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Crown Jewels & Coronets: Royal History at Castle Howard Exhibition
By Curator Blogger // Wed 25th May 2022
Curatorial, Platinum Jubilee, Celebrations, Exhibition.
University of York Student, Holly Hammond discusses her experience with supporting the Curatorial Team at Castle Howard in creating this royal exhibtion.

A Unique Setting

My name is Holly Hammond and I’m volunteering at Castle Howard as part of my Curating and Art History degree. I discovered Castle Howard ‘accidentally’ during the height of a COVID winter in an attempt to find somewhere to stretch my legs. Whilst driving along the A64, I impulsively chose to visit Castle Howard to explore the grounds. I was instantly in awe of its unique setting and picturesque views.

201 Years Old Objects

The Castle Howard team wasted no time in thrusting me into an exciting job. It was explained to me that in celebration of the Queen’s 70-year reign I would be helping to examine, catalogue and eventually put together an exhibition that used the House’s collection of coronation and jubilee memorabilia.

As I explored the contents of the boxes, I discovered memorabilia from the reigns of George IV and Queen Victoria. The oldest of the objects appeared to be the invitations to George IV’s coronation in 1821, which have survived in fantastic condition in the collection for 201 years. The box had not yet been catalogued by the Curatorial team, meaning that each item pulled out was a thrilling discovery!

Making Connections

During my placement I have learned how to document and handle objects. Treating every object with care is valued at Castle Howard and the curators ensure this is always upheld. The opportunity I have enjoyed most so far was becoming part of the team creating promotional material for the future exhibition. The task allowed me to reposition the objects in settings where they looked more at home, this was particularly evident for the 1953 letters from the Earl Marshall to George Howard. The personal touches, for example the handwriting scribbled across the letters, were particularly important in creating a connection between the object and the House making the photographs more authentic.

The Reign of a New Sovereign

After establishing a theme, we carefully rearranged the room and set up objects like the replica Crown Jewels and coronation gown - creating a magical atmosphere that did them justice. I focused on the surviving documentation, including letters, invitations, and photographs. To best show these I arranged a scene where George Howard receives his instructions upon his appointment as a Gold Staff Officer. Around him is information about the coronation including a London tube map, to ensure his day runs smoothly. He reminiscently looks upon a picture of the young Queen at her Father’s coronation. If you look closely, he has scribbled ‘Gloves’ in capital letters to ensure he doesn’t forget them! This arrangement aims to capture the anticipation of the nation for the reign of a new sovereign.

I look forward to the opening of the exhibition to the public, when visitors to Castle Howard can discover more about Castle Howard’s links to royalty!

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