2020 has been a year like no other, our lives being turned upside down by the pandemic. With Tier 4 announced in London and the South East last night (effectively a further lockdown), Christmas has further been upended.
Historic Royal Palaces has, however, offered a small glimmer of light, with its first ever digital carol service recorded in the Chapels Royal of the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace.
At 6pm tomorrow (Monday 21st December), HRP is inviting the public to watch a very special broadcast of Nine Lessons and Carols from the legendary royal chapels at the heart of Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London.
These historic spaces have borne witness to hundreds of years of royal and religious history, and now see another milestone in their story.
The service, recorded recently before Tier 4 came into effect, offers a unique opportunity to experience the musicians of the Chapels Royal singing some of our most loved hymns and carols, including O Little Town of Bethlehem and Once in Royal David’s City from anywhere in the world.
The Queen recorded her 2010 Christmas message from Hampton Court’s chapel, recognisable for its dark wood panelling and the glorious blue and gold ceiling.
In 2016, Hampton Court Palace hosted the first Catholic service in more than 450 years in a Church of England chapel. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England, celebrated the Vespers with Anglican Bishop of London Richard Chartres in a symbolic gesture of reconciliation between the two churches.
The Chapel Royal at the Tower of London is called St Peter ad Vincula (St Peter in Chains) and is famed for being the location of a number of burials, including Queen Anne Boleyn after her execution at the Tower in 1536.
The service will feature readings from Historic Royal Palaces staff and representatives of organisations supported through the charity’s community engagement programme, alongside a host of familiar faces. Among those set to appear are HRP’s Join Chief Curator, Tracy Borman, and the Tower of London’s Chief Yeoman Warder, as well as the Right Reverend the Bishop of London and actor David Suchet, known to millions worldwide as Agatha Christie’s Poirot.
The event is free to view, but HRP is expected to lose more than £100m in income this year because of the pandemic and donations would be gratefully welcomed; funds will be shared equally among Historic Royal Palaces, the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace and HM Tower of London Chapels Royal Foundation, supporting the work of these three organisations to keep the spirit of the palaces alive.
Follow this link to register.