About the Catalogue

This catalogue contains details of the Archive of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 which dates from 1849 when the Society of Arts and its president, Prince Albert, determined to hold a Great Exhibition in London in 1851.

The Archive is comprised of records relating to three main areas of interest :-

Material relating to the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851 – including the granting of the Royal Charter, appointment of Commissioners, choice of the Hyde Park site and Joseph Paxton’s “Crystal Palace”, the organisation of local and national committees and the logistics of running the Exhibition.

Material relating to the Kensington Gore Estate purchased by the Royal Commission with the proceeds of the Great Exhibition. This includes designs for developing the site and material relating to the various institutions which have been based on the site such as Imperial College, Royal Albert Hall, Royal College of Music, Royal College of Art and the Science, Natural History and Victoria and Albert Museums.

Material relating to the Royal Commission’s various scholarship schemes, which began in 1891, and their alumni. Amongst these can be counted thirteen Nobel Laureates, 7 holders of the Order of Merit and four Presidents of the Royal Society.