Friday, 29 June 2012

Tudor Tilt Yard to Sand Pit ... Elizabeth I’s birthday playground to car park ...

Two hundred years ago the Duke of Wellington commanded the British Army from here; in the 21st century the first Polo Championships were held at Horse Guards Parade ... which is more usually known for Trooping the Colour ...
Trooping the Colour pre 2012

... that military ceremony dating back to the 18th century, when the colours (flags) of the battalion were carried (or “trooped”) down the ranks so they could be seen and recognised by the soldiers.

From 18th June 2012 Horse Guards will be being converted into the Beach Volley Ball venue for the Olympic Games ... whatever next?

Horse Guards Parade - the sand is being spread about
Sand will be ‘imported’ ... fortunately we have sand near Heathrow ... so a mere 2,500 tonnes (4,115 tons) will be trucked in to create a beach at this historic Tudor Jousting site.

The work for the latest and last build of the 2012 Olympics could not begin until after Trooping the Colour, now combined with the annual celebration for Her Majesty the Queen’s official birthday – this year on 16th June 2012.

The Royal Family on the balcony
after Trooping the Colour 2012

Although the Queen was born on 21 April, it has long been the tradition to celebrate the Sovereign’s birthday publicly on a day in the summer, when good weather is more likely.

The Household Division (Foot Guards and Household Cavalry) are responsible for Trooping the Colour, while the troops still remain fully trained at Her Majesty’s Service.

A mounted trooper

Horse Guards parade was formerly the site of the Palace of White Hall’s tiltyard, where tournaments (including jousting) were held in the time of Henry VIII (five hundred years ago) .... then his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, had her annual birthday celebrations there on 7th September.

The Palace of White Hall was the main residence of the English monarchs in London from 1530 until 1698, when all except Inigo Jones’s 1622 Banqueting House was destroyed by fire.

The Palace of Whitehall by Hendrick Danckerts, c 1675.
The view is from the west, in St james's Park.  The Horse Guards
Barracks is on the extreme left, with the taller Banqueting House
behind it.  The four-towered building, left of centre, is the
palace gatehouse, the "Holbein Gate".
Before the fire it had grown to be the largest palace in Europe, with over 1,500 rooms – larger than the Vatican and Versailles.  William III, Prince of Orange, was on the throne at the time – Mary his wife (William and Mary) had died in 1694.

Since the 17th century it was used for a variety of reviews, parades and other ceremonies ... and was once the Headquarters of the British Army – The Duke of Wellington was based in Horse Guards when he was Commander-in-Chief.

Massed bands playing at a Trooping the Colour
During the 20th century it became a car park ... being known as the ‘Great Perk’ – but the Provisional IRA’s mortar attack on 10 Downing Street in 1991 ... finally led to the announcement that car parking on Horse Guards parade would be ended.

The 1st London Polo Championships in 2009, with a host of teams from around the world, were held on the parade ground.

Competitors in action .... testing

2012 heralds another type of tournament – which will almost certainly be a once off for at least one hundred years, if not a millennia, more probably ever – the hosting of the Beach Volley Ball Competition at the Summer Olympics.

Horse Guards had a test run last August ... the construction was different in scale to that occurring as I post ... a centre court was built in the actual Olympic position, 1,500 seats were erected, the sand was brought in ...

Elizabeth I - what would she think?
 ... the technology was tested, the sport was tried out, the venue was ‘cleared down’ without leaving an imprint (an essential to the plan)...

... the initial drafts were confirmed, allowing time before the actual build, to be detailed up, bearing in mind the short construct time – 36 days instead of the usual 14 months.

The Mall during 2012
The kilometre long Mall (0.62 mile) – synthetic iron oxide pigment giving the Mall that red carpet effect – will once again be festooned with - this time - Olympic bunting ...

... now Horse Guards will hold a centre court, two warm-up courts, six training courts, seating for 15,000 ... along with paraphernalia required for an arena, a broadcast site etc ...

Beach Volley Ball arena in preparation
... a further 3,000 seats will be added on the Mall which will see the start and finish of the road walk, marathon and road cycling, along with the Paralympic marathon – the final event of both Summer Olympic Games 2012.

