Untold Lives: A Palace at Work

Untold Lives: A Palace at Work exhibits at Kensington Palace.

Photo credit: © Historic Royal Palaces

Kensington Palace is currently hosting a fascinating exhibition, Untold Lives: A Palace at Work, which will run until 27 October.


Following meticulous research by the Historic Royal Palaces charity and their piecing together of stories and artifacts, the findings are presented in Untold Lives. The exhibition explores the lives and duties of The Royal Household from 1660 to 1830, through clothing, manuscripts, tools and keepsakes. In addition, the Palace has commissioned works by contemporary artists to bring the stories to life. There is also the opportunity to hear the tales of current Palace workers, with comparisons of their tasks alongside those of their historic counterparts.

Exhibition co-curator Dr Mishka Sinha explains: “With so little remaining of their presence, we often find that the legacy left behind of those who worked in the royal palaces 300 years ago is simply invisibility. By piecing together fragments of their history and presenting seemingly ordinary objects, we can build up a rich tapestry of unique stories of the real people behind the glamour of the court, whose hard physical labour and extraordinary skills ensured the protection and continuity of the royal household, palaces and objects that still exist today. While there is still much research to do, instead of defining them by their job roles, this exhibition aims to tell the human stories of these people for the first time.”

Sebastian Edwards, exhibition co-curator, adds: “The research into this exhibition has revealed a whole host of fascinating job roles and people who have kept the palaces running for centuries. From ‘the keeper of ice and snow’ to the ‘rat catcher’, their work has been crucial, but their stories remain largely untold, and we hope to now shine a light on them in our new exhibition. In recognising the contribution they made, we hope that all our visitors find new connections with the Palace and their stories, celebrating the lasting legacy which their roles have contributed to these amazing historic places.”

Exhibition highlights

Highlights of the exhibition include a handmade tape measure (which still shows the measurements of the royal children), an ice cutter, fire buckets, oil lamps and items of clothing.

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace has been an official royal residence since the 1600s. The State Rooms are open to the public whilst the rest of the Palace remains home to members of the Royal Family, including the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Getting there

Kensington Palace is a 40-minute walk from Hertford Street, taking you through beautiful Hyde Park. Alternatively, you can take a 30-minute bus ride or travel by car, which takes 10 minutes.

Also in the area

Diana Memorial Playground
The Design Museum
Royal Albert Hall

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