Friday, 01 April 2016


…is a historian, author, joint chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, and presenter for the BBC. She lives in London with her husband.

What are you working on at the moment?
An exhibition at Hampton Court Palace called The Empress And The Gardener. It’s a set of drawings of Hampton Court that Catherine the Great of Russia commissioned. They’re on loan from The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

When are you at your happiest?
When I’m caught up in a really interesting piece of work that’s difficult and challenging.

What is your greatest fear?
Heights. My work means I have to climb up scaffolding. Once I went green and had to be carried down over a builder’s shoulder.

What is your earliest memory?
Staring at Blue Rab, my toy rabbit, and wishing really hard that she would come to life.

What do you most dislike about yourself?
I’m not a big talker, so I have to remember to tell other people what I’m thinking. Especially when I reach a conclusion that is obvious to me.

Who has been your greatest influence?
My mum: she brought me up to work hard and be a good feminist.

What is your most treasured possession?
My Blue Rabbit, and her set of little clothes that my mother made for me in the hospital while she was waiting for my little brother to be born.

What trait do you most deplore in others?
Selfishness: when people monopolise time, attention, and resources, instead of noticing what would make life better for those around them.

What do you dislike about your appearance?
I try to be body-confident rather than body-hating, so I’ll turn the question around if I may, and say that I’m particularly proud of my lovely little ears. They’re quite beautiful.

What is your favourite book?
Jean Plaidy’s The Young Elizabeth. I have my own copy still, with its picture of Hampton Court Palace on the front. I still can’t believe I have ended up as a curator at Hampton Court Palace, and following in Plaidy’s footsteps by writing a children’s book set in the Tudor period.

What is your favourite film?
Brief Encounter: I love the way that Celia Johnson was cast, supposedly because she looked like an everyday suburban housewife. As if! She’s so elegant.

first-imp-590-2Lucy presents: Canadian crooner Michael Bublé, the elegant Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter, a Mozart sonata, and a serving of sushi

And favourite music?

Any Mozart piano sonata.

What is your favourite meal?

Who would you most like to come to dinner?
Michael Bublé.

What is the nastiest thing anyone has said to you?
I couldn’t repeat the weird and horrid things people have said to me in cyberspace. I reassure myself that they don’t mean it, they think I’m a little sock puppet on their TV, and that’s who they’re addressing, not me.

Do you believe in aliens?
Er, no.

What is your secret vice?
Bendicks Bittermints.

Do you write thank-you notes?
Not often enough. But I like choosing and buying presents for people. I’m well known in the Hampton Court gift shop.

Which phrase do you most overuse?
‘Did you know that Henry VIII had a special servant to wipe his bottom?’

What would improve the quality of your life?
Cancelling the wastefully expensive Garden Bridge project in London. Not least because it will ruin my neighbourhood on the South Bank.

Tell us something people might not know about you.
I like running. I trot along quite slowly but I can go a long way. I’ve been told that it’s because I have unusually large nostrils, like a horse. I can take in air exceptionally well.

What would you like your epitaph to read?
‘She made history fun’.

Eliza Rose, by Lucy Worsley, is published by Bloomsbury Childrens, priced £6.99.

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