Henry VIII might have been a bit of a lothario, but not all of his thinking was done south of his generous waistline and he did produce some astonishing stuff during his lifetime. Sadly of his most self-aggrandising project, Nonsuch Palace, there are no remains. In fact there is barely any evidence it ever existed.
You can still visit the grounds, Nonsuch Park (which was just recently saved for the nation by a joint custody arrangement), and apparently the outline of the former folly is visible from the air. Just about. There is some kind of architectural karma in the fact that the portly one levelled the church and village of Cuddington to build his palace, and yet barely 150 years later it had been dismantled, vanished, sold off as a bad debt.
Which is why the re-appearance of a rare painting by Joris Hoefnagel is really rather exciting. The image is one of only three surviving contemporary paintings of the structure, and is a thing of beauty in itself, all wispy sludges and stylish brush marks. It shows a glorious Camelot-ish confection of turrets and flags and crenellations, a Tudor fairy castle. We drew something similar when we were at nursery school; you probably did too. In fact it does not look unlike early designs for Londonist Towers. The difference between kingly ones and blogging paupers is that he actually made it happen. Ho hum.
The painting is to be auctioned at Christie's in the near future. (Image/McTumshie)