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Project information

Welcome to Kensington - a palace for everyone

Kensington Palace has been the setting for some of the most important events in our nation’s history, but its stories remain hidden. Our proposals will change this. This project will open up the buildings and gardens to make everyone feel welcome and transform the experience for all our visitors.

June 2010 - June 2012

Charity information: Historic Royal Palaces

Historic Royal Palaces logo
  • Need


    Every year, between six and seven million journeys are made past Kensington Palace. Only 240,000 people come in. The palace can appear closed, unwelcoming and intimidating. The visitor experience focuses mostly on art, costume and architecture, interpreted in very traditional ways and there is only a limited amount of our collection on display. Members of the local community do not make the most of the palace, particularly those who are disadvantaged or at risk.


    We are putting the people, the bustle and the atmosphere back into this fascinating royal residence. We will create new gardens, courtyards and public spaces and we will let ‘kids go free’. Our aim is to increase visitor numbers by at least 40% in the first instance and, within five years, to double them. We aim to quadruple the number of children who visit the palace through our education programmes.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    We will begin on the outside with a stunning programme of landscaping and garden design.


    » The statue of Queen Victoria will be given greater prominence in the east gardens, and its setting will be enhanced.
    » ‘New’ Court will be created at the north range of the palace and will be a place for rest and refreshment.
    » We will transform the relationship between the gardens and the park and make them newly available for the public to enjoy, free of charge.
    » The iconic golden gates will continue to be the focal point of the south gardens.

    What success will look like

    Success will acclaimed garden design that draws visitors in from the park and demonstrates to the passer by that the palace is open to all.

    Aim 2

    Courtyards, Cafes and 'places to be' - free to enjoy!


    » Visitors will enter the palace through a entrance on the east front of the building, designed by the leading classical architect John Simpson.
    » The new café will be a place for our visitors to rest as they explore the palace, and it will be designed to meet the needs of all.
    » In one of the most spectacular elements of the hub, we will transform what is currently an unused courtyard by enclosing it with a tented glass roof.
    » There will be new exhibition spaces as well as a new shop.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...a beautiful suite of free-to-enter rooms that are enjoyed by passers by as well as palace visitors in vastly increased numbers.

    Aim 3

    Explore Kensington's stories with four new visitor routes.


    » Queen Victoria: love and loss The story of Queen Victoria’s life at the palace and her long reign
    » The (very public) private life of the Queen The reign of William III and Mary II and the reign of Queen Anne
    » The curious world of the Court The reign of George II
    » It’s not easy being a princess The story of 20th-century royalty and Princesses Diana and Margaret

    What success will look like

    Success will be...the palaces' stories told in the rooms where they happened in new, innovative and engaging ways, using objects from our collections.

    Aim 4

    New community and education spaces.


    » We will create a suite of rooms for school groups and formal learners by refurbishing spaces currently used as office accommodation.
    » The current shop will be refurbished to create 300 square metres of new exhibition space, which will also be used by school and community groups.
    » We will aim to welcome 13,000 formal education visitors every year.
    » The facilities provided will also allow Historic Royal Palaces to offer increased opportunities to our local communities in Kensington area.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...13,000 formal education visitors p.a. plus a demonstrable increase in levels of engagement with the local community.

  • Impact


    Year-on-yerar increases in the number of people enjoying Kensington Palace as a place to visit as well as a place to learn. The ongoing enhancement of HRP's standing as an organisation that cares for and presents the palaces in its care to the highest possible standards. The ongoing development, through increased support and visitor numbers of our self-funding business model. The ongoing increase in visitor satisfaction stats in terms of value for money and enjoyment.


    HRP has a long-standing and highly effective approach to risk management. The main risks as detailed in our risk register are cost, programme overruns, object care, the transformation of the experience, attracting funding, reputation and impact on other HRP activities. The risks have been examined by the Project and Trustee Boards and are monitored on a regular basis.


    Through an ongoing programme of reporting, stewardship, site visits, events, PR, marketing, aknowledgement and accreditation. The stewardship programme will run throughout the project's life as well as when the newly transformed palace reopens.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £12,000,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £6,333,972 Building Works Enabling, new build, landscape
      £1,433,000 Contingencies Design, Construction and Project
      £649,000 Interpretation New exhibition routes
      £3,584,028 Fees and Other inc surveys, inflation and VAT

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Heritage Lottery Fund £999,999 Conditional
    Trusts and Foundations £2,206,000 Conditional
    Individuals £300,000 Conditional
  • Background


    It is Kensington Palace and Gardens - National Grid Reference TQ2584480027. But this heritage is much more than the buildings and land.


    We plan for 100,000 more visitors in 2012 - our exisitng visitors, our neighbours and more families and park users. These will be local people too - particularly children. Kensington Palace will be the place in Kensington and Chelsea where new British Citizens are created - the first ever citizenship ceremony took place in the King's Gallery earlier this year. London families, children, young and adult learners formal and informal, people with disabliities.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Historic Royal Palaces has an excellent track record of delivering projects of this nature. This include the Tower Environs Scheme, The Restoration and Re-presentation of Kew Palace, the Clore Learning Centre at Hampton Court and the conservation of the White Tower. We have received the endorsement of the HLF and our work is scrutinised and approved by the DCMS, representatives of the Royal Household and our own Trustee Board.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    HRP Trustee Board

    Overview and signoff of the project.

    HRP Executive Board

    Management and delivery of the project.

    John Simpson And Partners


    Gardiner & Theobald

    Project Manager