The intriguing title of Martin Heard’s talk, ‘George IV, connoisseur or con man?’, was clearly calculated to intrigue members and there was indeed a good turnout for this, the first talk of the new season.
Martin proved a lively and humorous speaker, as he explained the reasons why such very differing views of George IV have been taken. He is seen as a patron of the Arts and architecture; indeed many of the paintings in the Royal Collection are there as a result of his interest. Equally, there is no doubt that during his lifetime, he was regarded as a wastrel and a libertine.
George III, his father, was known for his culture and his son was well educated and his conversation said to be of worth. In 1783, when he was 21 and became Prince of Wales, he gained private income of his own, but his expenses soon exceeded his income.
He lavished money on remodelling his houses, Carlton House and Brighton Royal Pavilion, often changing his mind about certain details resulting in further great expense, determined to give both an appearance of luxury and opulence.
Marriage to Caroline of Brunswick proved very advantageous to George, as his existing huge debts were paid off by the country and as a married man, his expenses allowance was increased. His wife did not endear herself to the nation, as she lacked social graces and the marriage in effect only lasted a year. She was not invited to George’s lavish coronation. George tried to divorce her, but she later obligingly died. Their only child Princess Charlotte was later to die in childbirth.
George’s plans for London were also on a grand scale, commissiong Nash to create a grand straight boulevard from Carlton House to Regent’s Park, but the plans had to be adjusted to bend round properties owned by some of his opponents who would not sell. If he was a con man, there is no doubt, he was one of taste, who left a cultural inheritance for future generations.
The next meeting will be a Group Activity Day, open to all, on Monday October 26th, at St Peter’s Community Hall, Bexhill Old Town.
The meeting is from 10.15 - 12.00 . Entry is free and members of the public are urged to join us to find out more about the U3A and see the wide variety of interest groups available to members. Refreshments are available at a modest price.
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