Christmas seemed to be accompanied by televised news of more than the usual number of decorated homes. Displaying flashing coloured lights and moving arrangements, traditional and imaginative themes of Santa Clauses, sleighs and reindeers embellished houses.     

The more elaborate projects might have been competitively motivated. Others perhaps were simply something to do during health crisis restrictions. Some may have been the result of a driven urge to create, others undertaken with children in mind, by chance the product of a visionary idea, or for any number of other reasons - even dreams.      

Screened over Christmas by SBS, the film titled “ The Ideal Palace” showed a dream brought to fulfillment through perseverance. Sleeping one night in nineteenth century France, a postie in the village of Hauterives dreamt he was building an unusual, if not strange, structure. His name was Joseph Ferdinand Cheval and his dream was vivid. So brilliant was its detail, he was driven to build what he dreamt.     

Over several decades throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Cheval worked at translating his dream into reality. His masterstroke of endeavour was achieved with his own hands, using pebbles and other materials he collected locally. The finally completed mysterious creation was in his words “…a confusion of the senses at first sight...” (1). 

Cheval named the building “The Ideal Palace”. It was proclaimed an historical monument of France in 1969.   

(1) Cook,Olive, photographs by Edwin Smith. The Postman’s Palace, published in The Saturday Book (1967) edited by John Hadfield.    

Best wishes     

©Barry Long 2021