Executive Board

Directors' biographies

Directors' biographies

John Barnes - Chief Executive, Historic Royal Palaces

John Barnes is the Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity established by Royal Charter and contracted by the Secretary of State for DCMS and the Northern Ireland Office to look after six royal sites and 1,000 acres of formal gardens and lands. Prior to this appointment in 2017, he was Conservation & Learning Director from 2001 with responsibility for the care of the six palaces and their collections, their presentation, interpretation and learning activities, as well as strategic leadership of site development and the wider visitor experience. 

John joined Historic Royal Palaces from English Heritage where he had been the Director responsible for professional services and then for major projects. Before that he had practised as an architect with a succession of leading conservation firms.

He is an alumni of the Getty Leadership Programme (2005), has taught on the Danish Museums Leadership Programme and mentored on the UEA Leadership course. He is currently a Trustee of Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich and a member of the Strategic Planning Committee of the International Council for Museums (ICOM). 

Nicola Andrews - Palaces Group Director

Nicola joined Historic Royal Palaces in August 2018 as Palaces Group Director for Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace (including Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, the Royal Kitchens and the Great Pagoda – all within the grounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew). In addition to this, Nicola also oversees The Banqueting House and Hillsborough Castle & Gardens. She is responsible for operations across all of these sites, as well as for the management and maintenance of the palaces and their grounds and estates, and the functions and events held there. She is also responsible for ensuring there is an integrated Plan for each Palace showing how each will be contributing to HRP’s strategy.

Nicola joined Historic Royal Palaces with 23 years experience gained at the National Trust. She worked in a wide range of departments over that time, including operations, external affairs, conservation, HR and finance. Most recently she held the role of Central Operations and Consultancy Director, with responsibility for leading delivery of the Trust’s strategy through operational and consultancy teams across the organisation; development of the organisation’s visitor growth strategy; and for operational risk and compliance. Nicola also headed up the corporate planning, performance management, and project and acquisition processes, in support of the Executive team and Board of Trustees.

Nicola is currently a Trustee of the Dorneywood Trust.

Jane Crowther – Corporate Services Director

Jane joined Historic Royal Palaces in January 2020 as HR Director. She was appointed to Director of Corporates Services in January 2022 and oversees the functions that enable HRP to deliver our strategy and plan – this includes information services, HR, health and safety, corporate strategy and planning, governance, secretariat and internal communications. A Cambridge University graduate with an MA in Natural Science Jane moved from engineering into management consultancy before spending several years in the oil and gas sector before moving to the charity sector as HR Director at the Royal Opera House.

Jane is also currently a Trustee of the Choral Foundation.

Andrew Jackson CBE – Tower Director

Andrew joined Historic Royal Palaces in May 2019 after more than 33 years of leadership and staff roles in the Army. His early career as an Infantry officer with The Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire took him to Northern Ireland and Bosnia, as well as training in the UK, Germany and Australia. He has worked in the Ministry of Defence twice, and following a year in Afghanistan as Deputy Commander of Task Force Helmand in 2011/12 he was awarded a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service.

On promotion to Brigadier, he was the Director of Operations for the Army Recruiting and Training Division before a short period on secondment to the Cabinet Office. His final role in the Army was as Chief Training and Force Development for Headquarters, Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, a NATO HQ based in Gloucester. Andrew designed and managed a programme to change the role of the HQ, including the delivery of a series of major training events. He was appointed CBE in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List.

A history graduate from the University of York, he also has a MA in Military Studies and is a Member of the Royal College of Defence Studies. He remains Colonel, The Yorkshire Regiment and Chairman of the Regiment’s Trustees until 2021 and is a Trustee of the Army Sailing Association.

Tom O'Leary - Public Engagement Director

Tom joined Historic Royal Palaces in 2017 from The Science Museum Group where he had been Director of Learning across the four national museums of the Group. Prior to this he was Head of Public Engagement and Learning at the Houses of Parliament for 8 years. This was preceded by working in The National Archives for 10 years in various roles, culminating in Head of Online and Education. He started his career teaching History in a comprehensive school.  Tom also founded TEDxHousesofParliament in 2012 and was Director of TEDxLondon from 2015 – 2017.

Tom is responsible for creating distinctive HRP experiences to convey the essence of each site, motivating people to visit and revisit, and ensuring that the organisation continues to be recognised for high quality, distinctive and transformative engagement and learning. This is achieved through providing inspiring and memorable experiences for all our visitors, including school groups as well as for wider audiences offsite and online.

He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has been a trustee for a range of organisations including Westminster Abbey, the RAF Museum and Culture 24. Currently he is on the Humanities School Advisory Board for Royal Holloway University and is a trustee of the London Museum of Water and Steam. Using the Thames like a Tudor, he commutes to work at Hampton Court Palace in a kayak.

Adrian Phillips – Palaces and Collections Director

Adrian Phillips joined Historic Royal Palaces in 1993 and has held a number of posts including Maintenance Manager for the Palaces Group, Project Team Leader and, between 2003 and 2017, Surveyor of the Fabric. Before that, he had practiced as a Chartered Building Surveyor with a number of companies in private practice.

Adrian is responsible for the care of the six palaces and the collections and for their enhancement, ensuring that they continue to be fit for use and better presented. In support of this, he is responsible for major projects, research, information management and the development of a new Masters course in Heritage Management, which launched in September 2018.

He has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Building Conservation from the College of Estate Management (1997) and is an alumnus of the Windsor Leadership Programme (2015).

Dan Wolfe - Commercial Director

Dan Wolfe joined Historic Royal Palaces in 2014. He is responsible for promoting the six palaces as outstanding visitor destinations and for raising the profile of Historic Royal Palaces as an independent charity.

Dan has spent the majority of his career working in the cultural sector. Immediately prior to joining Historic Royal Palaces, he was Director of Members, Art and Media at the Royal Horticultural Society, where he was responsible for promoting the four gardens and many flower shows, a growing membership and the Society’s publications, sponsorship and commercial venue hire businesses.

From 2003 to 2008 he was the Marketing Director for English Heritage and prior to that worked in business development at the Science Museum and as a marketing manager at the Millennium Dome.

Dan is a governor of Frank Wise School in Banbury and a Trustee of The Auckland Project.

Howard Beeston - Interim Finance Director

Howard joined Historic Royal Palaces in January 2022 on an interim basis while the charity recruits a permanent Finance Director. He has worked in similar roles in a wide range of organisations within the not-for-profit sector, including Battersea Dogs’ & Cats’ Home and the British Olympic Association. Prior to following a career in financial management, Howard served as an Infantry Officer in the Army.

He is a Chartered Secretary and holds an MBA from Cranfield Business School.