Fulham Palace reopening announced
Press Release: March 2019
Bricks, Botany and Bishops
Fulham Palace will relaunch on 25 May 2019 with a brand new museum, restored rooms and new planting.
Following a major restoration project, Fulham Palace will be officially reopening on 25 May with a brand new museum, a painstakingly restored Tudor courtyard and expanded collection of historically significant plants. The newly restored Palace is the result of a £3.8 million project, including £1.9m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, to revitalise the Palace and help more people discover its long and varied history.
The Palace is free to visit and the restoration has doubled the size of the museum, which has been completely reinterpreted and includes historic rooms never before opened to the public. It provides insight into both the long history of the site, and also the most notable residents, the Bishops of London, who called the Palace home from AD 704 to 1973.
In just four months, visitors can marvel at the restored Tudor Great Hall, decide who to invite for dinner at the table in Bishop Sherlock’s dining room, explore the history of Bishop Compton and his legacy to British gardens and discover the Victorian chapel’s past through interpretation hidden in hymn books. Wherever you go, there are interactive elements, and a ‘mood room’ explores the history of the building through sound and light.
The first temporary exhibition in the new museum will celebrate the archaeological finds unearthed during the restoration project and celebrate the contribution made by volunteers in the restoration process. The Palace shop will relocate to the new museum, stocking an array of beautiful items.
The landscape itself has also been transformed, with the addition of new beds in the garden filled with 400 plants. All were originally grown at the Palace in the 17th century by plant-loving Bishop Compton, including the first magnolia in Europe, Magnolia virginiana. Old paths and gateways have also been put back, returning features which successive Bishops of London would have recognised, as well as making the whole site more accessible. Visitors can purchase fresh produce grown in the Palace gardens from the ‘market barrow’ in the walled garden.
At the heart of the Palace, the Tudor courtyard once again looks proud and ready to welcome guests. It had been somewhat neglected over the years, and a patchwork of repairs scarred the brickwork façade. The restoration of the walls was painstakingly carried out over many months, with perished bricks being replaced with new ones made and fired using traditional Tudor techniques.
Sian Harrington, CEO of Fulham Palace Trust said: “The project marks a real change in the way Fulham Palace is enjoyed and understood for generations to come. We look forward to sharing the stories of the Palace, which was home to the Bishops of London for well over a millennium, with our visitors. This huge restoration project has really brought the soul back to the Palace and wouldn’t have been possible without a major grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund as well as our core supporters and volunteers, all of whom I would like to thank for their support in helping us realise our vision for the Palace.”
Since 2005, Fulham Palace and its landscape have benefited from £9m raised by National Lottery players. In addition to this project, £3.2m enabled the restoration of Bishop Sherlock’s dining room and £3.9m to transform the adjacent Bishops Park.
Stuart Hobley, Head of The National Lottery Heritage Fund London, said: “National Lottery players have helped create an exciting future for Fulham Palace and it’s fantastic that they in turn can now enjoy, for free, 1,300 years of history. This project has opened the doors to hidden rooms, restored important Tudor heritage, explored botany and hymns and put all of those stories at the heart of its brilliant new museum. Congratulations to the project team, volunteers and supporter, we can’t wait for the opening.”
The Palace reopens on 25 May, and on 26 May the Palace will host a Free Tudor Fun Day where visitors will be encouraged to dress up, make music, create a May crown or a suncatcher and keep their eyes peeled for Katherine of Aragon, who may be making an appearance!