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From London to Land's End Daniel Defoe

From London to Land's End

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Since the death of King William, Hampton Court seemed abandoned of its patron. They have gotten a kind of proverbial saying relating to Hampton Court, viz., that it has been generally chosen by every other prince since it became a house of note. King Charles was the first that delighted in it since Queen Elizabeth's time. As for the reigns before, it was but newly forfeited to the Crown, and was not made a royal house till King Charles I., who was not only a prince that delighted in country retirements, but knew how to make choice of them by the beauty of their situation, the goodness of the air, &c. He took great delight here, and, had he lived to enjoy it in peace, had purposed to make it another thing than it was. But we all know what took him off from that felicity, and all others; and this house was at last made one of his prisons by his rebellious subjects.

His son, King Charles II., may well be said to have an aversion to the place, for the reason just mentioned--namely, the treatment his royal father met with there--and particularly that the rebel and murderer of his father, Cromwell, afterwards possessed this palace, and revelled here in the blood of the royal party, as he had done in that of his sovereign. King Charles II. therefore chose Windsor, and bestowed a vast sum in beautifying the castle there, and which brought it to the perfection we see it in at this day-- some few alterations excepted, done in the time of King William.

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King William (for King James is not to be named as to his choice of retired palaces, his delight running quite another way)--I say, King William fixed upon Hampton Court, and it was in his reign that Hampton Court put on new clothes, and, being dressed gay and glorious, made the figure we now see it in.

The late queen, taken up for part of her reign in her kind regards to the prince her spouse, was obliged to reside where her care of his health confined her, and in this case kept for the most part at Kensington, where he died; but her Majesty always discovered her delight to be at Windsor, where she chose the little house, as it was called, opposite to the Castle, and took the air in her chaise in the parks and forest as she saw occasion.

Now Hampton Court, by the like alternative, is come into request again; and we find his present Majesty, who is a good judge too of the pleasantness and situation of a place of that kind, has taken Hampton Court into his favour, and has made it much his choice for the summer's retreat of the Court, and where they may best enjoy the diversions of the season. When Hampton Court will find such another favourable juncture as in King William's time, when the remainder of her ashes shall be swept away, and her complete fabric, as designed by King William, shall be finished, I cannot tell; but if ever that shall be, I know no palace in Europe, Versailles excepted, which can come up to her, either for beauty and magnificence, or for extent of building, and the ornaments attending it.

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From London to Land's End
Daniel Defoe

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