The logistics and thought going into the provision of the Games within London is, I found, very interesting and I’ll post about that later –

... but as far as Beach Volley Ball on the jousting ground of half a millennia ago is concerned, spectators will watch the action with the London Eye, Big Ben and a Grade 1 listed building facade as their background.

It will be one of the spectacles - as over 4 billion people will watch these Olympics – partly to see the competitions, but probably just as much to see London from a completely different standpoint ...

... Extraordinary does not really describe it ... it will be quite fascinating to see it unfold ....

... but in the meantime I, and I'm sure many Brits, would like this terrible weather we're having to disappear somewhere else - that sky looks foreboding - but yesterday the sky chucked it down, the tornadoes flew, lightning flashed and hailstones stoned .... leaving us with floods, torrents, landslides, fires and general major disruption ... 

See my post on Polo here

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


T. Powell Coltrin said...

Hilary, You all have a lot going on this year don't you?

I believe I need to visit there for the rest of the year so I don't miss anything.

It amazes me how things can be transformed for special events.


Old Kitty said...

The Olympics about to happen is totally gathering apace!! I just hope all goes well and those of us who will have to travel to work during this time will be ok too! LOL!! But it's SOOOOOO exciting!!!! What a priveledge!

I am counting my blessings here in Herts as the weather's been ok. It's awful everywhere else though so fingers crossed things settle down soon. Take care

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I remember when Salt Lake hosted the Winter Olympics, it was absolutely exciting and preparation took many long years. Thrilling!

Rosalind Adam said...

We're getting ready for the flame to come past on Monday. It's going past the end of our street so we won't even have any parking problems! It's certainly getting exciting but I don't think I want to be in London during the event. Far too many people.

Hope you kept safe yesterday in that tornado-style storm. We were well and truly battered here in Leicester.

nutschell said...

London is a busy place this year! Love how I feel like I'm there thanks to your descriptions:)

Happy Weekend!

Soul Dipper said...

Those dark clouds are very dramatic! Weather around the world is so unpredictable this year. We must have tipped the axis!

Don't let that divine little island sink with all the added sand, bleachers and visitors! Your mom and you may want to escape to my home, Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Teresa .. rather a lot in this little island of ours - no please keep coming back - this is the place for the different take.

I look forward to writing about the transformation of London - it's very interesting ..

@ Old Kitty - it sure is gathering apace and very hard to keep up with. I sincerely hope your travel won't be disrupted too much - but it is sooooooo exciting and we are very priveleged to be able to enjoy this summer (even if it's wet!).

Thankfully we've been ok down here weather wise .. but it's quite extraordinary how much rain has fallen since our drought was declared!!

@ Karen - that must have been exciting being around the Winter Olympics - I know I watched some of it ... I love ice skating ...

@ Ros - how wonderful it's so nearby .. in 1948 the marathon came past our house (apparently!!). I hope you get to see the flame and enjoy the involvement .. I don't want to be in London during the Olympics either ..

The tornado style storm hit Lincolnshire - well the tornadoes did ... the rest of the weather system went north with terrible damage - glad you were just battered, but not out as such ...

@ Nutschell - you've walked around so much of London and seen so many of the sites - so you can at least visualise some of the areas .. just delighted you're enjoying these posts.

Thanks - you too have a good weekend ..

@ Amy - yes .. the dark clouds have deluged some of this little island - you might be right ... perhaps the man in the moon could just shift his little foot back to where it was!

I'd be delighted to escape to your home ... getting my mother would be challenging - though we've had some fun times laughing at the process of getting her overseas - an impossibility sadly - but dreams could be made a few years ago ...

Cheers to you all ... thanks so much for your support ... Hilary

Annalisa Crawford said...

There's just something so British about having beach volleyball so many miles away from an actual beach!

Anonymous said...

Like Karen G., I remember the Olympics in Salt Lake (USA). But oh, London. How magnificent! All that sand is incredible!! Thank you, Hilary, for taking the time to write such great text and entertain us with the most amazing pictures!! Weather here where Jen and I are: dreadful. 107 degrees in my car! And her power chair has broken. I have to laboriously push her this weekend in a manual chair. But it could be worse. We have A/C, electricity, and all other necessities that much of the world doesn't have. We are blessed!

