Want to go behind the scenes of the Royal Dress Collection?

With museums and historic houses across the world closed due to the pandemic, organisations are having to come up with clever ways to still share their collections and entice visitors to return when their doors open once more. Historic Royal Palaces is no different, but boy do they have a treat for you!

Next Thursday (28th May) joint Chief Curator Lucy Worsley will be joined by Curator of the charity’s Royal Dress Collection, Eleri Lynn, for a trip inside the royal wardrobe… And you are invited!

Curator Eleri Lynn looks after the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection © Historic Royal Palaces.

The Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection is a made up of more than 10,000 historic fashion objects, ranging from the Tudor period to modern day Royalty, and is housed at Hampton Court Palace. This mass of artefacts helps us to understand the history of fashion, life at court, ceremonial traditions, and the lives of key historical figures from British history.

The one-hour long talk will be held online at 7pm, and members of the public be involved! Lucy and Eleri will discuss some of their favourite items in the collection and take you behind what the average visitor to one of their palaces gets to see…

Hampton Court Palace (HRP)

Cared for by a team of 20 experts led by curator Eleri Lynn, she is a modern day ‘Keeper of the Royal Wardrobe’ with the ability to answer almost any question about royal clothing you could imagine.

Ms Lynn has been behind the recent display of Elizabeth I’s rediscovered dress, the Bacton Altar Cloth, as well as helping the collection to acquire more iconic dresses belonging to Diana, Princess of Wales.

They will look at a jerkin worn by Charles I, who was executed in 1649 just outside Banqueting House, that it is believed to have been abandoned by the King after the defeat at the Battle of Naseby in 1645.

The Princess of Wales Dances with John Travolta at the White House; this velvet Victor Edelstein dress is now at Kensington Palace (Ronald Reagan Library)

Diana, Princess of Wales’ navy velvet dress is returning to Kensington Palace, having been bought by Historic Royal Palaces (© Historic Royal Palaces)

Lucy Worsley, known for her various TV documentaries covering a wide variety of topics, will steer the conversation and be sure to covers all bases – from navigating loo breaks in those exaggerated Georgian mantuas, to Queen Victoria’s fancy underwear…!

Also to be seen is King Henry VIII’s hat, acquired five years ago, having been a prized family possession with impressive royal story for centuries. Family legend tells us that Henry threw the hat in the air following the siege of Boulogne, and it was caught by courtier Nicholas Bristowe.

The Brisotwe Hat; silk Tudor hat with tufting and ostrich feather, plus silver braid button © Historic Royal Palaces.

Testing has dated the hat to this period, and the large head size of the wearer is even more persuasive to its alleged royal connections…

Victoria’s petticoat, below, would have been worn between her stays and her dress, to provide a protective layer between the two, and is embellished with a frill of Valenciennes lace. It is dated to c.1840 and shows the tiny frame of the famous Queen.

The conversation will be followed by an opportunity to ask the curators questions.

Queen Victoria’s petticoat © Historic Royal Palaces

You can register for the talk here, which is free to attend, but HRP are asking for a donation to help them while history enthusiasts cannot visit the six palaces under their care; HRP is an independent charity that receives no government support to operate. They are recommending £10 per person, or whatever you can afford.

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