The Quality Poorhouse

Sarah Parker has curated an exhibition on the extraordinary ‘village’ community inhabiting Grace and Favour apartments at Hampton Court Palace, which, for the first time, opens one of these apartments to the public.

In May 1938, Mrs Caroline Offley Shore, an American from Philadelphia, wrote in her diary: ‘I came here May 10th, 1938, to live in this most lovely part of this loveliest of old Palaces’. She was referring to Hampton Court Palace, where she had been granted a ‘grace-and-favour’ apartment by George V. She recalled: ‘In 1935 His Majesty … gave me the apartment in the Clock Tower, Hampton Court Palace’. After nearly three years of restoration, the apartment was finally ready for her to move in.

Mrs Offley Shore was just one of hundreds to live in the palace over a 200 year period. Royalty, aristocrats, military heroes, clergymen, Antarctic explorers, scouting leaders, scientists, princesses, famous landscape gardeners, politicians and so forth, have contributed to the diversity of residents. Fortunately, many felt compelled to write their autobiographies, or diaries, revealing a glimpse of an intriguing community. 

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