Lucy Worsley, born 18 December 1973, is an English historian, author, curator and television presenter.
Worsley is currently Joint Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces but is best known as a presenter of BBC television series on historical topics, including Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency (2011), Harlots, Housewives and Heroines: A 17th Century History for Girls (2012), and The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain (2014).
Lucy Worsley was born in Reading, Berkshire. Her father, Peter Worsley, is a geologist and expert in glaciers and permafrost and an emeritus professor at Reading University. Her mother is a consultant in educational policy and practice. She has a younger brother. Before going to university, Worsley attended St Bartholomew's School, Newbury and West Bridgford School, Nottingham. She graduated from New College, Oxford, in 1995 with a first-class honours BA degree in Ancient and Modern History.
Worsley began her career as an historic house curator at Milton Manor, near Abingdon, in the summer of 1995. From 1996 to 2002, she was an Inspector of Historic Buildings for English Heritage in the East Midlands region. During that time she studied the life of William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle and wrote the English Heritage guide to his home, Bolsover Castle. In 2001 she was awarded a DPhil from the University of Sussex for a thesis on "The Architectural Patronage of William Cavendish, first Duke of Newcastle, 1593–1676". The thesis later became her book Cavalier: A Tale of Chivalry, Passion and Great Houses.
During 2002–2003, she was Major Projects and Research Manager for Glasgow Museums before becoming Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity looking after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace State Apartments, the Banqueting House in Whitehall and Kew Palace in Kew Gardens. She oversaw the £12 million refurbishment of the Kensington Palace state apartments and gardens.
In 2005 she was elected a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London; she was also appointed visiting professor at Kingston University.
In 2011 she presented the four-part television series If Walls Could Talk exploring the history of British homes, from peasants' cottages to palaces; and the three-part series Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency.
In 2012 she co-presented the three-part television series Antiques Uncovered, with antiques and collectibles expert Mark Hill, and (broadcast at the same time) Harlots, Housewives and Heroines, a three-part series on the lives of women after the Civil War and the Restoration of Charles II. Later that year she presented a documentary on Dorothy Hartley's Food in England as part of the BBC Four "Food and Drink" strand.
Her BBC series, A Very British Murder, examined the "morbid national obsession" with murder. The series looked at a number of cases from the 19th century, beginning with the Ratcliff Highway murders which gained national attention in 1811, the Red Barn Murder of 1826 and the "Bermondsey Horror" case of Frederick and Maria Manning in 1849.
In 2014, the three-part series The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain explored the contributions of the German-born kings George I and George II. The series explained why the Hanoverian George I came to be chosen as a British monarch, how he was succeeded by his very different son George II and why without either, the current United Kingdom would likely be a very different place. The series emphasises the positive influence of these kings whilst showing the flaws in each.
Year Title Channel Notes
2015 When Lucy met Roy: Sir Roy Strong at 80 BBC Four 23 August 2015.
2015 Dancing Through The Blitz: Blackpool's Big Band Story BBC Two 25 July 2015. Co-presented with Len Goodman and Jools Holland.
2015 Cake Bakers and Trouble Makers: Lucy Worsley's 100 years of the WI BBC Two 20 July 2015.
2015 Britain's Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court BBC Two 7 February 2015. Co-presented with David Starkey.
2014 Dancing Cheek To Cheek: An Intimate History Of Dance BBC Four 17 November 2014. Co-presented with Len Goodman.
2014 Tales from the Royal Wardrobes BBC Four 7 July 2014.
2014 The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain BBC Four 1 May 2014. Three part series.
2013 A Very British Murder BBC Four 23 September 2013. Three part series.
2013 Tales from the Royal Bedchamber BBC Four 5 August 2013.
2013 Fit to Rule: How Royal Illness Changed History BBC Two Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
2013 Secret Knowledge, Episode 3 BBC Four Bolsover Castle 27 March 2013.
2012 Food in England: The Lost World of Dorothy Hartley BBC Four 6 November 2012
2012 Harlots, Housewives and Heroines: A 17th Century History for Girls BBC Four Three part series (May 2012).
2012 Inside the world of Henry VIII History Channel
2012 Antiques Uncovered BBC Two May 2012.
2011 Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency BBC Four Three part series (August–September 2011).
2011 If Walls Could Talk: The History of the Home BBC Four April 2011.
2011 When God Spoke English BBC Four 21 February 2011.
2010 The Curse of the Hope Diamond Channel 4 24 May 2010.
2010 King Alfred the Great? BBC South 17 May 2010.
2009 Inside the Body of Henry VIII History Channel
In February 2015, the Royal Television Society’s nominated Worsley (best presenter) and The First Georgians (best history programme) in its annual awards.
In July 2015, she was made an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Sussex (where she had done her PhD).
Worsley lives in Southwark by the River Thames in south London with her husband, the architect Mark Hines, whom she married in November 2011. With reference to having children, Worsley says she has been "educated out of normal reproductive function".
As a TV presenter, she is known for having a rhotacism, a minor speech impediment which affects her pronunciation of "r". When she made the move from BBC Four to BBC Two for the series Fit to Rule: How Royal Illness Changed History, she worked with a speech and language therapist to help with her pronunciation. Her trademark hair clip was also removed.
In her teens, Worsley represented Berkshire at cross-country and is still a keen runner.
A Very British Murder: The Story of a National Obsession (2014).
If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home (2011).
The Secret History of Kensington Palace (2011).
Henry VIII: 500 Facts (2009) with Brett Dolman, Suzannah Lipscomb and Lee Prosser.
Cavalier: A Tale of Chivalry, Passion and Great Houses (2008).
The Royal Palaces of London (2008) with David Souden, Brett Dolman and Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales.
Hampton Court Palace: The Official Illustrated History (2005) with David Souden.
Kirby Hall, Northamptonshire (English Heritage Guidebooks) (2001).
Bolsover Castle (2001) with Louise Wilson.
Hardwick Old Hall (1998).