Lecture Tours, 2014
Private Tour of William Kent at The Bard Graduate Center, New York
On Wednesday 5 February 2014 our members were treated to a special private tour of William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain at The Bard Graduate Center in New York.
We were thrilled that the Bard kindly offered to personally welcome Historic Royal Palaces USA on this occasion to help us explore the lavish and innovative style of William Kent. During a period when most patrons and collectors looked to Italy for their art and design, Kent’s versatility and artistic inventiveness set the style of his age and asserted the status of the modern British artist. He is best known for the interiors he designed for several grand country estates in Britain, including Chiswick House and Houghton Hall.
In 1722 he was awarded a major royal commission to design the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace where he was in charge of painting the ceiling and designing the furniture and chimneypieces. Following this, a long line of royal commissions came from King George II and his son, Frederick Prince of Wales, including all the rooms within the King’s Apartments at Kensington Palace, Kew Palace, Hampton Court and at the Banqueting House. The exhibition presents a wonderful collection of case studies of the artist’s life and work, which includes his work at Kensington Palace, one of the five Palaces we care for within London.
Particular thanks go to Susan Weber, Rebecca Allan and everyone at BGC for their help in mounting this special event for our members.
A Very British Murder: The Story of a National Obsession
Lucy had two tantalising subjects to discuss: one based on her recent BBC series and book A Very British Murder: The Story of a National Obsession, exploring the public’s fascination with murders that reached a fever pitch in 19th century England; and, secondly, Queen Caroline and the pivotal figures of George II’s court depicted on the King’s staircase at Kensington Palace. Lucy was ready to ‘wow’ America!
Lucy’s schedule saw her travel over a period of ten days to six cities, incorporating six lectures in collaboration with the Royal Oak Foundation and four additional events just for Historic Royal Palaces. We kick-started the tour at the stylish Scandinavia House in New York to an enthralled audience. Following this, Lucy was thrilled to be greeted by a full house at all the venues she visited including: the grand Union League in Philadelphia; the Newberry Library in Chicago; the Boston Athenaeum; The Bank of America Building, near the White House, in Washington DC; and finally, drawing to a close with the Kensington Palace Lecture, at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center.
It was our most ambitious programme to date, but it was worth the planes, trains and subways to see the audiences delight and squirm at the fascinating, but sometimes very intimate and unappealing, details of those gruesome murder cases from the 19th century. A particular favourite was a photo of the shrivelled scalp of murderer William Corder, the ‘star’ of the ‘Red Barn Murder’. Lucy was also the honoured speaker at a reception hosted by the British Consul-General in New York, Danny Lopez. The event was a great success - including a moment of excitement (and slight commotion) when Mr Lopez announced that there were ten free copies of Lucy’s book to find hidden around the apartment!
Whilst in Atlanta, we received an invitation to have tea with the First Lady of Georgia at the Governor’s Mansion. To Lucy’s surprise and delight, the First Lady indulged her with a tour of the Mansion from top to bottom (not skipping the lavishly decorated bathrooms!).
The Spring 2014 Lecture Tour was another great milestone for our presence in the USA and we were delighted at Dr Lucy Worsley’s sterling leadership for this occasion. There has been a great deal of media exposure throughout the trip, including a review on www.gov.uk as well as Lucy’s own blog. Make sure you read her top 7 highlights on www.LucyWorsley.com.
Tea Tasting in the Garden at the Merchant’s House Museum
In union with the Merchant’s House Museum and Harney & Sons Master Tea Blenders, we held a special tea tasting on 22 July in New York.
Despite the tropical heat and subway meltdown, guests were able to escape the madness
of the city in a charming and secret garden at the Merchant’s House Museum. Emeric Harney, Master Tea Blender and son of the late founder John Harney presented the unique Historic Royal Palaces Tea series, which pays homage to tea’s imperial history and roots.
We wish to thank not only our wonderful hosts, the Merchant House Museum and Harney & Sons, but also our guests and supporters for coming.
Royal Women, the Court and the British Couture Industry in the 20th century
On Thursday 2 October, Historic Royal Palaces and The Museum at FIT welcomed friends and supporters to Hearst Tower for a lecture on the growing relationship between Couture Houses and the royal court in England between 1920 to 1970.
The speaker, Deirdre Murphy, Senior Curator at Kensington Palace, discussed individual members of the royal family, such as Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II, all of who acted as patrons of British design. They purchased wardrobes from London-based designers such as Madame Elizabeth Handley-Seymour, Reville and Norman Hartnell, whose royal connections enhanced their reputations in Britain and abroad.
The beautifully illustrated lecture explored the relationship between the court and the Image of FIT members at the lecture couture industry in Britain. It demonstrated how royal women supported the British fashion industry by attending fashion shows and encouraging aristocratic women to wear British dresses at formal court ceremonies. Couturiers had much to gain from aristocratic women and their debutante daughters, for whom a court dress might be a single purchase in a whole new wardrobe for the London Season.
After the presentation guests were delighted to receive their Kensington Palace gift bag with drinks and canapés in the contemporary lounge adjacent to the Lecture Theatre.
This reception not only celebrated the newly-formed relationship between two great organisations of style and prominence, Historic Royal Palaces and The Museum at FIT, but it was also a great finale for Deirdre Murphy’s US Lecture Tour. Starting on Sunday 28 September, within a week, Deirdre travelled to Chicago for lectures at the historic Driehaus Museum and Woman’s Athletic Club in collaboration with the Chicago History Museum, and the English Speaking Union, followed shortly by an intimate breakfast reception at the Union League and a sell-out crowd at FREEMAN'S in Philadelphia – it was quite an amazing but tight programme!
Along her journey, Deirdre highlighted the emerging plans of Historic Royal Palaces’ exclusive Summer Party at Kensington Palace on July 9, 2015.
Special Tour of ‘Dance and Fashion’ at The Museum at FIT, New York
Our members had a special tour of The Museum at FIT’s recent exhibition ‘Dance & Fashion’. Not only were the guests in awe of some of the most beautiful and interesting items on display, but they were also treated to a private tour of the collection by the Director of FIT, Valerie Steele.
Particular thanks go to Valerie Steele and everyone at The Museum at FIT for their help in organising this wonderful event for our members.