Sir Trevor McDonald, Trustee of independent charity Historic Royal Palaces, and Wesley Kerr, Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund committee for London announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund has confirmed a £1 million grant for 'Welcome to Kensington - a palace for everyone', a major project to re-present Kensington Palace by 2012 at a press conference on Wednesday 16 September.
The announcement brings the total funds raised to date by Historic Royal Palaces to just over £8 million towards the £12 million project, which will transform Kensington Palace into an exciting, engaging and inspirational visitor experience. The plans will introduce new education and community facilities, improve accessibility, reconnect the palace with the neighbouring park through new public gardens inspired by the area's historic landscape, and realise the ambition to open up the palace's rich and varied stories to the widest possible audience.
The project will be financed by independent charity Historic Royal Palaces, with grants and donations from donors, sponsors, trusts and foundations. The £12 million fundraising campaign, led by the Historic Royal Palaces Campaign Board, is already underway to secure the remaining £4 million over the next two years.
When the project is complete in 2012:
• Kensington Palace will be completely opened up and linked once again to the neighbouring park and surrounding landscape with gardens inspired by the historic layout of the area. Historic vistas to and from the palace will be reinstated, and a new outdoor space for public use and enjoyment created.
• The main visitor entrance will be relocated to welcome and draw visitors into the palace directly from the Broad Walk and the Round Pond.
• There will be a central hub inside the palace, free of charge to enter, where visitors will get a taste of the palace and can choose to explore further or just stop and enjoy refreshment in relaxing surroundings.
• The rooms where Queen Victoria grew up will be re-interpreted with a new permanent display dedicated to the story of her life. Visitors will explore the very rooms in which she spent her childhood, discovering more about her time at Kensington and her life through many personal and pertinent objects that once belonged to the Queen and her family. The stories of Kensington’s other fascinating personalities will follow after 2012.
• Children will enjoy free admission to the palace, where fun, engaging and relevant children-friendly events and activities will encourage more families to visit.
• Physical access into and around Kensington Palace will be transformed, aided by the addition of a lift providing level access to all public floors.
• Historic Royal Palaces' award-winning education service will be extended to Kensington Palace with an education strategy drawing on the palace’s relevance to the National Curriculum. Dedicated spaces will be created to accommodate formal and informal learners, as well as helping serve the needs of local community groups.
Sir Trevor McDonald, Trustee of Historic Royal Palaces, said:
“As Trustee of the Historic Royal Palaces charity, I’m truly excited to be part of this ambitious initiative that will enable many more people to explore this palace of extraordinary history, opening its doors, its rooms, its memories, its stories, its gardens, and its collections to the widest possible audience.”
"We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund is making this generous contribution to our £12 million project that will see Kensington Palace transformed in time for the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The fundraising total now stands at just over £8 million, and work is well underway to secure the remaining £4 million over the next two years.”
Wesley Kerr, Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund committee for London, said:
“British history flows through Kensington Palace like an ever-rolling stream . For 320 years this fabulous palace and the marvellously serene landscape surrounding it have been shaped and moulded by many of the great figures of our common past. Now thanks to this Heritage Lottery Fund award new generations will be able to enjoy and learn from the palace, through greatly enhanced access and educational programmes, the reuniting of the Palace with the magnificent vistas from and to central London, and the retelling of so many great stories. William and Mary’s escape from the 'Airs and smokes' of the metropolis; Hanoverian grand designs; the formative years of great Queens; the lives of troubled Princesses - all told amidst the splendid architecture, art and gardens."
This morning’s grant announcement by the HLF follows another recent and important milestone for the project. At the end of August, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Planning Committee approved Historic Royal Palaces’ scheme for Kensington Palace (with the minor exception of a proposed loggia for the new visitor entrance). Major works will begin in June 2010 and are scheduled for completion in June 2012 in time for the Queen’s 60th Jubilee and the London Olympics.
Kensington Palace has been home to some of the country’s most charismatic and best-known royals, including George II, Queen Victoria, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales. Originally built in 1605 as a private country house, it was purchased in 1689 by King William III and Queen Mary II, eager to escape Whitehall. They immediately ordered major improvements to the Jacobean mansion to make it fit for royal residence. The palace includes contributions from some of the most renowned architects of the past three centuries, including Sir Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor, Sir John Vanbrugh, John Nash, Colin Campbell and William Kent.
The palace is also home to the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection – 12,000 items worn by royalty and courtiers from the seventeenth century to the present day, including clothing worn by George III, Queen Victoria, Princess Margaret, The Queen, and Diana, Princess of Wales. It was announced last week that the collection has been Designated as a pre-eminent collection of national and international importance by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). The project to transform Kensington Palace will enable Historic Royal Palaces to makes this important collection far more widely accessible than currently possible to visitors by 2012.