A new exhibition at Hampton Court Palace
This spring, Hampton Court Palace will present a special exhibition full of intrigue, drama and surprise – and at its heart will be six magnificent 17th and 18th century royal beds.
For the first time ever, the world’s largest and rarest collection of state beds will be on display, telling the story of how and why the bedchamber became the most public and important destination in the palace. The exhibition will also offer a rare glimpse into architect John Vanbrugh’s Prince of Wales’s Apartments – opened for the first time in 20 years.
Unlock the world of the bedchamber
Through the stories of their royal owners and servants, visitors will be able to explore the elaborate, sometimes bizarre bedchamber rituals, unusual sleeping arrangements and enjoy the luxurious excesses of the Stuart and Hanoverian courts. Discover what really took place in the royal bedchamber – where heirs were born, marriages consummated, monarchs struck down and died, and all the while important affairs of state were conducted in this most personal of rooms. Most strange of all, these events took place before an audience of courtiers, politicians and family members, who turned everyday life for the monarch into a grand performance.
The remarkable state beds on display have undergone extensive conservation and restoration over some fifty years. Each bed has a dramatic, and often tragic, story to tell – from Queen Anne’s magnificent velvet state bed, ordered by a dying queen in her final year, to the infamous ‘Warming Pan Bed’, the state bed of James II’s Queen, Mary of Modena, which was the scene of the royal birth that sparked the quiet revolution that led to the end of the Stuart line.