About RSN

About the Royal School of Needlework

The Royal School of Needlework is a vibrant and exciting forward-looking charity; dedicated to teaching, practising and promoting the art of hand embroidery in the 21st century. Based at Hampton Court Palace in East Molesey, South West London, the Royal School of Needlework offers a range of embroidery courses teaching over a dozen techniques.
  • Day Classes for beginners
  • Certificate and Diploma courses in technical hand embroidery
  • Future Tutors programme
  • BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors, Textile Art

As a unique institution, the RSN teaches regionally throughout the UK in Exeter, Bristol, Rugby, Durham and Glasgow and internationally in the USA and Japan.

The RSN Studio undertakes new commissions and conservation work. Clients have also included fashion designers, Oscar nominees, cathedrals and private individuals.

The RSN runs an annual in-house exhibition programme and loans Collection pieces to external exhibitions.

The International Centre of Excellence for the Art of Hand Embroidery

Come along to one of our Open Days

If you are interested in our Needlework Degree Course then our Open Days are the perfect opportunity for you to experience the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace. You will also meet members of staff and get a chance to ask any questions that you may have. We would love to welcome you on one of the following dates but we do ask that you book your place first.

For all Degree course enquiries please email Nina and Claire our Degree Administrators at the following address: [email protected]


For the academic year 2017/18, open days will be on the following dates:

Wednesday 22nd March.

NB: There will be two slots, one at 10.00 am and one at 2.00 pm. Please advise at time of booking which time you wish to attend.

To book your place call us on +44 (0) 20 3166 6929 or request form

History of the RSN

The early history of the RSN is linked with the social, cultural and political history of Victorian and Edwardian Britain. The RSN began as the School of Art Needlework in 1872 founded by Lady Victoria Welby. The first President was Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, Queen Victoria’s third daughter, known to the RSN as Princess Helena.

The founding principles of the RSN were two-fold: to revive a beautiful art which had fallen into disuse and, through its revival, to provide employment for educated women who, without a suitable livelihood, would otherwise find themselves compelled to live in poverty.

The RSN began operating in a small room above a Bonnet shop in Sloane Street, London, initially employing 20 ladies. By 1903, after sterling fundraising efforts from Princess Helena and others, George, Prince of Wales (later King George V) was able to open a new purpose-built centre on Exhibition Road, close to the V&A Museum where, at its peak, the RSN employed around 150 workers.

The RSN has been responsible for creating pieces for special occasions, from Queen Victoria’s funeral pall in 1901 to working on every British coronation of the 20th century. RSN Studio commissions include work on the wedding dress of HRH the Duchess of Cambridge in 2011 and a dress for the Oscars for Naomie Harris in 2013, projects which both involved using some degree students.

Altogether over our 142 years we have lived in six locations and moved to Hampton Court Palace in 1987, thanks to the late Queen Mother, then our Patron. Throughout this time we remain committed to keeping the art and techniques of hand embroidery alive and relevant through offering high quality education at leisure and professional levels.

The RSN today

The first RSN satellite teaching centre was opened in Durham in 2003; in the last seven years we have expanded that to include teaching in Glasgow, Rugby, Bristol, Exeter, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka in Japan, San Francisco and most recently Williamsburg in the USA. Today, the Royal School of Needlework is unique in offering hand embroidery tuition to the highest standard across more than a dozen techniques.

The RSN’s vision for the future

As the International Centre of Excellence for the Art of Hand Embroidery the RSN has a long established world-wide reputation as the industry leader in hand embroidery.

Our graduates will provide an unparalleled skill set in stitch and design to fashion, interiors and textile art industries learnt from specialist embroidery tuition, work placement experience and personal projects over three years. RSN graduates will continue to provide the best in hand embroidery in public and private commissions and will continue the RSN’s legacy in maintaining, preserving and practising the skills and art form of hand embroidery.

We will offer niche courses that give students unique opportunities and fit them for a range of future careers.

We will endeavour to stretch and develop both our staff and students to achieve more than they imagined.