Saving history: TimeQuake at Hampton Court Palace

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TimeQuake, our immersive, interactive family experience that ran over the nine days of the May half term was a great success. Not only have more than 5,000 visitors had a great experience learning about the palace in this one-hour multi-time period mission, but the fissure in the time vortex has been sealed and history has been saved!

TimeQuake is just one example of how our public programming is improving the visitor experience at Hampton Court Palace for families, reflected in Hampton Court making the long list for this year’s Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award, run by the charity Kids in Museums.

Last year, families told us they were looking for participatory experiences that all the family could enjoy together from pre-school age children to grandparents. TimeQuake was one of the outputs from this feedback.

One family, with children aged four, nine and 12, said:

‘The Time Explorers blew me away. They were enthralling, supportive, so clear and so exciting. They made it so that even my husband, who generally is quite critical of events such as these, become invigorated, actively encouraging our children to hurry along, as to avoid the time vortex!’


The experience began with an immersive film describing the peril Nicholas Kratzer, Henry VIII’s clock-maker, had created by programming a magic dial in the King’s astronomical clock, designed to bring him back from the past after 500 years, to see how things have changed. However his meddling with the fabric of time caused a ‘TimeQuake’ resulting in the course of history being destabilised.  The mission was for our family visitors to complete challenges throughout the palace to restore history and by doing so, save the present.

We selected 50 young people from open auditions, who then received training from the Rose Theatre Kingston to become Time Explorers.  They guided visitors through the time vortex on site-specific missions that combined encounters with costumed characters and audio-visual technology. The script for the experience was created by award-winning author Damian Dibben. TimeQuake proved we could bring together a diverse creative team and host an unforgettable experience for 90 visitors every half an hour.


We hope no permanent damage was done to the time vortex as part of this project, but if we do stumble upon a wormhole to the future amongst the ancient cobblestones, we hope to see you all here for our next family extravaganza!

Did you experience the TimeQuake? Let us know what you thought in the comments below. Or have you put on a similar event within your organisation? We’d love to hear what you learnt.

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