Following the recent accession of our new king, Charles III, it seems a good time to explore the history of one of the most-senior but least-well-understood royal residences in London: St James’s Palace. This month’s cover highlights the splendour of its buildings, but its story is turbulent and often surprising, beginning on the site of a medieval leper hospital, later serving as a 17th-century army garrison and prison, and remaining the official base for the royal court today.
From palaces to Roman villas, a site-type that is also often associated with luxurious living, excavations near Bristol have provided a rare opportunity to explore the entire outline of one such complex of buildings, shedding fascinating light on how these estates may have functioned. We next take a tour of St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney (the first of a planned trio of articles drawing on my recent visit to the islands; watch out for the others in subsequent issues!). There, a graffiti survey has recorded over 600 markings, reflecting the activities of centuries of worshippers, pilgrims, and secular visitors.
Finally, we take to the skies to celebrate the work of the late Harold Wingham, an unsung pioneer of aerial photography. Almost 2,000 of his images documenting ancient monuments, historic buildings, and relics of industry and infrastructure have recently been made available online for the first time; in this month’s ‘In Focus’, we survey his life and archaeological impact.