What’s happening at Historic Royal Palaces, January – March 2020?


What’s happening at Historic Royal Palaces, January – March 2020?

As we head into a new decade, celebrate 2020 in style with a variety of exciting events and activities across the palaces.

In February and March, Kensington Palace invites guests to immerse themselves in the drama of the court of Queen Caroline and Henrietta Howard (her husband’s mistress!) as Historic Royal Palaces partners with renowned theatre company Les Enfants Terrible on a ground-breaking after-hours immersive theatre experience; United Queendom.

Meanwhile, during February Half Term at Hampton Court Palace, an ageing Queen Elizabeth I needs help to uncover treasonous plots and is recruiting spies for her mission! Visitors will have the chance to uncover and decipher puzzling codes and clues to help the Queen in this family-friendly activity. To celebrate LGBT History Month in February, at the Tower of London Historic Royal Palaces is launching a new series of after-hours LGBT+ tours. These intimate evenings explore the history of London’s most famous fortress through the lens of changing attitudes to gender and sexuality, sharing stories of figures from this iconic building’s history from the Medieval period to present day.

For more information, visit Historic Royal Palaces. 


United Queendom

Selected dates in February and March

Kensington Palace

Experience the premiere of a unique after-hours immersive experience at Kensington Palace, created with Olivier nominated theatre company Les Enfants Terribles. Delving into the world of political intrigue, court games, high drama, scandalous gossip and smiling through gritted teeth, this theatrical experience presents two separate journeys highlighting the stories of Queen Caroline – a former resident of the palace – and her husband’s mistress, Henrietta Howard. It will bring to life two brilliant women who might have otherwise been lost in the shadow of their king, exploring how they made their mark on their world and ours.

Tickets: £55, £35 for Historic Royal Palaces members. Ticket includes a drink.


LGBT+ Tours at the Tower

Sunday evenings 9 February – 15 March

Tower of London

Discover 1000 years of queer history on this immersive evening tour at the Tower of London. This intimate after-hours experience explores the history of the Tower of London through the lens of changing attitudes to gender and sexuality. Uncover King Edward II’s close male friendships and examine how King Henry VIII’s criminalisation of homosexual acts shaped viewpoints for over 400 years. Moving on to the 20th Century, the tour will shed light on how the alleged homosexuality of prisoner Roger Casement was used in Parliament to build a case against him, and the real danger posed by queer sexual slander.

Tickets: £25


Celebrating 500 years of the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula

Selected dates 8 January – 17 November

Tower of London

In 2020 the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London celebrates its 500-year anniversary. Built in 1520, the Chapel is perhaps best known as the burial place of some of the Tower’s most famous prisoners, including three Queens of England: Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey. To mark this very special milestone there will be a series of commemorative events running throughout the year, from lectures exploring the fascinating history of the Chapel to intimate choral performances by one of the nation’s finest chapel choirs, the Choir of the Chapels Royal, HM Tower of London. Guest speakers will include Tracy Borman, who is delivering a lecture on Henry VIII and the men who made him on 11 February.

See the Historic Royal Palaces website for more details on events and timings.


Knight School

15 – 23 February, daily 11:00 – 16:00

Tower of London

Become a knight for the day at the Tower of London. In the shadow of the imposing White Tower kids will learn all the essential components of a knight’s arsenal; from manners, etiquette and entertainment, to martial skills and fitness. Curious knights-in-training will see how heavy plate armour really is, design their very own coat of arms, test their new-found knightly knowledge and much more.

Included in palace admission. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members.

Elizabeth I and her Spy Masters

15 – 23 February

Hampton Court Palace

Queen Elizabeth I is in residence at Hampton Court Palace this February half term and is on the hunt for trainee spy masters to solve clues, uncover evidence and stop potential treasonous plots! Little ones will have the chance to become a spy, meeting some of the suspects in her court along the way, whilst deciphering mysterious codes and listening in on secret conversations. It will then be time to report back to the Queen on the discoveries about her wayward courtiers! Visitors can also pay a visit to The Lost Dress of Elizabeth I display, which showcases what is believed to be the only surviving item from her wardrobe.

Included in palace admission. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members.


Story Time

19 January, 9 February and 8 March, 11:45, 12:45, 13:45 and 14:45

Kensington Palace

Story Time is a lively interactive storytelling session perfect for under 7’s and their families. Each month, visitors can experience a different picture book, and discover new stories, with songs, rhymes and more. January’s story, Wild, by Emily Hughes, tells the story of Peter the Wild Boy who came to live at Kensington Palace and will see those gathered around getting to grips with their wild side!

Included in palace admission. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members.


Rainbow Stories: Parties, Poetry and Pride

15-23 February – 11:00 – 15:30

Kensington Palace

This half term, join us as we celebrate LGBT+ history at Kensington Palace. Meet Queen Caroline as she hosts a party in the absence of her husband King George II, with the outrageous Lord Hervey as the guest of honour. Fellow party-goers will hear about his relationship with Caroline’s son and help to restore his reputation as one of the greatest poets of the era following a character assassination by his contemporary Alexander Pope. Inspired by Lord Hervey’s poetic flair, there will be drop-in poetry sessions throughout the week, and to truly blend in with the Georgian crowd, guests will have the opportunity to create their own look. Expect exciting attendees, plenty of colour, and plenty of flair!

Included in palace admission. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members.


Your Day at Court

17 January – 31 March (excluding 15-23 February)

Kensington Palace

Experience the court of George II at Kensington Palace in all its splendour this spring, with a chance to meet some of the characters who called Kensington their home and discover the intrigue and etiquette of their daily life. The witty and intelligent Queen Caroline is in attendance, holding court in her husband’s absence.

Included in palace admission. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members.


Life in the Medieval Palace

2 January – 14 February, 24 February – 31 March.

Tower of London

Step back in time to 1278 as King Edward I and Queen Eleanor of Castile enjoy their newly built apartments at the Tower. Meet characters from the past and enjoy live drama exploring the Tower’s rich Medieval history.

Included in palace admission. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members


Storytime Adventures

12 January, 2 February, 1 March, 11.45, 13.00, 14.15 (20mins)

Hampton Court Palace

Settle down and get cosy inside the palace’s historic State Apartments as our expert storytellers regale visitors with tales that bring the history of Hampton Court Palace to life.

Included in palace admission. Free for Historic Royal Palaces Members.


Hillsborough Castle Inventors’ Club, in partnership with NI Science Festival

22 February

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

Hillsborough Castle is no stranger to inventors,  with America’s Founding Father visiting the Castle in the 1770s. Inspired by Franklin’s famous kite experiment, which revealed the electrical nature of lightning , families can explore some of history’s other ground-breaking inventions; from Edison’s kinetoscope to Harry Ferguson’s pioneering flight, in this fun and interactive workshop hosted in partnership with the NI Science Festival. Budding little brainiacs can even have a go at making and designing their own inventions!

Admission is free with a castle or gardens ticket. All children must be accompanied.


An Evening of Drink and Drugs at Hillsborough Castle, in partnership with NI Science Festival

22 February, 7pm

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

For thousands of years people have partaken in a variety of state-altering substances; from tobacco and alcohol through to laudanum and cocaine. Discover expert insight into legal highs through the ages in this fascinating discussion evening held in the castle’s spectacular Throne Room, followed by cocktails and even cabaret entertainment.

Admission £18 including a beverage

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