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Old 01-10-2010, 09:11 PM
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Hampton Court Palace

With time available over the winter holidays, I launched into an old stalled project - completing the Micromodel of Hampton Court Palace. Having made some progress, I thought I would try to document it along the way.

The model: This is the biggest and most complex of the Micromodels, published in 1954, number 21 in the architectural series. It was so big that it came out as three separate packets, A, B and C, with numbered cards running from 1 - 30, has 30 numbered cards of parts, 6 cards that make up the baseplate, two little strips of parts, and two thin sheets of chimney pots and roof ridges. I am always intrigued by Geoffrey Heighway's choices of subjects - some are Icons of England, (Westminster Abbey, HMS Victory) some are copies of models he saw in the Museum of London (The London Gates), and some are items in the news of the day (The UN Building, the train the Queen was to take in South Africa). Not sure why he chose HCP, except that it is open to the public, and perhaps was much visited after WW2?

The building: From Wikipedia, I gather it is a wonderful old pile on the Thames in London, built as a Tudor palace by the show-off Cardinal Wolsey, and used as the royal home from Henry VIII to George II, seriously renovated by Christopher Wren, to rival Versailles, but not lived in for the last 250 years. I have not seen it yet, though now I must next time I visit London, of course.

The actual model: Assuming I finish it, I will enter this in a competition for most delayed model ever. My father bought it from the Dayton's Department Store in Minnesota in the early 1960's, and after doing other Micromodels, we started on it in 1964, finishing most of packet A. We stopped, daunted and a little bored by the zillions of chimneys and acres of brick walls. I have carried it around with my moves since, saying "Soemday...". Now in Nov. 20, 2009, I started up again, though not with the original packets. So that is now 45 years later. I have no photos of the first steps, but started to document it soon after the renovation began.

Several issues are at play in this: First I and my father were enthusiastic but not very skilled, and the original build is a bit slapdash in spots. I am keeping it that way - to respect the modelers we were and the fun we had; I am not starting over. Second, I am using color copies of the cards, that are a bit brighter than the original, which is now slightly yellowed. I like this, actually, as it makes it even more clear what was original from 1964 and what is 2010. Third, Micromodels are REALLY SMALL in spots - the typical four story building is no more than 1.5 cm high. Finally, Heighway was not a precise designer himself - the artwork is crude up close, not all the buildings fit well onto the ground plan, and the errors multiply when there is a long line of little boxes - by the end, the ground plan is off by several mms. There are many little adjustments to make. However, the net effect is often better than the close up camera makes it look.

The first stage was restoring what was left of the original. Some chimneys were gone, some towers had been lost and buildings stoved in. Everything was glued to a hard masonite board that had never been trimmed to size. We really should have trimmed it before we started gluing on the buildings, because they went right up to some edges. This may have been part of why we stopped. So step one was sawing that board with a jigsaw, carefully, but still damaging the buildings right on the edge. Then step two was resurfacing those buildings, replacing the lost towers, and chimneys, and replacing some of the tiny gothic spires that rise from the buildings around the entry gate.
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:20 PM
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Hampton Court Palace - the renovation begins

Here are a few pictures of the starting point after sawing the base to fit, and surveying the missing towers and chimneys. This is the grand Tudor style front entrance, the greenhouse to the right, and some living quarters to the left. The entire model is 9.5 by 7 inches.
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Hampton Court Palace-hcpa2.jpg   Hampton Court Palace-hcpa3.jpg   Hampton Court Palace-hcpa4.jpg   Hampton Court Palace-hcpa5.jpg  
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Old 01-10-2010, 10:10 PM
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I'm glad you're showing this. I like the idea of renovating an old model you started as a kid.
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Old 01-10-2010, 10:42 PM
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What a great idea. And I love your descriptions of the work. This one will be very entertaining to watch.

Don't stop! If it takes another 40 years you might not be able to finish it.
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Old 01-10-2010, 11:07 PM
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Wow, this should be fun.
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:41 PM
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Good luck with the project. The two part chimneys are the "killers"

I made the model about 30 years ago and it took about six months to complete. I even made a fountain using balsa cement.

The "newer" building along the back has interesting memories for me because my daughter was one of 90 kids who applied for only six places at the Royal School of needlework, which is situated on the first (Americans read second ;-) floor . She was sucessful and this was the first time she left home to be near the school.

I'm sure you will be OK with the build but please let me know if you have any questions.

Cheers
Mike
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Old 01-11-2010, 08:14 PM
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I love Micromodel threads. Can't wait to see it finished.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:28 PM
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Cool and an interesting story as to the history of your model! Amazing that the model is in its 5th decade!

I have fond memories of visiting Hampton Court Palace in 1987 or 88 on a date with girl who is now my wife. I think it cost the princely sum of 25 pence to get into the palace. Bet it is rather more than that now!

Modelling and nostalgia, a heady brew!

D
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Old 01-12-2010, 03:03 PM
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FYI the entrance fee for adults is now 14.

It may sound a lot but there's so much to see, you could spend a whole day wandering around.

You may remember that tapestries look quite dull, but that's because of the age - silver thread looks black. So, one of the things they've done in the graet hall is to project the original colours onto some of the tapestries - They now look too colourfull !

Cheers
Mike
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Old 01-12-2010, 04:15 PM
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Sharp intake of breath, 14!

Well I suppose it's not that much in the grand scheme of things and the Royal Palaces do have to spend and spend and spend some more on the upkeep and conservation of their charges.

Oh and Rob should be congratulated on his conservation project too!

D
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