WREN, Christopher
(b. 1632, East Knoyle, d. 1723, London)

Exterior view

1690-96
Photo
Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames

Hampton Court Palace was originally built at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It was extended during the reign of Henry VIII. After the Restoration, King Charles II and his successor James II visited Hampton Court but largely preferred to reside elsewhere. By current French court standards Hampton Court now appeared old-fashioned. It was in 1689, shortly after Louis XIV's court had moved permanently to Versailles, that the palace's antiquated state was addressed. England had two new joint monarchs, William of Orange and his wife, the daughter of James II, Queen Mary II. Within months of their accession they embarked on a massive rebuilding project at Hampton Court. The intention was to demolish the Tudor palace a section at a time, while replacing it with a huge modern palace in the Baroque style. The country's most eminent architect, Sir Christopher Wren, was called upon to draw the plans, while the master of works was to be William Talman.

Hampton Court became the Versailles of the British royal house. Between 1689 and 1692, William III and Queen Mary had their summer residence built on the site of the Tudor palace. However, this was only one part of a much larger project which included different wings, "the King's side" and the "Queen's side," galleries, courtyards and gardens, and was effectively an architectural response to the Louvre. Essential changes were made to the exterior , so that the building as it now stands should be regarded as a compromise. The lively contrast between the stonework and the red of the brick walls is charming. The French influence is clear in the runs of windows across the façade and the garden façade with its portal and pediment.

The picture shows a detail of the garden façade.