Historic Royal Palaces awarded Independent Research Organisation status

Historic Royal Palaces awarded Independent Research Organisation status

The East Front of Hampton Court Palace

17 August 2015

Historic Royal Palaces has today announced that it has been awarded Independent Research Organisation status by Research Councils UK.

The independent charity, which cares for some of the most significant historic buildings in Britain – including the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace – has been recognised for several major projects at the forefront of heritage practice over the past year. Independent Research Organisation status will enable the charity to apply directly for Arts and Humanities Research Council for research funding to develop exciting future projects.

Taking responsibility for both the maintenance and preservation of six royal palaces, and the presentation of these nationally significant historic buildings to the public, Historic Royal Palaces combines academic and conservation expertise with cutting edge visitor interpretation techniques. The self-funded charity annually produces new exhibitions and displays to deepen engagement with the palaces and their fascinating history. Covering a huge range of topics: from Georgian court politics, to modern royal fashion, displays across the palaces are always underpinned by rigorous research.

Recent examples include the ‘Glorious Georges’ season across Hampton Court, Kensington and Kew Palaces, marking the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian accession in 2014. Spearheaded by Chief Curators, Dr Lucy Worsley and Dr Tracy Borman, and informed by new research from their curatorial team, the season shed new light on an overlooked royal dynasty, and their impact on British society. Highlights included a major representation of the King’s State Apartments at Kensington Palace and innovative creative programming, including a ‘smell map’ of the palaces and an authentic recreation of an 18th century firework display. Filmed at the palaces, and featuring contributions from leading academics and curators, Lucy Worsley’s BBC series, ‘The First Georgians’ extended the reach of the season far beyond the palaces themselves, to a mass audience.

2014 also saw Historic Royal Palaces stage the internationally renowned ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ display of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London. To deepen engagement with the popular display, which was seen by over 5 million people, Historic Royal Palaces worked with the AHRC funded ‘The significance of the centenary’ network. The resulting ‘Why Remember’ learning programme helped thousands of online visitors to better understand the significance of the First World War commemorations.

Historic Royal Palaces Head of Research Wendy Hitchmough said,

‘This is a huge milestone for us as an organisation, and we’re thrilled to have achieved this recognition for the research which informs everything we do at Historic Royal Palaces: from putting together new exhibitions, to deciding the colour to paint the walls! We have a thousand years of history at our fingertips, and some exciting ideas for new research projects in mind. Our IRO status will help us to apply for vital funding to take these projects forward in the future.’

Other IROs recognised by AHRC include the British Museum, The National Archives, Tate and the V&A.

Notes to Editors

For further information and images, please contact Laura Hutchinson in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office: laura.hutchinson@hrp.org.uk, 0203 166 6338.

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle.  We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. These palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (with the exception of Hillsborough Castle). Registered charity number 1068852. For more information, visit hrp.org.uk

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. For further information on the AHRC, please go to: www.ahrc.ac.uk

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