I’m a volunteer working on the Memories of Hampton Court project where we collect and record stories from people connected with the palace over the years. One of my favourite stories came from Philena Bruce, who lived in a Grace and Favour apartment at Hampton Court with her mother in the 1960s.
As a teenager, Philena naturally had her friends over for parties, and it wasn’t long before they realised they could get from the bedroom window out onto the palace roof. One evening, a game of hide and seek was suggested, and people clambered out and disappeared into the dark. Time passed, and the rest of the party began to get worried. Eventually Philena’s friends straggled back to her room in ones and twos and it was revealed that someone, hearing suspicious noises above them, had called the palace security.
Philena’s friends had then been chased around the roof by various wardens, trying desperately to find their way back to Philena’s room in the dark without being caught.
Three hours later everyone had returned, and they began to think they had got away with it. But as they left the palace, every car leaving the palace was questioned. Most of her friends kept quiet, trying to prevent Mrs Bruce from getting into trouble. But eventually someone cracked and confessed. Stern letters followed, and Philena was warned that if it ever happened again, there would be no more parties.