William III's Privy Garden

Simon Thurley sniffs the air in William III's Privy Garden at Hampton Court.

Some places seem, quite wrongly of course, to have seen more 'history' than others. Because Westminster Hall or the White Cliffs of Dover have been the scene of so many events of significance they have a strong sense of history. My main office happens to be in just such a place, Hampton Court Palace. In the evenings and early in the morning I still get a thrill walking through the courtyards and galleries of the palace thinking of all the monarchs and their courtiers who knew the same bricks and stones as I do.

One of the privileges of working on a building such as Hampton Court is that the stones themselves contain echoes of the characters of the builders of the palace and part of the excitement is extracting those echoes. Recently that same sense of historical presence has developed for the gardens, which for the first four years of my time at the palace failed to move me at all.

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