Sealing its reputation for aristocratic grandeur, comfort and traditional hospitality, The Rubens at the Palace possesses an incredible collection of cabinets, art works, plaques, sports paraphernalia and other curiosities that will keep passersby engrossed for hours upon end. Therefore, if you’ve always enjoyed history, but prefer items to speed your imagination into gear, you’re in the right hands as we go on a tour of The Rubens’ countless marvels…
Before you enter The Rubens, you may notice a bronze Polish eagle thrusting out of the wall. The gallant bird commemorates the Polish Prime Minister (and General) Sikorski’s residence during the Second World War in what is today part of the Library Restaurant.
The first thing that draws your attention in the richly furnished Cavalry Bar is a giant, beautifully-framed painting of the Royal Scots Greys charging out of a muddy Crimea and into the crimson room. A reproduction of the immensely famous 1881 oil painting by Lady Butler, which depicted the regiment that charged alongside the heavy cavalry at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, it’s hard not go get drawn in by the exhilaration of the scene.
If you’ve spotted a rakish, young bearded chap staring at you out of the corner of your eye, don’t fear, it’s just Rubens – one of the most important baroque artists of the 17th century. Famous for being a successful courtier and diplomat, nowadays he stares out of the dark folds of his Dutch dress, the very picture of a Dutch gentleman.
The Palace lounge is well-named as it houses half the kings and queens of England on its four walls. Stretching from Henry VIII to Victoria, with lots of luminaries in between, the pomp and ceremony on display speaks of power and its vicissitudes.
Five cabinets enclose entire worlds, as if hermetically sealed, from the day-to-day business of the hotel. If you’re a fan of the Henley Royal Regatta, there are oars, books, photographs and badges that stretch almost as far back as its establishment in 1851. If cricket’s more your sport, there are old bats, books, 1930’s rules, caps and tickets. Further round, for hunting enthusiasts, there’s riding equipment, saddle, boots and whip. And further down, a fishing cabinet displays vintage rods, licences, soft split shot, and other objects one might need a book on fishing jargon to decipher.
If the charms of The Rubens’ artworks have left you wishing to tour its corridors in person, why not visit the hotel today?
Images Courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels.