Historic Royal Palaces "The Lost Palace"

Tim Powell

Creative Producer, Historic Royal Palaces

Historic Royal Palaces

Hampton Court Palace Surrey KT8 9AU United Kingdom



Heritage in Motion Best Achievement Award 2017

Voted as the Best in Heritage IMAGINES Project of Influence 2018

Holding a King’s Heart: The Lost Palace and Touchy-Feely Tech


The Lost Palace allowed thousands of visitors to explore Whitehall Palace and experience its historic events … 300 years after it was destroyed by fire. It was a unique combination of immersive audio theatre, playful interactive technology, live performance and architectural installations – and ran from Banqueting House, Whitehall London during summers 2016 and 2017.


It was an experiment into both how rich a digital experience we could create without the use of screens or phones – and in enabling emotional connections with the past using multi-sensory technology.

Our ambitions for this project demanded that we worked in new ways and with different types of partners. This included an open call competition for artists and designers- and the public testing of five working prototypes. The full visitor experience was created using iterative, user-centred-design principles with over 15 rounds of testing. The final creative team included an architect, interaction designer, theatre-maker, sound artist and software developers.

The technology that powered the experience was a bespoke hardware and software system that used NFC, GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, haptics and binaural sound. However, this was all hidden within a hand-held wooden object, meaning the visitor’s focus was always on the spaces they were in and the characters they were encountering. This freed their imagination to engage with the stories in meaningful and memorable ways.


Visitor responses were overwhelmingly positive: 93% strongly agreed or agreed that it was ‘unique to other experiences I’ve had at visitor attractions’; and 95% that it ‘brought history to life’.


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