Royal Holloway, University of London

A complete showstopper of a site, the university is not only architecturally stunning, but as HODs visitors for the past 20 years have found, the more you explore, the more the campus reveals its secrets. From stories of past students and its founders, to incredible collections, spaces and beautiful grounds teeming with hidden nature, Royal Holloway has always been a stellar destination for the festival. Whilst you couldn’t visit this year, the festival's encouragement of digital events for the first time gave the university events team a chance to share their stories in a new way.

© Royal Holloway, University of London - Looking stunning in the sun

Neil Perrott, Events Manager, Royal Holloway, University of London, Surrey

Why we take part

HODs is one of the main opportunities for us to invite the public and our local community to explore our beautiful campus.

Curator, Laura MacCullough saw Old Tom, the bell atop the Clock Tower for the first time on a special hidden spaces tour / © Royal Holloway

What we do for HODs

We coordinate colleagues to help deliver a programme of talks and tours exploring the spectacular Grade 1 listed Founder's Building, Picture Gallery, Chapel, archives and extensive grounds.

How we adapted for 2020

The pandemic meant that our campus was closed to visitors. To ensure this important event continued we decided to offer an online experience.  We filmed five different virtual tours, looking at the art collection, history, architecture and nature of Royal Holloway. Doing things virtually meant we were able to offer experiences we wouldn’t have been able to do in person. The result? A great online event which showed what you can do in challenging circumstances!

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The difference it's made

We worked with new colleagues and guest speakers to deliver the virtual tours. HODs provided us with the opportunity to run our first virtual event since the cancellation of live events due to the pandemic.  We will use this as a model for using pre-recorded content to replace a live experience.

Jonathan Howe, Head of External Spaces, introduced us to the Hidden Nature on campus, including Colossus the bear! / © Royal Holloway

A favourite moment

Seeing inside the Founder’s Building Clock Tower! Being able to access a space that is usually closed to most staff, as well as students and visitors, was a real privilege. The view from the top of the tower was incredible – we saw local landmarks like the former Holloway Sanitorium, Heathrow and Thorpe Park clearly, and could even see The Shard in the distance.

Neil's Top Tip!

We found that the ‘hidden’ spaces attracted the most interest, so try to keep things interesting.  If you don’t get excited then the visitors won’t be either!

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