Thorney Tales (3) - The Jewel Tower
Visit to Bridgewater House
Walking through the front door of Bridgewater House overlooking The Green Park, you are almost blown over by what you see. Instead of a hallway to a private residence you are immediately propelled into the Great Saloon designed by Charles Barry as part of a reconstruction and looking like the forum of Barry's Reform Club only it is even bigger. Standing on the million pound carpet and looking skywards towards the glass roof your eye is caught by a ring of domes, half of which turn out to be mirror images.
At one end of the ground floor is a set of murals by Jakob Götzenberger depicting scenes from the masque Comus which was actually commisioned from John Milton (who lived for part of his life on the other side of St James' Park in Petty France) by a former owner of the house and depicts the Earl of Bridgewater talking to
Milton. Bridgewater was an ancestor of Lord Ellesmere who orchestrated the present reconstruction in the 1840s and to make sure posterity did not forget, he left dozens of his initials at strategic points throughout the house.
The famous gallery with works by Titian, da Vinci, Raphael, Rembrandt and others is no longer there having been converted into offices but we were able to get a glimpse of its former glory by seeing the pillars at either end, one section of which has been converted into a small chapel.
Thorney Tales (1) - Britain's Hidden Treasure Trove
What was it about this tiny stretch of land called Thorney Island, measuring barely 560m by 330m - that has had such an effect on the English-speaking world? If it had merely given birth to Westminster Abbey, where so many kings and queens of England were crowned and buried in competitive splendour it would have earned its place in history. But it also became the seat of government, and for over 500 years a palace for kings and queens.