Stately pleasure domes - nationhood, monarchy and industry: the celebration exhibition in Britain

Deborah Philips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Stately Pleasure Dome, the state sponsored national exhibition, offers a moment at which a sense of national identity is publicly declared and presented as cause for national celebration. This paper charts the shifts in the mechanisms for funding, the framing of the 'British people', industry and the role of the monarch at three distinct historical moments. In case studies of the Great Exhibition, the Festival of Britain and the Millennium Experience, the paper assesses how each exhibition conceived the leisure experience of a good day out. The paper suggests that while each exhibition claimed historical continuity, the constructions of the British people, the monarchy and the nation change. The different modes of funding and the public participation in each event demonstrate that while they are presented as unchanging, there are clear revisions in the way that these concepts are understood. While the Great Exhibition could celebrate Queen and Empire without question, these terms needed to be reconfigured in the post-Second World War moment of the Festival of Britain, and still further in the globalized world of the new millennium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-108
Number of pages14
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004


  • National exhibitions, Public celebrations


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