Temporary Magnificence

A Study Day Exploring the Ephemerality of Early Modern Courts

A Study Day Exploring the Ephemerality of Early Modern Courts

Saturday 27 October 2018
Hampton Court Palace

This one day symposium explores the ephemerality of the princely court during the Early Modern Period. It is hosted by The Portable Palaces Project, which is researching Tudor royal tents and timber framed lodgings through a combination of traditional archival research and an innovative experimental archaeology.

The symposium will explore topics including:

  • The politics of ephemerality in the Renaissance court
  • Tudor royal domestic architecture
  • Tudor theatre and decorative arts
  • Princely fashions
  • The wider contexts of Renaissance ephemerality

Speakers will include Tracy Borman, Thomas Betteridge, Maria Hayward, Maurice Howard, Jagleet Lally, Seif El Rashidi, and Glenn Richardson. 

Members of the Portable Palaces team will showcase their research and demonstrate the exciting possibilities offered by interdisciplinary approaches to the study of architecture and material culture.

Booking is free but spaces are limited.

For more information or details of how to book a place, please contact: PortablePalaces@hrp.org.uk.

Arts and Humanities Research Council logo

Sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council

Provisional Programme


Introduction and welcome
Tracy Borman (Historic Royal Palaces)

Politics of Ephemerality

Monarchs and Courtiers on the Move: Ephemeral Building in Sixteenth-Century Europe
Maurice Howard (University of Sussex)

Temporary Magnificence, Permanent Peace?: The Meaning of the Field of Cloth of Gold
Glenn Richardson (St Mary's University)

Questions and discussion


Portable Palaces

Portable Palaces: Timber Lodgings and Banqueting Houses in Tudor England
Alden Gregory (Historic Royal Palaces)

Portable Palaces: Reconstructing Tudor Royal Tents
Charles Farris (Historic Royal Palaces)

Questions and discussion


Epehemral Arts at Court

Creating Court Interiors
Maria Hayward (University of Southampton)

Theatricality and the Construction of Court Space
Tom Betteridge (Brunel University)

Questions and discussion


Ephemerality of Early Modern Courts: Some International Contexts

Ephemerality in an Egyptian Context
Seif El Rashidi (Institute of Historical Research)

Court, Camp, and Hunt: Ephemeral Structures in the Mughal and Qing worlds
Jagjeet Lally (University College London)

Questions and discussion

Conference ends

The Great Hall, looking east.
The hall was constructed by King Henry VIII to replace a smaller and older hall on the same site. It had two functions. First to provide a great communal dining room where 600 members of the court could eat in two sittings, twice a day. And secondly, to provide a magnificent entrance to the state apartments that lay beyond.
Highlights Things to see

Experience the splendour of the Tudor court in Henry VIII's Great Hall, complete with his magnificent tapestries.

Open daily

Hampton Court Palace

The Bloody Tower, looking north towards lattice windows. The windows are set in a white-painted brick alcove.

The Bloody Tower was built by King Henry III (1207-72) and was originally named the Garden Tower.
Things to see

Explore the most infamous prison at the Tower of London and learn about the intriguing stories that inspired its name.

Open daily from 20 October 2018

Tower of London

The Beauchamp Tower, looking south towards an arrow loop window. A large wooden cross positioned on the floor can be partially seen in the foreground. 

The Beauchamp Tower was built between 1275-81 by King Edward I (1239-1307). It is named after Thomas Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick who was imprisoned in the tower in 1397, accused of high treason.
Things to see

Learn why people ended up as prisoners in the Tower of London, in the very rooms where some of them were held.

Open daily from 20 October 2018

Tower of London

Picture of our Royal Victoria bone china tall mug - gold, silver and white

Royal Victoria bone china tall mug

Enjoy an afternoon tea party with our exquisitely designed Royal Victoria tall mug. Made in the UK from bone china, the design is inspired by Queen Victoria's Honitons lace wedding flounce which she wore for her wedding.


A handmade luxury Christmas tree ornament of the Kew Pagoda made from fabric and with tiny pearls woven into it

Kew Pagoda luxury embroidered hanging decoration

A handmade luxury Christmas tree ornament made from fabric and with tiny pearls woven into it using traditional metal threading techniques.


Image is of a Clogau designed silver stacking ring inspired by The Great Pagoda at Kew.

Clogau Kew Pagoda silver and rose gold ring

Inspired by the Great Pagoda at Kew Gardens, this exquisite silver stacking ring features an intricate octagonal oriental design with accents of rare welsh gold.