Ahead of his Coronation, an exhibition has opened looking at how the then Prince of Wales has remodelled his home at Highgrove, with a lot of focus on its work with local crafts and the Prince’s Trust.
As a display, it’s mainly a mix of photos, watercolours and sketches, and dotted around many of the crafts made by young people who are supported by the Prince’s Trust.
One case contains some sketches that have never been seen before of the Prince of Wales’s preparatory drawings for his watercolours, and nearby is one of the final results, a view of Tetbury Church.
About half of the exhibition looks at the works carried out in the Highgrove estate, creating new gardens and walkways. A carpet garden based on Islamic carpets skillfully reverses the notion of the carpet being carried by travellers to remind them of home, where Highgrove now has a permanent carpet of sorts at home.
It’s obvious in hindsight, but you’ll learn why the walled garden at Highgrove, and most other mansion house estates are surrounded by a wall in the first place. It’s quite important.
It turns out there is a type of nature reserve garden called a Stumpery, and Highgrove created one in 1996, which is thought to be the largest in Britain, and looks exactly how I will be laying out my future garden, if I ever own one.
Dotted around the exhibition are examples of work by people supported by the Prince’s Trust, and one thing that struck me is that while there’s the expected focus on high-quality craftsmanship in the work, it’s not twee — but often quite modern in approach and style.
A lot of the fashion inspired by Highgrove’s gardens goes on to be sold in contemporary shops.
Although it’s a modest sized exhibition, it gives a deeper insight into the thinking of The King, beyond the stereotype of a man who talks to plants, and while his interest in supporting the crafts is well known, he’s not that old-fashioned in taste.
The exhibition, Highgrove in Harmony: Exploring A Royal Vision is at The Garrison Chapel until 29th May.
Entry is free, and it’s open Mon-Fri between 11am to 4pm.
The Garrison Chapel is itself an interesting building, as it was the former chapel for the military barracks in Chelsea, but restored as part of the larger housing development around it, and is now managed by the Prince’s Trust.
The Garrison Chapel,
It’s about a 5 minute walk from Sloane Square tube station.
If it whets your appetite, the gardens at Highgrove are also open to the public, although the visitors page goes to some length to dissuade arriving by anything other than a motor vehicle. I think I will call that “challenge accepted”.