Kensington Palace | Snoop Around A Royal Residence
While moping about your landlord, the mould slowly redecorating your bathroom and the condensation on your windows, it’s worth giving yourself a bit of perspective: at least you don’t have 830,000 sq ft to hoover.
So for a dash of healthy realism, take yourself off for a tour of Kensington Palace. Currently the official residence of Wills & Kate and a handful of other royals, the regal mansion has been casting its commanding eye over the surrounding Kensington greenery since 1605.
Set within Kensington Gardens (bordered by High Street Kensington and Queensway on the other side), Kensington Palace started out as a modest two-storey mansion. William and Mary were the first royals to move in back in the 17th century – his asthma was getting triggered by the more central London palaces by the river, which was essentially a giant open sewer in those days.
Over the intervening centuries, lavish adjustments were made by the major architects of the day including Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir Christopher Wren. And while the palace is still an official abode, a significant chunk of the building’s most spectacular rooms are open to the public to snoop around.
It’s not particularly showy from the outside, but inside, Kensington Palace is suitably lavish: hand-painted murals, chandeliers and gilded plaster ceilings abound. There’s the octagonal cupola room where Queen Victoria was christened, and the King’s Grand Staircase, featuring a hand-painted crowd of 45 courtiers to watch on as you ascend. And naturally, the place is absolutely stuffed with antiques, paintings, and furniture, as well as a significant collection of gowns worn by the likes of Princess Diana.
Aside from the royal apartments, the Palace also stages regular special exhibitions (which are included in the main entry fee). But if you’d rather soak up a little glamour on a pauper’s budget, the gardens are free to visit – they include an ornamental sunken garden, Princess Diana’s memorial playground, and the manicured lawns bordering the rest of Hyde Park.
They’ve really been given the royal treatment.
NOTE: Kensington Palace is open Wednesday to Sunday. Tickets start at £25.40, and you can book HERE.
Kensington Palace | Kensington Gardens, London W8 4PX
While you’re in the neighbourhood… here are the best things to do in Kensington