In early 1701, visiting the lavish work being done on his new Privy Garden at Hampton Court Palace, William III noticed that he couldn’t see the Thames from his first-floor rooms. He immediately ordered the garden be lowered by 8ft so he could get his view. Over the next few months, men dug out the earth, moved the pipes for the fountains, shifted the statues and laid out the plants.
Visiting again later in the summer, the truculent king complained that he still couldn’t see the river. “All the newly installed plants, grass, paths, pipes, fountains and statues,” writes Roderick Floud, “had to be removed and [a further] 3ft of soil taken from an area of five acres before all the plants and equipment were put back.”