2024 is set to be another busy year for Historic Royal Palaces.
From exhibitions to new art hangs, to live events, our packed public programme will explore the stories of the monarchs you know and the lives you don’t.
The team at Britain’s Historic Royal Palaces want everyone to be able to enjoy the wonderful sites in their care and so they have just introduced a new £1 ticket offer at three of their busiest sites for people in receipt of financially means tested benefits.
This offer is set to be rolled out across all of their sites in 2024, so that more people can discover the palaces and their amazing stories.
Here’s a taste of what to expect from Historic Royal Palaces throughout 2024:
Untold Lives: A Palace at Work will be a new exhibition opening at Kensington Palace in March 2024, looking at the servants and attendants who worked at the royal palaces over three hundred years ago. From pages to cooks, from wetnurses to seamstresses, it will shine a spotlight on the overlooked people from all walks of life who worked tirelessly – often behind-the-scenes – to maintain, protect and promote the monarch and the royal palaces. Through a collection of fascinating objects, it will focus on the skills and expertise required for these varied roles, as well as the unexpected origins and identities of some of these people and the hierarchies and inequalities within the palaces of the time.
The Orangery re-opens. After a four-year closure for conservation and building work, the Orangery at Kensington Palace will re-open to visitors in Spring 2024. Built for Queen Anne, the Orangery’s stunning interiors are the perfect venue for afternoon tea in majestic surroundings. Behind the Orangery, a new Learning Centre will be welcoming school and community groups to the palace throughout the year.
Hampton Court Palace
The Wolsey Rooms at Hampton Court Palace will be re-opened in May 2024 with a stunning new display exploring the early years of Henry VIII’s reign. Original artworks and historic objects – including The Field of Cloth of Gold painting, portraits of European royals, soldiers, and court entertainers, and displays of rare surviving Tudor artefacts – will help visitors to discover the people of the early Tudor age and their fascinating stories.
The Indian Army at the Palace exhibition continues until September 2024, exploring the forgotten story of Indian Army soldiers who camped in the Palace grounds in the early 20th century. This exhibition of previously unseen objects, photographs, film and personal stories has been co-curated with community partners and descendants of those who stayed here during Coronation celebrations and First World War peace parades.
The Tulip Festival will return to Hampton Court Palace in the Spring, filling the 60 acres of formal gardens with an abundance of bright bulbs, in celebration of the most coveted flower of the 17th century. Beloved by former resident Queen Mary II, the festival will include rare, historic varieties of tulips spanning five centuries, and creative planting schemes within the courtyards of the palace itself.
The Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt is set to return to the gardens for an extra week of Easter fun this year, from 23 March – 14 April, where little visitors are tasked to discover each of the hidden statues and uncover stories of people who lived, visited and worked at the palace. A chocolate treats awaits those who take part in the trail this Spring!
Horrible Histories will bring their new theatrical show “Rotten Royals” to the palace from 25 May – 1 June, set to delight (and disgust) visitors of all ages. Performances on the lawn will explore the lives and reigns of some of the most iconic British monarchs, at the home of Henry VIII himself. It’s history with the nasty bits left in!
Tudor Jousting is set to return for two weekends in July (13-14 and 20-21 July), where visitors can travel back in time to Henry VIII’s reign to be dazzled by a real Tudor joust, taking place in the magnificent formal gardens. Chivalrous knights will face off to be crowned champion and win the support of the roaring crowds.
Tower of London
The Jewel House display will be refreshed, with new objects appearing in the introductory exhibition, exploring the history of coronations. New for 2024 will be a piece of Court Dress for a Page of Honour worn at the 1911 Coronation, a Herald’s tabard from 1831, and a uniform worn by a Tower Warden from Historic Royal Palaces as he took part in the 2023 Coronation.
Crown and Coronation will set off on a tour of iconic UK landmarks in 2024, bringing the splendour of the Crown Jewels and past Coronation ceremonies to people from Exeter to Carlisle throughout the year. The brand new Son-et-Lumiere, created by Historic Royal Palaces and Luxmuralis Artist Collaboration, takes visitors on a journey through 1000 years of history, encompassing the reigns of some of the most famous English monarchs, detailed footage of the Crown Jewels, and a dramatic soundscape charting changes to music over the period.
The Moat in Bloom, our long-term transformation of the Tower of London moat into a biodiverse natural habitat, will continue in 2024. This coming summer visitors to the Tower will be able to walk amongst the flowers in this historic defensive structure as part of their standard ticket – welcoming people and pollinators into a space once designed to keep them out.
Trailblazers, a theatrical live programme entertaining visitors during the summer holidays, will introduce fascinating women from the Tower’s past who have been forgotten by history. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet these influential women as they wander the famous fortress and learn their stories, helping them to reclaim their place in the history books.
Halloween at the Tower of London is set to thrill families during the October half term, with a haunting selection of “ghosts” from the Tower’s morbid past roaming the cobbled walkways and battlements for visitors to find.
Hillsborough Castle and Gardens
The Spring Spectacular (9 March – 6 May 2024) will see the gardens erupt into colour just in time for the warmer weather, with daffodils, tulips and muscari set to take over the grounds. Visitors are invited to find solace among the flowers in this celebration of springtime, with events and workshops perfect for all the family planned throughout the gardens across the spring.
Life Through a Royal Lens (reopens 9 March 2024) continues by popular demand, with the exhibition of iconic royal photographs featuring a selection of images contributed by members of the public in Northern Ireland. Archive photographs taken during Royal visits to Northern Ireland feature in the exhibition alongside work by renowned photographers such as Norman Parkinson and Annie Leibovitz, and photos taken by members of the Royal Family themselves. The display explores how the Royal Family have used photography over the past 200 years to shape public perception and provide a glimpse into their personal lives.
New artwork will also be unveiled at Hillsborough Castle next year, including a Sir Thomas Lawrence portrait of Lord Marcus Hill – the third son of the 2nd Marquess of Hillsborough – to help visitors explore the people who have influenced the castle over the centuries. The state rooms are renowned for being filled with fine art from across the centuries, and these spectacular new additions will help to tell the castle’s story.
The Great Pagoda will re-open this spring alongside the other historic royal buildings cared for inside Kew Gardens; Kew Palace, the Royal Kitchens and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage. For the first time, those in receipt of financially means-tested benefits will be able to climb the Pagoda for £1, taking in the stunning views of London that would have been enjoyed over 300 years ago.
For more information on Britain’s Historic Royal Palaces go to: www.hrp.org.uk