Saturday 19 October 2013

Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber at Hampton Court Palace

The first room you walk in to is covered in mattresses, a film projected on the ceiling. After tentatively shuffling in to the room it’s clear you really are meant to lie down. A rather fun, novel start to an exhibition, and actually very effective. Lying there watching the film I felt the outside world fade away as I gazed up at the ceiling, being drawn in to the world of the exhibition I was about the enter.

First you are introduced to the royal bedchamber with items that belonged to Charles II, the idea that royal bedchambers were far from just places to sleep. There were some famous portraits on show, and some intricate pieces of silverware, as well as some quirky and unusual objects. The rest of the exhibition takes you through several monarchs, bed by bed. My favourite was probably Queen Charlotte’s for the embroidery alone – it was stunning! It was interesting to learn how important the royal bedchamber was, and how many controversies centred around it (and to see the beds where they took place!).

As always, Historic Royal Palaces put on an interesting, visually impressive exhibition. One room contained mannequins in paper(?) dresses that, although not historic, were incredibly impressive. One of the things I love about their exhibitions is the innovative way they present history, and the aesthetics of their displays, a treat in themselves. There were so many displays I wanted to take photos of but alas, it was not allowed.

The final item, a beautifully intricate key, serves as a reminder that to have access to the royal bedchamber would have been a great privilege, and that what we’ve just seen is something quite special.

The exhibitions runs until 3rd November, and it’s definitely worth a visit. For more details see here.

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