Blessings on you and your mum, dear friend!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

So many exciting things are happening over there. I'm happy for you. It's lovely to be part of these historical events.

Lynn said...

It will be fascinating to watch those sorts of Olympic events to unfold in England. I'm looking forward to it very much.

I was there in 1997 and am so glad of that perspective now.

Arlee Bird said...

The beach volleyball is entertaining and it's interesting how they will be presenting it in this year's Olympics. However, I would like to have seen jousting added as an Olympic event. What a great summer spectacle that would be! Yes, let's bring back jousting.

A Faraway View

Elise Fallson said...

Wish I could be there to see the Olympics in person. Must be a very busy time in London this year.

Jo said...

Oh yes Lee, I so agree, lets bring back jousting. I do hope the weather improves for the games.

A Canadian friend who recently moved to Manchester area has a picture of herself holding the torch and standing close to the official runner, who also came from Ontario. What a coincidence.

Interesting post once again Hilary.

Susan Scheid said...

You certainly do deserve a break in the weather over there! Nonetheless, the festivities look spectacular, and I'm enjoying your reports!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Annalisa - it's such a wonderful venue .. the river is only yards away .. but I guess mud isn't quite the same - is it!

@ Ann - glad you got to see some of the Winter Olympics ... well the 21st C take on the Olympics in London will be fascinating to watch.

Sorry about the power outage for Jen's chair - gosh that must be so frustrating - when we have mod cons we do expect them (and bitterly hope they)do and will work. I hope you get some help from friends/ or passers by ..

As you say we count our blessings and I know you do yours despite all ..

Thanks for your thoughts re my Mama ..

@ Joylene - glad you're enjoying the posts on and around London ..

@ Lynn - you'll recognise a great deal of the skyline and have a feel for the venues .. the Olympics will be extraordinary ..

@ Lee - well we could petition for jousting .. but not sure it will fit in - in Brazil .. but they've plenty of sand for it - and a beautiful setting against the Sugarloaf ..

Loved the Jousting in 'A Knight's Tale' ..

@ Elise - London is going to be very busy .. sure hope it's going to be a brilliant time - fun to be in the UK though ...

@ Jo - another jousting fan - I hope the weather improves full stop!

Great that you heard from your Canadian friend with a photo of the torch etc ..

@ Susan - weather still here! I just hope it doesn't rain on our Parade - we could do with a sunny Olympics .. Thanks for the thumbs up for the posts ..

Lovely seeing you all .. have happy weekends be they very hot or wet .. and stay safe .. cheers HIlary

Juliet said...

Beach volley ball in the rain? What a fascinating and rather funny layering of events. You tell the story so well, and as always, I learn a little more about British history from more blog, in an enjoyable way.

Pamreader said...

The work going into the London 2012 Games is impressive. I hope that the weather does change for everyone who is taking part in it, or going to London to watch it. I'll be cheering them on from the sofa!

Suze said...

Hil, I always learn an enormous amount about your beautiful country when I visit here. Another post very thoroughly and well done, I am emailing a link to it to my husband.

Btw, I saw a Jubilee placard at a local retailer, recently, and knew its design origin because of your excellent posts on the celebrations!

Sara said...

It's amazing to me how London is converting itself to accommodate the Olympics. It's not easy in a sprawling city, like London.

When we arrived there recently, I was surprised by the ski lift over the Olympic stadium. It seemed so strange to see it:~) We flew into the city airport which gave us a very nice view of the city.

The weather does need to give everyone a break. I've been watching the Irish Open and things aren't too great there either.

As usual, I love your posts. They are so informative and entertaining!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Juliet - I sure hope it's stopped raining by the time the Olympics come around - delighted you enjoyed this layering .. London is being transformed. Delighted you enjoyed the post - thanks ..

@ Pam - London is coming to life in a very different way. I too will be cheering them on from a chair! come rain or shine .. good to see you.

@ Suze - delighted you're enjoying your time here - I'm honoured you passed the link on to your hubby .. hope he enjoyed it!

It's interesting isn't it - how once something comes into our cognisance we seem to find the word or image elsewhere .. I keep tying things up ... great you recognised the Jubilee emblem - Her Maj will be pleased!!

@ Sara - it will be so interesting seeing it all unfold .. I hadn't heard of the ski-lift ... now I'll have to look into that - but they've got a cable car from Greenwich across the river - I'll have to find out more about that too ..

I think I should book myself a flight in and out of City airport - sounds a great view ..

The weather .. well we've had two fine days down south, but very blustery .. oh yes - in Northern Ireland .. the weather's still awful .. they had major floods after the Queen had made her historic visit last week.

Delighted you've enjoyed this and other visits ..

Great seeing you Juliet, Pam, Suze and Sara ... have a happy weekend - especially those in northern America .. cheers Hilary

Bish Denham said...

So much going one on your Island Nation this year! And what history that spot has. From jousting to volley ball, quite a stretch.

Talli Roland said...

Ever year I mean to go to the Trooping... and every year, I forget!

I'm so bitter about the Olympics. I've always wanted to watch an event, and I applied for tickets but didn't get any! Bah.

Denise Covey said...

Britain having bad weather, surely not Hilary! Somehow beach volley ball and London seems a strange combo. It will be interesting to say the least. Thanks for an informative post as always.

I, on the other hand, am experiencing sunny skies and warm weather in a Fijian winter.


Martha said...

Wish I could be there to watch! Those storms sure sound familiar. It was last week for us. Stay safe!!

Golden Eagle said...

It must be interesting to watch the city prepare for the event.

Great pictures!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I never knew the Queen's birthday was celebrated in the summer to ensure good weather. I might adopt that practice since mine is in February...brrr!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bish - it is a stretch of the imagination .. Jousting to Beach Volley Ball .. isn't it.

@ Talli - you can get tickets for the test runs and for the event .. perhaps next year you'll pram there?!

Sorry about the Olympics - I think there are lots of disappointed people/s around ..

@ Denise - I know I know - blue skies and sunny days is faraway Fiji .. many of us would love to join you - is the island big enough? we're on our way.

The weather is really not behaving in the northern hemisphere at all - would love to join you!!

@ Martha - it is going to be a good summer (if you can call it that) .. the weather systems are very erratic ..

@ Golden Eagle - the city is being prepared in more ways than one .. thanks re the pictures

@ Susan - We forget these strange facts .. but I'll join you in switching mine to the summer - it was nice being in South Africa and being able to have a summer birthday poolside! Rather than the normal cold one in January ..

Thanks so much for your comments - I hope friends and family in the States are safe after those storms .. enjoy the Canadian and American holidays this week - Hilary

M. Reka said...

So many beautiful and exciting things are happening over here, Hilary. It's great for us to be part of these historical events.

Davina said...

Lol, Hilary. :-)
"... whatever next?" Hehehe. I've never heard of such a thing. Beach Volley Ball for the Olympic Games!? At any rate, it will be interesting to see how this develops. The Olympics continue to grow... It would be an experience, as you have noted, to watch simply to see the backdrop of London. I imagine the players would welcome the venue as well.

I like the phrase "trooping the colour." You could have fun creating different meanings behind the origin of that phrase!

I wonder if the Royals still celebrate the Queen's birthday on THE day, only privately. I assume so.

Wow, 1,500 rooms in the Palace of White Hall! You know, I imagine you could also do an A-Z series on Palaces, just like you did with castles. That would be an interesting one as well -- lots of history. Maybe next year....

Julie Flanders said...

It's funny to think of a beach volleyball tournament right in the middle of London, I can't imagine. I know I will look forward to watching the Olympics to see all the changes to London, what an exciting time for the city. It's fun to be there virtually through your posts!

Jannie Funster said...

36 days instead of the usual 14 months... that IS amazing!!

Yes, I will be one of the 4 billion watching!! Can't wit to see what the Grand Opening will be like. And SO excited about the gymnastics this year, as you-know-who is a big fan of that now.

I loved the hats in the Royals balcony pic. Like from another age, really. :)


Chase March said...

