You are invited to attend Buckingham Palace for an exclusive Private View of the Royal Collection’s forthcoming exhibition ‘Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians’: the date is Thursday, April 27: sold out and event successfully concluded

We are delighted to announce that as a Member of CountryClubuk you are exclusively invited to attend Buckingham Palace for the Private View of the Royal Collection’s forthcoming exhibition ‘Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians’ in this, the final countdown to the Coronation of King Charles III. The date is Thursday, April 27. The time is 6.30pm.

The Georgian period saw Britain establish itself as an international power at the centre of an expanding empire. Accelerating change from the 1770s onwards made Britain the world’s first industrialised nation. The Georgian period saw the end of monarchical absolutism, the world’s first industrial revolution, and deep transformations in religious and cultural life as Britain vastly expanded its global exploration and settlements overseas—and this major exhibition reveals Georgian life through the art and fashions of the day. It brings together more than 200 works from the Royal Collection owned by HM The King, including paintings and drawings by artists including Gainsborough, Zoffany and Hogarth, cartoons by Rowlandson, and rare examples of clothing, jewellery and accessories. Some of these works have never before been on public view.

The exhibition builds a layer-by-layer picture of the Georgians’ lives—from the glittering gowns worn at court to the practical dress of a laundry maid—and charts the transformation of society from the accession of George I in 1714 to the death of George IV in 1830. These are among the most fascinating of treasures in the Royal Collection. We shall be among the first to see this Royal Exhibition in Buckingham Palace, and we shall have the pleasure of viewing it in private during a two-hour evening Private View, without the crowds that will throng the Queen’s Gallery to see this fabulous Exhibition by day. We shall have the guidance of a specialist authority on the Collection, appointed by the Palace for the purpose, and the event will be followed by a glass of wine to toast the occasion—English sparkling of course!

The Royal Collection is rich in works from the Georgian period and the Private View gives a wonderful chance to see them. At the heart of the display will be a rarely seen full-length portrait of Queen Charlotte by Thomas Gainsborough (c1781). Painted by candlelight, it depicts the Queen in a gown, worn over a wide hoop and covered with gold spangles and tassels. It will be shown alongside a preserved gown of a similar style, worn at Queen Charlotte’s Court.

Court dress provided a brilliant spectacle, yet on the streets of Georgian Britain new forums for fashionable display emerged, including pleasure gardens, coffee houses and theatres. The painting ‘St James’s Park and the Mall’ (c1745) brings to life London’s most fashionable meeting place and provides a fascinating insight into Georgian society. This royal park was a favourite resort for all society, the Mall in particular being a place to be seen in the 18th-century London style of passeggiata.

According to a French visitor: ‘Society comes to walk here on fine, warm days, from seven to ten in the evening, and in winter from one to three o’clock . . . the park is so crowded at times that you cannot help touching your neighbour. Some people come to see, some to be seen, and others to seek their fortunes; for many priestesses of Venus are abroad . . . all on the look out for adventures.’ Accounts tell of cows and deer in fields around the park, while a visitor in 1765 especially appreciated the availability of udder-fresh cow’s milk ‘served with all the cleanliness peculiar to the English, in little mugs at a penny a mug’.

This is people-watching par excellence: the Mall is given over to the beau monde, dressed in the height of fashion and saluting each other with elaborate grace and courtesy. The clearly-identifiable figure of Frederick, Prince of Wales, speaking to a fellow Garter Knight, stands in front of the gate leading to the Prince’s garden at Carlton House, so he is literally on his own doorstep. Royalty had mingled with the public in this setting at least since the time of Charles II. Around him, the extraordinary variety of the London crowd are pictured: a woman pulling up her stocking and a suckling mother; soldiers from three different regiments; a sailor, talking to a friend while a well-dressed black woman walks ahead; two priests and a middle-eastern elder instructing a younger man. It’s a rich tapestry of Georgian life.

The Exhibition reveals how much of a social change was afoot. Fashionable society was looking to the lower classes for style inspiration, adopting working-class garments such as aprons and trousers. Gentlemen had worn knee breeches for most of the 18th century, as depicted in Gainsborough’s portrait of the musician, Johann Christian Fischer, on show beside a remarkable likeness in a red silk-velvet court suit from the 1760s. By the end of the Georgian period, upper-class men had adopted trousers for the first time. The future George IV and Lord Byron were early adopters of the new style, as shown in a portrait of Lord Byron by George Sanders.

