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Background Movie Clip: the 10th Duke and Hamilton Palace

Video extract courtesy of BBC Scotland and Mentorn Media, from "Clan
Hamilton - Grand Designs" (Scotland's Clans Series)

Click the Play button.  If the movie is not displayed click Adobe Flash Player.

Interviewee Dr Rosalind Marshall
Presenter Paul Murton
Producer Kathryn Ross
Last broadcast on Mon, 2 Nov 2009, 20:00 on BBC Two (Scotland only).

Paul Murton: “Alexander the 10th Duke was a very flamboyant character. He set about making the already magnificent Hamilton Palace even more opulent.”

Rosalind Marshall: “He was tremendously proud of his own family, and his own position, and this connection with the Royal Family. He really wanted to make this the most grandiose house in Scotland, so that people could see exactly how important the Hamiltons were.”   

PM: “But the Duke’s Grand Design didn’t come cheap. Alexander wanted Hamilton Palace to have the equivalent of a Royal Collection. This was a task he threw himself into with great enthusiasm, travelling the world, seeking out rare and exotic pieces of art. It’s said that during his lifetime he spent the equivalent of hundreds of millions of pounds, amassing an incredible collection of paintings, sculpture and furniture. The Duke’s collection contained a number of now world-famous paintings. But he had one particular obsession: Napoleon. He even went to the extent of commissioning what has become one of the most iconic portraits of the Emperor – when Britain was still at war with France.

RM: “I wouldn’t be surprised if his obsession with Napoleon was in a way a reflection of his own view of himself in the world – they were both flamboyant characters who were projecting their personalities. Perhaps he felt an affinity…

PM: Alexander’s art collection at Hamilton Palace would have dwarfed the likes of the famous Burrell Collection. Sadly, it is now spread to the four winds, auctioned off to pay family debts. But even more tragic was the fate that befell the building that had housed his magnificent collection. This is the site of Hamilton Palace. Now for us today it is hard to believe the fate of this once vast and imposing building. But the Hamiltons were once heavily involved in the mining industry. Unfortunately, they undermined the foundations of the Palace itself, and in the early nineteen hundreds it began to subside badly. And in 1921 it had to be completely demolished. So today, the once grand house of the Hamiltons has become this sports centre and a retail park.


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