Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Restoration at Versailles

The Times has had three reports in recent months about restoration projects at Versailles. 

Last April there was an account of the plan to recreate the garden created as a private refuge for Queen Marie Antoinette. The background the plan are set out at 227 years on, Marie Antoinette’s garden to be restored

This year there has been the announcement of the latest restoration of the Court Theatre at Versailles, also a creation from the time of Queen Marie Antoinette. This is outlined at Curtain rises on restoration at Marie-Antoinette’s Versailles theatre

Now there has been the further announcement of plans to restore the decoration of the apartment of Madame Du Barry which was created for her in 1759 by King Louis XV. The project is described at Versailles revival for Louis XV’s guillotined mistress

I have only visited Versailles once. What surprised me, having read about its creation and the life of the Ancien Regime Court, was the more intimate scale of even the grandest rooms. The human quality of the building came across - photographs can give the impression of an impersonal monolith, but it is not. For all its splendour the personalities could be envisaged, and, with care, as in the film Ridicule be approached when it was the seat of government and nexus of social life.

The other thing I came away with - and I have written about this before on this blog - was the feeling that it was not dead or moribund. Versailles is slumbering, dreaming of its past no doubt, but still a breathing reality as a place. Which brings me to the obvious point readers will expect me to make, and I will not disappoint them. Restoring the fabric of Versailles is wonderful as well as necessary. Equally wonderful and necessary for France is another Restoration - Vive Le Roi !

File:Royal Coat of Arms of France.svg

                      Image: Wikimedia

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