Palaces of Revolution: Life, Death and Art at the Stuart Court
Tuesday 5 October
Lord Leycester Hospital
The story of the Stuart dynasty is a breathless soap opera, played out in just a hundred years, in an array of buildings that span Europe – from Scotland, via Denmark, Holland and Spain to England.
The Tudors are, perhaps, the nation's favourite royal dynasty, but the story of the Stuarts is much more exciting. A remarkable tale of James I, whose elder (favourite) son dies: James is succeeded by his second son, Charles, an aesthete incapable of ruling. Charles goes to war against his own people – he loses and is executed. His son, also Charles, is crowned king in Scotland, and, exiled from England, holds court in Europe. At the end of the Commonwealth, Charles is restored to the throne, but he has no legitimate children and his heir, his brother James, is a bigoted and narrow-minded Roman Catholic, eventually driven out and replaced by his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her Dutch husband William of Orange. Mary and William leave no heir, the throne going to Mary’s sister Anne. She also leaves no issue and the Stuarts are extinguished as a royal line. Breathless indeed …
Simon Thurley, former Chief Executive of English Heritage, shows us the places where these tumultuous events took place. Our journey takes us from Royston and Newmarket, where James I appropriated most of the town centre as a sort of rough-and-ready royal housing estate, to the steamy Turkish baths at Whitehall where Charles II seduced his mistresses. The everyday life of the monarchy through the buildings in which they lived, presenting new stories and insights into the period, with narrative, maps and plans that bring life to the Stuart age.