Event: Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber
Location: Hampton Court Palace, KT8
Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber is an exhibition which tells the story of the rituals, sleeping arrangements and power politics of the Stuart and Hanoverian courts and how important affairs of state were conducted in the most private of rooms.
During the reign of Charles II, the royal bedchamber became a more public room in the palace, in which the King was dressed and undressed in front of an audience and many previously private events, from wedding nights to childbirth, were witnessed by members of the court. (See article about royal sleeping arrangements by Historic Palaces’ Lucy Worsley).
At its heart the exhibition has six 17th and 18th century royal beds, including the infamous ‘Warming Pan’ bed, belonging to (the Catholic) James II’s second wife, in which she gave birth to a son and heir in front of an audience of courtiers, who claimed the baby was a changeling, smuggled in in a warming pan. (A year later the king was deposed in favour of Mary, his Protestant daughter from his first marriage, and her husband William of Orange).
The exhibition also offers a view into John Vanburgh’s Prince of Wales Apartments, open for the first time in 20 years. And, look out for the mirrored chandelier by Studio Roso hanging above the Queen’s Stairs leading up to the exhibition.
Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber at Hampton Court Palace is open until 3 Nov 2013 from 10am to 6pm every day (last entry 5pm). NB. If you visit between 26 Oct-3 Nov 2013, check winter opening times.