Kensington Palace - History
When we think of Kensington Palace, we imagine royalty and it is rightfully so. Kensington Palace, once popularly known as the Nottingham House, is stretched over a massive mansion that has been a royal house for over 30 decades! If you wish to know more about Kensington Palace, you are in the perfect place. Let us briefly learn about the history of this lavish palace as well as the insides of the state-of-the-art mansion. Dive in!
Kensington Palace History
Let’s quickly skim through every era that this palace has evolved from. If only walls could talk!
1. William III And Mary II
Initially, the palace was a two-storey mansion built by Sir George Choppin that was then taken over by the first Earl of Nottingham and eventually christening as the Nottingham House.
The Kensington Palace as we know it today was then bought by William and Mary right after they rose to the throne as a retreat away from their original house since William developed a breathing disorder.
2. Transforming Nottingham Palace
Once the royal coup took over the house, Sir Wren was assigned the duty of transforming the house to make it move-in-ready. Apart from adding the gardens and lawns, the mansion saw the accession of 3-storey branches so as to completely envelop that main house.
A well-decorated palace with adequate paths was laid down before the royalty moved into the house prior to the Christmas of 1689.
3. William Alone
Mary, who was the more popular one among the couple, was known to be a kind and gentle soul. However, the year 1694 saw Mary succumb to smallpox. William was heartbroken and devastated. He continued to live at Kensington Palace until he breathed his last in the month of February 1702.
A King’s Gallery was specially made for him by Sir Wren. This soon became the meeting point from where he and his war associates would gather to discuss strategies. There are captivating stories of William meeting spies in this gallery that was covered with green velvet.
4. Kensington Under Queen Anne
The Stuart princess took over soon after the death of William. After ascending into the royal position of Queen, she went on to build an extension to the Queen’s apartment and authorized the gardens under her name. She also built the iconic Orangery which was a beautiful greenhouse that was used to hold balls and royal parties.
5. Georgian Graces
The palace also had the fortune of accommodating Georgian monarchs. After the death of the Stuart queen, George I came to power from 1714-27. William Kent was the prime architect that ornamented the palace under his reign. One of the hallmark achievements of the architect is undeniably the King’s staircase. It is filled with beautiful highlights of life-size paintings of court members under George I’s reign.
6. The Precious Princess
The precious princess Victoria, who later came to be known as Queen Victoria, was the daughter of George III and Victoire. She had quite a lonely childhood as she lost her father when she was just eight months old. She lived within the confines of the Kensington System which neither let her be a part of the court nor have any friends to play with.
7. The ‘Aunt Heap’
Queen Victoria eventually left Kensington that allowed the minor royals to stay in the palace. It soon served the purpose of a royal ‘dormitory’. As Victoria opened the State Apartments to public viewing and the inhabitants living in the palace gradually aged, the palace was mockingly given the name of ‘Aunt Heap’.
8. Modern Royals And Kensington Today
As the Victorians left the palace, the 1960s saw the family led by Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon living in Kensington wherein they held a number of parties and made many changes in the interior. This was followed by the Prince and Princess of Wales moving in right after their marriage. In the present times, it is a beautiful home to the family of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
What’s Inside Kensington Palace
Discover more about what's inside Kensington Palace before visiting the Historic Royal Palace.
The King’s State Apartments
The King’s State Apartments is the most luxurious apartment at Kensington Palace. It features everything from grandiose staterooms and Presence Chamber to the Cupola Room, the King’s Gallery and lots more.
The King’s Staircase
The walls of the King’s Staircase were painted by William Kent as a vivid recreation of George I and has gained immense popularity over centuries. The artwork displays a lively 18th-century court of intriguing and unexpected characters.
The King’s Gallery
The King’s Gallery takes pride in being the largest and longest state apartment in Kensington Palace which was transformed by King George I in 1725. It was used primarily for exercise as well as exhibiting pictures.
The Queen’s State Apartments
The Queen’s apartments is where Mary, and later royal consorts, lived. This included the Queen’s Staircase, the Queen’s Gallery, the Queen’s Closest, the Queen’s Dining Room and the Queen’s Drawing Room.
Victoria: A Royal Childhood
Here visitors will get the chance to learn the story of Princess Victoria. Unfold all about the young girl, who was destined to be queen, explore the rooms where she was born and raised at Kensington Palace for an unforgettable experience.
Victoria: Woman and Crown
Find out all about Queen Victoria’s private life behind her carefully-managed public image in Victoria: Woman and Crown. It was created to mark the 200th anniversary of Victoria’s birth and revisits how she balanced her role as a wife, mother and Queen in the 19th century.
Royal Style in Making
The Royal Style in Making is a new temporary exhibition that explores the intimate relationship between the fashion designers and royal clients. Visitors can witness the wedding dress of Princess Diana along with many other exclusive royal outfits on display.
The Sunken Garden was first designed and constructed in 1908 . In 2017, the garden was completely renovated in white flowers for visitors to reflect and celebrate the life of Princess Diana.
Kensington Palace Gardens
Walk in the footsteps of royalty in the stunning gardens of Kensington Palace. The Sunken Garden, Cradle Walk, Wildflowers and Formal gardens are some of the top must-visit Kensington Palace Gardens.
All Your Questions Answered About the Kensington Palace
A. Kensington Palace is popularly known for its beautiful architecture that has a long history of being home to many royalties.
A. Kensington Palace was built in 1605 as a two-storey palace by Sir George Choppin.
A. The palace was first occupied by Sir Choppin that was followed by the Earl of Nottingham, and many others.
A. Kensington Palace Apartments, the King’s Staircase, the King’s Gallery, Victoria: A Royal Childhood and Kensington Palace Gardens are a few of the must-visit things to see in the palace.
A. The family of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge currently lives in Kensington Palace now.
A. Yes, it is still a part of the royal residents.
A. It takes nearly 2-3 hours to cover Kensington palace in its entirety
A. Queen Victoria opened Kensington Palace to public viewing in 1899.