Kensington Palace is the official residence for British Royal Family since the 17th century. It is located in Nottingham and overlooks the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens. While there are members of British royalty living in the palace, it is also open to the public. Areas which visitors can visit are the King’s Apartments, the Queen Apartments, the Gardens, and the orangery.
Kensington Palace is today the residence of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge, Prince Harry of Wales, Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. The palace was also once the official residence of Princess Diana of Wales, Princess Margaret, and Princess Alice.
Kensington Palace was initially a Jacobean mansion built in 1605, known as Nottingham House. It was King William III, ruling since 1689, who turned the mansion into a palace. King William was afflicted with chronic asthma and bronchitis, therefore felt that the Whitehall Palace who was located near the Thames River was unfitting. The Nottingham House, on the other hand, seemed to be a good choice since it was located in a village outside London where the air was much healthier. So, in the summer of 1689, the King and Queen purchased the Nottingham House from Daniel Finch, the second Earl of Nottingham for £20,000.
Soon, Christopher Wren was assigned to work on an expansion of the mansion, making it sufficient to accommodate the King, Queen, and their attendants. The order was to do the renovation quickly and cheaply, therefore bricks were chosen over stones in the construction. Wren added four three-storey pavilion to the structure, one at each four corners, a new entrance on the west, a Great Court, kitchens in the north area, new rooms in the south area, and a clock tower to the west of the Great Court.
After the death of King William III, Kensington Palace was occupied by Queen Anne. Another extension was added by Christopher Wren, a section which is known as the Queen’s Apartments with staircases known as the Queen’s Entrance. An orangery was also added for Queen Anne in 1704 by Sir John Vanbrugh and a 30-acre baroque garden was designed by Henry Wise.
During King George I reign, Kensington Palace was again underwent a renovation. He lavishly added new royal apartments William Kent was asked to paint some ceilings and a staircase as well as designed the Cupola Room in 1722.
King George II was the last monarch who resided in Kensington Palace. It was during his reign too that the Kensington Palace was turned into what it is now today. After King George, the monarch moved to the grander Buckingham Palace, starting with Queen Victoria. Kensington Palace since then has been used only by the lesser royalties.
Demolition and World War II
In 1897, the building of Kensington Palace started to deteriorate. A plan to demolish it was made. However, Queen Victoria managed to convince the Parliament that demolition was not the right option and offered to restore it instead. The restoration took two years and finished in 1899.
During World War II, the palace was severely damaged. A long-term restoration was done and it finally was completed in 1949 when the palace was opened to public on 24 May.
Kensington Palace Today
Kensington Palace is home to the Royal Fashion exhibition, which exhibits dresses worn by former queens and also Princess Diana. The palace was once featured in BBC documentary series, Tales from the Palaces.
Visiting Kensington Palace
Daily from 10.00 – 17.00
Closed on 24, 25, and 26 December
Adults :£ 14.50
Children under 16 : free
Kensington Palace Address :
London W8 4PX, United Kingdom
Website : hrp.org.uk
Phone +44 844 482 7777