Why not honor the Queen by opening the gardens of Buckingham Palace? | rowan moore
AAt some point, thoughts will turn to a monument to the late Queen. It has an £18.9 billion railway line named after it, as well as the old Olympic Park in east London, and some major bridges and other structures, but there is also a value in a place where people can go to remember her.
There is some apprehension about the likely festival of absurd proposals on the subject, but there is hope. A tense discussion after Princess Diana’s death eventually led to a memorial fountain in Hyde Park which, after some technical issues were ironed out, turned out to be quite sweet and charming.
The key is to offer a tangible source of enjoyment rather than a pompous monument: my pitch is that the park-sized gardens of Buckingham Palace are open to the public, accessed by walkways in their forbidding wall . To avoid arguments over architectural style, each could be designed in any of the many practiced by British architects.
Last orders ?
There should be a special place in hell for people who move into an area and then campaign against a pub or venue that was there before they arrived, on the grounds that it creates disruption. Such appears to be the case with the Compton Arms in Islington, north London, a likely inspiration for George Orwell’s 1946 description of his ideal pub, which is subject to licensing review by four neighboring households, a process that could make it financially unviable. .
A claim that the complainants came to the neighborhood during the lockdown is unverified, but it can be guessed that they arrived sometime after the pub was founded in the last century. If you don’t like it, the obvious question is, why did you choose to live nearby? One can only hope Islington Council, which will decide on the review later this month, will protect what is clearly an asset to the borough.
When I visited Strawberry Hill, the fantastic 18th century neo-Gothic house in Twickenham, I found that guidebooks seemed unable to mention the likelihood that its creator, Horace Walpole, was gay, which some believe to be relevant to the way he designed it. They only timidly mentioned his “good friends”. The house’s website is silent on this subject. This suggests that custodians of historic houses need to be more, rather than less, aware of diversity, to be more awake, if you will.
Yet members of the National Trust, which does not own Strawberry Hill but has more than 500 properties in its care, are being asked to ‘deplore’ its involvement in ‘gay pride events’ in a motion ahead of its AGM in November. The motion comes from pressure group Restore Trust, which has also campaigned against highlighting links to colonialism and slavery in historic homes, and the trust itself defends its ‘culture of understanding and respect’ against opponents. Which, if you are one of its more than 5 million members, and can vote against the motion, I respectfully suggest you do.
I don’t mean to say that these Restore Trust activists are identical to the fascistic, black-clad ‘ultras’ among the fans of Olympique de Marseille football club, who last week tore down a Pride flag during a mini – riot after their defeat. by Tottenham Hotspur. On the other hand, the difference between the behavior of the two groups seems to be only a question of style. In any case, the action of the ultras shows that there is still a fight to be waged against violent sectarianism. Again, it’s good to vote.
Rowan Moore is the Observer’s architecture correspondent
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