"It is a thousand pities" wrote that doyen of departed country houses H. Avery Tipping in a preface to one of the 1919 Hamilton Palace sale catalogues, "that so great and historic a house should disappear. .. Within and without the Palace offers us of the best that the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries produced, and the present dispersal yields a very unusual opportunity of acquiring sumptuous examples of all three periods in the finest possible state of preservation."
The demolition of Hamilton Palace, then the principal residence of Scotland's premier Dukedom of Hamilton and Brandon, took place during the 1920s. Its contents, arguably the most magnificent ever assembled in this country, the Royal collections excepted, were dispersed through a series of sales beginning in the 1880s and culminating in 1919. There were, of course, good and particular reasons for the demolition of this great house and from to-day's vantage point we can also set the abandonment of such establishments more clearly in the context of changing economic, political and social conditions, but its destruction and the dispersal of its contents remain and will continue to be regarded as one of the greatest losses to national heritage ever to have happened in this country.
Formally launched at a reception in the Palace of Holyroodhouse on 3rd December 2003 by gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen, The Virtual Hamilton Palace Trust has been formed to recreate the Palace in a virtual world on the Net and to reassemble as far as possible its unique collection of paintings, furniture and objets d'art which have been dispersed to become the treasures of museums around the world and to set these in their historical and cultural contexts through a series of research projects and the publication of related archive materials.
The Trust believes this would not only provide a hugely important resource for international scholarship, but that it would also have a direct and special significance for Scotland. Chatelherault is already a focus for tourism in Lanarkshire, yet it was merely the Palaces 'dog kennel', so to speak, a tiny structure in the Palace parks. The Trust believes people should have the opportunity of learning about the vast scale of the Palace itself, its galaxy of priceless treasures and those associated with it, both upstairs and downstairs. The Trust believes there is the potential for the project to become one of the most significant art/socio/historical research undertakings ever embarked upon in Scotland.
Trial access to this prototype site (with a temporary username and password) can be arranged by contacting Celia Curnow, Project Editor, Virtual Hamilton Palace Inventories Project.
Please get back to us with any comments you might have.The usability of this site will only improve with feedback to the inventories editorial board.
Type in your username and password to log in to the Virtual Hamilton Palace site.