To mark the end of the Crimean War, Queen Victoria organised a series of balls. The ball we’ve chosen to recreate is the ball held on 17 June 1856. We chose this ball for two reasons. Firstly because it was one of the earliest balls held in Queen Victoria’s Ballroom and secondly because we had a fantastic record of this particular ball in a watercolour produced by Louis Haghe, which still survives in the Collection. In recreating Queen Victoria’s Ballroom, we hope that visitors coming to the Palace this summer will enjoy stepping back into the 1850s and experiencing the festivity, the music and the colour that really defines the early part of Queen Victoria’s time at Buckingham Palace. Before the new Ballroom was built, balls took place at Buckingham Palace in the State Apartments. There was no room big enough to accomodate all of the guests at the same time. The Queen herself admits that on one particular ocassion she couldn’t perform a particular ‘quadrille’ because the spaces were just so crowded. The new Ballroom that Pennethorne built was a necessity for the Palace, it allowed the Queen to accomodate up to 2,000 guests. He did this amazing job of combining traditional architecture, so the room itself is almost designed on a medieval Great Hall, but with modern technology and all the comforts that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert wanted. For the interior scheme, Prince Albert worked closely with his art advisor, Ludwig Grüner. He was German by birth but had worked extensively in Rome. Ludwig Grüner really helped Prince Albert to create this vision of this space designed to look like a sort of Italian Renaissance villa. To make our vision of this Victorian ball a reality, we worked with a Holywood-based production company, who specialise in visual effects. At the beginning of the project we set a particular remit. The two major elements that we wanted to recreate were firstly the decorative scheme in the Ballroom which no longer exists, but also we wanted to recreate a dance and fill the room with people and with music. To recreate the silk wall hangings at a lower level in the Ballroom, we based this on a surviving sample of the actual silk that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert installed. For women’s costume, we used the watercolour by Louis Haghe as our primary piece of research. Supported by looking at fashion plates of the time, we know at this date that women would have worn this type of dress to court. The décolletage, or the necklines, were incredibly low and off the shoulder. This is something that Queen Victoria insisted on and there are reports that she had people stationed at the doors during her balls to make sure that everyone adhered to her requirements. For the hair we based this very much on our watercolour. The style at this time was to have these low chignon styles, so really hairstyles that sat at the base of the neck. The men depicted in the watercolour are dressed either in civilian or military uniform. Because of the military theme of the ball we wanted to ensure that we depicted how honours and medals were worn at court. The actor in red is shown wearing the star, badge and sash of the Order of St Michael and St George. While the actor in blue is shown wearing the star, sash and badge of the Order of the Bath. To recreate the dance itself, we were inspired by a piece of Victorian technology called ‘Pepper’s Ghost’. This was popularised during Queen Victoria’s reign and was seen in musicals and theatres around London. What we have done is modernise this technique, bringing it up to date using the latest in digital technology. The completion of Ballroom marked a final stage in Queen Victoria’s transformation of Buckingham Palace from a rather unloved and neglected royal residence into the focal point of the cultural and social life of the country.