This month, independent charity Historic Royal Palaces has made a unique collection of images of its palaces and collections available to view online for the first time. The new image library will offer users a glimpse into the palaces’ respective pasts and the chance to discover more of their world-famous collections – most notably, the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection.

At the heart of the image library sits a collection of high quality contemporary imagery of five historic royal residences managed by Historic Royal Palaces – the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace.  Images of Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland will follow in the future.

Detail, The Banqueting House ceiling by Peter Paul Rubens © Historic Royal Palaces / Robin Forster
Detail, The Banqueting House ceiling by Peter Paul Rubens © Historic Royal Palaces / Robin Forster

These images are mainly from the 1940s onwards, but with many significant earlier items. Many are ‘beauty shots’ of the spectacular architectural showpieces – from Hampton Court Palace’s Baroque façade, to Inigo Jones’s great masterpiece, the Banqueting House on Whitehall. Ever popular with academics and publishers alike, Historic Royal Palaces’ collection of architectural drawings of these magnificent buildings will also be made available to view, purchase and reproduce.

Further highlights on the site include:

  • A selection of images of unique objects within each palaces’ archaeological collections
  • Images of palace ceremonial events – past and present – including the Tower of London’s famous ‘Ceremony of the Keys’
  • Images of Historic Royal Palaces’ collection of works of art
  • Highlights from the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, including key pieces not currently on display in the palaces – from a poignant waistcoat worn by King George III during his long illness, to an elegant 1920s court dress.

Clare Murphy, Publishing and Asset Manager, Historic Royal Palaces, said: “Our image collection is a unique resource for studying the magnificent history of the palaces over time and we’re absolutely thrilled to be sharing it with a wider audience through our new website.”

Historic Royal Palaces partnered with Capture to create the new library, which is kindly supported by Mitsubishi Electric.

Abbie Enock, CEO, Capture, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Historic Royal Palaces to provide a commercial solution for their archive and are looking forward to seeing the collection go from strength to strength.  This has been a super project to have delivered as well as a great pleasure to have worked with such a terrific team.”

Unseen palace pictures go online for first time