Kensington Palace

The votes are in, and the number one pick to share from our England trip was Kensington Palace and Gardens.  So, today we return to London for a tour.  Today we’ll see the palace and some spectacular jewels, and I’ll show you the garden tomorrow.  Kinsington Palace is quite unassuming compared to other historic buildings in London.  It began as a residence, and was expanded when William and Mary decided to use it as a country home.  They wanted to get away from the trials of living in the city of London proper, and hired St. Paul architect Christopher Wren to design a larger home.  But Queen Mary decided to take control of the project, and implemented her own ideas.  They moved into the upgraded home in 1689, taking less than a year to finish Queen Mary’s plans.

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The sumptuous red walls with the gorgeous woodwork made this long room with tall windows awe inspiring.  There were exhibits of the clothing worn at the time.

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For a three year period, the King and Queen held magnificent balls with drinking and gambling until the wee hours.

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This gown, wide at the sides and not front to back, was called a mantua.  The wide skirt was designed to show off yards of expensive fabrics often silk brocade with embroidery.  This one dates to 1750.

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In the early 1700s, architect William Kent was engaged by King George I to enhance the palace with Georgian influence.  His work on the ceilings and the King’s staircase is his lasting legacy.  They are intricately painted with full size renderings of court nobles and spectacular trompe l’oeil.

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Amazing, and the original work survives to today.  It is from the top of this staircase that Victoria first met her future husband Albert.

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This is the Cuppola room, designed by William Kent for George I, with a large piece in the center, an 18th-century musical clock called the ‘Temple of the Four Great Monarchies of the World’.   Each side has a different scene.

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The living areas for Victoria as a girl were the Queen’s Apartments originally occupied by Queen Mary, and featured ornate woodwork along with many paintings and an extensive collection of porcelains.

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Magnificent tapestries with trompe l’oeil weaves are still on display.

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The bedroom with ornate bed curtains.

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One of Victorias gowns was on display in another room, showing just how little she was in her youth.  She was short, and tiny when she ascended to the throne at age 18 in 1837.

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A few of the monarchy’s jewels are displayed here.  This set of emeralds was just stunning, with the huge size of the stones.  Looking closely, you can see some of the imperfections in the stones, attesting to their genuine character.

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A tiara, earrings, necklace and a ring complete the matched set.  The brightest and clearest stones in the center of the necklace, center front of the tiara and the ring.

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A nearby placard talks about the history of the set, designed by Prince Albert.

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Another fabulous tiara is on display, made for Queen Victoria’s daughter Louise.

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Called the Fife Diamond Tiara, a nearby placard gives some of its history.

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The desk Queen Victoria used for daily duties of state, with some of the red boxes which would have contained official documents is displayed.

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This is the room and table where Queen Victoria held her first Privy Council the day she became Queen.  Shortly after, she moved to Buckingham Palace.

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You can read more history and interesting details by clicking on Kensington Palace.  There was so much to see, so much detail to absorb, it was almost overwhelming.  The history was so interesting.  Only a small portion of the palace, the State Apartments and a few galleries, is open to visitors.  The other side of the building are apartments still in use today.  Charles and Diana raised their children there.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate) and their children live there today.  Harry and Megan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex now live there too.  The term apartment is used loosely, though, as the humbly named Apartment 1 is a home with 21 rooms.  According to a London magazine, there are more than 50 residents of the palace estate, including other royals, military personnel, staff, and ordinary people willing to pay the high rent.  The Queen’s cousin was estimated to pay £10,000 a month in rent for one of the smaller apartments with only 10 rooms in 2009.  Did you enjoy the tour?  Have you ever been to Kensington Palace?

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32 thoughts on “Kensington Palace

  1. Diane H

    Carole, thank you for the tour. I have been enjoying ‘Victoria’ on Masterpiece and it was lovely to see one of her gowns.

  2. So wonderful seeing Kensington Palace. Can’t wait to see the gardens next. I caught some of “Victoria” on Masterpiece so I was really absorbed in your pictures. Thanks for bringing me up to the present by reminding us that William & Kate (with family) now live here.

  3. Ramona Johnson

    Thanks for a wonderful tour!! I found it especially interesting since I’ve started watching The Crown on Netflix. It’s amazing to see how the “other half” live. 😉

  4. lv2bquilting2

    Thank you so much for the beautiful pictures and the informative history lesson. I was so absorbed, that I didn’t realize when I had come to the end, and was looking forward to more. With so many families, having so many rooms, I was wondering how many entrances and exits the palace has. I think that, in my next life, I wouldn’t mind being born a royal in England. My dad was born in London in 1909, but when he was 19, the family moved to the U.S., where he lived to be 104.

