About 250 miles north of Los Angeles is San Simeon, the location of the fantastic Hearst Castle. Now owned and operated by the National Parks Service, it is a must see on our journey northward.
Whilst there are bigger and more lavish ‘castles’ in Europe and the UK, the Hearst Castle is a record of one man’s idea of grand living. The decor is really what makes it so interesting. Hearst worked, with his architect, for decades in developing and furnishing this retreat. It is simultaneously bizarre, fantastic, kitsch and oh so obscenely ostentatious. He bought whatever appealed to him. Whole medieval ceilings from Spain, Doorways, gates, lamps, porcelain, furniture and all kinds of bric a brac from European nobles, churches and others who needed the money.
Yet the famous and wealthy flocked there for weekends and even weeks at a time. Imagine dinner with Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill for instance They all relaxed by the pools, had a set of tennis and mingled in the many sitting rooms and libraries.
We toured the whole place from top to bottom in a bit of a rush. There’s so much to take in that you don’t have time to study it. But it’s been well documented so maybe there’s a project for when I get home.