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.

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

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 which often gets my attention. Read about the exhibition and what I thought of it in my blog: Victoria – An intimate look at the woman behind the crown and her childhood.

Highlights of my visit to Kensington Palace

Here, 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.

Kensington Palace: The Cradle Walk, also famously known as
Kensington Palace: The Cradle Walk, also famously known as “Nanny Walk”

i) 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.
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
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.

The walls are adorned with painted pilasters, marble chimney piece and gold gilded statues. The whole room dazzles in the flickering candlelight – pure elegance.

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.
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.

You can read more about William Kent here, who went on to design the King’s Grand Staircase.

 

ii) 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.
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.

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.

 

iii) 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.
Kensington Palace: The Kings Gallery - Don't forget to look up!
Kensington Palace: The Kings Gallery – Don’t forget to look up!

Conclusion – 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 – I will just add a few more pictures here for you to browse through and related links to other posts on Kensington Palace where you can read more – I hope you would be inspired to visit, explore and discover the stories and secrets behind these walls.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Other posts related to Kensington Palace – please click on the links to read more.

Kensington Palace Gardens

Victoria – An intimate look at the Woman behind the Crown and her childhood

200th Anniversary of Queen Victoria’s Birth

Why the Historic Royal Palaces Annual Membership is good for me

Travel tips and Useful information:

Accommodation

If you are visiting London, you may wish to consider using booking.com who offer a great selection of accommodation to suit your needs. What makes them extra special is the fact that you receive instant confirmation and incur no cancellation fee if you change your mind, and in most instances, you do not pay until you get to the hotel. It is convenient and their prices are competitive. Why not do a search, have a look and give it a go 😊



Booking.com

Sightseeing tours and attractions tickets

To visit Kensington Palace, you can skip the line and purchase your tickets here ⇓⇓⇓

I have carefully selected some sightseeing tours to enhance your experiences in London.  You can Get Your Guide here. 

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 here

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)

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Kensington Palace. Why you should visit this 18th century historical gem.
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14 Comments

  1. Haha! Thank you! I take that as a compliment. Kensington Palace is truly remarkable including its vast grounds. The cradle walk and the sunken garden is particularly beautiful at this time of the year. Hope you will visit soon. Thank you so much for your lovely comments, I appreciate it.

  2. Thank you so much, Nicole. I am really pleased that you enjoyed “Kensington Palace-Why you should visit this 18th century historical gem” – my visit to the Palace was an interesting one and I am glad to have conveyed that in the post. Hope you will visit soon. Thank you for the Pinn! 🙂

  3. I swear you’re a romantic at heart Georgina! I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything so opulent in my life! Amazing tour of the palace 🙂

  4. Love this so much! When I was in London I didn’t have time to do this and I really regret it. I pinned this so I can reference it before I’m that way again.

  5. Hey, thanks for the reply and the follow 🙂 I’m actually from Wales and lived in London for 20-odd years but like most people living there, I didn’t see enough of it – I’m looking forward to seeing it through your posts 🙂

  6. I am so happy to hear that my posts on Royal Palaces has inspired you to visit here one day. The architecture, the artwork and the gardens are indeed places not to be missed. Look forward to your visit. Thank you so much for your lovely comments, Estelle. I appreciate it.

  7. Glad you enjoyed reading about Kensington Palace and had brought back memories for you. Hope my blogs will inspire you to visit England 🙂
    Thank you so much for your lovely comments.

  8. Thanks again Georgina for a wonderful post about another historic Royal Palace. Kensington Palace looks an absolute delight. Everything looks so elaborate and grand. In particular, I’d love the see the King’s staircase / drawing room / gallery. They look magnificent. Kensington Palace is on my bucket list

  9. Glad you enjoyed the post, Christy 🙂 and to inspire you to return to London . I missed the Cupola Room on my first visit but this time round, I discovered that there is more to this palace than I had thought initially. Thank you so much for your lovely comments.

  10. Georgina after reading your lovely post and seeing your great photos, I realize another trip back to the palace is definitely in order! I honestly can’t remember seeing any of these fantastic details in the rooms you described!

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