The Palace at Whitehall

I suspect we have all encountered buildings like this at some point. Perhaps not as extensive as Whitehall, but still with that organic quality that tells us that the building has had more than one author.

From the rich and rewarding Quicksilver, by Neal Stephenson:

The Palace must have been a single building at some point, but no-one knew which bit had been put up first; anyway, other buildings had been scabbed onto that first one as fast as stones and mortar could be ferried in, and galleries strung like clothes lines between wings of it that were deemed too far apart; this created courtyards that were, in time, subdivided, and encroached upon by new additions, and filled in. Then the builders turned their ingenuity to bricking up old openings, and chipping out new ones, then bricking up the new ones and re-opening the old, or making new ones yet. In any event, every closet, hall, and room was claimed by one nest or sect of courtiers, just as every snatch of Germany had its own Baron.

I suspect we have all encountered buildings like this at some point. Perhaps not as extensive as Whitehall, but still with that organic quality that tells us that the building has had more than one author. Another form of labyrinth, I suppose.

Quicksilver is packed with descriptions to the growing, evolving London of the seventeenth century. A city built around the river, for the barrow not the motor-car. How different to the meticulously planned New Towns of the United Kingdom, where soulless, empty roundabouts (with their obligatory crop of daffodils) take the place of the thriving ‘gates’ into the heart of the city.

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