Our House

‘Our House’ is a play created and performed by 30 young people from the National Youth Theatre and METRO Charity in September 2019. More than 500 people attended the performances and it won the 2019 UK Heritage Award for Best Event, Festival or Exhibition.

Performers dancing at Eltham Palace for 'Our House'

In summer 2019, young people from both the National Youth Theatre (NYT) and METRO Charity had the unique opportunity to develop a new play at Eltham Palace ‘Our House’.

‘Our House’ explores LGBTQ+ stories and the history of the Eltham Palace. Taking inspiration from the lives of Eltham’s famous occupants – King Edward II, King Henry VIII, and Courtauld family, as well as the stories of the countless people including servants, musicians, soldiers, and administrators, whose lives are linked with Eltham and its more famous residents, but whose stories have gone untold or have even been lost entirely.

Over two months, we worked with historians, musicians, directors, writers and theatre professionals to create a new immersive promenade performance*. Following an introduction to Eltham Palace’s history, they researched LGBTQ+ narratives relating to the palace and its inhabitants and, during creative workshops, forged their ideas into a script.

The play is divided into eight short scenes exploring the supposed romance between King Edward II and his favourite, Piers Gaveston, Henry VIII’s upbringing at the Palace with his sisters, and working-class queer stories from the 1930s when Eltham Palace was known for high-society parties.

Performers dancing at Eltham Palace for 'Our House'
Performers at Eltham Palace for 'Our House'

On the 21st and 22nd September, performances took place at Eltham Palace to both invited guests and members of the public. More than 500 people attended the performances, moving through various Palace rooms and into the gardens to encounter each new scene.

Not only did everyone involved gain writing, performing, and dancing skills, they also gained confidence, made friends, and had a lot of fun. Everyone started to feel a sense of ownership over the site, that it was a welcoming and safe space.

“I was so impressed by the cast right from the very start, and loved the way they used the palace in each thought-provoking scene.”

Lynne Bradley – Operations Manager, Queer Britain – the national LGBTQ+ Museum

“It was so good to see the commitment of the young people to both the performance and to the material. The way the project uses history and historic buildings to explore current issues and to help both actors and audience learn more about both seemed to me to be both innovative and revealing. I enjoyed it and was so pleased to see this happening in my local area.”

Jennifer Sims – Chair of the Bob Hope Theatre

* A promenade performance is a play that isn’t set on a stage the actors move around a building and even use the gardens, whilst the audience is led from scene to scene around the palace and its grounds.