In 1699, King William III held a month-long Christmas party at Kensington Palace.
This year, Hide&Seek and Kensington Palace have created Christmas at Kensington Palace: a Game of Crowns, an installation in the King’s State Apartments. We’re collaborating with 815Agency and East London Kinetics to bring you a set of games inspired by that original 1699 party and by Christmas traditions of the period, an invitation to make your way through the rooms and bow, dance, pose, spin, peer and more.
To begin, you choose your paper crown – then wear it as you proceed through the rooms of the King’s State Apartments, playing games as you go…
Frames invites you to insert yourself into historical paintings, using your ingenuity and some slightly bewildering props.
Bowing is a game of memory and dexterity that takes place as you bow and curtsey to the giant portrait of the King.
Hearts bids you to take your place at a spinning table, and try to collect points by putting your finger down in an opportune place.
Fruits is a puzzle game about arranging a tower of different fruit in the best possible way to please the king.
Dancing is a stately procession game for two players and a huge golden clock.
There’s also some tiny games to play – looking out the windows, staring at statues, telling stories about paintings – and on weekends, there’ll be parlour games in Princess Victoria’s bedroom.
Whenever you visit, you’ll be invited to take your place on the game’s beautiful throne once you’ve finished your game. Choose your title (are you the Daring Duke of Kensington Palace? The All-Powerful Queen of Ice and Snow?) and take your rightful seat!
The project draw on our previous experiences of making games for cultural spaces, in particular our installation The Building Is… which ran in Paris in summer last year. Like The Building Is, the installation invites you through a series of installations, giving you a way to record the journey you take as part of the game – but this time the setting is the opulent apartments of Kensington Palace, inside Kensington Gardens, the very place where William III’s 1699/1700 celebrations took place.
The games are suitable for families and for grown-ups, and will be running from 30 November to 6 January. Access to A Game of Crowns is included in entry to Kensington Palace (which is typically £15 for adults, free for children).