Having recently become a member of the Historic Royal Palaces, I decided to visit three in London for their special Christmas events from 27 December 2015 – 3 January 2016: Kensington Palace, Tower of London, and Hampton Court (it’s in zone 6).
The theme was A Victorian Christmas. The special exhibit shows how Queen Victoria would have celebrated Christmas as a child and as a mother.
The one costumed member you’ll see is Baroness Lehzen, who will tell children about what young Victoria would have played with as a child in the very room she was born in. In the mid-afternoon, you’ll also be able to enjoy the brass band play (unfortunately, I miss the last performance by 5 minutes).
For some reason, the part of the palace ‘designated’ for Queen Victoria seems rather bare compared to the last time I visited in 2008.
Tower of London
Earlier in December, visitors to the Medieval Palace would have seen how the court of Edward I and his wife Queen Eleanor of Castile prepared for Christmas. From 27-31 December 2015, the Tower of London had a special event to mark the Winter of Discontent! The year is 1484 and both King Richard III and his wife, Queen Anne (née Neville), had lost their only child, Edward, Prince of Wales, earlier that April. Festivities began at 11:00am with the King’s arrival (which I missed by half an hour) on the South Lawn. As soon as the King had gone to mingle with some visiting peasants or courtiers from various countries, there was talk of conspiracy amongst Lady Margaret Beaufort, the Princess Elizabeth (later the wife of King Henry VII), and the now Lady Elizabeth Woodville. But since any rumours or accusations against the king would be treasons, the ladies dispersed. For the rest of the afternoon, visitors could watch a Medieval play (we saw ‘The Nativity’) or join in on the hunt (which included a large red dragon).
By the way, not Christmas-related but the special exhibition on the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt will end on 31 January 2016. No photos allowed inside but I loved the large miniature of the battle and the flying arrows metalwork above our heads.
The year is 1593. Sixty-year-old Elizabeth I is enjoying Twelfth Night festivities and invites all of us to join her. In the Base and Clock Courts, visitors can listen to wind music, watch jesters and jugglers, and learn how to dance. In the Great Hall, visitors will see three gifts presented to the queen by the Earl of Essex, the Earl of Southampton, and Master Lilly. The latter will invite children to take part in the gift-giving, which the queen will adore!
Happy Epiphany or Twelfth Night and maybe you’ll get to enjoy these Christmas events at the end of the year!