If you visit the Bonhams auction house at the moment, you can have your photo taken standing in front of a full-size replica of the 10 Downing Street door.
It’s part of a large exhibition of clothes and furniture from the Netflix TV series The Crown, which is filling Bonhams before a sale and will raise funds for a scholarship programme at the National Film and Television School (NFTS).
Downing Street door aside, it’s a very large exhibition, opening with a slightly smaller than real size Gold State Coach, and rows of the fine costumes worn in the TV series on the ground floor alongside a replica of The Queen’s waiting room.
Oh, and the Coronation Chair with Stone of Scone in the base, but interestingly, lacking the graffiti that is on the original. Maybe they decided people wouldn’t be able to see that detail, so no need to include it. As it happens, there’s another replica Coronation Chair, which is usually on display in Westminster Abbey’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries — except when needed to rehearse an actual coronation.
There’s some things here that I found a delight to see – such as the mocked up postage stamps, and they even made a replica of the original 3D mould used in the real stamps, but with Olivia Coleman rather than Elizabeth R.
I also noticed that the rich cyphers for the Earl Mountbatten were created for the show, as he didn’t have one himself.
Goodness knows how large someone’s house would have to be to house it, but there’s a gigantic model of The Mall for the state funeral.
The state coach has an estimate of £30,000 to £50,000, the Downing Street door is about £20,000, the Coronation chair can be yours for £10,000, while the rest ranges from low hundreds to high thousands.
In a way, it’s a very odd exhibition- as it feels like the sale of a grand house, as a now destitute peer is selling off their possessions to pay off debts. And while much of the furniture is real, albeit at times adjusted for regal purposes, it’s also mostly fake — the smoke and mirrors of a television show.
But just like television encourages us to sit back and enjoy the story, here you can suspend the facts and wander around an auction house looking at the Sale of the Century if a republican government were to take over the country.
The exhibition is large, and if it were just an exhibition anywhere else, there’d be a sizeable entry charge to see the exhibits. However, they’re on display to be sold, so the exhibition is completely free to visit – for buyers and the general public.
You don’t need to have seen the show (I haven’t) to enjoy the exhibition, and as it’s free, it’s a very good hour or so of anyone’s time.
Bonhams is recommending that people book tickets to visit to skip any queues that might build up.
The exhibition is spread over several floors.
- Ground floor – State rooms
- First Floor – Making of The Crown
- Second Floor – Costumes and the Queen
- Basement – Charles & Diana
It’s open Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 4:30pm and at weekends from 10am to 4pm
If you want to bid on any of the items, the full catalogue is here.