Kensington Palace – Why you should visit this 18th century historical gem

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

Kensington Palace: Celebrating 200th year of Queen Victoria's Birth
Kensington Palace: Celebrating 200th year of Queen Victoria’s Birth | Image: georgina_daniel

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.

Kensington Palace: Cupola Room - Roman inspired four-sided dome with a steeply curved ceiling and Garter Star in the centre.
Kensington Palace: Cupola Room – Roman inspired four-sided dome with a steeply curved ceiling and Garter Star in the centre | Image: georgina_daniel

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. 

An ornate musical clock, designed by Charles Clay, called the 'Temple of the Four Great Monarchies of the World" surmounted on a pedestal, sits in the centre of Cupola Room
An ornate musical clock, designed by Charles Clay, called the ‘Temple of the Four Great Monarchies of the World” surmounted on a pedestal, sits in the centre of Cupola Room at Kensington Palace | Image: georgina_daniel
Kensington Palace: Cupola Room - Walls with painted pilasters, marble chimney piece and gold gilded statues in the flickering candlelight.
Kensington Palace: Cupola Room – Walls with painted pilasters, marble chimney piece and gold gilded statues in the flickering candlelight | Image: georgina_daniel

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.

Kensington Palace: Kings Grand Staircase - 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.
Kensington Palace: Kings Grand Staircase – 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 | Image: georgina_daniel
Kensington Palace: Kings Grand Staircase - 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. There are about 45 intriguing figures here.
Kensington Palace: Kings Grand Staircase – 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. There are about 45 intriguing figures here | Image: georgina_daniel

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 😊

Kensington Palace: The Kings Drawing Room - Don't forget to look-up! You will marvel at some of these.
Kensington Palace: The Kings Drawing Room – Don’t forget to look-up! You will marvel at some of these | Image: georgina_daniel
Kensington Palace: The Kings Gallery - Don't forget to look up!
Kensington Palace: The Kings Gallery – Don’t forget to look up! | Image: georgina_daniel

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.

Book a visit to Kensington Palace and a Royal High Tea


Suggested Reading

Kensington Palace Gardens

200th Anniversary of Queen Victoria’s Birth

Why the Historic Royal Palaces Annual Membership is good for me


Practical information on Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace: Opening times

Daily except 24-26 December.

Summer (01 March – 31 October)

Monday-Sunday: 10:00-18:00

Last admission: 17:00

Winter (01 November – 28 February)

Monday-Sunday: 10:00-16:00

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

Bus

Routes 70, 94, 148, and 390 stop along Bayswater Road

Routes 9, 10, 49, 52, 70 and 452 stop along Kensington High Street

Parking

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:

London - Tours of Parks and Gardens
What activities will you do when you visit your chosen destination?
What activities will you do when you visit your chosen destination?

Is this post valuable to you in planning your visits to Kensington Royal Palace in London? If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.

Have a super awesome time exploring Kensington Palace and its Gardens.

March 2021, Update

March 2021, Update


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Latitude: 51° 30′ 30.71″ N
Longitude: 0° 07′ 32.66″ E

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Royal Palaces and Royal Parks-MyCityMyTown London Series

Royal Palaces and Royal Parks-MyCityMyTown London Series

MyCityMyTown London Series

The 3rd instalment is Here! To my fellow Adventurers who have been with me since January 2019, you are no stranger to this Series and thank you for your patience. For the Adventurers who are here for the first time, Hello and Welcome to my page. My 3rd instalment on MyCityMyTown-Appreciating London Series is on Royal Palaces and Royal Parks.

Appreciating London Series is a series of articles designed to offer suggestions and travel tips with the aim to inspire midlife travellers to visit London. This Series of articles will be on my personal experiences and memories of each of the places I had visited with my kids and now, revisiting.

Collection of yesteryears

Taking a close look at my journey in life at the end of 2018 was an opportunity to take a trip down memory lane, to re-trace my footsteps and to reflect upon the best of “yesterday,” in this beautiful City which is My Town. I am thankful for much. You can read the full article by clicking MyCityMyTown London Series here. You can also find out What made the #1 and #2 on the Series and Why by clicking #1 and #2 .

