Carolling in Cyberspace: Historic Royal Palaces to stage first-ever digital carol service from Chapels Royal
Christmas Carols from the Palaces broadcast 21 December via hrp.org.uk
This year will see us all experience a Christmas like none we’ve ever known, and one which requires us to do things a little differently to protect those we care about. So, while the doors to the spectacular buildings Historic Royal Palaces cares for may remain closed, the charity has come up with a new way to welcome people in, while also spreading some festive goodwill this holiday season; its first-ever digital carol service.
From 18.00 on Monday 21 December, Historic Royal Palaces invites viewers to join a very special online-only broadcast of Nine Lessons and Carols from the legendary royal chapels at the heart of Hampton Court Palace and HM Tower of London. These incredibly evocative spaces have borne witness to hundreds of years of Britain’s history – from the burial of Anne Boleyn to the christening of King Henry VIII’s long-awaited son and heir – and now see another milestone in their story.
With so much of the country in lockdown, Christmas Carols from the Palaces opens the doors of the chapels royal to a global audience this festive season – allowing for a congregation far greater than would be able to be hosted in-person – and offers a unique opportunity to experience the musicians of the Chapels Royal singing some of our most loved hymns and carols, including O Little Town of Bethlehem and Once in Royal David’s City.
The service will feature readings from Historic Royal Palaces staff and representatives of organisations supported through the charity’s community engagement programme, alongside a host of familiar faces. Among those set to appear are HRP’s Join Chief Curator Tracy Borman and the Tower of London’s Chief Yeoman Warder, as well as the Right Reverend the Bishop of London and actor David Suchet, known to millions worldwide as Agatha Christie’s Poirot.
The service will be broadcast on the Historic Royal Palaces website at 18.00 on Monday 21 December. While it will be free to view, the charity hopes that some of those tuning in might consider making a donation to support the cost of the event. All donations will be shared equally among Historic Royal Palaces, the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace and HM Tower of London Chapels Royal Foundation, supporting the work of these three organisations to keep the spirit of the palaces alive.
Historic Royal Palaces expects to lose more than £100m in income this year because of the pandemic, which forced the charity to close the doors of the six sites it cares for much of the spring and summer. The long-term impact of COVID-19 on travel and tourism means they expect further challenges ahead, so the support of visitors, members and even its online community is more important than ever before in helping to give these incredible buildings a future as bright as their past.