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New project helps visitors discover the lost palace of Whitehall

Visitors use interactive technology to explore The Lost Palace in Whitehall Historic Royal Palaces and Benedict Johnson

22 July 2016

A theatre expert from the University of Bristol has helped develop a brand new history experience in London, enabling visitors to explore the once magnificent Whitehall Palace, which was the largest palace in Europe before it was destroyed by fire in 1698.

The Historic Royal Palaces' project, The Lost Palace, has just launched and uses interactive technologies to guide visitors on a digital adventure to discover a hidden history.

This new visitor experience begins at Banqueting House, the only surviving building of Whitehall Palace, before visitors take to the streets of contemporary Whitehall. Bespoke handheld devices, binaural 3D sound and haptic technology will enable people to hear and touch the past.

Dr Paul Clarke, from the School of Arts, has written and directed the project, which is produced by Historic Royal Palaces - the independent charity that cares for Banqueting House and five other royal palaces.

He said: "The project brings together my interest in archival research, locative technology and participatory theatre.

"The history of Whitehall Palace is fascinating. Many people don't realise it was once the largest royal residence for the Tudor and Stuart courts and many significant historical events happened there.

"Visitors will be able to experience some of the most exciting and intriguing moments from the palace's history through the magic of binaural sound – 3D sound, which immerses them in the scenes as they unfold around them."

In The Lost Palace, visitors hold in their hands a historical surveillance device and have the experience of travelling through time, to be there at some of the nation-changing events that took place in Whitehall Palace. 

Look out for the large-scale installations on the streets around Whitehall, including a burnt replica of the archway to the Great Hall of the palace, just outside the Ministry of Defence.

Tim Powell, Digital Producer for Historic Royal Palaces, said: "The Lost Palace is innovative in its approach to collaborating with creative partners and shows a huge leap in the use of digital technologies within a heritage environment.

"With The Lost Palace we want to take our visitors to the places where history happened - and then, using new immersive technologies and storytelling, make them an active participant in it. We've focused on how technology can stimulate the senses to create an emotional connection with the past."

Dr Clarke's theatre company, Uninvited Guests, has been working in collaboration with sound designer Lewis Gibson, Bristol based app developers Calvium and designers Chomko & Rosier, who won the Playable City award with Shadowing.

It builds on the project he developed for the digital heritage strand of REACT - a four year project connecting researchers from the arts and humanities with creative businesses to make brilliant new prototype products or services.

Further information

The Lost Palace runs from 21 July to 4 September during the day for families, and with adult 'lates' Wednesday to Friday. There are different versions of the tour for young people and for those over 12.

Tickets are £12 for adults and £6 for children aged seven and over.

For further press information, please contact Historical Royal Palaces.

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