As for my 3rd instalment on the Series, I decided to retrace my footsteps on the Royal Palaces and the Royal Parks. The Royal Palaces and the Royal Parks hold special places for me as I used to frequent these with my kids and there are many beautiful treasured memories. These days, as I walk through Kensington Gardens and the Statute of Peter Pan, I remember the fun, the laughter and their theatrics…and realise how time has flown by 😊

Appreciating MyCityMyTown London

Besides the memories with my kids, another reason for Appreciating London is because I love summer in London – the Not too hot summer when the temperature is around 24 or 25 degrees max. As a Londoner, I am very fortunate to have so much to see, witness, experience and lots of green spaces to getaway to if and when I wished. Almost everything happens here, right here in London! Moreover, London has, for the most times, pretty cool weather, except for a few weeks or so when the temperature soars and the heatwave sets-in. I don’t like it when it is too hot but I know many of you can’t have enough of it 🙂 

Plan ahead

As the summer weather sets in , Retracing my Footsteps in London has led me to discover many new things that I had not previously. I am seeing My City both as a Londoner and as a tourist. This has gently reminded me of many experiences throughout the years and the many visits where my kids and I would just hop onto the train for a half-hour ride to the heart of the City. These were mostly unplanned or involved overnight planning of a visit to a Royal Palace or a Castle, a picnic in the park, and games or read a book until sundown etc. 

Looking back, these were unplanned visits. Although there is fun in doing things impromptu, I believe there must be a general plan of what one intends to do, and you can save money as a result. Therefore, this time I have incorporated planning into my visits, because Planning is Important. I have written a blog on the 5 Reasons Why  Travel Planning Is Important which you may want to read and share your thoughts with me in comments below. What planning has helped me do this time was to think about researching for deals that would suit my plans – more on this below.

I hope you will enjoy reading about the Royal Palaces and the Royal Parks as much as I enjoy writing about them.

Royal Palaces and Royal Parks in MyCityMyTown London Series

On the Royal Palaces, the following are the ones which are included in this Series. I will write on each of the palaces as I visit them.

If you are planning a visit to London or you are a Londoner looking for something to do, and wish to visit any of the Royal Palaces, here are my pick of the top 8 palaces and castles to visit in London or within a short trip of London, in no particular order:

1 | Buckingham Palace | Royal Palaces and Royal Parks in London

Buckingham Palace is the most favourite among visitors to London. Buckingham Palace Tours starts mid July 2021 and runs throughout August till the end of September (subject to Covid-19 visiting rules). 

1.1 | Royal Mews

Besides Buckingham Palace, you could still visit the Royal Mews. The Royal Mews is one of the finest working stables in existence and is responsible for all road travel arrangements for The Queen and the Royal Family. You will also see the spectacular new Diamond Jubilee State Coach, some of the Queen’s horses and meet the famous Windsor Greys or Cleveland Bays.

1.2 | Changing of the Guard Ceremony

You can still watch the Changing of the Guard Ceremony outside Buckingham Palace as this is a FREE event. This is a popular event, so ensure you are there early to secure a a good viewing point. The ceremony takes places from 10:45 a.m. and lasts for 45 minutes.

The Changing of the Guards Ceremony is where the Buckingham Palace Old Guard arrives and forms up in the forecourt of the Palace from 10:30 a.m. onwards and they are joined by the Old Guard from St James’ Palace at 10:45 a.m. The New Guard then arrives from the Wellington Barracks to take over the responsibilities from the Old Guard. This formal ceremony is accompanied by music. There will be no ceremonies in poor weather conditions or when there are other ceremonial events taking place. You can check the Changing of the Guard Ceremony schedule with the Household Division here

2. Windsor Castle | Royal Palaces and Royal Parks

Windsor Castle, Berkshire: View from the Cambridge Gate
Windsor Castle, Berkshire: View from the Cambridge Gate | Image: georgina_daniel

A trip to the UK or London is never complete without a trip to Windsor, the home of the historic Windsor Castle.

Windsor is a historic market town in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, Southeast England. It has a lively atmosphere with great shopping and restaurants. It sits on River Thames, just west of London, and is under an hour’s journey from London 

I have visited Windsor Castle a number of times over the years and the highlights in my article of this iconic and historical castle will help you plan your itinerary. I have also included travel tips and practical information to aid your planning. Read more on How to make the Best of Windsor Castle in I day here.

3. Kensington Palace London

Kensington Palace. One of the Royal Palaces visited in #3 MyCityMyTown Appreciating London Series - Royal Palaces and Royal Parks
Kensington Palace. One of the Royal Palaces visited in #3 MyCityMyTown Appreciating London Series – Royal Palaces and Royal Parks | Image: georgina_daniel

These days, Kensington Palace London 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.

What drew me to the Palace this time was the Exhibition held in honour of 200th year of Queen Victoria’s birth, and learnt much about the Real Victoria.

