HRP to proceed with Kensington Palace project

HRP to proceed with Kensington Palace project

Historic Royal Palaces presses ahead with Kensington Palace project in spite of Heritage Lottery Fund decision

Press release

Conservation and education charity Historic Royal Palaces remains committed to its plans to redevelop and represent Kensington Palace despite narrowly missing out on a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Whilst the bid was turned down as a result of huge cuts in the HLF’s funding pot, Historic Royal Palaces believes the project, which will transform the visitor experience of the palace, can secure the funds needed to realise its ambitions.

Central to the £12 million project is creating new public gardens to reopen the vistas to and from Kensington Palace, making a new visitor entrance and new routes to explore the palace that are accessible to everyone, revealing the hidden stories of the past in lively and relevant ways, building further partnerships with the local community and realising formal and informal education opportunities.

Michael Day, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces said of the news, “We are obviously very disappointed the Heritage Lottery Fund is not able to support our project for Kensington Palace, but we believe that over the past two years we have developed an excellent scheme that will transform the palace into an exciting, engaging and inspirational visitor experience for the widest possible audience. We remain fully committed to delivering this exciting vision for Kensington by 2012, and that with a combination of our own resources and the backing of supporters and partners we can achieve our ambitions.”

Whilst Kensington Palace is a popular London visitor attraction, this project will enable Historic Royal Palaces to make major improvements to ensure it remains a visitor destination that attracts an even broader, more diverse audience. Only a small proportion (250,000) of the millions of people who annually pass through Kensington’s surrounding park venture beyond the railings and foliage that enclose the palace. Inside the palace the wonderful historic rooms and collections are not shown to their best because of complicated visitor routes and dated methods of presentation. Many of Kensington’s most compelling stories remain untold. Without physical changes to the layout of the palace it will not be possible for people with disabilities to share the same experience as others. The lack of spaces for education and community uses limits Historic Royal Palaces’ ambition for sharing Kensington Palace’s rich past and historic collections with local communities and a wide range of learners.

When the project is complete in 2012:
• Kensington Palace will be completely opened up and linked once again to Hyde Park and the 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 a royal 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 redisplayed and her story told using collections of pertinent and personal historic objects. The stories of Kensington’s other fascinating personalities will follow after 2012.
• To mark the reopening there will be a special exhibition drawing on the world-renowned collection of royal dress kept at the palace.
• 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 floors.
• Historic Royal Palace’s award-winning education service will be extended to Kensington 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, including local community groups.

The £12 million project will be financed by Historic Royal Palaces supported by grants and donations from donors, sponsors, trusts and foundations. A fundraising campaign has already begun, led by the Historic Royal Palaces Campaign Board, which included a gala dinner held on 2nd October at the palace for supporters and potential supporters of Historic Royal Palaces, where the new Chairman of the Board, Ian Barlow, was announced.

Work is planned to begin in March 2010 and the project will be complete by June 2012.

Further information

Notes to editors

For enquiries please contact Vikki Wood on 020 3166 6304 or email

The Kensington Palace project will redevelop and represent areas of the palace for which Historic Royal Palaces is currently responsible: the State Apartments, Apartment 1a and Kensington Palace gardens. It does not cover areas currently administered by the Royal Household.

Other recent fundraising projects by Historic Royal Palaces:
• White Tower Conservation Project at the Tower of London in 2008 (c£1.5 million) supported by contributions from Man Group plc Charitable Trust, the HB Allen Charitable Foundation, the Getty Foundation and the 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust.
• Kew Palace conservation and representation (£6.6 million, opened 2006) was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£1.59 million), Eric Hotung CBE, The Gosling Foundation, The Hobson Charity and the Wolfson Foundation amongst others.
• The Clore Learning Centre at Hampton Court Palace (£2.8 million, opened 2007) was supported by The Clore Duffield Foundation, the Weston Family and the Bradbury Foundation amongst others.
• Tower Environs Scheme at the Tower of London (£18.6 million, opened 2004) was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£5.4 million) and the late Sir Paul Getty

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace.  We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built.
We receive no funding from the Government or the Crown, so we depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors.
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.
We believe in four principles.  Guardianship: giving these palaces a future as long and valuable as their past. Discovery: encouraging people to make links with their own lives and today’s world.  Showmanship: doing everything with panache. Independence: having our own point of view and finding new ways to do our work.
Registered charity number 1068852

Downloadable Resources

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    History of Kensington Palace Fact sheet
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