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Marvellous mechanisms

Close up of door lock

The Royal Collection contains some seemingly ordinary objects, inside which marvellous mechanics can be found, hiding where you would least expect to find them!

At first glance this desk looks like a beautifully ornate piece of furniture. But could there be more to it than meets the eye?

Watch this short film to see the desk spring to life when it is unlocked. It might look like magic, but there is a special mechanical function inside that creates the impressive effect.

Unlock another secret mechanism by discovering the mystery of this special door lock.

This lock was specially designed as a hidden defence against intruders. If someone tried to tamper with it by opening it without its key, a mechanism would activate alarm bells (now missing), and two small pistols would fire! The lock was presented as gift in 1765 to George III, who was interested in scientific instruments and machinery.

The lock was probably designed to guard a door to an important room. What kind of a room do you think it might have protected? And what do you think might have been kept inside such a room?

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.