have passed into oblivion, had he not painted princes and princesses. Diderot drew this just estimate of his works:—“Tous les visages de cet homme-là ne sont que le rouge vermillon le plus précieux, artistement couché sur la craie la plus fine et la plus blanche.... Il n’y en a pas une de laide, et pas une qui ne déplût sur la toile. Ce n’est pas de la chair; car, où est la vie, l’onctueux, le transparent, les tons, les dégradations, les nuances?” And Larousse endorses this view with the following remarks:—“Toutes ces peintures, habilement traitées d’ailleurs comme métier, n’ont rien de saillant, aucune puissance, aucune originalité. Les têtes sont banales, ternes, sans physionomie. L’allure est gauche et pénible. Les personnages sont fort mal habillés, bien que les draperies soient exécutées en trompe-l’œil et avec magnificence.”

Madame de Pompadour is here represented at about the age of thirty-five, a period when, having lost the influence of a lover over the debauched and fickle Louis XV., she endeavoured to retain her power by ministering to his pleasures and vices. Her appearance completely tallies with the account given of her:—“Elle était assez grande, bien faite, les cheveux, châtain clair, tres-beaux, avec une peau d’une grande finesse et d’une blancheur éclatante. Mais elle avait un genre de beauté qui se fane vite: ses chairs molles s’infiltraient, s’enflammaient aisément; elle avait des langueurs et des pâleurs maladives.”

The tambour-work at which she is engaged was one of her favourite occupations; and it is pleasant to remember, with the shocking record of her extraordinary career, that she created that style in decoration, furniture, dress, literature, and even art, which is known by the name of Louis XV., a style which, wanting as it is in the simplicity of mediævalism, and stamped though it be with the character of its meretricious inventor, is yet always pleasing from a certain refinement and artificial beauty.

61 Mademoiselle de Clermont (984). . . . . unnamed.

Half-length, facing in front, hands not seen. She is dressed in a white dress, with a garland of flowers across it from under her left arm to her right shoulder. Behind her she has a blue scarf. Her hair is powdered and done high up. On canvas, 2 ft. 5 in. high, by 2 ft. wide.

Behind is written:—“Marianne. de. bourbon. nommeo. Mademoiselle. de. Clermont.

She was born in Paris in October, 1697, and was the daughter of Louis, the third Duke of Bourbon, and his wife Louise Françoise de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Nantes, a natural daughter of Louis XV. In 1725 she was appointed “Surintendante de la Maison de la Reine.” The story of her and her lover, M. de Melun, and his tragic end, forms the basis of Madame de Genlis’ charming little novel, “Mademoiselle de Clermont.”

This portrait is painted in the style of Nattier.

62 Louis XVI. in his Coronation Robes (516). . . . . Callet.

Full-length, standing, facing to the left. His left hand holds his hat by his side, his right leans on his sceptre. He is attired in the royal robes of France, a purple mantle embroidered with fleurs-de-lys, and an ermine tippet, etc. He has a small wig; his face is shaven. Behind him is his throne, with a figure of Justice. On canvas, 9 ft. high, by 6 ft. 5 in. wide.

This is the original presentation frame, decorated with fleurs-de-lys.

Though formerly labelled “Greuze,” it is really a replica of Callet’s well-known portrait, of which, besides the original at Versailles, there are other repetitions at Madrid and elsewhere, distributed to the various courts of Europe on the king’s accession. The original was engraved by Bervic, the greatest of French engravers, the plate being lettered with the painter’s name, “Callet Peintre du Roi.”

63 Portrait of Louis XV. when young (925). . . . . Rigaud.

Half-length, turned to the left; his left hand is in his sash, his right holds a marshal’s bâton. His dress is a fawn-coloured doublet with a cuirass, a blue sash, and a blue mantle embroidered with a fleur-de-lys over it. Short hair, beardless face. On canvas, 3 ft. high, by 2 ft. 5 in. wide.

This portrait was painted by Rigaud, as the contemporary mezzotint engraving by J. Simon proves, and not, as has been said, by Mignard, who had been dead thirty years. He is considered one of the best French portrait-painters of that period. Louis XV. conferred several favours on him, and decorated him with the Order of St. Michael, in 1727, soon after this portrait was painted. This distinction was given, as he said, “tant en considération de la réputation acquise dans son art, que pour avoir peint la famille royalle jusqu’à la quatrième génération.”

64 Marianne, Duchess of Bourbon (985). . . . . Santerre?

Half-length, facing in front; her hands not seen. Her hair is dark, and dressed high, with a blue ribbon fastened over with a red jewel, and carried to the front. Her dress is yellow brocade with red drapery. On canvas, 2 ft. 5 in. high, by 2 ft. wide.

Behind is written in ink:—“Marianne. de. bourbon. fille. de. Monsieur. le. prince. de. Conty. famme. de. Monsieur. le. duc. de. bourbon.

She married, in 1713, Louis Henri de Bourbon, brother of Mademoiselle de Clermont (see No. 61), and died in 1720. There is a portrait of her husband at Paris, by Drouais.

The portrait before us is very possibly by Jean Baptiste Santerre, a good painter whose works are rare. He died in 1717.

65 The Emperor Paul of Russia (894). . . . . ——?

Bust, turned to the left, eyes looking at the spectator. He is in a green uniform with red facing; and on his breast three stars and a green ribbon across from his right shoulder to his left. His hair is curled and powdered. On canvas, 2 ft. 4 in. high, by 1 ft. 10½ in. wide.

Behind the picture is inscribed:—“Kopal T. Ep. K. E. (?) 1799” and “Catalogue No. 545, Emperor Paul of Russia..”

This portrait represents the emperor in the forty-fifth year of his age, three years after his accession, and two years before his assassination.

66 Louis XIV., when young (396). . . . . Mignard?

Three-quarters length, facing in front. His left hand hangs by his side, right is on his hip. He is clad in armour, over which is a purplish robe, lined with yellow. He has a long brown wig. On canvas, 5 ft. high, by 3 ft. 7 in. wide.

If this is really by Mignard, it must, on account of the age of the king, be one of the first pictures he painted in 1658, on his introduction to the French Court.

67 Stanislaus, King of Poland (895). . . . . Lampi.

Bust, turned slightly to the left. He is dressed in a purple velvet coat, across which is a light blue sash, and on the left side of his breast a star. He wears a small wig and pigtail; his face is shaven. On canvas, 2 ft. 4 in. high, by 1 ft 10½ in. wide.

Behind in ink is written:—“Cavalieri Lampi de Vienna.”

In an old inventory, dated 1819, is this entry:—“Half-length portrait of the King of Poland, purple velvet coat, etc., painted by Lampi, member of the Academy of Vienna. Bought of Colnaghi for £21.”

Stanislaus-Augustus Poniatowski was proclaimed King of Poland on the 7th of September, 1764, having owed his election to his lover the Empress Catherine. It was during his reign that the infamous partition of Poland was perpetrated, to which he lent a passive assistance. He died in 1798.

68 Queen of Prussia (907). . . . . Anton Graff?

Seated in a high-backed armchair covered with blue velvet; she is turned to the left, but faces in front. Her right hand rests on a table beside her, and points to a book; her left hangs by her side. She is dressed in black trimmed with ermine, and her head is covered with a black lace veil. Her hair is white. On canvas, 4 ft. 7 in. high, by 3 ft. 3 in. wide.

This is attributed in the Royal Inventory to Graff, a German painter who flourished at the end of the last century.

Is she Sophia Dorothea, sister of George II., who married, in 1706, William I., King of Prussia, and who died in 1757?

69 Frederick, Prince of Wales (789). . . . . Zeeman?

Small full-length; turned to the right. His right hand pointing in front of him, his left on his breast. He wears a red coat, leather boots to the knees, and a long wig.

Though this has long been known as Frederick, Prince of Wales, there are reasons to suspect that it is really his Brother William, Duke of Cumberland.

70 Louis XIV. on Horseback (853). . . . . Charles le Brun?

He is shown the size of life, on a cream-coloured charger, rising on its hind legs, and turned to the left. His dress is an embroidered coat, with jack boots and scarlet breeches. In his right hand he holds a bâton. On his head is a black laced hat; he has long flowing hair and curls. In the distance under the horse’s forelegs an attack of cavalry is seen. On canvas, 8 ft. 3 in. high, by 6 ft. 2 in. wide.

This has been attributed to Van der Meulen, but there is a similar picture at Versailles by Charles le Brun of which this is perhaps a replica.

71 Frederick the Great (555). . . . . Antoine Pesne.

Full-length, standing, turned to the left, but facing round to the front. His left hand points to a battle in the distance; his right holds a marshal’s truncheon. He is in armour, over which is a crimson ermine-lined mantle; he has a small close-curled wig; his helmet is on the ground in front of him. On canvas, 8 ft. 7 in. high, by 5 ft. 7 in. wide.

“To this admirable painter (i.e. Pesne) I am inclined to attribute the portrait of Frederick the Great. The king, who is still in youthful years, is pointing to a battlefield in the background, probably in allusion to the Silesian war. A picture of considerable merit.”—Waagen. The painter is well remembered by the following couplet by Frederick the Great:—

“Quel spectacle étonnant vient de frapper mes yeux,
Cher Pesne, ton pinceau t’égale au rang des Dieux,”

which Voltaire interpreted thus:—“Le roi ne regardant jamais le peintre, ce dernier était pour lui invisible comme Dieu.”

Pesne, who was a Frenchman and studied in Paris, was in England in 1724. He afterwards went to Berlin, where he became court painter to Frederick the Great. He died in 1757, the year of the Battle of Prague.

The frame is doubtless a presentation one.

72 Frederick the Great (978). . . . . unnamed.

Bust, turned to the left, facing in front; his hands not seen. He wears a small wig and a dark-blue coat, with the star of the Order of the Black Eagle.

73 Charles XII. of Sweden (977). . . . . Magnus du Blaire?

Bust; wearing a blue coat and a black choker; grey hair, and a beardless face.

A small whole length, 49 in. by 39 in., of which this appears to be an enlarged copy of part, was in the Hamilton Palace collection, No. 1031, attributed to Magnus du Blaire, and inscribed: “In fatum Scandici Die XXX Nov. MDCCXVII.”

