Manuscripts and Special Collections

Georgian Delights



Life during the reign of George IV (1820–1830)

Dates: 13 December 2019 - 29 March 2020

Admission free

George IV became King of Great Britain, Ireland and Hanover on 29 January 1820. His long apprenticeship for the throne, as Prince of Wales and (after 1811) Prince Regent, made him a colourful and controversial figure.

This exhibition, timed to coincide with the bicentenary of George’s accession, examines his life and reign, highlighting the contrasts between the King and his subjects, through The University of Nottingham’s Manuscripts and Special Collections.

The exhibition has been jointly curated by Dr Richard Gaunt, Associate Professor in History (School of Humanities) and Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham.


 Poster crop




The period 1820-1821 was a year of revolutions in Europe and the situation in Britain was hardly less threatening. The government fought to cope with the aftermath of The Peterloo Massacre of 1819 and the adjustment to peacetime conditions following the Napoleonic Wars. Barely a month into George IV’s reign, a plot to assassinate the cabinet was uncovered, whilst convention required both a General Election and coronation take place. The King also created a constitutional crisis by his determination to divorce his wife, Caroline, and prevent her from being crowned Queen.

A series of talks and events will be held to accompany the exhibition. Places are limited so please book your tickets with the Box Office on 0115 8467777. See the exhibition page at Lakeside Arts Centre for further details.

Location and Opening Times

Weston Gallery 
DH Lawrence Pavilion 
Lakeside Arts Centre
University Park 

Box Office : 0115 8467777  

Opening times:

Tuesday to Friday, 11am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday 12noon-4pm
Closed Mondays and public holidays

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Gallery Tours

Monday 27 January, 2.30–3.30pm
Monday 24 February, 2.30–3.30pm

Free, advance booking required.

Join the exhibition curator, Dr Richard Gaunt, for a guided walk through the exhibition and learn about the stories behind the items on display.


A Georgian Christmas with Boxwood and Brass 

Wednesday 18 December, 7.30pm (1 hour, 40 minutes – including interval)

Djanogly Theatre, £18

Christmas in late-18th century England was a time for the upper classes to give lavish balls and parties at their country estates. Period wind ensemble Boxwood & Brass presents a taste of the elegant and diverting music that accompanied the festivities. This ‘Band of Musick’, a traditional Georgian militia ensemble of clarinets, horns and bassoon, will regale you with quintets, marches, dance music and regional carols fit for the gallery of Pemberley itself!

Lunchtime talks  

Djanogly Theatre

All talks are 1 - 2 pm
£3 (free concessions)
Places are limited so please book your tickets with the Box Office on 0115 8467777. 

18 December 2019

Making Music in Georgian Britain

Making music was a central activity in Georgian homes, contributing to an expansion of the music printing and instrument building trades in the period. In this talk, Professor Jeanice Brooks of the University of Southampton, explores how musical materials were used and displayed in the home.

29 January 2020

The Return of the Royal Mistress: George IV and his female favourites

The accession of George IV was the first time a British sovereign had kept a mistress since the time of his great-grandfather, George II, in the 1750s. In this talk, Dr Nigel Aston of the University of Leicester looks again at the influence and assesses the importance of two much criticised women, Ladies Hertford and Conyngham, in relation to the king's personal and public life between 1811 and 1830. 

24 February 2020

The Diabolical Cato Street Plot’: Remembering Cato Street

On the evening of 23 February 1820, Bow Street Runners entered a hayloft in Cato Street, London, to arrest a group of armed conspirators who were planning to assassinate the British cabinet at a dinner in Grosvenor Square. Exhibition curator Dr Richard Gaunt re-considers the ‘Cato Street Conspiracy’, by uncovering its motivation, history and consequences.

18 March 2020

Two Sides of a Royal Coin: George IV as Husband and Brother

Acclaimed historical biographer Flora Fraser will speak about her research in the Royal Archives when writing The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline and Princesses: The Daughters of George III. George IV grew to detest his wife, Queen Caroline, but was a loving friend to his six sisters. Flora will examine these two sides of a royal coin.

Film Screening

Beau Brummell (1954) (PG)

Thursday 16 January, 7pm (Approx. 2 hours)

Djanogly Theatre, £5 (£3 concessions)

Beau Brummell rises from poverty to become the friend and adviser of George, Prince of Wales. When Brummell oversteps the mark with the Prince, he risks his position at court and his chance at finding happiness with the aristocratic Lady Belham. The film will be introduced by Dr Richard Gaunt.


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651