Kensington Palace – Why you should visit this 18th century historical gem
Kensington Palace – A Royal Residence
These days, Kensington Palace is the royal residence for the young royals, who are the direct descendants of Queen Victoria. The Palace is the official London residence for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It was the former home of late Princess Diana. The Palace has a long history of being a residence for the British Royal Family since the 17th century when King William III and Queen Mary II took residence just before Christmas of 1689.
A little background to Kensington Palace
The building was originally a 2-storey Jacobean mansion in the village of Kensington which the Royal couple purchased in the summer of 1689. They then enlisted Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) to design and build a palace that was fit for a King & Queen. A few additions were made to Kensington Palace during the reign of King George I like the Privy Chamber and the Cupola Room. The mural on the walls of the King’s Grand Staircase was painted by William Kent during this period also (more on this below).
To know more of the Palace’s 300-year-old royal history and secrets, you can purchase the new book by Historic Royal Palaces, ‘Kensington Palace: Art, Architecture and Society’ which unfolds the Palace’s story from the time of its foundation to present state.
MyCityMyTown London Series on Kensington Palace
What drew me to the Palace this time was the Exhibition held in honour of 200th year of Queen Victoria’s birth, Discover the real Victoria, made in Kensington, which also coincides with my 3rd instalment of MyCityMyTown Retracing my footsteps Series.
I was excited to visit this exhibition as I am a great admirer of Queen Victoria, as well as the Palace. It was a perfect opportunity as I haven’t been here for a few years, having only a faint memory of the artwork and the internal architecture of this beautiful palace.
Learn more about the exhibition and what I thought of it in my article: Victoria-An intimate look at the woman behing the crown and her childhood.
Highlights of my visit to Kensington Palace London
I will share with you the highlights of the palace visit. I have also written several other blogs related to Kensington Palace which you can read more of by clicking the links provided at the end of this post. I think a visit here should be high on one’s list because the palace itself is an architectural delight and the gardens are splendid for a rest afterwards.
1 | The Cupola Room
The Cupola Room took me by surprise. I don’t recall visiting this room on my previous visits. I was completely and utterly lost for words when I saw the elaborate designs in this room and how splendidly it was decorated. It was different to the rest of the palace rooms. Designed by William Kent (1685 – 1748), who was commissioned by George I in the mid-1720s, he was involved in every aspect of the room’s design, furnishings and decorations
The room is Roman inspired four-sided dome with a steeply curved ceiling and a Garter Star in the centre.
1.1 | Temple of the Four Great Monarchies of the World
Right in the centre of the room is an ornate musical clock surmounted on a pedestal, called the ‘Temple of the Four Great Monarchies of the World’ which was purchased in 1743 by Princess Augusta and was placed in this room soon afterwards. The name of the clock refers to Assyria, Persia, Greece and Rome – the four great empires of antiquity. These are represented on each of the faces of the clock. I discovered that the clock’s mechanism to play music has stopped. The clock was designed by Charles Clay, a clockmaker who specialised in musical clocks in the form of miniature temples.
The walls are adorned with painted pilasters, marble chimney pieces and gold gilded statues. The whole room dazzles in the flickering candlelight – pure elegance.
You can read more about William Kent here, who went on to design the King’s Grand Staircase.
2 | This King’s Grand Staircase
The King’s Grand Staircase is the first link to the King’s State Apartments. The walls surrounding the staircase was painted by William Kent in 1720, depicting George I’s court.
This 18th century artwork is full of intriguing characters, about 45 of them including Kent himself with his mistress. It has presented historians with a puzzle because only 12 of them could be identified from records. This grandiose of a staircase is a “must-see” as you will be walking in the footsteps of royalty and the great and good of Georgian London, all 45 historic steps.
3 | The Ceilings in Kensington Palace
As you can imagine, there are many rooms here, such as the Privy Chamber, the Presence Chamber, the Kings Gallery, the King’s Drawing Room, the Queen’s Gallery, and the Queen’s Grand Staircase. In whichever room you are in, don’t forget to look-up, because you will marvel at some of these pretty sights 😊
My final thoughts on my visit to Kensington Palace
In short – Kensington Palace should be on your list!
Kensington Palace is one of the Royal Palaces I enjoyed visiting and the architecture in some of these rooms were mind-blowing. I would recommend that it should be on your list of places to visit in London. You can combine a visit to the Palace with a visit to the Palace Gardens and enjoy a Royal High Tea – a very popular and sell-out event!
I hope you would be inspired to visit, explore and discover the stories and secrets behind these walls.
Complete your visit to Kensington Palace with a Royal High Tea, Book your space using the link below. Only limited spaces available.
Practical information on Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace: Opening times
Daily except 24-26 December.
Summer (01 March – 31 October)
Last admission: 17:00
Winter (01 November – 28 February)
Last admission: 15:00
Getting to Kensington Palace London:
London Underground and trains
High Street Kensington station (10 – 15 minute walk) – for the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines
Queensway station (10 – 15 minute walk) – for the Central line
Notting Hill Gate station (20 – 25 minute walk) – for Central, District and Circle lines
Paddington station (20 minute walk) – for National Rail
Routes 70, 94, 148, and 390 stop along Bayswater Road
Routes 9, 10, 49, 52, 70 and 452 stop along Kensington High Street
Q-Park Queensway (10 minute walk)
Euro Car Parks, Hyde Park/Bayswater Road (10 minute walk)
Ways to explore London
Buy London Explorer Pass for discounted access to attractions – great value for money city card.
Buy your train tickets from Trainline – a great user friendly App for contactless tickets
Join a tour group and learn more about the city of London from a knowledgeable guide. Take a look at the following:
OUR TOP SELLING ACTIVITIES FOR LONDON
- Ticket to Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio with Transfers;
- River Thames Dinner Cruise;
- The London Eye Ticket with Fast Track Option;
- A Combined ticket for the London Eye and the Thames River Cruise;
- Tower of London and Crown Jewels Exhibition;
- Royal Observatory Greenwich Entrance Ticket;
- Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour;
- The Shard Entry Ticket;
- Jack the Ripper Walking Tour;
- Afternoon Tea Bus with Panoramic Tour of London;
- Madamme Tussauds Experience;
- Kew Gardens Admission;
- Windsor Castle Entry Ticket.
SELL OUT DAY TRIPS FROM LONDON
Have a super awesome time exploring Kensington Palace and its Gardens.