A contemporary reading of the Accession Day Tilts in relation to festival and the Elizabethan notion of ‘lost sense of sight’

Lau, C. 2019. A contemporary reading of the Accession Day Tilts in relation to festival and the Elizabethan notion of ‘lost sense of sight’. in: Brown, J., Frost, C. and Lucas, R. (ed.) Architecture, Festival and the City Abingdon, Oxon Routledge. pp. 35-48

Chapter titleA contemporary reading of the Accession Day Tilts in relation to festival and the Elizabethan notion of ‘lost sense of sight’
AuthorsLau, C.
EditorsBrown, J., Frost, C. and Lucas, R.
Abstract

This paper concerns the roles of users and architecture in relation to history. Issues of site include the architecture of Whitehall, Whitehall Palace and the tiltyard. The Palace was the centre of royal life since 1530 and was argued to be ‘an artistic, political, and social focus’. A fire in 1698, subsequent sporadic rebuilding and occupancy as government offices have hampered historical reconstruction efforts.

Accession Day on 17 November was ‘a holidaye which passed all the popes holidayes’ and the Tilts were a fundamental aspect of the festivities. These jousting tournaments were celebrated in the courtyard of Whitehall Palace and their imagery was designed to build up ‘the political and theological position of Protestant England’.

The notion that the reading of architecture is not static is important if buildings are to contribute to history meaningfully. Hence all shifts, material or otherwise are important. Buildings cannot simply act as backdrops to events, but need to be integrated and read as part of the said occasion. The Horse Guard Parade currently occupies the site of the tiltyard, and accommodates the daily Changing the Queen’s Life Guard as well as the ceremonies of Beating the Retreat and Trooping the Colour.

The notion of ‘lost sense of sight’ in relation to Elizabethan allegory refers to the ability to understand the intention and meaning of certain elements to enable deeper appreciation in works of art and the staging of the Tilts. In this instance, the argument extends to the physical context of Whitehall, and how the ability to interpret, apply and infer historical material regarding the Palace and festivities of the Tilts provides different understandings that enriches the users’ experiences, and transforms their perception of London.

KeywordsAccession Day, Accession Day Tilts, Reformation, Pageantry, Elizabethan Allegory, 'Lost Sense of Sight', Whitehall, Whitehall Palace, Tiltyard, Horse Guards Parade, Horse Guards Building
Book titleArchitecture, Festival and the City
Page range35-48
Year2019
PublisherRoutledge
Publication dates
Published in print2019
Published30 Oct 2018
Place of publicationAbingdon, Oxon
ISBN9781138362338

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