Hampton Court and Hillsborough Castle gardens re-open

The gardens of Hampton Court can be visited once more.

Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) has just re-opened the gardens at Hampton Court Palace, near London and Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland. The self-funded charity has also appealed for public support due to a £95 million shortfall in finances this year.

The organisation is facing an income reduction of over 85% in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and is asking for public donations to sustain the charity through this period. It looks after six historic sites – the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace, the Banqueting House in Whitehall, and Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland.

During the lockdown, HRP has been streaming a series of live online talks with Chief Curator (and well-known television presenter) Lucy Worsley. Her interviews with other curators and experts on a variety of topics, including recent exhibitions, royal fashion, and the Tower’s ravens, have been very popular. Viewers register in advance and have the opportunity to ask questions after the interview. These events are free to join, but donations are suggested, and have proved successful at raising money for the charity. 

The next online talk on 25th June is about the Field of Cloth of Gold. This was the famed “show-off” competitive meeting between the French king and the youthful Henry VIII that took place in 1520.

As the gardens of Hampton Court and Hillsborough Castle re-open to the public, adaptations have been made due to the pandemic. All visitors must pre-book an arrival slot online, and capacity will be reduced. New time slots will be released every week on Monday. Tickets will need to be printed at home or mobile tickets. There will be enhanced cleaning regimes, hand washing and hand sanitation facilities, contactless till points, and one-way visitor routes.

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