“David Krafft, a Swedish painter, born in 1655, painted the portrait of Charles XII. at the command of his sister, afterwards Queen Ulrica Eléanora; but this monarch, who objected to being portrayed, was so displeased at the accuracy of the picture, that he cut out the head. It had, however, already been transferred to copper, and also etched by several engravers.”—Bryan.

74 Flower Piece . . . . . Baptiste.

75 Flower Piece . . . . . Baptiste.

76 Flower Piece . . . . . Baptiste.

The Cupola or Cube Room.

In this sumptuous and gorgeous chamber, with its marble-pillared doorways, its painted and gilded walls, its niches, brackets, slabs, and pediments of white marble, its gilt antique statues, its gaudy domed ceiling of blue and gold, we have the very acme and essence of the style and art of William Kent, triumphant and rampant. After our remarks on his work in the foregoing room, we shall not be expected to lose ourselves in admiration over this masterpiece of his pseudo-classic design and decoration. Yet little as we may agree with his theories of art, little as we may admire the way he carried them into practice, it is not to be denied that, viewed as a whole, there is considerable grandeur and stateliness, and a certain degree of fine proportion, about this highly-emblazoned saloon.

Though called the “Cube” Room, its dimensions are not exactly of that mathematical figure, the walls being only 26 feet 2 inches high, to the top of the cornice, and 34 feet 7 inches to the centre of the ceiling, though each side is 37 feet long.

The Painted Ceiling of the Cube Room.

THE ceiling seems to have been the first portion of the work undertaken by Kent, and to have been finished by him by the spring of the year 1722. That he was employed to do this work occasioned much very justifiable heart-burning. Sir James Thornhill was at that time serjeant-painter to the King, and in virtue of his office was entitled to receive the commission for painting this ceiling. Indeed, it appears from a “Memorial of Sir Thomas Hewett, Knt., Surveyor-General of His Majesties Works,” addressed to the Lords of the Treasury, dated 14th February, 1722-3, and “relating to the painting of the large Square Room at Kensington,” that in the foregoing autumn the King had commanded Hewett’s attendance at Kensington “about finishing the Three Large Rooms in the New Building,” and that Hewett then showed the King “several sketches of mosaic work, etc., for painting the ceiling of the Great Square Room.” The Memorial proceeds to state:

“His Majesty chose one of them; and after I ordered a model to be made, and Sir James Thornhill painted it, which His Majesty saw and approved of; and commanded me to tell the Vice-Chamberlain he should treat with Sir James Thornhill for the Price, and that it should be done out of Hand, which is all I know of the matter.”

Nevertheless, for some reason or other—probably owing to some backstair intrigue—Kent was employed to do the work instead. But before he had half finished it the officers of works were directed by the Treasury “to view and take care that the particulars of Mr. Kent’s proposal for painting the ceiling of the Great Chamber at Kensington be well answer’d, and the work in the best manner performed with l’Ultra-Marine.” They accordingly commissioned several of the best artists of the day “to view and carefully to consider the same and report in writing.”

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The artists, or rather critics as they became—and trust an artist to be no too lenient a critic of a fellow artist’s work—were John van Vaart, Alexr Nisbett, and Jacob Rambour. Their report is dated May 22nd, 1722, and in it they state as follows:

“We have been to Kensington and carefully view’d and considered the said painting, which we did find better than half done: But having examin’d the particulars thereof, we have observed, and ’tis our opinion, that the Perspective is not just; that the principal of the work, which consists in ornaments and architecture, is not done as such a place requires. Mr. Nesbot adds that the Boys, Masks, Mouldings, etc., far from being well, he has seen very few worse for such a place: and Mr. Rambour affirms that the said work, far from being done in the best manner, as mentioned in your letter, it is not so much as tolerably well perform’d. As for the quality of the Blew used in the work, Mr. Vandewart and Mr. Rambour declare that they can’t judge whether it is true ultramarine, because it does not look fine enough, but Mr. Nesbot’s opinion is that it is nothing but Prussian Blew, in which perhaps there may be some Ultra-marine mixt.”

Nevertheless, the colours have endured unfaded until to-day; and the gilding also, both on the ceiling and the walls, has required but little renewing, only cleaning and an occasional application of modern leaf gold, and retouching with the paint brush, where the old surface had been injured.

Much of the woodwork, however, had to be repaired, especially the capitals of the pilasters, some of which had to be renewed.

The shape of the ceiling is slightly domed, the four coved sides terminating above in a flat centre, painted with a gigantic star of the Order of the Garter. The coved sides themselves are painted with octagonal panels, diminishing upwards to simulate a lofty pierced dome. Kent himself seems to have been so well satisfied with the work, that he made use of almost exactly the same design when painting the Queen’s Staircase at Hampton Court some twelve years after. Across, part of the north cove of the ceiling is painted a deep shadow, to indicate that cast by the wall and cornice above the windows.

The Painted Walls of the Cube Room.

KENT, after finishing the ceiling, proceeded to decorate the walls with painting and gilding. There is a letter in the Record Office, from Lord Grafton, to the Lords of the Treasury, dated 29th of May, 1725, ordering payment of “£344 2s. 7d. to Mr. Kent, for painting the sides of the Cube Room at Kensington with ornaments enriched with gold.

These walls, including the four pilasters on each, are of oak, painted with a light olive-green colour as a ground, embellished with niches of white marble, surmounted by brackets of the same, let into the woodwork.

In the six niches are well-designed statues of classical deities—Ceres, Mercury, Venus, Minerva, Bacchus, Apollo, in cast lead, somewhat under life-size. These were so dirty and tarnished as to necessitate their being entirely new-gilt. Above them, standing on brackets in flat rectangular niches, were formerly busts representing Roman poets, now unfortunately no longer to be found.

The two doorways opposite each other are likewise of the same fine polished marble, with pilasters and pillars of the Ionic order, supporting heavy entablatures, on the apexes of which are antique busts.

The chimney-place is of the same design in miniature, of polished “dove-coloured” white-veined marble, similar to that at Marlborough House. On the apex was formerly a gilt bust of Cleopatra, now missing. Within the fireplace itself are very fine panelled and moulded “covings” or sides, of the same “dove-coloured” marble, discovered during the progress of the restorations.

Above the chimney-piece is a large bas-relief in statuary marble representing a Roman marriage, sculptured by the statuary Rysbach. It is a fine work, but one feels rather as if standing in front of a sepultural monument in some foreign campo santo than before an English fireside.

Rysbach, who was a native of Antwerp, came over to England in 1720, four or five years before he executed this work. His talents were for some time—as have been those of many an unsuspecting foreigner—exploited by a commercializing British impresario, Gibbs. Two-thirds of the prices paid for his work found its way into the pockets of the unscrupulous intermediary, until Rysbach, at last shaking himself free from this bondage, took commissions on his own account, and, becoming the rage, he was able to exact great prices for his work. It is possible that he designed the gilt statues in the niches, which seem too good for Kent’s narrow invention.

General appearance of the Cupola Room.

SUCH was the decoration of this famous Cupola or Cube Room when finished by Kent, such it appeared in 1818, when Pyne’s drawing, from which our illustration is taken, was made, and such it appears to this day, save for the large musical clock which then stood in its centre, for the console tables against the walls, and the four large chandeliers that hung from the ceiling. These last were most essential features in this saloon, for its windows, abutting northwards on the private gardens, admit but very insufficient light; and only when illuminated by a blaze of candlelight can full justice have been done to the extravagant glories of its walls and ceilings.

It was, in fact, intended essentially as a room for grand evening entertainments, and Kent evidently bore this in mind when he constructed it; for he contrived a very ingenious method, whereby the double doors in the doorways between it and the two drawing-rooms, with which it communicates, fold back, when opened, into the door jambs, in which they lie flush, offering no projecting hindrance to the movement of guests passing either way. This is a point never thought of by modern architects, who might do worse, when designing great reception rooms, than take a hint in this matter from the much contemned Kent, and so obviate the usual “crush” at the too narrow doorways.


It seems to have been in this Cupola Room that took place, on the 24th of June, 1819, the baptism of the infant Princess Victoria. Faulkner records that “the Royal Gold Font was brought from the Tower and fitted up in the Grand Saloon, with crimson velvet covering from the Chapel Royal, St. James’s. The ceremony was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by the Bishop of London.... The Prince Regent and nearly all the Royal Family were present at the ceremony, or at the dinner in the evening.”

Exactly underneath this room is the famous pillared “Council Chamber” in which, as we have already stated, the Queen held her first council.

King’s Drawing Room.

Built at the same time as the two preceding rooms by command of King George I., William Kent here again reigns supreme in the design and decoration. “It was on the walls of this drawing-room,” we are told by Pyne, writing in 1818, “that the then new art of paper-hangings, in imitation of the old velvet flock, was displayed, with an effect that soon led to the adoption of so cheap and elegant a manufacture, in preference to the original rich material from which it was copied.”

The paper that now covers the walls is a copy of an old pattern, and has been supplied by Messrs. Bertram, the decorators.

We may again notice here the five lofty doorways, surmounted by flat architraves, and the oak pilasters in the dado as characteristic of Kent. There was originally one of his great massive marble chimney-pieces in this room, long since replaced by the present plain insignificant one.

The dimensions of this room are 39 feet 6 inches long (from east to west), 28 feet wide, and 22 feet 8 inches high to the top of the cornice.

Painted Ceiling of the King’s Drawing Room.

THIS is another of Kent’s artistic efforts. There is in the Record Office a letter from Lord Grafton dated June 26th, 1725, conveying his majesty’s commands that “their Lordships of the Treasury would give orders to Mr. William Kent to paint the ceilings, etc. in the new apartments at Kensington”—including this one.

The cove of the ceiling, or portion nearest the cornice, is elaborately decorated with scroll-work and architectural ornaments, richly gilt and painted, and with medallions in the middle of each side supported by female figures. In the centre is a large projecting heavy oval frame of plaster, with the panel within it recessed about three feet. This is painted with the story of Jupiter and Semele, the God appearing in a thunder-cloud, and Semele, in a ridiculous attitude, on a couch. No painting could be worse. The signature of the artist, “William Kent pinxit, 1725,” has been found a little to the left of the right foot of Semele.

When the restoration of this room was taken in hand last winter, the ceiling was so begrimed with the dirt, dust, smoke, and smuts of upwards of a hundred and fifty years of London atmosphere, as to be nearly black. The cleaning was carried out with the most scrupulous care, and practically no re-painting or re-gilding has been necessary.

