The Kensington Palace | Royal Residency in London
When we think of Kensington Palace, we imagine royalty and it is rightfully so. Kensington Palace, once popularly known as the Nottingham House, is stretched over a massive mansion that has been a royal house for over 30 decades! If you wish to know more about Kensington Palace, you are in the perfect place. Let us briefly learn about the history of this lavish palace as well as the insides of the state-of-the-art mansion. Dive in!
What is Kensington Palace?
Where is Kensington Palace Located?
Why is Kensington Palace so Famous?
Queen Victoria reigned for more than 63 years, longer than any monarch that came before her, and facilitated the great expansion of the British Empire. Her reign was so long that it lasted through the Industrial Revolution and was named as an era of its own, the Victorian Era.
Queen Victoria was a great ruler, and to be able to see where such a great monarch grew up is a privilege, which is what makes Kensington Palace so famous. The palace is adorned with rooms reimagined from her childhood days along with the King and Queen’s state apartments. Kensington Palace attracts millions of visitors every year and is a magnificent monument to explore if you wish to delve into the history of British Sovereignty.
Who Built Kensington Palace?
Kensington Palace was bought by King William III and his wife, Queen Mary II in the summer of 1689, and it was known as the Nottingham House at the time. They assigned the transformational works of Nottingham House to Sir Christopher Wren to make it ready for residence.
Wren added lawns and gardens to the mansion and also expanded the house with a three-story pavilion on each of the four corners. Wren then changed the direction of the house to face west and added an archway with a clock tower to give it a more wholesome appearance.
Brief History of Kensington Palace
- After King William III and Queen Mary II assumed the throne, they bought the Nottingham House from the 2nd Earl of Nottingham in 1689 for their residence. The Royal Couple assigned the works of transforming the Nottingham Palace to Kensington Palace onto Sir Christopher Wren.
- In 1694, Queen Mary succumbed to smallpox and King William III was left alone, devastated and heartbroken. Sir Wren constructed the King’s Gallery where William would meet his war associates to discuss strategies.
- After King William III passed in February 1702, Queen Anne took residence at Kensington Palace and continued the works that William and Mary had given to Sir Wren. This then resulted in the construction of the Queen’s Apartments, the Queen’s Entrance and also the Orangery.
- After the death of Queen Anne, King George I spent lavish amounts to build new royal apartments at the palace. He assigned the works to William Kent, the prime architect during his reign.
- Kent constructed the Cupola Room, painted the dome ceilings in gold and blue and also constructed the magnificent King’s Grand Staircase that adorns life-size paintings of court members under George I’s reign.
- After the passing of King George I, the palace was occupied by King George II with his wife, Queen Caroline, and then later by minor royalties like Prince Edward, the fourth son of King George III.
- Prince Edward’s daughter, Alexandrina Victoria, was born in this palace on the 24th of May, 1819 and her christening was done in the Cupola Room. Prince Edward died soon after and Victoria grew up sad and lonely because of the Kensington System her mother had adopted.
- In 1837, the Princess was awakened to the news of the passing of her uncle, King William IV, and that she was now the Queen. After she took her regal name as Queen Victoria, she conducted her first privy council at the Palace in the Red Saloon.
- Queen Victoria eventually left Kensington that allowed the minor royals to stay in the palace. As Victoria opened the State Apartments to public viewing and the inhabitants gradually aged, the palace was mockingly given the name of ‘Aunt Heap’.
What’s Inside Kensington Palace
Discover more about what's inside Kensington Palace before visiting the Historic Royal Palace.
The King’s State Apartments
The King’s State Apartments is the most luxurious apartment at Kensington Palace. It features everything from grandiose staterooms and Presence Chamber to the Cupola Room, the King’s Gallery and lots more.
The King’s Staircase
The walls of the King’s Staircase were painted by William Kent as a vivid recreation of George I and has gained immense popularity over centuries. The artwork displays a lively 18th-century court of intriguing and unexpected characters.
The King’s Gallery
The King’s Gallery takes pride in being the largest and longest state apartment in Kensington Palace which was transformed by King George I in 1725. It was used primarily for exercise as well as exhibiting pictures.
The Queen’s State Apartments
The Queen’s apartments is where Mary, and later royal consorts, lived. This included the Queen’s Staircase, the Queen’s Gallery, the Queen’s Closest, the Queen’s Dining Room and the Queen’s Drawing Room.
Victoria: A Royal Childhood
Here visitors will get the chance to learn the story of Princess Victoria. Unfold all about the young girl, who was destined to be queen, explore the rooms where she was born and raised at Kensington Palace for an unforgettable experience.
Victoria: Woman and Crown
Find out all about Queen Victoria’s private life behind her carefully-managed public image in Victoria: Woman and Crown. It was created to mark the 200th anniversary of Victoria’s birth and revisits how she balanced her role as a wife, mother and Queen in the 19th century.
Royal Style in Making
The Royal Style in Making is a new temporary exhibition that explores the intimate relationship between the fashion designers and royal clients. Visitors can witness the wedding dress of Princess Diana along with many other exclusive royal outfits on display.
The Sunken Garden was first designed and constructed in 1908 . In 2017, the garden was completely renovated in white flowers for visitors to reflect and celebrate the life of Princess Diana.
Kensington Palace Gardens
Walk in the footsteps of royalty in the stunning gardens of Kensington Palace. The Sunken Garden, Cradle Walk, Wildflowers and Formal gardens are some of the top must-visit Kensington Palace Gardens.
Kensington Palace Today
After the Victorians left the palace, Kensington Palace was occupied by Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon living in the 1960s. Here, they held many parties and made many changes in the interior. This was followed by the Prince and Princess of Wales moving in right after their marriage. In the present times, it is a beautiful home to the family of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
A part of the Royal Parks of London, Kensington Gardens were once the private gardens of the Kensington Palace, but are open to the public today. Covering an area of 107 hectares, the Kensington Gardens, along with the Green Park, Hyde Park and St James’ Park, form a beautiful green lung in the heart of London.
The garden is also home to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground. You can also find other attractions here like the Serpentine Gallery, Speke’s Monument, and a 7-mile Memorial Walk dedicated to Princess Diana.
Combo (Save 5%): Kew Gardens & Palace + Kensington Palace Tickets
Combo (Save 5%): Tower of London + Kensington Palace Tickets
Combo (Save 5%): Tower of London + Hampton Court Palace + Kensington Palace Tickets
All Your Questions Answered About the Kensington Palace
A. Kensington Palace is popularly known for its beautiful architecture that has a long history of being home to many royalties.
A. Kensington Palace was built in 1605 as a two-storey palace by Sir George Choppin.
A. The palace was first occupied by Sir Choppin that was followed by the Earl of Nottingham, and many others.
A. Kensington Palace Apartments, the King’s Staircase, the King’s Gallery, Victoria: A Royal Childhood and Kensington Palace Gardens are a few of the must-visit things to see in the palace.
A. The family of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge currently lives in Kensington Palace now.
A. Yes, it is still a part of the royal residents.
A. It takes nearly 2-3 hours to cover Kensington palace in its entirety
A. Queen Victoria opened Kensington Palace to public viewing in 1899.