Posts Tagged ‘Kensington Palace’

The Kings staircase leads into the presence chamber where King George I and II would receive visitors and petitioners. Compared to the rest of the apartments it is rather sombre in its decor.

The Presence Chamber

The Presence Chamber

Probably the most impressive room in the suite is the Cupola room, with its amazing musical clock as a centrepiece. This room was used for entertaining and it was here that the baby princess Victoria was baptised.

Musical Clock in the Cupola room

Musical Clock in the Cupola room

Decoration in the Cupola room

Decoration in the Cupola room

Ceiling of the Cupola room

Ceiling of the Cupola room

The Kings Gallery is a long room designed for indoor walking and other leisure pursuits. It was also an excellent place to display items from the royal art collection.

KIngs Gallery

Kings Gallery

Fireplace in Kings Gallery

Fireplace in Kings Gallery

The Kings Appartments as we see them today are the creation of George I and his son, GeorgeII in the 18th century. They are accessed by the magnificent Kings staircase, decorated by William Kent in 1727.

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Ceiling - Kings Staircase

Ceiling – Kings Staircase

This is the oldest surviving part of the palace, dating to the original work carried out by William and Mary when they purchased the house in 1689 as a country alternative to Whitehall Palace in Westminster. The Queen’s apartments are on the first floor overlooking the gardens. The first room you enter is the long gallery where the Queen was able to undertake pastimes such as walking, reading and needlework. Today there is also a display from the fine collection of Chinese and Japanese porcelain that Queen Mary acquired during her time at Kensington.

The Long Gallery

The Long Gallery

Fireplace in Long Gallery with display of Pocelain

Fireplace in Long Gallery with display of porcelain

Leading off from this is the Queens closet and then her private dining room.

Queens Dining Room

Queens Dining Room

Next to this is the Queens drawing room.

Queen's Drawing Room

Queen’s Drawing Room

The final room in the suite is the Queens bedchamber.

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In all, it is a relatively modest set of apartments for a monarch. But then Kensington wasn’t meant to be a palace for all the frills and trimmings of monarchy but a place for the King and Queen to escape to from the busy life of Whitehall.

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When William and Mary arrived in England in 1689 to take the throne they purchased Nottingham House in the village of Kensington as a home. They commissioned improvements which were overseen by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor. These included additional accommodation, a new entrance and the Queens Gallery. The King and Queen moved in just before Christmas 1689. The palace was damaged by fire in 1691 but repairs were made and over the following years the Kings staircase and the King’s gallery was added.

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Queen Anne succeeded to the throne in 1702. She lived at other London Palaces (Whitehall, St James’,Windsor and Hampton Court) and used Kensington for parties and other recreational activities. She had work done on the palace gardens including the Orangery, which was built in 1704-5.

The Orangery

The Orangery

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George I came to the throne in 1714 and held a celebration bonfire party at Kensington. However a survey of 1716 revealed that the property was in a poor state. King George set plans for restoration including the inclusion of the privy chamber, the cupola room and the withdrawing room replacing parts of the original house. However the extent of these works meant that for much of his reign he was unable to use the palace as it was being re-built.

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His son, George II (from 1727),by contrast, made Kensington his principal residence, living here for 4-6 months each year. However after Queen Caroline died in 1737 one wing of the house was left unused. His son, George III chose not to use Kensington at all. However, Edward Duke of York was granted apartments in the palace and set about completing some repairs. It was at Kensington that his daughter Victoria was born in 1819 and was baptised in the Cupola room. The Duke died when his daughter was only 9 months old but the Duchess and her daughter continued to live in the apartments. It was here on the early morning of 20th June 1837, that Princess Victoria was awakened to be informed she was now Queen Victoria. The Queen and her mother moved to Buckingham Palace and Kensington was again left unused apart from some rooms which were used for the storage of furniture and paintings.

Queen Victoria statue at the entrance to Kensington Palace

Queen Victoria statue at the entrance to Kensington Palace

 

There were a number of ideas proposed for the palace ranging from demolition (vetoed by Queen Victoria) to its use as a gallery or museum. In 1897, parliament was persuaded to pay for repairs providing the state apartments were opened to the public. In 1911 the London Museum opened in the Palace buildings, although 3 years later this relocated to Lancaster House. From 1914-1923 the state appointments were closed to the public. The palace was damaged during the second world war and finally reopened in 1949 following repairs. The following year the London Museum returned to the Palace, where it remained until 1976 when it was amalgamated with London Guildhall Museum.

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There are still private apartments in the palace which are used by members of the Royal family. The most famous being Diana, Princess of Wales who lived here between 1981 and 1997 and her son, Prince William and his family who have lived here since 2013.

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