Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Tijou Gates ... and Holland on my Mind

You may remember that in the early Summer I posted about the wonderful Tijou Gates at Hampton Court,- twelve huge wrought iron panels designed by the celebrated craftsman Jean Tijou in 1690.

After a pretty chequered career, they ended up in King Willliam of Orange's privy garden.  And when I passed on the Thames Path, I was dismayed at what a mess they looked. Ugly guard-fence, weird and tatty paint scheme..

So I asked Historic Royal Palaces what was going on, and after a long wait, have now had a detailed reply.
I promised I would post an update, and so here it is.  They said:
"In 1702 the panels and rails were painted grey and were later seen to have been gilded. This finish has been faithfully reproduced in previous restoration projects. The screens are not painted at random. There is a deliberate painting scheme in place. The railings and 5 of the screens are the original grey colour. 6 are gilded. The black one has been painted in the past but not completely stripped and therefore holds the most evidence to understanding the previous painting schemes. We intend to take this away for further analysis later this year so we can gain the best understanding on the painting of the Tijou.

"The security measures were put in place following a series of vandalism from the Thames path. In 2002 we placed cameras on the main palace that pick up the screens and live pictures are streamed back to the control room. This has helped our security know when someone is tampering with the screens but all too often by the time they got round there the damage had been done. Hence why we had to place a barrier between the screens and the Thames Path as a further deterrent.

"This is the start of an ongoing project and as an independent charity, Historic Royal Palaces is currently raising money through donations for £1million to help us with this project, if you are able to mention
this it would greatly help our plight."
So there you are. They're doing their best, although I still think someone has lost sight of the big picture- that these gates are supposed to be beautiful and impressive, not historically authentic vandal-proof artefacts.  (Oh, but check out the Historic Royal Palaces website - lots of fabulous stuff and I can very much recommend the Enchanted Palace exhiibition which features really cutting edge exhibition design and extraordinary, creative ideas. )

To get back to King William ... he was was Dutch, as was his wife, Mary, and both of them were very keen gardeners - the Dutch have historically loved flowers. 

And I have had Holland on the brain today, having just booked some parking in Amsterdam on a Dutch website, with no English translation. I don't speak a word of Dutch, so I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself. Parking is just as much of a nightmare in Amsterdam as it in London, and prices for anywhere central are eye watering. This garage is only twenty euros a day.   It's about a kilometre's walk from the hotel, but hey, I won't be using the car while I'm in the city, and it means I don't have to use the Park and Ride and trek to and from the suburbs.

At least, I hope not. I won't be entirely sure I've made a big success of this parking booking until I've (a) got in and (b) got out, without problems.

I have been less successful in trying to find a book about Holland that will interest kids. I think it's good for children to know a bit about places they're going to visit.  I haven't been able to find a single one, and in fact there are very, very few books anywhere about other countries. I wonder why.

Still,  I found that video of "A Mouse Lived in A Windmill"  which must date from at least the 1960s and looks as if it was shot in the pouring rain.... children do like the song, though, and there must be many adults who have fond memories of singing it at school. 


  1. Hello Jenny:
    How sad that security issues and acts of vandalism have resulted in such a mess. The gates, as you say, should be beautiful and impressive to behold but in reality just appear to be a muddle and a painting job half done.

    How exciting to be visiting Amsterdam, such a lot to see of interest and we shall look forward to your reports.

    An interesting question about children's books about Holland to which we certainly have no answer. But what fun the little video is and now we have that catchy tune in our heads...!!

    Thank you so much for your kind words on our previous post to which we have made a general reply.

  2. I'm no help as far as books for children are concerned but when we used to stay with our children in Holland with friends who were teachers I'm sure they had children's books on Holland in English so Holland House or somewhere similar might be able to help.

    I'd forgotten all about the song but as soon as I heard the first bar it all came back to me. Wonderful!

  3. I used to be on Citizen's Band radio in the very early 90s. If the atmospheric conditions were right, normally during intense thunderstorms, I could talk to people in Europe. Mainly they were people from Holland. I've always wanted to go ever since. Something about windmills and flatness really appeals, I don't know why!

  4. You know, it is terrible to admit it, but I have never been to Hampton court. Maybe it will be my half term outing! Interesting to read about these gates and what is going on with them. Hope your parking works in Amsterdam!

  5. I love that picture of the windmills!

    It's sad and interesting news about the fence. I do hope they can get it back to the beautiful fence it was intended to be, one day.

  6. It's a shame about the vandalism. Seems the more you try to keep them out the more they want to get at it.
    Lovely painting of the tulip.
    The video and song--the only thing that bothered me was the tossing of the mice into the wooden shoes. Poor things! But it is a cute song.
    I hope your parking works out for you. Take lots of pictures!! :)

  7. wow, i'm impressed by the formality of the reply. and that wasn't a mass email!

  8. It is nice to hear someone replied to your question instead of having your letter go into a black hole. I looked at your parking website and if you are using the Chrome browser, it can translate many of it into English. Can you take public transportation? No children's book on Holland? Sounds like an untapped market. ;)

  9. so much intriguing info!