William Kent, the Royal and Fashionable Decorator.

THE whole effect of this ceiling if you do not look at it is rich and striking, and with the fine paper and the pictures on the walls will pass muster as a suitable decorative treatment of a grand state reception room. George I. and George II. at any rate had no hesitation in extending an unqualified approval to Kent’s work. After having finished this suite he grew into greater favour than ever. He was soon after appointed “Master Carpenter, Architect, Keeper of the Pictures, and Principal Painter to the Crown, the whole, including a pension of £100 a year, which was given him for his works at Kensington, producing—according to Walpole—£600 a year.” From the Court his vogue extended to a large circle of patrons and votaries. “He was not only consulted for furniture, as frames of pictures, glasses, tables, chairs, etc., but for plate, for a barge, for a cradle; and so impetuous was fashion, that two great ladies prevailed on him to make designs for their birthday gowns. The one he dressed in a petticoat decorated with columns of the five orders; the other like a bronze, in a copper-coloured satin, with ornaments of gold!

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Image not available: KING’S DRAWING ROOM.

Kent, the “Father of Modern Gardening.”

KENT also had a great reputation as a horticulturist, and was generally designated, at the end of last century, as the “Father of Modern Gardening”—his ghastly progeny consisting of the destructive and desolating “landscape-gardening” enterprises of “Capability Brown,” Repton, and their followers. His hand doubtless fell heavy on the old Queen Anne formal gardens about Kensington Palace. We can see the influence of his taste, which was followed with enthusiasm by Queen Caroline and her gardener Bridgman, in the barrenness and commonplace appearance of the grounds that lie immediately below in front of us, as we look out of the windows of this room, and in the entire absence of planting or gardening in the large expanse surrounding the “Round Pond.”

This Round Pond, or “the Basin” as it used to be called, is, by the bye, not round at all, but of a geometrical figure, more of an oval form than circular, and with the four sides flattened and the intermediate portions of the circumference bent into “ogees.” In thus shaping this basin the designer, whether Kent or Bridgman, has overstepped artistic discretion; for from no point of view, neither in Kensington Gardens, from the ground beside it, nor even from this window is its real shape to be made out—only from Rocque’s plan or bird’s-eye view, of 1736, can it be seen to be so eccentric.

The distant view, however, beyond the private gardens, across the Round Pond and Kensington Gardens, over grassy slopes and ancient trees to Hyde Park, a mile away, is one of the pleasantest in the metropolis. Not a street, not a road, not a house, not a roof is to be seen. In the spring and early summer, when the foliage is fresh and green, one might imagine oneself in the depths of the country, in some old house overlooking midland pastures and woods.

West’s Pictures in the King’s Drawing Room.

IN this room are hung the paintings of West, all of which were executed for George III., who greatly admired them, and extended to him a most liberal patronage. He was equally in favour with the public, who lauded his performances to the skies, and with his fellow-artists, who made him President of the Royal Academy. We now hardly know which to wonder at most—an obscure lad in the wilds of Pennsylvania, who took his earliest lessons in painting from a tribe of Cherokees, accomplishing what he did; or the English fetish, Public Opinion, having been so deluded as to regard his efforts as masterpieces of Art. The depreciation which has overtaken him may be judged when we hear that an “Annunciation,” for which £800 was originally paid, was knocked down in 1840 for £10! His portraits, nevertheless, are interesting.

80 The Death of General Wolfe (497). . . . . West.

Wolfe lies in the centre, to the right, supported by three officers. In front of him is a wounded officer, standing, supported by others, to hear his dying injunctions. At his feet is an Indian warrior in his war-paint, gazing at him to see how an English chief will die. On the extreme left is a messenger running, and on the left ships with soldiers disembarking. On canvas, 5 ft. high, by 8 ft. wide.

Wolfe was killed on the 13th September, 1759, in the moment of victory before Quebec. “The fall of Wolfe was noble indeed. He received a wound in the head, but covered it from his soldiers with his handkerchief. A second ball struck him in the belly, but that too he dissembled. A third hitting him in the breast, he sank under the anguish, and was carried behind the ranks. Yet, fast as life ebbed out, his whole anxiety centred on the fortune of the day. He begged to be borne nearer to the action, but his sight being dimmed by the approach of death, he entreated to be told what they who supported him saw: he was answered, that the enemy gave ground. He eagerly repeated the question, heard the enemy was totally routed, cried ‘I am satisfied,’ and expired.” (Walpole’s Memoirs.)

“In this picture, which was painted in 1771, West introduced the sensible innovation of dressing the characters in their proper costume; previous to that time it was the common practice with painters to dress their figures in historical compositions of any kind, in the Greek or Roman costume. Sir Joshua Reynolds was one of those who were averse to the innovation, but when the picture was finished, he changed his opinion. After a careful examination of the picture, he observed to the Archbishop of York, who was with him at the time, ‘West has conquered; he has treated his subject as it ought to be treated; I retract my objections. I foresee that this picture will not only become one of the most popular, but will occasion a revolution in the art.’ When West related this to the King, he said, ‘I wish I had known all this before, for the objection has been the means of Lord Grosvenor getting the picture, but you shall make a copy for me.’”

This is the copy ordered by George III., for which the painter received £315. The original is at Grosvenor House, and has been finely engraved by Woollett. There are several other repetitions of it.

81 Prince of Wales (George IV.), and Duke of York (500). . . . . . West.

The Prince is on the left, in yellow satin, his right hand on his hip, his left on his brother’s shoulder, who leans against a table. They are both in the robes of the Garter and St. Andrew. On canvas, 9 ft. high, by 7 ft. wide.

The Prince of Wales was born on August 12th, 1762; Frederick, Duke of York, on August 16th, 1763. This picture represents them when they were about fifteen and fourteen years old, therefore, about 1777.

Soon afterwards the Duke of York proceeded to Prussia for the purpose of being educated as a soldier.

82 Dukes of Cumberland, Sussex, and Cambridge, and the Princesses Augusta-Sophia, Elizabeth, and Mary (488).

The Duke of Cumberland is on the left, standing; the Duke of Sussex is lying down near his sister Elizabeth, who holds on her lap the infant Princess Mary (?). Kneeling by them is the Duke of Cambridge, and behind is the Princess Augusta-Sophia. Signed and dated 1776. On canvas, 6 ft. 7 in. high, by 7 ft. 10 in. wide.

Prince Ernest Augustus, afterwards Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover, and grandfather of her Royal Highness Princess Frederica, was born June 5th, 1771; Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, on January 27th, 1773; and Prince Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge, on February 24th, 1774. Princess Augusta-Sophia was born on November 8th, 1768; Princess Elizabeth, on May 22nd, 1770; and Princess Mary, on April 25th, 1776.

The Princesses have long been wrongly called, Charlotte, Augusta, and Sophia; the correct names, as given above, are derived from the contemporary mezzotint by V. Green; besides, when this picture was painted the Princess Sophia was not born.

83 Queen Charlotte, aged 36, with her thirteen children in the background (498) . . . . . West.

Standing; dressed in white, her hair powdered and piled up high. The thirteen children are seen in the distance to the left, in a picture which is now at Windsor Castle. On canvas, 9 ft. 6 in. high, by 7 ft. wide.

84 George III.; Lords Amherst and Lothian behind (494). . . . . . West.

He is standing, facing to the right, in full regimentals. He holds a scroll of paper in his hands in front of him. Behind him is his crown and sceptre; and in the background the two peers, and a view of Coxheath Camp. On canvas, 9 ft. 6 in. high, by 7 ft. wide.

It appears from West’s own memoranda that this picture was painted before 1779, consequently the King cannot have been more than forty.

85 Duke of Cambridge, and Princesses Charlotte and Augusta (487). . . . . West.

The Duke, in a maroon-coloured suit, is standing on the right. Princess Charlotte is sitting on a stool, with her sister on her lap. In the background are a curtain, a column, and Kew Gardens with the Pagoda. Signed on the top in the left hand corner; and dated 1778. On canvas, 9 ft. high, by 6 ft. wide.

Princess Charlotte, George III.’s eldest daughter, afterwards Queen of Wirtemburg, was born on September 29th, 1766; and Princess Augusta, on November 8th, 1768. It is doubtful whether the names are correct.

86 Apotheosis of the Infant Princes Octavius and Alfred (503).

Alfred, the younger of the two, is seated on clouds, with his hands out-stretched to his brother, who is being conducted up to him by an angel.

Prince Octavius was born on February 23rd, 1779, and Prince Alfred on September 22nd, 1780. Alfred died on August 20th, 1782. “I am very sorry for Alfred,” said the King, “but had it been Octavius I should have died too.”

Octavius followed his brother to the grave on May 2nd, 1783. For this picture West received £315. Engraved by Sir Robert Strange.

87 Queen Charlotte and the Princess Royal (492). . . . . West.

The Queen is sitting on a sofa, with embroidery on her lap. The Princess stands on the right, by her side, and holds the embroidery. Dated 1776. On canvas, 5 ft. 5 in. high, by 6 ft. 8 in. wide.

88 Duke of Clarence (William IV.), and Duke of Kent (502). . . . . . West.

The Duke of Clarence is on the left, dressed in a blue coat with a white vest; he has his right hand on a globe, his left on his hip. The Duke of Kent is in red turned full to the front, but looking at his brother; his right hand is on his brother’s left hand, his left is pointing upwards. On canvas, 9 ft. 6 in. high, by 7 ft. wide.

Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence, afterwards William IV., was born August 21st, 1765. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, father of her present Most Gracious Majesty, was born November 2nd, 1767. This picture was painted when they were about thirteen and eleven years. In 1780, the Duke of Clarence went to sea as a midshipman. West received 250 guineas for the picture.

89 George III. Reviewing the Tenth Dragoons in Hyde Park in 1797 (168). . . . . Beechey.

The King is in front on a white horse, whose head is turned to the left. He is in full regimentals, with a cocked hat. Just behind him is the Prince of Wales, in the uniform of the 10th, holding up his sword and giving the word of command. To the left of the King is the Duke of York, with Generals Goldsworthy and Sir David Dundas; Sir William Fawcett is standing in front of them. The King is turning round to speak to them, and points with his right hand to the cavalry charge in the left distance. On canvas, 13 ft. 8 in. high, by 16½ ft. wide.

