An Informal Tour of the Royal Staterooms
Sable Palace is entered through a pair of huge, double oak doors, into a hall walled, floored and ceilinged in white marble. Guards by the door snap to attention as visitors walk through. In the centre of the hall is a free standing staircase going up to the balcony above. Three corridors lead off behind the staircase – left, right and centre.
The palace is cool and airy. Your guide leads you down the marble floored corridor to the left. On the right, about half way down, a large double door opens into a huge dining room. A couple of long tables are in the centre, surrounded by chairs upholstered in grey and green. The walls and ceiling are both richly painted, and six huge windows in the east wall look out onto a courtyard with a pool with a fountain in the centre. A little further down the corridor, on the left, is a door which leads into a drawing room. Again, it is quite large, and well appointed. The walls here are of plasterwork, painted to pick out the details.
There is a second door out of the drawing room, in the south wall, which leads into the grand ballroom. The floor is parquet and well sprung. The room itself is two storeys high, with a balcony all around and there is a set of French windows in the south wall. Again, the room is richly painted, with gilt between the panels. A staircase leads up to the minstrel’s gallery, and the first floor exits.
You enter into a long corridor, decorated with a combination of rich wooden panelling, and paintings – mainly of European scenes, done in a classical style. To the left you’ll be shown a small drawing room, this one hung with velvet drapes and tapestries. The chairs look comfortable, and match the drapes.
Across the hall and slightly further up is a music room, containing piano and harpsicord. A few steps on and there is another drawing room on the left.
“The left is mainly offices,” he explains.
Then you get to the stairwell, and look down on the marble hall. There is a balcony around three sides of it. It looks very light and airy…almost more so than it did downstairs.
He crosses the hall, and heads on up the corridor. The next two doors on the left have “Council Room 1” and “Council Room 2” on them. The one after that he identifies as the Cabinet Room.
However, he actually opens a door on the right. Inside, the room is mainly pannelled, although there are royal blue, velvet drapes in there, also. The furniture all looks to be traditional English…sturdy, made of oak, and with detailed carvings on the legs and backs of the chairs, and around the desk. There is one further door out.
A picture of Queen Claire, with two children aged about seven – a boy with dirty blond hair and green eyes, and a girl with ash blond hair and very dark blue eyes, like Claire’s – hangs over the fireplace. They are shown beside a woodland lake, and the hand that painted them is that of the King.
This is the official office…where the King meets people who want an audience that doesn’t involve full court, and gives access to the throne room.
Your guide crosses to the other door and opens it. You exit out onto a similar balcony to the one around the ballroom, half way up the two-storey room, only this one only goes around three walls instead of four. The wall opposite you – the north wall – has eight huge sets of windows in it, all of them stretching from about five feet above the floor, to about ten feet below the ceiling, which looks to be about fifty feet high in total. The windows are probably each about fifteen feet wide (this is a *big* room – about 210x150ft in size). Deep red curtains hang either side of each window.
The floor is marble, although a carpet matching the drapes is over the area immediately around the throne, fringed in gold. The walls on the other three walls are of plaster relief, lavishly painted. The beams of the roof are visible above you, with banners showing the royal device hanging from them.
Your guide smiles, then heads down the stairs from the balcony into the throne room. There are three doors in the south wall.
“A couple more drawing rooms…for informal meetings and the like. Most of this end of the palace is staterooms of that nature.”
He goes out of the central door, and you are back in the corridor where you first started. He leads you back to the marble hall, then turns right…down the corridor you haven’t been down yet. It is fairly short, and ends in a pair of double doors. These lead out into the central courtyard, the fountain in the centre.
The courtyard is huge, with the fountain in pride of place in the centre. Lawn surrounds it for some distance, then gives way to mosaic walkways, about sixty feet wide. Both the north and south wings of the palace – the other two sides of the horseshoe as it were, have colonnaded walkways around them, almost like a monk’s cloister.
Your guide heads towards the fountain.Under the lily pads, it is possible to make out large numbers of carp, of various sizes and colours, swimming in the water. He leads you through the gap in the horseshoe, and out into the formal gardens. They stretch for some distance…then fall away into the brilliant blue water of the lake. The path to the left passes a well-tended rose garden, and finally a path towards the south leads to a stairway down the cliff to the beach, where there is a small jetty. The sand of the beach is quite dark, but very clean, and the cool water laps gently against it.