Context 159 - May 2019

62 C O N T E X T 1 5 9 : M A Y 2 0 1 9 panorama, and it flips seemingly randomly between use of the terms. It helpfully provides explanations of how some view protection methodologies work and it references seminal international works on appreciation of townscape qualities, such as Cullen’s The Concise Townscape , Lynch’s The Image of a City and Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities . Brigden’s book was published in 2018, but regrettably the content seems not to have been updated since the PhD was first written and has some out-of-date content. It devotes much discussion on English Heritage’s Seeing the History in theView , but this was replaced by Historic England’s The Setting of Heritage Assets: Historic Environment Good Practice Advice in Planning Note 3 (second edition) in 2017, which does not even get a mention. Likewise, the Guidelines for Landscape andVisual Impact Assessment, by the Landscape Institute and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, is also ignored. A reference number, but no text explanation, is given to ICOMOS’s Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessment for Cultural World Heritage Sites (2011). Only towards the end of the final chapter does the book begin to move ‘towards’ recommending a suitable international methodology for assessing the value of views and the impact of development on them. For a book about landscape qualities and the visual senses, it is frustrating that the graphics in the book disregard the necessity of visual accessibility: the font is exceptionally small and in an indistinct grey tone, and the over- glossy paper requires constant shifting in the angle of the book. The quality of reproduction of the images, especially of the historic paintings of landscapes, is poor, rendering detailed landscape paintings of great depth into mere silhouettes. Despite its weaknesses, however, Value in theView is well worth a look as it will provide most readers with a better understanding of the complexity of views, and this better understanding should lead to better appreciation and better decision- making. John Hinchliffe, independent planner and heritage consultant A palace and its people The Story of Kensington Palace Tracy Borman, Merrell in association with Historic Royal Palaces, 2019, 160 pages, 200 colour and black and white illustrations, one plan, hardback, ISBN 978 1 858946 74 0, £24.95 Kensington Palace is a complicated building composed of so many extensions dating from successive building campaigns that it is difficult to appreciate as a whole. Despite the contributions of significant architects and craftsmen such as Wren, Hawksmoor, Vanbrugh, Colen Campbell, Grinling Gibbons andWilliam Kent, it lacks architectural cohesion and a single guiding hand to impose a unifying discipline over its many parts. The building began life at the beginning of the 17th century as one of a group of small villas in the then rural village of Kensington to the west of London. It was built for the courtier Sir George Coppin, whose principal residence was in the Strand. Its distinctive double-pile plan with projecting bow windows is only known from the collection of architectural drawings made by John Thorpe, and one of the many virtues of this attractively produced book is the computer-generated reconstruction in full colour of its original form. The villa was bought in 1689 by William III and Queen Mary as a retreat away from the unhealthy atmosphere at Whitehall Palace but with convenient access to the court in London. Its transformation into a Royal Palace was initially on a very modest scale but it was successively enlarged in a piecemeal fashion under the first two Hanoverian kings until the death of George II. It then became the home of younger members of the Royal family and further additions were made to accommodate them. It still fulfils that role today, but the State Apartments are open to the public under the meticulous care of Historic Royal Palaces and attract 600,000 visitors a year. The complicated architecture and the garden setting provide the background for Tracey Borman’s book, but her main theme is the social and political significance of the palace, with a focus on the characters and the preferences of the individual personalities who shaped its development. The book is written in a chatty prose style liberally embellished with enticing anecdotes but soundly underpinned by historical scholarship. Its intended audience is undoubtedly the general public who visit in such large numbers, but there is much to enjoy for those with more specialised interests. The generous number of illustrations is a particular delight. They include historic prints and portraits, all reproduced with exceptional clarity, and an inspired collection of modern photographs of the palace today. Of particular relevance to the readers of Context is an account of the personal intervention of Queen Victoria, who had been born in the palace. In 1852 she resisted a proposal for its total demolition in order to build a new national gallery and in 1897 she promoted a restoration of the State Apartments, which had