Kensington Palace is one of the Royal Palaces I enjoyed visiting and the architecture in some of these rooms were mind-blowing. Read the full article on KENSINGTON PALACE: WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT THIS 18TH CENTURY HISTORICAL GEM

Other Palaces on the list are:

4. Tower of London

5. Kew Palace

6. Clarence House

7. Banqueting House

8. Hampton Court Palace

Best-deals: All the Royal Palaces and Castles offer individual or combined tickets. As you know, it is cheaper to buy combined tickets. Also, it is cheaper to skip the line and buy the tickets online. As for me, I discovered that the Historic Royal Palaces offer of an Annual Membership to be beneficial. You can read about Why the Historic Royal Palaces Annual Membership is good for me here

Alongside the Royal Palaces in the City of London, there are also several parks  and large green spaces where one can escape to from the norm of sightseeing and crowded streets. Below, you will find a list of Royal Parks which I hope you will enjoy.

The Royal Parks | Royal Palaces and Royal Parks London Series

Charles Dickens, a 19th century English writer once said::

“The parks be the lungs of London”

and when you visit any one of the royal parks in London, you will be inclined to agree with him.

There are 8 Royal Parks, together they offer 5000 acres of green spaces which provides a natural habitat for many wildlife. The Parks are open to everyone throughout the year, where you can have a gentle stroll, exercise, have a bike-ride, have a picnic or just grab a seat at a bench and watch the world go by…

The 8 parks are:

1. Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, London

Regent's Park: This tree-lined path welcomes you to Avenue Gardens.
Regent’s Park: This tree-lined path welcomes you to Avenue Gardens | Image: georgina_daniel

Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill is a large green space that offers a sanctuary for people who are constantly on the go with City’s hum-drum. Regent’s Park is different, from the other Parks in London because of its tranquil settings, beautiful landscape and the opportunity to catch either the sunset or the sunrise at Primrose Hill.

Queen Mary's Garden, Regent's Park
Queen Mary’s Garden, Regent’s Park | Image: georgina_daniel

There are flowers of all colours, roses especially, 12,000 of them, all named and planted in neat rows (more on this below). This is a place where you can spend hours admiring the sea of colours and enjoy the amazing fragrances.  A total paradise.

For me, every visit to Regent’s Park had been a journey of new experiences and discovery, even more so on my recent visit.

You can read more on The Regents Park and Primrose Hill here.

2. Kensington Palace Gardens, London

The Round Pond at Kensington Palace Gardens - one of the 8 Royal Parks in London. #3 in MyCityMyTown Appreciating London Series - Royal Palaces and Royal Parks.
The Round Pond at Kensington Palace Gardens. – one of the 8 Royal Parks in London. #3 in MyCityMyTown Appreciating London Series – Royal Palaces and Royal Parks | Image: georgina_daniel

Kensington Palace Gardens is made up of beautiful landscaped grounds. Trees here are planted in straight lines, there are some unique looking ones near the round pond and colourful flowering shrubs which makes a visit here more than inviting.

Kensington Palace: The Sunken Garden
Kensington Palace: The Sunken Garden | Image: georgina_daniel

The Sunken Garden is my favourite part of the Palace grounds. I am sure it is the case for many visitors to this idyllic location.

It was planted in 1908 and resembles classical gardens of the 18th century in the UK. A secluded oasis of peaceful haven with ornamental flower beds, an ornamental pond with fountains and a variety of vibrant, exotic and colourful plants like roses, geraniums, cannas and begonias.

For the full article on Kensington Palace Gardens, read KENSINGTON PALACE GARDENS – AN IDYLLIC GETAWAY FROM CHAOS OF THE CITY here.

3 | Greenwich Park, London

Greenwich London is a nice little town just a stone’s throw away from London, in the south-east which sits on the banks of River Thames, accessible with a 20-minute journey from London (Bank Station). It is a popular destination for tourists because of its maritime and astronomy history.

The area, Royal Greenwich Park is host to the Royal Museum Greenwich (RMG) which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and consists of four top attractions.

1. Royal Observatory,

2. Queen’s House

3. National Maritime Museum

4. Cutty Sark.

All of these attractions are within walking distance of each other and would typically fill a full-day itinerary.

This quaint little town is definitely a Must-Do for families with kids, grand-kids, solo travellers and couples – not only for the over 50’s but at any age! You will experience history, lots of free exhibits and guided tours. You will also save money  Read the full article on 45 Experiences and More in 1 Day at Greenwich.

Other Parks in London

4. Hyde Park

5. St James’ Park

6. Hyde Park

7. Richmond Park

8. Bushy Park

  Information on the rest of the the Royal Parks are available here.

Happy exploring and discovering London!

March 2021, Update

March 2021, Update


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