    Aloha from Waikiki;

    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

  10. I am quite sure you'll have no trouble understanding and making yourself understood in English while at Amsterdam; Dutch seems to be quite the mixture of English and German, and between the three languages, we can relatively easily work out what is meant (most of the time - of course we won't be able to follow an in-depth discussion, but things such as asking for directions or ordering food should be no problem).
    Good luck on the parking :-)
    And indeed, it is a shame that vandalism caused those gates to be hidden behind an ugly barrier.

  11. I'm impressed by the detailed reply you received. The debates about authenticity versus let's-clean-it-up-and-make-it-look-better can seem endless.
    I hope it's a great time in Amsterdam and that you'll meet lots of clog-wearing mice.

  12. Love these wind-mills, there are always fabulous light and colour in Holland!
    The gates! What pity...i think we could start by teaching respect and values to students as soon as Kindergarten...We end up with loads of beautiful artifacts and monuments encased behind's a bit like going to the zoo! Sad!

  13. I hope you have a wonderful time in Holland. I have spent quite a bit of time there and with the Dutch. My slogan from hotels there is 'it is not possible'. I hope your parking and all else is more than possible!

  14. The very best kind of runaround - to gates, to Holland, to children's books. The information about the gates was quite fascinating. I wish you success with your trip to Amsterdam, let us hope you have not booked a parking spot in the middle of a canal due to a little language difficulty.

  15. Yes, the gate do look a bit tatty!
    The Noddy book picture was quite a blast from the past.
    Haven't been to Holland for 30years and long to go again.

  16. I love the 1st shot. That is so wonderful view.
    Great shot!

  17. Great photos and information. It makes me want to get out and travel more.

    God Bless and have a Wonderful Week :-)

    *The Old Geezer Blog

  18. @GB. Never heard of Holland House, can't find it when googling... wonder if still exists? @Rita - good gracious, I never noticed it was mice they were tossing in. How horrible. Actually I think it's an incredibly incompetent film, can hardly believe it was really British Pathe! (I believe their nickname was "British Pathetic", but still....) @AVCre8teur - yes, Google Translate works on IE but it's not much good for the legalistic details, at least not in Dutch ! But I agree, what would we do without Google Translate. @Librarian, following on from this, yes, written Dutch makes some sense if you have English and German, even considering my rusty German. @Alan Burnett thank you for the good wishes about the canal, we will see! :)

  19. I'm with you, why the need for scrupulous historical preservation rather than just something beautiful? I can't see that the colossal cost is really worth it.

  20. Interesting what you learn when you simply ask. It can't be easy to preserve and restore. I love the first image.. of the windmills. Colourful and great perspective.

  21. Oops, I forgot to credit the first image and actually it's not mine. And I can't remember where I took it from. Oh, well, anyway, yes, I thought it was brilliant too! :)

  22. The windmills photo makes me wanna go and visit Holland too.

    And Noddy - well, it just reminded me of my childhood. ^^

  23. Excellent pictures, have a nice weekend!

  24. This windmill is so special, great photo. I have been in NL several times, but fortunately not driving and parking a car.

    You have a great blog!
    Thanks for your visit. About your question, is it a weasel:-)

  25. Well done for getting a reply, Jenny. Such a pity about these magnificent gates, I agree. Well done for booking the parking space!

  26. Sad about the gates, sadder still to think there are people who would vandalize them. I really like the tulip drawing you posted.

    Have a wonderful adventure in Holland.


  27. Nice pictures.
    Netherlands is quite attractive and I'd like to visit someday... I've thought King William came from France and they grought French language to England.

  28. It's good that they got back to you - though it has been a while! I can't help feeling that maybe they should put (some of) the original gates in a museum display, with their different layers in full view, and safe from vandalism ... and then just pick an easily-maintained but consistent 'look' for the ones (which may then be replicas, at least in part) facing the path. I think that's what I'd do!

    As for Holland - I strongly recommend the Harwich ferry. You can get a combined train-and-ferry ticket which includes London to Harwich trains, a daytime or overnight ferry trip, and onward rail travel to anywhere in the Netherlands. Really great value - cheaper than Eurostar and the ferries are lovely new ones. And then you don't need a car ;)

  29. Ótimas informações e lindas fotos fazem ser o seu um blog muito gostozo para ser visitado.Grande abraço.

  30. Good for you for writing to find out about this!
    Holland is just another place that I would love to visit! Can you believe that here in Georgia, we have a Noddy car in our garage from our son's childhood. I think he must have had the best of both worlds!

  31. I just love Holland, I spent nearly three years there. We lived in a small village between Venlo and Nijmegan(sp?). New Zealand immigrants is the perfect land of opportunity with its growing economy and a sought after lifestyle. Our landlord had a beautiful garden and we picked fresh asparagus from the field behind us which was on the banks of the river Maas. If I hadn't come to Canada I would have gone back there. Thank you for the pics, bought back some happy memories for me.

  32. Hi there!
    Great article, my name is Sarah Tijou, my ancestors made the gates under management of Christopher Wren, who allegedly never paid them, otherwise i'd be a millionaire! Nice to see appreciation of the gates!


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