Celebrity culture and the Glorious Revolution!

Boys on a trip to Hampton Court Palace discovered the rather modern-sounding reason that paintings of 17th-century female courtiers all look the same.

Year 8 pupils spent some time during this year’s history trip studying art in the palace and finding out about William and Mary (William III and Mary II), who came to power in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Head of History Helen McGregor said: “There are paintings of many women during Mary II’s time who all wanted to be painted to look like the queen – a little like copying your favourite celebrity today!”

This year’s visit also saw a greater emphasis on looking at the changing architecture from the Tudor to baroque eras, as well as generally augmenting what the boys had been learning in their History lessons.

During a tour of the riverside palace in Surrey, the boys engaged with actors dressed as characters from the Tudor age. They were able to see features including: the astronomical clock; Henry VIII’s royal apartments and the great hall; the famous painting, Field of the Cloth of Gold; the apartments designed for William III by Sir Christopher Wren, and the Maze.

""They visited the costume gallery and the palace kitchens, where boys of the same age as themselves once spent their entire days turning roasting spits so that Henry VIII’s 600-strong court could be fed twice a day.

The QE boys also learned about the Hampton Court ghosts. Hampton Court is reportedly haunted by spectres including The Lady in Grey, the ghost of Sibell Penn, who was nurse to Henry VIII’s only son, Prince Edward. Her grave was disturbed in 1829, when the old church was pulled down. It is said she returned to the rooms she inhabited, after which a spinning wheel could be heard from behind a wall. When that wall was demolished, a forgotten room was found, containing an old spinning wheel.