From the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace, Dan Cruickshank tells the story of a thousand years of palace building, the mystery of why so many have vanished and the magic of the ones that survive.
Royal palaces are the most magnificent buildings in our history. Often built to extraordinary levels of luxury and excess, they express the personalities of our kings and queens since 1066. From the Tower of London to Hampton Court Palace, Dan Cruickshank reveals an extraordinary story of buildings, often fortified, that cemented the monarch's claim to the throne. Palaces that reveal our monarchs like no other buildings - their taste for luxury, their fear of the mob, even their relationship with God. Palaces have been caught up in some of the most dramatic events in history - some survive in all their magnificence like Hampton Court while others have vanished from the surface of the earth as completely as if they'd never existed.
Dan Cruickshank charts the arrival of a new style of palace that borrowed from ancient Rome and beyond, as the kings and queens of Britain demanded that architecture proclaim their right to rule, and even their divinity. From London's Banqueting House to the birth of Buckingham Palace via Kensington, Kew and a new wing at Hampton Court, the palace became like a bejewelled casket to house the monarch. But disaster was around the corner and Britain learned that a palace could transform into a prison overnight.
With the widowhood of Queen Victoria, the glorious life of palaces almost came to an abrupt end. There would be just one final flowering of palatial style just before the First World War, on an imperial scale - the redesign of Buckingham Palace and The Mall. The interwar period was a difficult time for many of Britain's best palaces, forced into a half-life of grace-and-favour accommodation for exiled royalty and aristocracy down on their luck. But more recent times would see restoration and conservation on a new scale and, with it, detective work to uncover palace secrets.