New Gardens and Landscapes
Kensington Palace was once the centrepiece of the wonderful baroque landscape that we know today as Kensington Gardens. The Gardens were designed for King George II and Queen Caroline in the 1720s and 1730s by the royal gardener, Charles Bridgeman. The wide, tree-lined avenues of Bridgeman's plan were all designed to give stunning vistas of the palace. Incredibly, these avenues and other features, such as the Broad Walk and the Round Pond, survive today more or less as Bridgeman intended and George and Caroline might have known them.
However, the need to provide privacy and security for 20th Century residents of the palace meant that Kensingon Palace became separated from its surrounding park and screened from view by railings and dense planting.
Historic Royal Palaces is restoring Kensington Palace's gardens to re-connect the palace with its park and provide a new entrance for visitors, direct from the Broad Walk. The gardens will be an important new outdoor public space at the heart of London, entirely free to access.
The design for the landscape is by Todd Langstaffe-Gowan, whose vision for Kensington Palace draws on both his flair as a contemporary garden designer and his knowledge as a royal garden historian. There will be new lawns and avenues and a maze-like path inspired by the 'wilderness walks' of the 18th century.
Lost views of Kensington Palace will be restored and the design will unite the palace with Kensington Gardens. The statue of Queen Victoria, which has stood at Kensington Palace since 1893 will become the centrepiece of the gardens in celebration of the fact that it was Victoria who first opened the gardens to the public.
Courtyards, cafés and places to be
We want to make Kensington Palace a place to be; somewhere people come to relax, to learn and discover the stories of the fascinating people who lived here.
As part of our building work, we will create a new courtyard terrace and café, which will complement the Orangery, where people can come to enjoy the gardens. This café will be situated on the East Front next to the new entrance to the palace.
This new entrance will lead on to a visitor reception and orientation 'hub'. The hub will be the beginning of every journey into the private and curious world of Kensington Palace. Visitors will gain a sense of what it is like to be in a royal palace and displays will introduce some of the stories that they will be able to explore in more detail inside.
Education and Outreach Spaces
Our ambition is for Kensington Palace to become a vital place for learning and community.
The current education and outreach programmes at Kensington Palace are based in temporary spaces in the basement. Our desire is to create new facilities that will be home to our expanding learning and community involvement work. Our programmes aim to be responsive to the needs of our users and local residents and contribute to national debate about identity and citizenship.
We will refurbish areas in the south range of the palace, currently used as offices, and rooms in the north range, the location of the present shop, to create two principal suites of spaces for learning, this will provide over 800 m² of new spaces for learning and community activities.
The facilities provided by the building work at Kensingto Palace will also allow Historic Royal Palaces to offer increased opportunities to our local communities in Kensington and Chelsea. The borough is one of the UK's most densely populated and diverse communities, with over 100 languages spoken in its schools.
We also plan to combine a high volume programme of advertised sessions with bespoke work with partner schools, working with schools where Historic Royal Palaces and teaching staff believe that a partnership with Kensington Palace will have the greatest positive impact. In total, we aim to welcome 10,000 formal education visitors every year.