Hampton Court is by far one of the most beautiful English royal palaces. The greater part of it was built during the 17th century by the royal couple William and Mary. The English baroque style offers a majestic splendour, truly royal facades, balance, and an extraordinary harmony, but the origins of this sumptuous castle are much more ancient. Cardinal Wolsey built it in the 16th century. This all-powerful favourite of King Henri VIII had acquired a fabulous wealth and could allow himself to build this wonder.
However, feeling that Henry VIII was on the verge of disgracing and probably imprisoning and executing him, Wolsey gifted Hampton Court Palace to the king, who accepted the offering but nonetheless pursued his sinister schemes. The Cardinal’s sudden death prevented him from meeting a much worst fate.
Some forty years ago, at the very beginning of sound and light shows, we decided to hold such a show at Hampton Court, precisely in the part built by Cardinal Wolsey, in front of the extraordinary façade he had had erected.
As it was the first sound and light show in England, thousands of onlookers came to the inauguration. They were dazzled; they applauded, and returned to their houses delighted – with the exception of some forty grouchy spectators who would, the very next day, write angry letters to the BBC, producers of the show. The texts were quasi identical. They had been promised a sound and light show with neither extras nor actors.
So why then, during the show, had the production deemed fit to show Cardinal Wolsey in a large red cardinal’s dress on the terrace, strolling up and down, in full view of all the spectators. Only, the thing is, the BBC had not hired any actor or extras…