It seemed as though all eyes were on England and her flourishing royal family this week during Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. Despite the rain, millions of supporters showed up on the Mall preceding Buckingham Palace to see the Queen step out on the famous balcony. Millions more watched from their living rooms as the events unfolded on their television and computer screens. Any eyes that were not on England in the last few weeks won’t be able to help noticing the London Summer Olympics, which will be playing into our living rooms from July 27th to August 12th.
While many of England’s buildings hold interesting and tangential histories to these topics, one in particular deserves a thought: the Queen’s House in Greenwich. A vision in white and columns, the estate reminds one of the colonial period, or perhaps Jane Austen’s era. In fact, however, the building dates to 1616, an impressive date even in England and especially for such classical architecture. Built by Inigo Jones, it was the first Palladian building in England.
The stunning residence, with its main front house linked to wings by colonnades in the 1800s, was originally commissioned by King James I for his wife, Anne of Denmark. It has since served many uses and is now an anchor to the “Maritime Greenwich” UNESCO World Heritage Site. What about during the Olympics? The grounds behind the Queen’s House will be used for the equestrian events and the modern pentathlon.
So as the future unfolds in world-record races and newly crowned Olympic victors, keep an eye out for the past as well. During the London Games, England will also display buildings—and a country—steeped in fascinating history.
— Susie Trexler