London Sights to See
Kensington Palace and Gardens
A London sightseeing treasure, Kensington Palace has been home to royalty from long before Queen
Victoria's birth there in 1819 to Princess Diana's
residence until her
death to today.
Still in use as a working Royal Residence, currently occupied by Prince Charles and his sons, William and Harry, there are many areas
nonetheless available for public viewing - and have been since Queen Victoria opened the State Apartments to the public in 1899.
The Red Saloon,
for example, located on the Garden
Floor, was the location of
Queen Victoria's first Privy
Council in June, 1837 and has been
restored to its original appearance.
The Royal Ceremonial
Dress Collection is an exhibit of gowns worn by
various royal personages from the 18th century to the present. Even
hats and handbags are on display at the Palace, showing over seventy
hats belonging to Queen
Nearby are the King's
Apartments with several paintings and other works
of art from the Royal
In contrast to the splendor of the King's Apartments, and, discreetly
far away, are the subdued Queen's
Apartments. Built and furnished for Queen Mary II
in the mid-17th century. There are several family
portraits and many of the original furnishings.
The Victorian Rooms
are accessible, including Victoria's bedroom where
she first learned of her accession to the throne. The rooms are
furnished with many of Victoria's and Albert's personal effects.
First constructed for the Earl
of Nottingham in 1661, the interior of
the palace isn't the only impressive sight. Outside are the extensive
and varied Kensington Gardens with a number of things to do and see.
Designed and landscaped under the watchful eye of George II's wife, Queen Caroline,
the expansive gardens adjoin Kensington Palace and Hyde
Park. Combined, the Gardens and Hyde Park total 637 acres.
Serpentine Lake forms one of the many attractions, equally popular both with boaters and birds. Winding around, it's over a mile around, fed by an underground river. In addition, there's the Round Pond for feeding ducks and sailing model boats.
On the banks of the Serpentine the gardens contain an oft-visited
bronze sculpture of Peter Pan
, cast in 1912. There's also the Elfin Oak,
almost as old, ornately carved with elves and fairytale creatures.
Outside the entrance is a sculpture of the late Queen Victoria, made by
There are elaborate Italianate fountains and dozens of quiet paths. But
there are also areas for activities as ancient as kite flying and as
modern as rollerblading. At the
southeast corner is Wellington's
Arch, leading to Green
Park (next to Buckingham
A recent addition is the memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales. A large,
granite-block structure, it remains very popular several years after
her death. The area is often festooned with flowers.
After you've tired yourself out, be sure to visit the Albert Hall,
which was completed in 1871 as a memorial to the Queen's beloved
consort. The oval hall has an impressive iron and glass domed roof. The 5,000 seat theater
holds regular concerts and is a must-see for anyone who travels to London.
The palace and gardens are easily accessible via the tube (the London
Underground subway system). Exit at High Street Kensington.
London Sights to See
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