The exaggerated fashions and politics of the period were a gift for caricaturists, coinciding with what became the golden age of the satirical print, a wealth of these being in the Royal Collection. Here, in the never-before-displayed ‘New Invented Elastic Breeches’ (1784), Thomas Rowlandson depicts a large man being unceremoniously, and unsuccessfully, manhandled into a small pair of leather breeches by a pair of over-optimistic tailors.

The jewellery of the era also speaks volumes. Important pieces in the Exhibition include Queen Charlotte’s ring, featuring a miniature of her husband, George III, visible beneath a large portrait-cut diamond, encircled by smaller diamonds. It was given to the Queen on her wedding day, and she wore it on the little finger of her right hand, refusing to wear any other rings on that finger, no matter the fashion.

Such sentimentality is a hallmark of Georgian jewellery, seen again in a love token Queen Charlotte wore in a portrait by Zoffany. The Queen is wearing pearl bracelets: one clasp holds a diamond-encircled miniature of her husband, painted on ivory by Jeremiah Meyer. The other clasp contained the King’s hair and cipher. Another exhibit, a silver gilt, enamel, diamond, pearl and ivory charm bracelet was made up of nine separate lockets, six of which hold strands of hair.

The Georgians were also masters of recycling of jewels and fabrics. Both were more valuable than labour, and restyling jewellery and clothing was popular, even among nobles and Royalty.

Britain dramatically expanded its global reach during the 18th century via trade, travel and empire. Styles and fabrics from the Ottoman Empire, India and China were incorporated into everyday dress. In a portrait of Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV’s stylish mistress wears a floral gown, possibly made of painted silk imported from China. The portrait will be shown alongside a roll of Chinese hand-painted silk from the 1760s covered with an almost identical pattern, on loan from The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle.

Among the accessories on display are beautiful English and French fans, which reached their fashionable zenith during this period—some representing topical events such as the first hot-air balloon flight—and jewel-encrusted snuffboxes, reflecting the craze among both men and women for taking snuff throughout the 18th century. Advancements in haircare, cosmetics, eyewear and dentistry are also explored. Immensely tall and wide hairstyles became fashionable for women in the latter half of the century, resulting in the development of an entirely new trade: the hairdresser. Quirky items on display will include a set of miniature bellows and a sprinkler used for applying hair powder.

George IV’s lavish travelling service reveals all we ever wanted to know about the necessities of grooming for a fashionable Georgian gentleman. The luxurious mahogany box is lined with leather, and the contents—more than 100 items—are packed around an elegant silver-gilt basin with layered trays. The obvious razors, shaving brush, nail clippers, tweezers, scent bottles, combs and dental kit are there, plus boot hooks for pulling up the fashionably tightly-fitting boots, a winder for a pocket watch, and tools for making repairs, such as a mother of pearl needle case and a bradawl for making holes in belts. There are glass bottles for cologne and hair powders, but also drinking utensils including a spirit lamp for making tea and hot chocolate (grooming was a lengthy process, during which refreshments were sorely needed).

As our Private View comes to a close it will be time for our own refreshments: a glass of English sparkling wine, served with the added attraction of the offer of a 20% discount at the Royal Collection shop!

We are thrilled that our Members are invited to this exclusive Private View at Buckingham Palace, guaranteeing the best views of this exciting new Exhibition (which the public will see, 400 people at a time). We much hope you will join us, and enjoy this special evening to the full.


The Private View is limited in numbers, so please don’t delay. The cost is £67 each. For immediate acceptance of this exclusive invitation to attend the Private View at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, April 27, starting at 6.30pm (arrival from 6.15pm) please click here.

To extend the pleasure you may wish to go on for dinner at The Ritz, where you will be welcomed with a chilled glass of Champagne before a three-course dinner created for us by the Ritz Chef. This will be a fitting finale to our Private View at the Palace, but again, places are limited. To attend the Private View with Champagne Dinner at The Ritz at £207 per person, including your taxi from Buckingham Palace, please click here.

To make reservations by phone and to extend the pleasure by staying the night in London at exclusive Club rates, please call the Member Services team on 020 7399 2960 or click here to email hotel requests.

PLEASE READ: CountryClubuk Club Rules and Terms and Conditions

Enquire About This Offer

reCAPTCHA is required.