Thursday, 1 October 2015

California Day 3

Today we drove to Hearst Castle where it's history begins in 1865, when George Hearst purchased 48,000 acres of ranch land at Piedra Blanca Rancho at San Simeon, he later purchased the adjoining Santa Rosa and San Simeon Ranchos. Throughout his life George would use this land as a place of retreat with his family for lavish camping trips.

Growing up George received very little education, but he did learn a lot about the so called 'lay of the land'. The local Indians referred to him as the boy that earth talks to. A self made millionaire, starting with his discovery of silver.

In 1862 George at the age of 41 married Pheobe Apperson Hearst and in 1863 they had their only child William Randolph.

In 1919 William inherited what had grown to more than 250,000 acres, and was dreaming of ways to transform it into a retreat he called La Cuesta Encantada spanish for "Enchanted Hill".

By 1947 William and architect Julia Morgan created Hearst Castle with it's 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways.

At the age of ten Hearst toured Europe with his mother where inspiration rose from the grandeur and scale of the castles, art and history. Hearst enrolled in St Paul's Preparatory School in Concord, New Hampshire at the age of 16, and continued his education at Harvard where he excelled in journalism and acted as the business manager of the Harvard Lampoon.

During his time in Harvard, his father George acquired the San Franciso Examiner, as payment for a gambling debt and soon after Hearst pleaded with his father to turn over the paper to him. In 1887 control was given to his son, shortly after William purchased another newspaper the New York Journal, which would become the second in a long list of newspaper holdings that he acquired in the next decade of his life. At his peak he owned more than 2 dozen newspapers nationwide.

His power and vision allowed him to pursue one of the most ambitious architectural endeavours of American history, the result can be seen in the grounds and structures of Hearst Castle.

Carvings in the ceiling of the assembly room. Every evening Hearst's guests gathered in the splendid social rooms for cocktails, conversation and to meet their host. 

The Refectory was the name given by Hearst and archetitect Julia to the dining room after the word for a monastery's dining hall. The feeling of the middle ages has been achieved with the high windows, bright silk banners and gleaming silver. The setting is just as it was when Mr Hearst was in residence very casual with ketchup and mustard bottles etc.

Again the detail in the carved ceiling is just extraordinary. 

The Billiard Room was a popular spot, the ceiling in this room is a 15th century spanish painted ceiling with scenes of country life, and Flemish tapestry from 1500's.

The theater is where Hearst and Hollywood film star Marion Davies joined guests every night to watch full length movie and newsreel.

The expansive grounds that surround La Cuesta Encantada - The Enchanted Hill have native plants and rare flowers and lush foilage. Neptune Pool is magnificent with colonnades and statues providing the setting for famous pool parties.

The Roman Pool is decorated after ancient Roman Baths with meticulous detail. It is tiled from ceiling to floor and features marble copies of eight ancient Greek and Roman deities and athletes.

After our tour of the castle we went for lunch at Sebastian's store which was special to Deborah as her god son is Sebastian.

We then drove back to Los Angeles to return the car and check ourselves into the hotel for the night. I was very grateful for an early night as the chest infection I have now is really taking its toll on me, I think I have done too much over the last couple of months, together with the heat and not eating and drinking as I should due to the heat, all has caught up with me and I now have my body telling me very clearly to rest and take it easy.

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