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

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Georgian architect stands in Clock Court at Hampton Court Palace, looking up at the Tudor building
Families Tours and talks

Shh! You're invited on a special mission… meet characters from history and explore the palace with the Time Explorers app.


Hampton Court Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

Blind person using the audio tour sat in the Processional Route.
Tours and talks

Hold the stories of Hampton Court Palace in your hands and experience history where it happened with an audio guide tour.


Hampton Court Palace

Included in palace admission (members go free)

White Tower luxury embroidered hanging decoration features the iconic White Tower with a silhouetted Tower raven perching at the top of the Tower.

White Tower luxury embroidered hanging decoration

This sparkling silver luxury White Tower hanging decoration is hand embroidered using the same metal thread work techniques used to sew royal dresses and finery in centuries past.


Henry VIII knight in shining armour hanging decoration. Handmade using traditional techniques this luxury hanging decoration features Henry VIII in his arms and armour

Henry VIII knight in shining armour hanging decoration

Take home your very own knight in shining armour with this Henry VIII hanging decoration.


Kew Palace luxury embroidered hanging decoration, luxury Christmas ornament depicts the Dutch House of Kew Palace which dates back to 1631

Kew Palace luxury embroidered hanging decoration

This luxury handmade Christmas tree decoration features the design of the front of the Dutch House at Kew Palace on the River Thames in south west London.