The 10th Light Dragoons (now the 10th Hussars) were frequently reviewed by George III. in company with the Prince of Wales, who entered the army as brevet-colonel, November 19th, 1782, and after whom the regiment was called “The Prince of Wales’s Own,” on Michaelmas Day, 1783. In 1793 he was appointed colonel-commandant of the corps, and succeeded as colonel on July 18th, 1796. The review commemorated here took place not long after that date, for the picture is mentioned in a biographical sketch of Sir William Beechey in The London Monthly Mirror for July, 1798, where we are told that the King rewarded him for it with the honour of knighthood. The names of the officers were derived from an account of a review, which took place in 1799, and which this picture was formerly supposed to represent; it is therefore doubtful whether they are quite correct. (See Notes and Queries.)

This picture is regarded as Beechey’s masterpiece, and was very much admired at the time. But “although a clever and showy group of portraits, it has little of real nature, and is full of the painter’s artifices. Thus the King’s white horse forms the principal light, and comes off the Prince of Wales’s dark horse, and so on; the light and shadow of all the heads being the light and shadow of the studio, and not of the field.”—(Redgrave’s Century of Painters.) The King had several copies taken of it; in one, which he gave to Lord Sidmouth, the figure of the Prince was omitted by the King’s own desire, a curious proof of his dislike of his son. When the Prince became King he hinted that it should be restored, but this was evaded. Benjamin Smith engraved the portrait of George III. from this picture.

King’s Privy Chamber.

Although this room formed part of the state apartments built by Kent, it was much transformed in the reign of George III., so that it bears little trace of its original decoration. Indeed, it is so commonplace in appearance, that, except for the pictures which now hang on its walls, it looks more like an ordinary bedroom in an old-fashioned country inn than a king’s chamber in a palace. The plain deal dado, the common chimney-piece of black veined marble, the wood and plaster cornice, the shutters and windows, are all of the most ordinary and inartistic pattern.

The dimensions of this room are 31 feet long, 24 feet wide, and 17 feet high.

Portraits of the Time of George III.

90 Portrait of Francis, 5th Duke of Bedford (961). . . . . . J. Hoppner.

Full-length, turned to the left, looking to the front. He is dressed in a peer’s full robes. His left hand is on his hip, his right holds a scroll of paper. He is bareheaded, face close-shaven, and his hair short. Behind him is a red curtain, and in the distance on the left a statue of Hercules. On canvas, 8 ft. 3 in. high, by 5 ft. 2 in. wide.

Behind is written:—“Received, 7th April, 1810, from Mrs. Hoppner.” The duke, who was born in 1765, died on March 2nd, 1802.

“More dignified and well painted than the similar one at Woburn.”—Sir George Scharf.

91 Francis Hastings, Earl of Moira (950). . . . . Hoppner.

Full-length, figure slightly to the right, but the face turned round to the left. Dressed in uniform, with the Ribbon and Star of the Garter. His right hand holds a scroll of paper by his side; his left rests on a document on a table. Background, a green curtain, and sky on the right. On canvas, 7 ft. 10 in. high, by 4 ft. 10 in. wide.

Behind is painted “R.A. 1794,” the year of Hoppner’s election, and “The Star and Garter added 1812,” in June of which year Lord Moira, after failing to form a ministry, accepted the Garter, “but,” says Lord Spencer in a letter to Lord Buckingham, “whether as a calm to his honour or his understanding, it is not for me to say.” This picture was received from Hoppner’s widow, in June, 1810, a few months after his death.

92 Portrait of John Hely, Lord Hutchinson (872) . . . . . Phillips, R.A.

Three-quarters length, seated, turned to the left, and looking downwards. His left leg is crossed over his right, and in his left hand he holds a map of Egypt; his right holds an eyeglass on his breast. He is in his uniform. In front of him on a table are writing materials. On canvas, 4 ft. high, by 3½ ft. wide.

John Hely was born in 1757, and in 1774 went into the army. In the expedition to Egypt in 1801 he was appointed second in command to Sir Ralph Abercrombie; on whose death the chief command devolved on Hely, then a major-general. For his admirable conduct of the campaign, in which he drove the French from Egypt, he received the thanks of both Houses, and was raised to the peerage in 1813. In 1823 he succeeded his brother to the earldom of Donoughmore. He died in 1832.

93 Christian VII. of Denmark (976). . . . . Dance.

A head, in an oval, turned to the right; dressed in a red uniform trimmed with gold; on his breast a blue ribbon. His hair is powdered and brushed back.

This was formerly unnamed, but the mezzotint engraving after it by Fisher shows it to have been painted by Dance; doubtless when the King was over here in 1767 for his marriage to Princess Matilda. He was then eighteen years old.

Their domestic life was not happy. In politics he distinguished himself by granting liberty of the press to his subjects; in reward for which Voltaire addressed the famous lines to him, in which he tells him: “Je me jette à tes pieds au nom du genre humain.”

He afterwards went out of his mind, and died in 1808.

He was the son of Princess Louisa, the daughter of George II., and succeeded to the throne in 1766. The engraving after this picture by G. Fisher is dated 1769.

94 Portrait of Richard Brinsley Sheridan (891). . . . . . K. A. Hickel?

Bust; face turned slightly to the right. He has a blue coat and a yellow waistcoat. His face is close-shaven. On canvas, 2 ft. high, by 1 ft. 8 in wide.

“Whatever Sheridan has done, or chosen to do, has been par excellence always the best of its kind. He has written the best comedy, the best farce, and the best address (‘Monologue on Garrick’), and, to crown all, delivered the very best oration (the famous Begum speech) ever conceived or heard in this country.”—Byron.

This appears to be the study for, or a replica of, the head of Sheridan in the picture of the Interior of the old House of Commons in 1793, painted by Karl Anton Hickel, and now in the National Portrait Gallery.

95 Portrait of Spencer Perceval (890). . . . . Joseph.

Half-length, turned to the left. In his left hand he holds a paper. He wears a blue coat and a white waistcoat. His face is shaven, his hair grey, and his head bald in front. On canvas, 2½ ft. high, by 2 ft. wide.

Behind is written:—“Received from Mrs. Joseph, 18th June, 1814.”

This is a posthumous likeness, taken from a mask after death, but considered by all who knew him to be a faithful resemblance. When Queen Charlotte went to see it, and the curtain which covered it was withdrawn, she was so struck with its truth, that she burst into tears. Many copies with slight variations were executed; one of them is now in the National Portrait Gallery. It is engraved in mezzotint by Turner. It is a fair specimen of George Francis Joseph, an indifferent artist, who was elected an associate of the Royal Academy after painting this portrait. He died in 1846.

Perceval, who became Prime Minister in October, 1809, was assassinated in the lobby of the House of Commons by Bellingham, on May 11th, 1812. The official documents he holds in his hand remind us that his state papers were not at all to the taste of the Prince Regent, who remarked, “that it was a great misfortune to Mr. Perceval to write in a style which would disgrace a respectable washerwoman.”

96 Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany (944). . . . . Opie.

Bust, turned to the left. She is dressed in a black silk dress, trimmed with lace, and having a hood over her white widow’s cap. Round her neck is a locket. On canvas, 2 ft. 6 in. high.

This portrait represents her as a very old woman, and was probably painted not many years before her death, in 1788, at the age of eighty-eight. She was the eldest daughter of Bernard Granville, grandson of Sir Bevil Granville, the Royalist leader, and was born in 1700. She was educated under the care of her uncle, Lord Lansdowne, and married in 1717 Alexander Pendarves. She was intimate with Swift, through whom she became acquainted with her second husband, Dr. Delany. After his death she spent most of her time with her friend, the Duchess of Portland, and when she died, George III., who, with the Queen, became very intimate with the old lady, gave her a pension and a house at Windsor. She occupied her declining years in copying flowers in paper, and executed as many as 980. She died in 1788. Her autobiography was published in 1861; it contains a great many reminiscences of the court and family of George III.

This picture first brought Opie into notice. A replica painted for the Countess of Bute is in the National Portrait Gallery.

97 Brownlow North, Bishop of Winchester (888). . . . . . after Dance.

Bust, nearly a full face, slightly inclined to the right. He is seated in a purple-covered chair, in the robes of a Chancellor of the Garter, with the chain of the order on his breast. On canvas, 2 ft. 8 in. high, by 2 ft. 2 in. wide.

He was a half-brother of Lord North, the Prime Minister; was born in 1741; and was successively appointed Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, Worcester and Winchester, and died in 1820.

98 Portrait of Hurd, Bishop of Worcester (889). . . . . Gainsborough.

Bust, turned to the left, facing and looking in front. Dressed in a bishop’s canonicals, with a small, but full, curly wig. Painted in an oval. On canvas, 2 ft. 6 in. high, by 2 ft. 1 in. wide. Compare No. 371.

99 Richard Hurd, Bishop of Worcester (887). . . . . Gainsborough.

Bust, to the right, looking to the front His left hand is on his breast, holding his gown. Dressed in canonicals, with a bushy wig. On canvas, 2 ft. 6 in. high, by 2 ft. 1 in. wide.

He was the son of a farmer at Congreve, Staffordshire, and was born in 1720. He was appointed preceptor to the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, and was nominated Bishop of Worcester in 1781; but declined the primacy offered by George III., with whom he was a great favourite. He wrote many moral and religious works, long since relegated to the limbo of insipid mediocrities. Engraved by Holl in 1774? Perhaps the picture exhibited in 1781.

100 A Rabbi (266). . . . . after Rembrandt, by Gainsborough.

Bust, to the right. He wears a dark dress, and cap with flaps; his beard is long. On canvas, 2 ft. 6 in. high, by 2 ft. 1 in. wide.

This was in Gainsborough’s possession at his death, and was exhibited at Schomberg House, 1789.

101 Portrait of C. F. Abel, the Musician (938). . . . . Robineau.

Half-length; seated at a piano or spinet, turned towards the right, but his face looking behind him, over his shoulder to the left. He is dressed in a red coat and has a small wig. On canvas, 2 ft. 1 in. high, by 1 ft. 8 in. wide. Signed on the left-hand side:—“C. Robineau 1780.

