5 of the very best virtual experiences to whisk you away into another world:
Fondation Claude Monet will now allow you to tour his house, virtually. We can’t get enough of the yellow dining room with its chequered floor, the copper saucepans lining the tiles in the kitchen, nor the wonderful rattan furniture in his studio. If you want to step outside into the garden, which Monet deemed ‘his greatest work of art’, we like this 3-minute tour with RA curator Ann Dumas too.
Explore Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s magnificent estate, where Queen Victoria was a favourite guest. A clever new 360-degree virtual tour experience welcomes you into five rooms including the Bachelors’ Wing, Tower Drawing Room, Green Boudoir, Red Drawing room and the Small Library. You can click on certain objects to learn more – a stunning Murano glass chandelier, Meissen porcelain, Gainsborough portraits, Savonnerie carpets etc. There are lots of details you wouldn’t see on a normal visit: the true apple green and pink colour of a cushion fabric in the Tower Drawing room for example. Explore here.
Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is usually on display at Windsor Castle: now you can view it and all its tiny contents online. Designed by Edward Lutyens’ and built between 1921 and 1924 it’s a microcosm of Edwardian England – complete with running water, electricity and working lifts. Perfect 1:12 scale includes a garden by Gertrude Jekyll and a library containing 170 miniature books by writers of the day: J.M. Barrie, A.A. Milne, Thomas Hardy and Edith Wharton. Contributors were encouraged along with their donations by Lutyens’ regular ‘Dolleluiah Dinners’ at the Savoy – everyone from Berry Bros. to Rolls Royce and Cartier were involved. Explore here.
Walk around Prince Charles’ garden at Highgrove, over 40 years in the making. In fact it’s made up of lots of different and very diverse gardens: there’s the green, fern-filled Stumpery where Prince William and Harry’s old treehouse is nicknamed ‘Holyrood House’, the traditional Old Cottage Garden designed by the late Rosemary Verey OBE, the tranquil Lily Pool Garden with its Borghese gladiator, the colourful Sundial Garden, and it goes on. We particularly like the look of his Sanctuary made with Highgrove clay, and Thyme Walk with yew topiary in the shape of crowns. See it all here.
Imagine yourself as Marie Antoinette, isolating in splendour at Versaille thanks to Google’s Virtual Reality experience. You need a VR headset to get the full immersive experience, but even if you don’t have one you can still explore the empty palace on foot (like using Google street view) walking through the Hall of Mirrors with 257 glinting mirrors and 17 windows, zooming in on details in the Queen’s bedchamber and looking around the Opera House. The online exhibitions are also good, we enjoyed this look at Fashion at Versailles including Marie Antoinette’s style, hair and jewellery.