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 collaborated with 815Agency, Havelock 11 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 chose your paper crown – then wore it as you proceeded through the rooms of the King’s State Apartments, playing games as you went…
Frames invited you to insert yourself into historical paintings, using your ingenuity and some slightly bewildering props.
Bowing was a game of memory and dexterity that took place as you bowed and curtseyed to the giant portrait of the King.
Hearts bid you to take your place at a spinning table, and try to collect points by putting your finger down in an opportune place.
Fruits was a puzzle game about arranging a tower of different fruit in the best possible way to please the king.
Dancing was a stately procession game for two players and a huge golden clock.
At the end of the games, players were 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! East London Kinetic wrote this wonderful blog about the development of the talking throne.
The project drew 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.