Charles Frederick Abel was a pupil of Bach’s, and at one time belonged to the royal band at Dresden. He came to England about 1765, and was appointed master of Queen Charlotte’s band. Although he wrote music, he was more celebrated for his playing than his compositions. Abel was a very passionate man, and much addicted to the bottle,—peculiarities which the visitor would suspect him of, from his flushed face and red nose. He died in 1787, after being three days in a sort of drunken torpor.

Robineau was a portrait-painter who practised in Paris and London.

102 Duchess of Brunswick, Sister of George III. . . . . . A. Kauffman.

Full-length, turned to the right. She holds a child in her arms on an altar in front of her. She is dressed in white with an orange-coloured mantle, lined with light blue; she wears sandals. On canvas, 8 ft. 11 in. high, by 5 ft. 11 in. wide.

On the left at the foot of the column is the signature:—“Angelica Pinx Aº. 1767.” To the left, on a vase, the inscription:—

Carol. ILLE de Bruns. & Priñ. Hered.
A. MDCCLX M. Jul. apud Enisdorff VICTORIA.
et A. MDCCLXIV M. Jan. apud Lond. AMORE. Coron.

Augusta, the eldest daughter of Frederick, Prince of Wales, was born on the 31st of July, 1737, and was married to the Duke of Brunswick on the 17th of January, 1764. By him she became the mother, among other children, of Caroline, Princess of Wales, and of Duke William Frederick, “Brunswick’s fated chieftain,” who fell at Quatre-Bras. In 1767, when this portrait was painted, she was in England on a visit.

The child in her arms must be her eldest son Charles George Augustus, who was born 8th February, 1766, and died in 1806.

103. Frederick, Prince of Wales (893) . . . . . Vanloo?

Bust, turned to the left, facing in front. He wears a blue sash over his coat. See ante, No. 4.

104. George III., when Prince of Wales, aged 12, and Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of York and Albany, aged 11 . . . . . . Richard Wilson, R.A.

Seated figures, on a couch by a table, the Prince of Wales on the left. On canvas, 3 feet 3½ inches high, by 4 feet 1½ inches wide. Lent by the trustees of the National Portrait Gallery.

The Duke of York was born in 1739, became an admiral in 1759, and died at Monaco in 1767.

The Nursery.

The designation of “The Nursery” has been for many years applied to this room, having, it appears, been so used at one time by Queen Victoria, whose doll-house is now placed here. It was afterwards occupied by the late Duchess of Teck, and it was here that Princess May, now Duchess of York, was born, on May 26th, 1867.

Its associations are, therefore, exclusively Victorian, with which its decoration—so far as it can be said to have any—accords. The “shell” of the room, however, is part of Kent’s addition to the State Rooms.

The dimensions of this room are 30 feet 7 inches long by 23 feet 5 inches wide, and 17 feet high to the highest point of the ceiling, 15 feet 2 inches to the top of the cornice.

Pictures and Prints illustrative of the Queen’s Life and Reign.

A COLLECTION is here being formed by Mr. Holmes, the Queen’s Librarian, of various prints, illustrative of Her Majesty’s Life and Reign. Among them are old prints of the Queen as a child, and as the young Princess Victoria, Heiress to the Throne; also of the marriage of the Prince of Wales in St. George’s Chapel, the Baptism of the Princess Royal, etc.; and also the Jubilee Celebration of 1887 in Westminster Abbey, from the painting by W. E. Lockhart, R.S.A.

110 The Queen’s First Council in the pillared Council Chamber at Kensington Palace on 20th of June, 1837 . . . . . After Wilkie.

For an account of this famous scene, see page 37.


AS we go through the door of “The Nursery” into this ante-room, we pass from the portion of the Palace built by Kent, to the original block erected by Wren, this ante-room being a part of what was formerly one of William III.’s state rooms.

Through this lobby it was that the Queen passed to the adjoining staircase when she went downstairs to receive the news of her accession.

The dimensions of this room are: 19 feet 3 inches long, 10 feet 2 inches wide, and 16 feet high.

Prints illustrative of the Life and Reign of the Queen.

THE wall space here will be devoted to further prints illustrative of the Queen’s Life and Reign.

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Queen Victoria’s Bedroom.

To future ages, if not indeed already to the present one, this plain, modestly-decorated chamber must have an interest far transcending that of the more gorgeous Georgian saloons, which we have just traversed. For, it was for many years the bedroom of our own Queen, when as a little girl of tender age she lived in quiet simplicity at Kensington Palace with her mother, the Duchess of Kent.

From the windows of this room we can imagine the little princess, when she rose in the morning, gazing out over the gardens and the Park beyond, as the beams of the eastern sun struggled through the mists and smoke of distant London, musing on the mighty destiny awaiting her; or in the evening hour, when the flower-scented air of the garden beneath floated in at the casement, looking out where the far-off lights of the great town twinkled among the trees, her mind filled with solemn thoughts of the awful responsibility that was to be hers.

Even now, when the building octopus, with its stucco tentacles, has clutched and sucked in so many a fair surrounding green field, from these windows not a roof, not a chimney meets the eye; not an echo, even, of the ceaseless roar of the traffic strikes the ear.

It was in this room that the Queen was sleeping on the memorable morning of the 20th of June, 1837, when she was awakened by her mother, the Duchess of Kent, to go to the Drawing Room downstairs, where Lord Conyngham and the Archbishop of Canterbury were awaiting to inform her of her accession to the throne.

The dimensions of this room are: 23 feet 3 inches long, 19 feet 3 inches wide, and 16 feet high.

Prints of the Life and Reign of the Queen.

PRINTS in continuation of the series commenced in “The Nursery,” are in process of being arranged in this room.

Mementoes and Relics of the Queen’s Childhood, collected in “Queen Victoria’s Bedroom.”

HERE also will be arranged some of the Queen’s toys, with which she played as a little girl in these rooms; and perhaps other similar objects of interest. Labels will, doubtless, be affixed to explain, what these are.

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King’s Gallery.

THIS magnificent gallery, the finest of all the state rooms at Kensington Palace, was designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren for William III. about the year 1693. It owes much of its architectural effect to the great architect’s wonderful knowledge and appreciation of proportion—an element too often disregarded in buildings of modern times. Its length is 96 feet, its breadth 21 feet 6 inches, and its height 18 feet to the top of the cornice, and 19 feet 8 inches to the highest point of the ceiling. It is, therefore, 12 feet longer than the already-described Queen Mary’s Gallery, 2 feet higher, but of the same width. Compared with it, the “King’s or Cartoon Gallery” at Hampton Court, built by Wren almost exactly at the same time, it is 21 feet less long, 3 feet less wide, and 10 feet less high.

In relation to it the following items from the old accounts, dating from about the year 1693, are interesting:

“Item to Richard Hawkesmore, Clerk of the Workes, for making up an account [an estimate?] of the King’s New Gallery at Kensington—£5.”

“More to him for Pasteboard and other Materialls for making a modell of the said Gallery for the King—£5 2s.

“Cha: Houghton for rating, casting up, and engrossing the Books of the said Building for the Auditor—£5.”

Decorative Carvings in “the King’s Gallery.”

THE oak cornice and the oak doors of this gallery, especially the beautiful architraves of the doors, are among the finest specimens anywhere existing of Wren’s decorative art, designed by him and carried out under the superintendence of Gibbons. Relating to this work we find the following item in the accounts for the years 1691 to 1696:

“To Grinling Gibbons, carver, for worke done in the new Gallery building, in the King’s great and Little Closet, in three Roomes under the King’s apartment, in the King’s Gallery, and other places about the said Pallace—£839 0s. 4d.

In other respects the appearance of this room has been much altered; for the oak panelling, which appears originally to have entirely covered its walls was removed, it would seem, in the reign of George I. or of George II.; when also the ceiling, which was originally plain, was painted as we see it now.

Chimney-Piece, Map and Dial.

AT the same time a new chimney-piece was inserted. Part of the original over-mantel, however, of the time of William III., still remains, especially a very curious map of the north-west of Europe, showing the names of various towns, especially in the north of France, the Netherlands, and the British Isles. Relating to it we have discovered, in the course of our researches among the old parchment rolls in the Record Office, the following entry, dating from about, the year 1694:

“To Robt Norden for his paines in drawing a map for the chimney-piece and for attending the painters—£5.”

Round the circumference of the map are the points of the compass; and an old dial-hand or pointer, still remains, which was actuated by an iron rod connected with a vane, still existing above the roof. This enabled King William to know from which quarter the wind was blowing; whether, therefore, it was safe for him, with his asthma, to venture out of doors, or whether the wind was favourable for wafting him away from this hated climate to his own dearly-loved country of Holland.

It was this dial which so greatly interested Peter the Great, when he privately visited William III. in this palace in 1698, being admitted by a back door. “It was afterwards known,” says Macaulay, but unfortunately without giving his authority, “that he took no notice of the fine pictures, with which the palace was adorned. But over the chimney in the royal sitting-room was a plate which, by an ingenious machinery, indicated the direction of the wind; and with this plate he was in raptures.”

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Image not available: THE KING’S GALLERY.

This old dial is fixed in a square carved and gilt frame, probably the one referred to in the following item in the old accounts of the years 1691-96:

“To Rene Cousins gilder for a large frame carved and gilt with burnished gold—£10.”

The outer frame of deal wood surrounding this gilt one is, on the other hand, of a later date, evidently designed by Kent, as was also the decorated panel above it, itself surmounted by a pediment, richly carved, doubtless by men trained in the school of Wren and Gibbons.

In the centre of this fine “Kentian” panel is a medallion picture of the “Virgin and Child,” painted in fresco, of the school of Raphael, and inscribed behind with the date, 1583.

All this over-mantel was, in the time of George I., painted over white with enrichments of gold. It so remained until last winter, when the thick coats of filthy paint were cleaned off. It has been thought best to leave the deal wood in its natural state, unpainted, only applying a little stain to tone it into harmony with the colour of the surrounding oak carvings.

Although this carved over-mantel is an addition, and as far as the pediment is concerned, very out of place so close to the cornice, yet it is very beautiful and of much interest as being one of the finest examples of decorative design executed in England during the reigns of the first two Georges. In it we trace the influence of the lighter French taste of Louis XV., which Kent had no doubt become acquainted with when travelling abroad. The marble chimney-piece below, on the other hand, is in that architect’s regular massive, heavy style.