  5. BJ

    Carole, thanks for the great tour – you could be a docent! My peeps come from Cornwall, so I think I’m on the “other side” of the tracks, but I have always loved British history, high and low. DH and I will go in a few years when we can spend a month or so exploring my ancestry. Wish I could say I was in line to inherit those emeralds! Looking forward to the next installment.

  6. Rosemaryflower

    I have been to UK a few times, but never visited the Palace. This is quite a place to live.
    Carole, thank you so much for sharing these pictures of your adventure

  7. I just found your blog from MountainMama. Im a North Carolinian too from Gaston County. Thanks for the tour of the Kensington Palace. I Loved the jewels. Loveing your blog. Ill be back.

  8. So interesting. I have always wondered how women walked in those wide skirts with those huge pannier hoops underneath. No wonder many of the doors were double-size width! Thank you for sharing the info and the wonderful photos.

  9. Pat

    I visited the palace a few years ago. Thank you for sharing your pictures it was nice to see it again. I have your tour.

  10. shirley

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures and information. It is on my bucket list to go to England.

  11. Hi Carole,
    Woot woot! I love that this was the most voted upon – deservedly so. I have visited myself but never tire of seeing other’s photos or reading their thoughts and description. I love history even more now than I did in school, and the UK holds so much to visit and enjoy. Thank you for sharing with us today!! Happy Sunday! ~smile~ Roseanne

  12. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole; All of this history was fascinating. So much beauty to take in, I could not imagine living that type of lifestyle. Yet, it would be so fun to be able to go back in time and be a part of it for say a week. LOL. I always enjoy when someone posts photos of the art and history of a home or building, you just have to be amazed at the talents and tastes of the past. Thank you for sharing. I so enjoyed every part of your journey and look forward to more. Have a great day!

  13. Gwynette in NW Arkansas

    A life style unlike anything most of us would live or participate in. Thanks for the tour!

  14. Nora Ellis

    Loved the tour. I used to live in Surrey, but I never got to see Kengsinton Palace. Have seen the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, though. They are real top-notch “Bling”!

  15. Elaine Nemeth

    Wow. You are an incredible writer. It was like being actually on the tour. Love the diamond settings on the tiara that rotate to catch the light. We sure don’t have anything to compare . Puts the Biltmore on a different level.thanks for your blogs.

  16. Fascinating! I’ve not been to England, but it is on my bucket list. You took such great photos, I felt like I was there. The mantua and other dresses on display are just gorgeous…it’s amazing to think how old they are and they are still in awesome condition. WOW…

  17. Monica Kostak

    The only castle i’ve toured was Neuschwanstein in Germany, and have seen the remains of several other castles while i was on vacation. It is very interesting to see the intricate details were floor to ceiling in the rooms, the furniture, clothing and the decor of the castle. Even in castles there isn’t alot of “stuff” as we have in decorating nowadays and this era in time is so fascinating! Thanks for sharing your tour! 🙂

  18. What an amazing tour! Seeing the jewels and tiaras… spectacular!

    And knowing that the current royals live there amazes me.

    What an incredible post my friend!

  19. debrapugh

    I have read and watched much about Queen Victoria over time…I really enjoyed this 🙂

    That dress in the beginning of the post just blew me away…can you imagine navigating anything in that thing lol! Kudos to the ladies that did.

  20. Lesley Gilbert

    As always you share lots of details in your photo’s. I knew Wills and Harry both lived at Kensington and a few other Royals – that would be a great photo shoot to remember. Now onto your next lot of photo’s 🙂

  21. I love what I read at the bottom of the card about the Fife Diamond Tiara and the taxes~!!~ Imagine having to pawn off your diamonds to pay your inheritance tax!! That has been the trouble of all the “landed gentry” in the last few centuries! Thanks for the fun tour!!!

  22. dezertsuz

    I’ve never been and don’t expect I ever will, but this was a lovely display of highlights. I can’t imagine paying Ł10,000 to live there in 10 rooms. Well … maybe if an Innova quilting machine came with it. LOL

  23. It is really overwhelming! I can’t imagine wearing a gown like that!!! Thank you for giving us such a grand tour, I can only imagine how beautiful it was in person!

  24. rawsonjl

    Wow! So beautiful but I can not imagine what it must have been like to walk around in a mantua! That looks very uncomfortable.. and I’m not super co-originated so I’d probably be knocking things over with my dress.

  25. What a wonderful tour! So many beautiful details and so nice to learn some of the history behind the palace. I had no idea there were that many residences on the palace estate. Thanks for linking up to Take Me Away for July! Always nice to see where you travel!

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