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Communities

Communities are at the heart of our palaces

We work closely and collaboratively with local communities to make our palaces more accessible and relevant for all visitors. Our core programmes and projects create opportunities for people to meaningfully engage with our spaces and stories, inspiring everyone to feel a sense of belonging at our six wonderful palaces.

Community Access Scheme- Group leaders exploring the Bloody Tower.

Community Access Scheme

The Community Access Scheme (CAS) offers free entry and support for community groups to visit and explore the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens. We do this by training up group leaders to develop and deliver visits for their groups.

We have been delivering CAS since 2012, with our network growing to over 350 partners across our palaces. In 2022, over 7,000 people have visited our palaces through CAS.

The scheme includes:

  • A compulsory Group Leader Training designed to inspire and support group leaders to plan and lead visits for their groups to the palaces.
  • Free tickets for community groups to the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens for up to one year.
  • Support from the Community Partnerships team to help group leaders engage their groups with the palace's stories, collections and historic spaces.
  • Discounted entry tickets for group members to return to the palace independently after their initial group visit.

How can I join CAS?

CAS membership is open to local community groups who would not normally visit our palaces or see it as a place of interest for them. They often experience real or perceived barriers to visiting our sites.

Groups join CAS at their local palace:

  • CAS Tower of London: Tower Hamlets, City of London, Southwark, Newham, and Enfield
  • CAS Hampton Court Palace: Surrey, Kingston, Richmond, Hounslow, Merton, Wandsworth, Sutton, and Lambeth
  • CAS Kensington Palace: Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, Camden, Brent, and Ealing
  • CAS Hillsborough Castle and Gardens: local community

Group leaders must attend a training session and sign a service level agreement.
Our next training sessions will be in 2023, please email [email protected] to register your interest.

How do I visit and book with my group?

CAS group leaders should email us to arrange a group visit. We ask for a minimum of three-weeks notice to book your visit and is dependent on ticket availability, staff capacity and opening hours. Email [email protected].

What do I need to plan for my visit?

Information on getting to our palaces and access needs can be found below. 

Tower of London
Hampton Court Palace
Kensington Palace
Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

Resource guides to help plan and make the most of your visit can be found below. 

Further information on our Community Access Scheme at the palaces can be found at the links below. 

Tower of London Community Access Scheme Hampton Court Palace Community Access Scheme Kensington Palace Community Access Scheme Hillsborough Castle Community Access Scheme
Group leaders exploring the handling collection at Kensington Palace as part of the Community Access Scheme programme.

Amazing Days Out

Amazing Days Out is a programme for children, young people and their families who experience multiple barriers to visiting our palaces. We work in partnership with large local and national organisations to plan and deliver memory-making experiences for their group members.

We work collaboratively with partners to meet the needs and interests of group members, helping them to better access and experience all that our palaces have to offer. This programme is open to organisations who want to bring their groups for a fun-filled day out, but for which the Community Access Scheme is not the right fit for them to do so.

Amazing Days Out offer:

  • Planning session with the Community Partnerships team
  • Exclusive use of one of our learning spaces for your Amazing Day out
  • Facilitated activities based on a theme or story, for example arts and crafts, storytelling, games, or object handling
  • Free entry to our palace and gardens on the day plus tickets for each person to make independent return visits
  • Light refreshments, and more!

How can I plan an Amazing Day out?

If you work or volunteer for an organisation and wish to plan an Amazing Day Out, email [email protected]

Some of our Amazing Days Out partners include:

  • Action for Carers (Surrey)
  • Kingston Carers
  • ADHD Embrace
  • Achieving for Children
  • Kingston Churches Action on Homeless
  • Jigsaw (South East)
  • ELATT (ESOL provider)
  • Idea Store
  • Metro Charity
  • Spring Community Hub
  • Southwark Adult & Family Learning Services
A mother helps a daughter with the final touches of a crown she is constructing as part of the Superbloom Communities celebration day, Summer 2022.

Sensory Palaces

For nearly a decade, our Sensory Palaces programme has enabled people living with dementia and their companions to explore our palaces’ stories and spaces using their senses. Together, we have evidence the positive impact of heritage, storytelling and creativity on participants’ mental health and wellbeing.

Sensory Palaces will be on a short break from January 2024. Our team plans to launch a refreshed programme that will enable more people to access our stories and spaces, more independently in spring 2024.

Benefits of Sensory Palaces

In 2017/18, the University of Salford Institute for Dementia evaluated the benefits of Sensory Palaces on people living with dementia and companions and the impact of heritage setting on their experience.

‘The impact on well-being for care supporters and the person living with dementia was considerable… participants experienced high levels of enjoyment and attending the sessions impacted positively on individual well-being.’ (link) Download Sensory Palaces evaluation summary report. (link)

Download Sensory Palaces evaluation summary report.

Download Sensory Palaces evaluation full report.

Learn more about Sensory Palaces

Dementia Friendly Heritage Network

We are committed to making Historic Royal Palaces a dementia-friendly organisation. We lead the Dementia Friendly Heritage Network, a peer network led in partnership with heritage sites from across the UK. We work together to develop and share best practice to support the growth of dementia friendly initiatives in the sector.

In 2017, we published Rethinking Heritage: A guide to help make your site more dementia friendly. 

Read our Rethinking Heritage guide
A group of people at a Sensory Palaces dementia-friendly session focusing on Queen Elizabeth I, looking down at sketches exhibited on a table.

Community projects

Discover more about some of our projects

Indian soldiers marching in front of the east front of Hampton Court Palace

The Indian Army at the Palace exhibition 2023

On 15 September 2023, a new exhibition exploring the forgotten story of Indian Army soldiers who camped at Hampton Court Palace in the early 20th century opened at Hampton Court Palace.

We worked closely with communities to shape this exhibition, supporting them to share their stories and objects as part of the display.

Read about our community projects

Indian Army Resources

Contact the Communities team

If you wish to speak to us about becoming a partner or want to find out more about how we can work with your community group, please contact the team at [email protected]