Almost at once, after this gallery was finished by Wren, it became the receptacle of some of the finest works of art in the Royal collection. Among the manuscripts in the British Museum is the original list of William III.’s pictures, placed “in Kensington House, 1697”—some seventy pieces being mentioned as then hanging on its walls.

It was in the year following that Peter the Great was in England; when, besides his private interview with the King, mentioned above, he was a spectator at a ball given in this same gallery on the birthday of Princess Anne, not publicly, however, but peeping through one of the doors, in a closet prepared for him on purpose.

In this room, King William, in the month of March, 1702, after his accident, and a few days before his death, “took several turns” to exercise himself; but soon becoming fatigued, he reclined upon a couch and fell asleep, “but soon to awake in a shivering fit, which was the beginning of a fever, attended with serious symptoms, from which he never recovered.”

Painting of the Ceiling and Wainscot of the King’s Gallery.

THIS gallery was also a favourite sitting-room of Queen Anne and her husband, and of George I. It was by command of the latter monarch that Kent, about the year 1724, undertook the painting of the ceiling, his charge for which, with similar work in “the little closets,” amounted to £850. Although the richness of the colouring and gilding give it a gorgeous appearance, neither the design nor the ornaments, least of all the panels, painted with mythological subjects, are interesting. It is divided into seven compartments, surrounded by elaborate classic scroll and arabesque work, and allegorical figures. The centre medallion is oval, the other six oblong or lozenge shaped. The officers of Works in their Report, dated 30th of September, 1725, to the “Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury,” on this work, added:

“We have caused an estimate to be made of the charge of painting the wainscot of the sd. Gallery and little closets in the same manner as the Bedchamber and closets are already painted, amounting to £32: 16:

Gilding the same—£154: 4:

Providing Scaffolds for the Painters and covering the floors with Boards to prevent their being damaged, etc., £233: 3:”

They further added:

“We crave leave to lay before your Lordships a letter that we have received from Sir James Thornhill, Serjt Painter to his Majesty, in which he complains that the gilding of the cornishes, which hath hitherto been done by himself, and his predecessors, is by my Lord Chamberlain’s Letter directed to be done by another person, which letter we have hereunto annexed.”

On October 5th, accordingly, an order was made to the Board of Works to commission Sir J. Thornhill to do the gilding of the cornices.

On the barbarity of painting the beautiful oak work in this gallery, and especially the exquisitely carved oak architraves and cornices, we need not dwell. They remained painted until last autumn, when with infinite trouble and pains, the paint was cleaned off, and all the delicate chiselling of Gibbons and his assistants revealed to the eye, after being obscured for a hundred and seventy-four years. The visitor can judge for himself with what success this has been accomplished. No stain has been used in this restoration; and only after repeated experiments was the method adopted of treating it simply with wax polish.

The old panelling of Wren’s time was probably removed in the time of George II., in order to afford more wall-space for hanging pictures on—which was Queen Caroline’s great hobby.

An even worse barbarism was perpetrated in this superb gallery at the beginning of the century—when it was divided by partitions into three distinct rooms—in which state it remained until the restorations were begun last year. One of these subdivisions was used by Queen Victoria, when a little girl, for her toys.

Naval Pictures in the King’s Gallery.

IN this gallery have now been collected a large number of sea-pieces, sea-fights, dockyards, and admirals, mainly of the time of the Georges, to illustrate the history of the British Navy. Though but very few—for instance, those by Monamy and Scott—can be considered fine works of art, yet all of them will be found interesting and curious; and no one, who has known them only when hanging in bad lights on dark screens in the overcrowded rooms at Hampton Court, would have suspected how much there is to be studied in them, now that they are at length properly displayed.

201 The Dockyard at Sheerness (1055). . . . . R. Paton.

The dock is on the left, terminated by a fort in the centre of the picture. On the left are a large man-of-war and a disabled ship towed by a barque.

This and Nos. 204, 232, 233, and 236 are pieces of dockyards, painted by Paton more than a hundred years ago. They are each on canvas, 3 ft. 4 in. high, by 4 ft. 10 in. wide.

202 Close of the Action, November 4th, 1805, Sir R. Strachan’s Victory (1037). [See Companion Piece, No. 234.] . . . . . N. Pocock.

On the left are three French vessels,? The Formidable, Scipion, Mont Blanc, or Duguay Trouin, two of them utterly dismantled; to the right is the English fleet.

The engagement took place off Ferrol, about a fortnight after Trafalgar, the French ships being under the command of Rear-Admiral Dumanoir, who had escaped from that battle.

203 George III. Reviewing the Fleet at Portsmouth (1011). [See No. 235.] . . . . . D. Serres.

In the centre is a large man-of-war, the “Barfleur”: near it the “Worcester” firing a salute, and beyond a line of men-of-war, the “Royal Oak” and “Lennox” being distinguishable on the right. On canvas, 4 ft. 10 in. high, by 7 ft. wide. Signed “D. Serres, 1776.”

204 The Dockyard at Deptford (1000). [See No. 201]. . . . . . R. Paton.

Greenwich is seen in the background; the dock buildings on the right; and on the left various ships, one firing a salute.

205 Ships in a Dockyard (999). . . . . unnamed.

206 A Sea-piece (1046). . . . . D. Serres.

A large vessel is seen broadside, and in front an officer’s gig; other vessels are behind. Signed in lower right-hand corner, “D. Serres, 1789.”

207 Action between the “Arethusa” and “Belle Poule” (673). . . . . unnamed.

The “Arethusa,” with its stern to the spectator, is to the left; “La Belle Poule” is on the right. They are discharging heavy broadsides at each other. The moon is seen in the distance between them.

The action took place on the 17th of July, 1778, off the Lizard, and lasted two hours at close quarters without intermission. The “Belle Poule” got away, though the English had got the best of the fight.

208 Sea Piece (1078). . . . . Brooking.

On the right is an English frigate bearing away; on the left one coming in. A fair specimen of this good marine painter.

209 George III. Reviewing the Fleet at Portsmouth (1012). [See No. 235.] . . . . . D. Serres.

A large man-of-war in the centre; smaller craft on each side.

210 The Royal Yacht which brought Queen Charlotte to England in 1761, to be married to George III., in a storm (1001) . . . . . Wright.

The Royal Yacht is in the centre of the picture, attended by a convoy of twelve vessels. It had been re-named “The Royal Charlotte,” and was newly ornamented with a profusion of carving and gilding for the occasion. They embarked at Stade on the 24th of August, and landed at Harwich on September 6th.

Richard Wright was a painter of marine subjects.

211 A Small Sea-Piece (1080). . . . . P. Monamy.

In the centre, towards the left, is an English man-of-war firing a salute; other smaller craft are to the right and left. 1 ft. 8 in. high, by 2 ft. 11 in. wide.

This is an excellent specimen of Peter Monamy, an imitator, and probably pupil, of the Vandeveldes. Though much cracked, it is beautifully painted, “showing a fine quality of texture, with great precision of touch; the calm plane of the ocean level receding into the extreme distance, without that set scenic effect of passing cloud-shadows, which even the best masters have used to obtain the appearance of recession and distance; this work well deserves notice, and might puzzle the best painters of such subjects to rival.”—(Redgrave’s Century of Painters.)

212 His Majesty’s Yacht in Portsmouth Harbour (1035) . . . . . J. T. Serres.

She has twenty-six guns, and lies across the picture; other craft are to the right and left. Behind is seen Portsmouth. Signed “J. T. Serres, 1820.”

213 Shipping . . . . . unnamed.

214 On the Thames—The Tower of London (1024). . . . . unnamed.

215 A Man-of-War engaged with two Vessels (1015)....Monamy.

A man-of-war is on the left engaged with two of the enemy’s vessels; behind are others shown in action. (See No. 219.)

216 Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Knowles’s Squadron attacking Port Louis in St. Domingo (? Hispaniola) March 8th, 1748 (998)....R. Paton?

To the left is an English vessel, the “Cornwall,” firing at a fort in the centre of the picture. More to the left is a small ship burning; on the right are other vessels attacking the fort.

The fire-ship of the enemy was towed clear of the squadron by the boats, and left to burn and blow up at a distance from the fleet. The fort surrendered in the evening, and was blown up. The English lost seventy men.

217 Battle of Trafalgar—Close of the Action (1058). [See Companion Piece, No. 224.] . . . . . Huggins.

In the centre is a large vessel (? the “Victory”) with rigging much shot away and torn. Others are seen behind in action.

These are two of three pictures, painted for William IV.; the third is now at St. James’s Palace.

218 Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Knowles’s Action with a Spanish Squadron off the Havannah, October 1st, 1748 (1002) . . . . . R. Paton?

In the background is the battle-line of the enemy, under Vice-Admiral Reggio, against which the British fleet is bearing. The action began at two o’clock. Although defeated, nearly all the Spaniards got into port; they lost eighty-six men. Knowles, when he came home, was tried by court-martial for not pursuing the enemy with more vigour, and was reprimanded.

219 Sea Fight—A Man-of-War attacked by Boats (226). . . . . Monamy.

The vessel is surrounded by boats, and is responding to their musketry by a fierce cannonade. 3 ft. 4 in. high, by 4 ft. 2 in. wide.

220 Admiral Viscount Keith . . . . . T. Phillips, R.A.

Half length, in robes, turned to the left. His right hand holds up his cloak, his left is seen underneath. His hair is gray.

He commanded the fleet which, in 1795, captured the Cape of Good Hope, and performed other brilliant services. He died in 1823.

221 Shipping on the Thames—Temple Gardens (1026) . . . . . unnamed.

222 Sea-Piece—The British Fleet (1017). . . . . Elliot.

In front are some eight large vessels, some with the yards manned, others with their sails partly set; other ships are seen behind.

On the frame in front is written:—“To the Rt. Honble. Wm. Pitt this view of the British Fleet, which secured to England the uninterrupted navigation of the Southern Ocean is dedicated.” William Elliot was a bad marine painter in the style of Serres.

223 Battle of Camperdown—Close of the Action (1064). [See Companion Piece, No. 225.] . . . . . J. T. Serres.

In the centre is a British flag-ship, shown at the end of a long line of vessels. On the right is one of the enemy on fire, to which boats are hastening. On the left is a ship with the name “WASSANAER.”