Hi Hilary,

I had no idea that beach volleyball was such a complicated affair. It is a pretty popular sport over here. Sand is quite abundant and I don't think it takes that much effort to get a tournament going.

I also didn't know that birthday celebrations get delayed until the warmer weather for your Sovereign.

Interesting read . . . as always!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I wish I could be there for all the Olympic excitement. The thought of trucking in sand for beach volleyball and placing it in such an interesting location made me laugh. I'll be looking forward to watching that venue for sure. :D

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Marinela .. glad you'll be enjoying the Olympics too ..

@ Davina .. I know you sort of question whatever next as a sport - let alone placing Beach Volley Ball in the middle of London - oh well! It is interesting learning about the process .. and what the players will think - I expect they'll have one thing on their mind: a medal ..

"Trooping the Colour" - has very specific military origins and I'd be foolish to attempt to explain or even serious consider playing with it.

I'm sure they celebrate each other's birthdays .. but by force majeure they all (all) gather in June - and that never usually happens. Even this year the Duke of Edinburgh's birthday they weren't all around ..

I could do an A - Z series on Palaces - not sure we have sufficient of those in Britain .. but my plan is set for next year!

@ Julie .. glad you'll be watching the Olympics unfold across London - it will be a very exciting time for us in England .. and I'll keep you updated as best I can - thanks for the thumbs up!

@ Jannie .. preplanned to the last detail .. yes whenever I see gymnastics I think of you practising away each week ..

The opening ceremony will be very interesting to see what we've come up with ..

The ladies still love wearing hats and looking oh so smart - and they do .. we have lots of opportunities here to wear them - if we attend various events - but at least us lesser mortals don't have to get dressed up to the nines all the time - thankfully!

Good to see you and so glad you'll get some time to watch .. xoxoxo

@ Chase.. it is the Olympics we're talking about so the venue has to be 'perfect' .. security in the middle of London to be considered, building the courts to specific standards .. etc etc .. I'm sure just playing on the beach is easy - but a formal tournament ... not so sure.

She is your Sovereign too - I think?! .. combining the official birthday and 'the Troop' goes back to 1748 ..

Good to know you enjoyed the read ..

@ Patricia - so much is happening - and I hope you enjoy any viewing time you get .. trucking in the sand does seem odd - rather like kids playing ..

Horse Guards Beach Volley Ball will certainly be an interesting venue ..

Thanks so much - lovely seeing you all .. cheers Hilary

Nick Wilford said...

I chuckled when I heard about this story. Seems incongruous, but it is a good use of the space!

cleemckenzie said...

How sensible to move the queen's birthday to when it's convenient. Mine's in Feb. and the weather is always cold and rainy. I should have changed it to June.

As to the iterations of of the Tudor Tilt Yard--that's quite innovative. Not sure her majesty Victoria would take to the idea of volleyball at the Horse Guards, but she might surprise us.

Always wonderful to learn more of your island's history.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nick - chuckling lightly .. seems a very good way of putting it. Incongruous .. but very good use of space - as you say.

@ Lee - my birthday too is January .. so a summer birthday does make sense doesn't it ...

I wonder how many others will be turning in their graves at life's developments .. I keep hearing about Tilt Yards in other settings ..

Cheers Nick and Lee - good to see you .. Hilary

MorningAJ said...

I seem to have missed an awful lot of your recent posts Hilary, I'm not sure why. I think Blogger is punishing me for refusing to change to the new layout!

I wonder how the imported sand is doing in the current torrential rain? It's probably on its way down several drains by now if they haven't got it well trapped in!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Morning AJ .. sorry I missed your comment - well I haven't changed to the new layout.

My sister-in-law is going to the Beach Volley Ball - so perhaps I'll find out ...

Cheers - Hilary

Gattina said...

Very interesting post ! I loved to cross London by bus the day before the opening of the games, what a special atmosphere ! I think it all was very well organized !

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Gattina .. sorry your comment went to spam-moderation .. and I only picked it up now ... I spotted you arrived in London the day before the Olympics started and it must have been an amazing journey ... such fun - and you're lucky to have been around.

Cheers - good to see you - Hilary