Putting on a Progress 1578:

Pageantry, People and Places

About the project 

In 2021 Curious Spark was awarded £98,000 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to bring one of the most exciting periods in Norfolk and Suffolk’s history to life using cutting edge 360° immersive technology.

On 11 July 1578, Queen Elizabeth I set off from her royal palace in Greenwich on her unique royal progress which would see an immense throng of people, including her royal household and foreign ambassadors, journey North. They travelled across East Anglia to her destination, Norwich, Norfolk. During this progress intriguing privy council meetings took place, magnificent feasts were enjoyed and iconographic pageantry was performed. The project honed in on the pageantry, places and people of Suffolk and Norfolk. We used original sources written during and shortly after the progress to create unique immersive experiences for audiences.

Using virtual reality technology we filmed and produced 10 actor-led, historically placed-based,  immersive room experiences embedded with hidden ‘hot spots’. Audiences  enter an Elizabethan world where they  bear witness to privy council conversations and royal entertainment; enlightening, emboldening and enhancing understanding of this fascinating age. As the VR user you are challenged to find several  ‘hot spots’ which, when gazed upon, initiate hidden images to appear encouraging audiences to further explore  the fascinating history of 1578.

The films are available on quality VR headsets which will be available to hire free of charge* by schools, youth groups, places of heritage, libraries, archives and community groups.  Each experience will be complemented by its own activity pack. Schools will be able to choose from Key Stage 3, GCSE or A Level curriculum linked packs, whilst other audiences will enjoy added activities connected to their locality.



 Curious Spark commissioned The Restoration Trust to collaborate on the POP 1578 welbeing phase of the project called ‘Into the Unknown’. This programme focused on engagements with adults who did not necessarily experience art or heritage and/or had previously been affected by mental health issues aggravated by or brought on by the isolation period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our purpose was to reveal the positive effect of heritage and cultural inclusion which can be relevant to supporting mental health through finding connectedness, a sense of belonging and the ability to relate to others by seeing things from different perspectives. The aim was that participants would continue to have an interest in heritage and that it improved their feelings of well-being. TRT art practitioner was Ian Brownlee who chose the medium of Zines to work with the group.

Putting on a Progress 1578: Into the Unknown

An Elizabethan Window Wanderland

‘Into the Unknown’ will focus on engagement with people who may not necessarily engage with heritage, but are curious to find out more about their locality in the past.

We collborated with Window Wanderland CIC to offer creative sessions to explore our connectedness, our sense of belonging to a place or community, and how Queen Elizabeth I ventured ‘into the unknown’ to connect to her citizens during the 1578 progress.

A gallery of the POP 1578 Zines and Elizabathen Window  Wanderland displays will be available to view soon! 

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