224 The Day after the Battle of Trafalgar (1057). [See Companion Piece, No. 217.] . . . . . Huggins.

It represents the storm which separated the squadron the day after the battle. On the right is a dismantled vessel rolling over; on the left is the “Victory.” On canvas, 8 ft. high, by 10 ft. wide.

225 Battle of Camperdown—Lord Duncan’s Victory (1053). [See Companion Piece, No. 223.] . . . . . J. T. Serres.

The English fleet is ranged in three lines about to begin the action by breaking the line of the enemy ranged beyond them. The enemy have already opened fire. On canvas, 3 ft. high, by 4 ft. wide. Signed, “J. T. Serres, 1793.”

John Thomas Serres was the son of Dominic Serres, who brought him up as a marine painter. In the year in which this picture was painted he succeeded, on his father’s death, to the office of marine painter to the King, and one of his duties in this post was to make sketches of the harbours on the enemy’s coast. He married the soi-disant Princess Olive of Cumberland, who lost him his appointment, and brought him to misery, destitution, imprisonment, and madness. (Redgrave’s Dict. of Artists.)

226 Equipment of the English Fleet in 1790 (1033). . . . . Elliott.

Three full-rigged men-of-war and others partially rigged are in front; beyond is a port. In front is a label:—“To the Earl of Chatham this view of the expeditious equipment of the British Fleet in 1790 is dedicated.”

227 A Man-of-War going out to Sea (1034). . . . . unnamed.

Crossing the picture to the left, following another going into the picture.

228 Admiral Lord Anson (19). . . . . After Hudson by Bockman.

This appears to be a copy of a picture in Lord Lichfield’s possession at Shugborough in Staffordshire, by Thomas Hudson, a portrait painter, who flourished from 1701 to 1779, and who is chiefly remembered now as the master of Reynolds.

Anson was a victorious admiral in the reign of George II., well known for his famous voyage round the world in the years 1740-44, and for his great exploit of capturing, in 1743, the Spanish galleon “Manilla,” which had a cargo on board valued at £313,000. He was created a peer in 1747 for his victory over the French fleet, and was First Lord of the Admiralty during the Seven Years’ War.

He is here represented in peer’s robes, which approximately fixes the date of the picture.

Bockman, by profession a mezzotint engraver, was in England about 1745-50, when he executed copies of various portraits of admirals, which had been painted by Kneller for James II., and G. Dahl, a Swedish painter, for William III. The originals were presented by William IV. in 1835 to Greenwich Hospital.

229. Shipping (1025) . . . . . unnamed.

230. A Ship (381) . . . . . unnamed.

231 George III. Reviewing the Fleet at Portsmouth (1013). [See No. 235.] . . . . . D. Serres.

In the centre is a large three-masted vessel, with the Union Jack flying, and the royal party on board. Many others are behind.

232 The Dockyard at Portsmouth (1051). [See No. 201.] . . . . . R. Paton.

On the left is a large vessel about to be launched; the dock buildings are behind.

233 The Dockyard at Chatham (1062). [See No. 201.] . . . . . R. Paton.

The dock is on rising ground to the right; on the left is seen the Medway. Various ships are on the river.

234 Commencement of Sir Robert Calder’s Action, July 22nd, 1805 (1038). [See Companion Piece, No. 202.] . . . . . N. Pocock.

A small English ship is engaging two French vessels on the left.

On the 19th of July, Calder had received despatches from Nelson stating that the combined Franco-Spanish fleet was on its return from the West Indies, and he cruised about off Cape Finisterre in the hope of intercepting it. Though both sides lost heavily, the action had no very decided result. The small English ship is probably the “Hero,” the van-ship of the British, which began the attack.

Nicholas Pocock, like D. Serres, acquired his knowledge of the sea in the navy, which he gave up to adopt marine painting as a profession.

235 George III. Reviewing the Fleet at Portsmouth (1014). . . . . . D. Serres.

To the right is a large line-of-battle ship firing a salute. Several yachts with officers and spectators on board are seen.

This, and Nos. 203, 209, and 231 pieces were painted by Dominic Serres, a native of Gascony, who, after running away from home, becoming a sailor, and then master of a trading vessel, and being captured by an English frigate, settled in England and took to painting marine pieces to earn a living. He was one of the original members of the Royal Academy, and frequently exhibited. He is to be distinguished from his son, J. T. Serres (see No. 225).

236 The Dockyard at Woolwich (1066). . . . . [See No. 201.] R. Paton.

Woolwich church is seen in the centre background; the dock buildings are on the right.

237 Admiral Sir John Jennings (11) . . . . . After Kneller by Bockman.

Knighted by Queen Anne in 1704, died in 1743, and is buried in Westminster Abbey.

238 Admiral John Benbow . . . . . After Kneller by Bockman.

He was given the command of a ship by James, Duke of York, for his bravery. In 1702, when in command of the West India squadron, he sustained, almost alone, the fire of the whole French fleet under Du Casse; his cowardly officers, two of whom were afterwards tried by court-martial and shot, having basely deserted him. He died at Jamaica very soon afterwards from a wound received in the action.

239 Admiral George Churchill (10). . . . . After Kneller by Bockman.

A brother of the Duke of Marlborough’s. He died in 1708.

240 Admiral Sir G. Bing, Viscount Torrington (7) . . . . . After Kneller by Bockman.

The celebrated admiral of the reigns of Queen Anne and George I. He was especially distinguished for his services against the Pretender, and for his great victory over the Spanish off Sicily in 1718. His son was the famous Admiral Byng, who was shot, as Voltaire said, “pour encourager les autres.”

241 Admiral Edward Russell, Earl of Orford (27) . . . . . Sir G. Kneller.

Half length, to the right; in blue. His left hand is on his hip, his right has a bâton.

This is the famous admiral in the reign of William and Mary, who gained the victory of La Hogue against the French fleet under Tourville.

This portrait is one of the series of admirals painted for William III.

242 Portrait of General Spalken (910). . . . . unnamed.

Three-quarters in length. Bareheaded, with grey hair. His right arm rests on a table, on which is his cocked hat; his left is in his belt. He wears a general’s uniform, a red coat with blue facings, a long white waistcoat with brass buttons, and white breeches.

I can find nothing about Spalken.

243 Admiral Sir Thomas Dilks (9). . . . . After Kneller by Bockman.

This is the hero of a brilliant action in Cancalli Bay in 1703, when a small English squadron attacked a fleet of forty-three French merchantmen with three men-of-war, and captured them all.

244 Admiral Sir Stafford Fairbourne (18) . . . . . After Kneller by Bockman.

Lived in the reigns of William III. and Anne.

245 Admiral Sir John Gradin (8). . . . . After Kneller by Bockman.

Served in the reign of Queen Anne, and was dismissed for over-caution.

246 Admiral Beaumont (1). . . . . After Dahl by Bockman.

He perished on the Goodwin Sands in the great storm “such as of late o’er pale Britannia passed,” in 1703.

King’s Grand Staircase.

SIR Christopher Wren was the original builder of this staircase, although Kent’s name has usually alone been associated with it. To the great architect, however, we certainly owe the “shell” of the building, its proportions, the black marble steps, the black and white chequered marble on the landings, and the fine balustrade of wrought iron. This ironwork was doubtless designed by Jean Tijou, whose name we have found in the contemporary accounts relating to this palace, and in whose style the design certainly is. As to the stair-treads, it is worthy of note that in an estimate of Wren’s for the completion of the King’s Great Staircase at Hampton Court, in 1699, he proposed that they should be made “of Irish stone such as are at Kensington, but longer and easier,” which, in fact, they are.

In King William’s time the windows must have been of a different type to those now here, which are in the style of Kent. As to the walls, they were then probably painted with simple ornaments. Among the Kensington accounts for the year 1692, we have found the following record of a payment relating to such work:

“To Robt. Streeter, Sergt Painter, for japanning, gilding and painting several Roomes and Lodgings in the said Pallace, painting severall staircase, and the Guard Chamber, and other places in and about the said Pallace—£3,599.”

Kent’s Alterations in the King’s Grand Staircase.

KENT’S improvements, which must have been carried out about 1725, included—besides the painting of the walls and ceiling—the alteration of the approach to the staircase on the ground floor, where he inserted, in the area or “well,” an arcade of two plain arches, which support, or rather appear to support, the landing above. Under the first arch begins the wide flight of black marble steps, with two landings in the ascent, paved with alternate squares of black and white marble, as is also the long top landing or balcony. The balusters are now painted blue, their original colour, found under successive coats of more recent paint. The hand-rail of oak has had its dirty paint cleaned off.

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Image not available: THE KING’S GRAND STAIRCASE.

No one who did not see this staircase before the restorations were begun can conceive the woeful state of dust, filth, decay and rot which it then presented. With the fine iron balusters broken, damp oozing from the walls, the paintings indistinguishable from incrustations of smoke, and strips of the painted canvas hanging from the walls in shreds—it seemed impossible that it could ever be restored to its pristine splendour. The visitor must judge for himself whether this result has not been triumphantly accomplished.

The Painted Walls of the King’s Grand Staircase.

OPPOSITE the balustrade, on the right side as one goes down the stairs, is a low wainscot of plain moulded panelling; and above this, level with the top of the second landing, is painted a large Vitruvian scroll. The square space thus formed beside the first landing, and the spandril space beside the rise of the stairs, are filled with representations, in chiaro-oscuro, of sea-horses, armorial trophies and other devices, and scroll-work, heightened by gilding. These, as well as similar paintings on the arcade, opposite and under the stairs, show that Kent’s taste and skill as a decorative artist were by no means contemptible, whereas as a painter of subjects or figures he was no artist at all.

The two walls of the staircase above the Vitruvian scroll are painted to represent a gallery, behind a colonnade of the Scamozzian Ionic order, supporting a corresponding entablature, with a frieze embellished with unicorns’ heads, masks of lions, and festoons of foliage, divided by fleurs-de-lys, richly heightened with gold. Between these columns is painted a balustrade; with numerous figures of personages of George I.’s court, looking over it.

In the first and second compartments on the left are yeomen of the guard and various ladies and gentlemen; and a young man in a Polish dress representing a certain Mr. Ulric, a page of the King’s, “and admired by the court,” says Pyne, “for the elegance and beauty of his person;” while the youth standing on the plinth outside the balcony is a page of Lady Suffolk’s. In the third or right-hand compartment on the same wall are seen, among many other unidentified persons, a Quaker and an old man in spectacles.

