Visiting the exhibition

Visiting the exhibition

Queen Caroline's state bed

27 March - 3 November 2013

Explore the world of the royal bedchamber and discover the fabulous collection of state beds in this new exhibition at Hampton Court Palace.

Included in palace admission. Members go free.
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These are beds – but not as you know them

Christopher Wren's 'new' Hampton Court Palace was designed in Baroque fashion, with the state bedchamber as its focal point. However, unlike your personal bedroom, the monarch’s state bedchamber was a very public place and the real seat of power.

Breathtaking Baroque beds

The state bed was the crowning glory of the state bedchamber and their magnificent design and exorbitant cost reflected their importance. Each of the royal beds on display in the exhibition has a story to tell.

Court life

The ultimate destination at court for all courtiers and politicians was the bedchamber; it was from here that the monarch ruled the country, heirs were conceived and born, and monarchs died. A fascinating cast of characters populated the bedchamber and its drawing rooms – and only those who successfully negotiated court etiquette would be rewarded with an audience with the monarch.

The public and private bedchamber

The state bedchamber had its own department of staff to run it efficiently. From the highest ranking servant – the Groom of the Stole - to the lowliest servant, a position in the Department of the Bedchamber was considered a privilege. Find out more about the servants of the bedchamber and the duties they had to fulfil.

The truly ‘private’ activities between King and Queen had to take place in the private bedchamber – but even here, privacy was relative.

Bedchamber rituals

From the waking and dressing of the King each morning to retiring him to bed each evening, each ritual was elaborate and public. Find out more about Bedchamber rituals.

Power and politics

This exhibition spans 100 years of turbulent British history and the emergence of modern Britain. Find out about the ruling monarchs of this period

Behind the scenes

Conserving the beds and preparing them for display has been a massive project for our conservators involving painstaking work and pioneering methods.

Making the costumes featured in the exhibition also presented creative challenges for our costume designers.

Talks and special events

Learn more about the stories explored in Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber through our programme of adult learning events:

For more information, see Adult learning at Hampton Court Palace.

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