Kensington Palace is a beautiful building located in the heart of London that has been a royal residence for centuries. Princess Diana lived there and today it is home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, among other royals. Do you want to visit it with us?
The origin of this palace is in a modest Jacobean-style country house, called Nottingham House. The privilege of the area in which it was located, current Hyde Park, made King William III and his wife Mary II notice it as a place of rest, since the king suffered from asthma attacks.
Thus, in 1689 they bought the house and architect Sir Christopher Wren is commissioned to refurbish and enlarge it. This was in charge of the construction of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London and, therefore, was closely linked to the kings.
The architect decided to keep the original red brick house and added pavilions and the Great Court. In addition, at the queen’s request, she built the Queen’s Gallery and apartments for her ladies-in-waiting.
Later, after the fire of 1691, the palace was enlarged again, this time by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. Among other things, he added the Guard Chamber and redecorated the king’s rooms.
Kensington was the royal palace of choice until King George III decided to move to Buckingham in 1762.
He remained closely linked to royalty. Queen Victoria was born there, which was also moved to Buckingham Palace after his accession to the throne. Afterwards, Kensington Palace experienced a few years of decline until it was restored in 1867. Today, its rooms and galleries are full of works of art that will amaze you at every turn.
Kensington Palace Gardens
As we have already mentioned, the palace is located within Kensington Gardens, which were part of Hyde Park and which little by little they were gaining ground. However, the continuity between both spaces is total and only the Long Water separates them, a lake created thanks to the diversion of the Westbourne stream.
The Italian garden, gift dKing Albert to Queen Victoria
It is located within the palace gardens. In it the fountains and sculptures of Italian style stand out and the use of precious Carrara marble. They are so important that they have been declared a historical monument.
In response to this precious gift, we found the Albert Memorial. This is a monument that Queen Victoria had Sir George Gilbert Scott build in honor of her husband. It is a huge monument with 52 meters high and 187 statues.
Mention should be made of those dedicated to Peter Pan, Henry Moore, Jacob Epstein or the Physical Energy Statue. The latter is a magnificent allegorical sculpture of a man on the back of a rampant horse that is scanning the horizon. Thus, George Frederic Watts symbolized the human need for new challenges.
Besides, there it is the memorial in honor of Diana, Princess of Wales. You’ll also see the beautiful Orangery, a former orangery built on the orders of Queen Anne that has been converted into a teahouse. This is a perfect place to try the most authentic English-style tea.
The Serpentine Gallery
It is a modern and contemporary art gallery free to visit which is located at the south end of the gardens. It is a building from 1805 remodeled by Zaha Hadid’s architecture studio.
The most illustrious guests of Kensington Palace
After the kings William III and his wife Mary II, this palace has been the residence of other kings and members of the English monarchy. As we mentioned, Queen Victoria was born there in 1819 and it was her official residence until she came to the throne in 1837.
It was home to Princess Diana of Wales after her separation from Prince Charles of England. It is currently the residence of his eldest son, Prince William, and his family. It is also the official residence of Prince Michael of Kent, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent.
Despite this, a part of the palace can be visited. It has extensive visiting hours. Open every day from March to October from 10am to 6pm and from November to February from 10am to 5pm.