Two other servants of the court appear in this group, Mahomet and Mustapha, who were taken prisoners by the Imperialists in Hungary. At the raising of the siege of Vienna in 1685, George I., then elector of Hanover, was wounded, and was attended by these two Turks, who had been retained in his service, and who were said to have saved his life. Mahomet apostatized from the faith of his fathers and became a Christian; married a Hanoverian woman and had several children. King George, on his accession to the British throne, brought these two faithful servants with him to England in his suite. They were constantly about his person, and were credited with obtaining large sums of money from persons who purchased their influence to obtain places about the court. Mahomet, however, in whatever way he may have obtained his wealth, made a noble and benevolent use of it; for among many other recorded acts of benevolence, he released from prison about three hundred poor debtors by paying their harsh creditors.

Pope, at any rate, believed in Mahomet’s integrity, for he mentions him in his Epistle to Martha Blount in these lines:

“From peer or bishop ’tis no easy thing
To draw the man who loves his God or King.
Alas! I copy (or, my draught would fail,)
From honest Mahomet or plain Parson Hale.”

Mahomet died of dropsy in 1726, just after these walls were painted. Mustapha, after the death of George I., continued in the service of his successor, and is supposed to have died in Hanover.

In the same group are also a Highlander, and a youth known as “Peter the Wild Boy.” He was found in the woods of Hamelin, near Hanover, in 1725, and when first discovered was walking on his hands and feet, climbing trees with the agility of a squirrel, and feeding upon grass and moss of trees. He was supposed to be about thirteen years of age. He was presented to George I., then in Hanover, when at dinner, and the King made him taste of the different dishes at table. We get this information from Pyne, who adds:

“He was sent over to England in April, 1726, and once more brought before his Majesty and many of the nobility. He could not speak, and scarcely appeared to have any idea of things, but was pleased with the ticking of a watch, the splendid dresses of the King and princess, and endeavoured to put on his own hand a glove that was given to him by her royal highness. He was dressed in gaudy habiliments, but at first disliked this confinement, and much difficulty was found in making him lie on a bed: he, however, soon walked upright, and often sat for his picture. He was at first entrusted to the care of the philosophical Dr. Arbuthnot, who had him baptized Peter; but notwithstanding all the doctor’s pains, he was unable to bring him to the use of speech, or to the pronunciation of words.... He resisted all instruction, and existed on a pension allowed in succession by the three sovereigns in whose reigns he lived. He resided latterly at a farmer’s near Berkhampstead in Hertfordshire, till February, 1785, where he died, at the supposed age of nearly ninety.”

The east wall of the staircase is painted as far as the width of the second landing with a continuation of the arcade, showing a fourth compartment, in which are again figures of yeomen of the guard and ladies—one holding an infant in her arms over the balustrade. Further up, on the same wall, is painted a pedimented niche, with a figure of a Roman emperor; and higher up still, on the top landing or balcony, are figures of Hercules, Diana, Apollo, and Minerva.

All these paintings are on canvas, stretched on battens fixed to the wall.

Painted Ceiling of the King’s Grand Staircase.

THE ceiling of the staircase being square and flat, it did not afford much scope for the exercise of imaginative design, and Kent was obliged to content himself with a very commonplace pattern—sufficiently apparent in the accompanying plate. In the four corners are a sort of double oblong panels, with similar square ones intervening between them. The ground colour is gray. The oblongs are painted with ornamental scroll-work and horses’ heads, the squares with human heads. These panels are bordered with very heavy projecting frames of plaster work, white and gilt, as is also the great square compartment in the middle. The panel of this last is painted with a representation of a circle, within which are four semicircular spaces or apertures, apparently intended to portray a pierced dome with galleries—but they are all in quite impossible perspective. In three of these spaces are seen musicians playing on various instruments, and spectators looking down upon the company below. In the fourth “the painter,” says Pyne, “has introduced his own portrait, holding a palette and pencils, with two of his pupils, who assisted him in the decoration of the walls, and a female of a very pleasing countenance, which is supposed to be a resemblance of an actress with whom he lived in the habits of peculiar friendship, and to whom he left a part of his fortune.”

All these decorations—including “the female of a very pleasing countenance”—the visitor can make out, if he thinks it worth while to incur a stiff neck in doing so; but, in truth, the figures, as well as the perspective, are all so badly drawn and painted, that the less they are examined the better. They prove to us once more that Kent, as a pictorial artist, was beneath contempt. If, however, we are content to look on his paintings on this staircase as mere formless colour decoration, the general effect is rich and sumptuous enough.

The paintings of the staircase were finished, as we have said, about 1726. Three years after we find among the records the following warrant:

“For the delivery of the following for the King’s service at Kensington, viz. for the Great Staircase 6 lanthorns, 12 inches square and 17 high, with a shade over each, an iron scroll and 2 flat sockets for candles, 1 lanthorn for a pattern 11 inches square and 19½ inches high, with scrolls, etc.”

Our illustration, taken from Pyne’s drawing dated 1818, shows these lanthorns still in it. Except for these, which disappeared a long time ago, and the tall German stove, which was only removed a few months ago, the staircase appears exactly the same to-day.

Presence Chamber.

In this room we have a blending of the style of Wren, who originally built and designed it, and of Kent, who redecorated it for George I. The chimney-piece and over-mantel, with its fine Gibbons carving of foliage, fruit, and flowers, the beautifully designed and richly carved oak cornice and the panelled dado are Wren’s; whereas the painted ceiling and the doors are Kent’s. It was, doubtless, he also who altered the spacing of the window sashes, and substituted the present ugly large panes for the originally picturesque small ones. There is record of this being done in 1723, among the old accounts.

The walls appear originally to have been entirely lined, like most of Wren’s rooms, with oak wainscot, but this had entirely disappeared long before the beginning of this century, when they were covered with tapestry, over which were nailed a great quantity of pictures—among them several which have now been brought back here from Hampton Court. At the same period, in 1818, there was still hanging between the windows “a looking-glass of large dimensions, tastefully decorated with festoons of flowers, painted with great truth and spirit by Jean Baptiste Monnoyer.... Queen Mary sat by the painter during the greatest part of the time he was employed in painting it.”

This looking-glass has disappeared. Gibbons’ fine carving, however, over the chimney-piece, of foliage, fruit, and flowers in lime wood fortunately remains. When recently cleaned and repaired, it was found to be so fragile and friable as to necessitate its being all painted over in order to hold the fragments together. An oaken colour, “flatted,” in accord with the prevailing tone of the panelling in the room was thought most suitable.

The two windows of this room, the sashes of which were altered by Kent, look into a small courtyard.

The dimensions of the room are 27 feet 4 inches long, 26 feet 10 inches wide, by 16 feet 4 inches high to the top of the cornice, 18 feet to the highest part of the ceiling.

We presume it to have been in this room that William III. in May, 1698, received the Count de Bonde, Ambassador Extraordinary from the Court of Sweden, when he returned to the King the insignia of the Order of the Garter, which had belonged to Charles XI., King of Sweden. “The Sovereign assembled the Knights Companions upon this occasion in the Presence Chamber, and all appeared in their mantles, caps, and feathers, attended by the officers of the order in their mantles, and the heralds in their coats.”

Painted Ceiling of the Presence Chamber.

THE ceiling of this room, like most of those in the state apartments built by Wren, is “coved” or “saucer-domed,” and was no doubt originally quite plainly-coloured, with a light cream-tinted wash. As we see it now, it gives the idea of an attempt by Kent to imitate Raphael’s Loggie in the Vatican. The paintings have been stated to be in imitation of those “then recently discovered on the ruined walls of Herculaneum and Pompeii,” but these were not unearthed until twenty-five years after. Kent has, however, carefully followed what indications he could get of the decorative treatment of Roman classic art. The colours are bright-reds and blues, enriched with gilding on a white ground. The ceiling, or rather the plaster behind the cornice, bears the date, 1724. Faulkner, in his “History of Kensington,” considers that “a proof of his liberal zeal for the interest of his profession is clearly evinced by his adopting this antique ornament rather than his own historical compositions.” Why this should be the case, however, he does not deign to explain.

Ceremonial Pictures of the Queen’s Reign.

IN this room are arranged the ceremonial pictures of the reign of the Queen, copied from well-known pictures by British artists. They afford most accurate representations of the events depicted, and no doubt will live to remotest history, as interesting and curious specimens of early Victorian art. The scenes, and the participants in them are all too well known to require explanation. Perhaps later on the numbered “key-plans” will be put up to assist in the identification of each personage.

271 Coronation of the Queen in Westminster Abbey, June 28th, 1838. Her Majesty taking the Sacrament . . . . . After C. R. Leslie, R.A.

When the Queen had been formally invested with the insignia of her sovereignty, and had received the homage of the peers, she laid aside the crown and sceptre, and following the Archbishop, advanced to the altar to receive the sacrament.

272 Marriage of the Queen and Prince Albert at the Chapel Royal, St. James’s, 10th February, 1840 . . . . . After Hayter.

273 Christening of the Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace, 10th February, 1841 . . . . . After C. R. Leslie, R.A.

274 Marriage of the Princess Royal to Prince Frederick William of Prussia in the Chapel Royal, St. James’s, 25th January, 1858 . . . . . After J. Phillip, R.A.

275 Christening of the Prince of Wales in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, 28th of January, 1842 . . . . . After Hayter.

276 Marriage of the Prince of Wales and the Princess Alexandra of Denmark in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, 10th March, 1863 . . . . . After W. P. Frith, R.A.

277 A Sketch of the Queen leaving Westminster Abbey after her Coronation . . . . . . By Camille Roqueplan.

Camille Roqueplan was a French artist sent over by Louis Philippe to make sketches at the Queen’s Coronation.

278 The Marriage of H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn and H.R.H. Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, 13th March, 1879 . . . . . After Sidney P. Hall.

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Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:
William Talman, Comptroler=> William Talman, Comptroller {pg 18}
his exernal architectural effect=> his external architectural effect {pg 63}
being situate=> being situated {pg 68}
his face his shaven=> his face is shaven {pg 91}
Prince Octavious was born on February 23rd, 1779=> Prince Octavius was born on February 23rd, 1779 {pg 106}