Kensington Palace | Gardens and Afternoon Tea

Kensington_Palace front viewSet in the beautiful parkland of Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace is most well known for being home to members of the royal family like Princess Diana, Prince Harry and now Prince William and Kate Middleton (along with baby Prince George!). Dating from the 17th century, the Palace is open all year around for visitors.

Visiting

Tickets
Tickets include access to both the ‘Fashion Rules’ exhibition and the ‘Victoria Revealed’ exhibition.

  •  Adult – £16.50 (£15.40 online)
  • Children Under 16 – Free
  • Concessions – £13.50 (£12.54 online)

Entry into Kennsington Palace is included with the London Pass.

Hours

  • Summer Hours are 10:00am – 6:00pm
  • Last admission is 17:00

How To Get to Kenisington Palace

  •  Nearest Underground Station is High Street Kensington, Queensway or Notting Hill Gate.
  •  Bus routes are 70, 94, 148, 390 to the north of Kensington Gardens or 9, 10, 49, 52, 70, and 450 to the south of Kensington Gardens

+++Tip: During the summer months, Kensington Palace hosts an open air cinema! Guests are invited to pack a blanket and a picnic and enjoy classic films displayed on a giant screen near the orangery of the Palace. Films being shown this year are: Back to the Future, Breakfast and Tiffany’s and The Great Gatsby. Tickets cost £16.50 for adult and should be booked in advance.+++

History

Kensington Palace became a royal residence in the late 1600’s when King William III and Queen Mary II decided to move outside of London to better help King William’s asthma! The couple took over a manor house – Nottingham House – for £20,000 and then sent master architect Sir Christopher Wren to work renovating the house to make it a palace. William and Mary moved into their new Palace just before Christmas in 1689 and for the next 70 years, Kensington Palace was the primary residence of our monarchs until the reign of Queen Victoria when Buckingham Palace took over that role.

Inhabitants

Numerous Kings and Queens called Kensington Palace home. After William and Mary died, Mary’s sister Anne took the throne and moved into the Palace. Anne eventually died here in August of 1714. After Anne, King George I and King George II primarily lived at Kensington Palace but George II was the last king to do so.

As a young girl, Kensington Palace is where Queen Victoria grew up. It was here in 1837 that Victoria was woken up by envoys sent to tell her that her uncle (King William IV) died and that she was now queen. Since she was raised in Kensington Palace by her domineering mother, Victoria was keen to move out as soon as she held the throne. Immediately after becoming Queen, Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace which has been the primary London home of our sovereigns ever since.

In modern times, Kensington Palace was inhabited by Queen Elizabeth II’s sister, Princess Margaret who moved into the Palace after she was married in 1960. Then in 1981 the newly-wedded Prince of Wales and Diana Spencer moved into the Palace. Kensington would remain home for Princess Diana even after her divorce from Prince Charles. It was here that Princes William and Harry were raised and it was also here that the public displayed their grief over the death of Princess Diana in 1997. Famously, just after Diana’s death on the 31st of August that year, the gates of Kensington Palace became the focus of public tributes to the former Princess. It is estimated that over 1 million bouquets of flowers were lying out near the gates and the stack of flowers, balloons, stuffed toys, etc. reached 5 feet deep (1.5m) in places. Diana’s coffin spent its last night in London at Kensington Palace before being led through town on a gun carriage to Westminster Abbey for her funeral on 6th September 1997.

Today

In 2011 the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge began renovations on the Palace in preparation for their eventual move there. The works that were carried out cost around £2million and took 18 months, eventually transforming the rooms that Princess Margaret previously occupied into a new home for themselves. The couple now live in Apartment 1A – which boasts dozens of rooms. And it is here now that they live with Prince George of Cambridge, who moved into the apartment with them in October of 2013.

What’s On Now

Kensington Palace is open to the public all year round. Guests can take audio guides that lead them throughout many different parts of the Palace, explaining the history, people and stories that fill every room of the Palace. Guests are NOT able to see where William and Kate live but can visit the old State Apartments which date back to the original building are on display.

Currently the Palace is running an exhibition called ‘Fashion Rules’ which displays gowns worn by Lady Diana, Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret throughout the years. This fascinating exhibition shows how these women set trends for female fashion the world over. In addition to this exhibition, also on display now is the ’Victoria Revealed’ experience – a trip through the life of Queen Victoria from the rooms she grew up in to the rooms where she mourned the loss of her husband, giving visitors an insight into the complex life of one of our most famous monarchs.

Today visitors to Kensington Palace can also visit a beautiful Georgian cafe called The Orangery. This building was previously the setting for Queen Anne’s elaborate court entertainment and today is open to visitors who wish to take afternoon tea, or a small snack, in the beautiful surroundings of the gardens that Queen Anne commissioned designed herself.

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