Press release

4 April 2016

4 April 2016

Independent charity Historic Royal Palaces is undertaking a major project to transform the visitor experience at Hillsborough Castle, official residence of Her Majesty The Queen in Northern Ireland.

Today (4 April), it was announced that the Garfield Weston Foundation has donated £2million to the project. This is the largest charitable donation received in support of the project so far.

Hillsborough Castle is part of a 100-acre estate made up of historic buildings, gardens and parklands in County Down. This donation will help Historic Royal Palaces to open Hillsborough Castle to the public as never before, welcoming 200,000 people every year from 2019. In particular the donation will fund the building of new visitor facilities and a rich programme of new learning activities for schools and community groups across Northern Ireland. A new welcome centre building will be named after the Weston family in honour of their generous and significant support.

Announcing the donation, Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation Philippa Charles said: “We are delighted to be supporting Hillsborough Castle and playing a part in the future of this exciting new cultural asset for Northern Ireland. The Garfield Weston Foundation has supported projects across the UK for over 50 years and we are pleased to be making so large a contribution to a project in Northern Ireland. From local grassroots groups to larger charities with national reach, all the organisations we support make a positive impact on communities and strive to achieve excellence. Historic Royal Palaces and its ambitions for Hillsborough Castle are no exception and everyone at the Foundation is excited by the project’s potential to benefit communities in Northern Ireland – socially, culturally and economically.’

Hillsborough Castle is open for guided tours every weekend in April, May, June and September including Bank Holidays and open daily from 2 July to 4 September. Booking is advisable (telephone 0844 482 7777). Group visits are available throughout the year (telephone 028 9268 1376). The gardens are open all year round.

“The scale of this donation reflects both the huge generosity of the Weston family and the sense that our project at Hillsborough Castle is a unique opportunity to create something very special for the whole Northern Ireland community and its visitors – a place to tell important stories, to enjoy beautiful buildings and gardens, and to learn. The Foundation has been very generous to Historic Royal Palaces in the past, but this donation is on a different level. I am thrilled that this project has inspired such incredible support.”

Michael Day, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces

Notes for editors

For further information please contact the Historic Royal Palaces press office: 020 3166 6166 or [email protected]

Historic Royal Palacesis the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. It aims to help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built.

Historic Royal Palaces raises all its own funds and depends on the support of its visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. Registered charity number 1068852.

For more information visit

The Garfield Weston Foundationis a family-founded charitable grant-making foundation which supports a wide range of causes across the UK, donating over £54million in the most recent financial year. It was established in 1958 by Willard Garfield Weston and has donated over £785million, becoming one of the largest and most respected charitable institutions in the UK. The trustees are descendants of the founder and the Weston Family takes a highly active and hands-on approach.