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Kensington Palace

The front of Kensington Palace, London on a sunny day
© Shutterstock / mary416
Behind the ornate gold and black wrought iron gates on Kensington High Street stands the popular attraction of Kensington Palace.

It houses the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection as well as valuable artworks and yet remains a working, historic royal residence.

Magnificent black wrought iron and gold gates at Kensington Palace
© Shutterstock / mary416
The adjoining Kensington Gardens are also well worth a visit, and lead into Hyde Park.

Best known as the birthplace of Queen Victoria and home for a time to Diana, Princess of Wales, Kensington Palace includes royal apartments and offices and is furnished with beautiful pieces from the Royal Collection.

Panorama, inlcuding water feature, of the Kensington Palace gardens
© Shutterstock / Daniela Migliorisi
It is currently the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester with other minor royals.

Former residents included Princess Margaret and the Duke of Edinburgh during his engagement to Princess Elizabeth.

Kensington Palace History

Kensington Palace was built as a Jacobean mansion called Nottingham House for Sir George Coppin in the early 17th century.

The formal gardens at Kensington Palace
© Shutterstock / Irina Korshunova
Located on the outskirts of London, it was purchased from the Earl of Nottingham by William III in 1689.

Statue of King William III outside Kensington Palace in London, England
King William III © Shutterstock / Luis Santos
He commissioned Christopher Wren to extend it with the addition of grand royal apartments, a council chamber and a royal chapel.

It was a favourite residence of many sovereigns until the reign of Queen Victoria who chose to move to Buckingham Palace in 1837.

During his reign, George I added the Cupola Room and had the King's Staircase painted by William Kent with clever trompe l'oeil images.

It depicts a balcony scene featuring well-known faces of courtiers and servants from the royal court.

What to See at Kensington Palace

Statue of Queen Victoria situated outside Kensington Palace in London.
Queen Victoria © Shutterstock / chrisdorney
Recent restoration work cost £12 million.

Visitors will be suitably impressed with the sumptuous interior including the lavish king's apartments, queen's state rooms, the 96-foot Long Gallery lined with artworks and the surreal Stone Hall.

The Victoria Revealed exhibition depicts the life and reign of Queen Victoria who was born at the palace in 1819 and met her husband Albert while living there prior to becoming queen in 1837.

Personal artifacts, journals and other items are on display in the rooms where she lived.

The Royal Ceremonial Dress collection is an ever-changing display of royal couture.

Rose placed in the Kensington Palace gates as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales
Rose tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales © Shutterstock / mary416
Royal wedding dresses and sumptuous designer gowns have been part of the display here since 1982 and show the changing fashions of London's high society for the past 300 years.

The latest addition to Kensington Palace is the exhibition of Modern Royals and their place in royal life today.

The palace is very much influenced by the women of the royal family and this extends to the lovely merchandise in the Kensington Palace Gift Shop which includes exclusive royal themed china, ornaments and accessories.

A final treat to end your brush with royalty at Kensington Palace is a visit to the Orangery Restaurant which was built by Queen Anne in 1704 as a beautifully decorated glasshouse for entertaining.

View of Kensington Palace with sunken garden in the foreground
© Shutterstock / chrisdorney
Lunches, refreshments and afternoon tea are served on the terrace or indoors.

Squirrel eating a nut on a park bench in Kensington Palace Gardens
© Shutterstock / Justin.Clark
You may want to take the unique opportunity to sample Royal Palace Beer or treat youngsters to a mini version of afternoon tea.

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Entrance to the Palace is via Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

Nearest Underground Stations:

High Street Kensington (10-15 minutes walk to the Palace)

Queensway (10-15 minute walk)

Notting Hill Gate (20-25 minute walk)

By Bus:

The nearest bus routes are 70, 94, 148, 390 to Bayswater Road, or 9, 10, 49, 52, 70 and 452 to Kensington High Street


Kensington Palace Postcode for SatNav: W8 4PX


0855 482 7777
+44 (0)20 3166 6000

Kensington Gardens
W8 4PX

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