Kensington and Knightsbridge, London
Kensington Palace is a royal residence set in Kensington Gardens in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. It has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century. Today it is the official residence of The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester; the Duke and Duchess of Kent; and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. Kensington Palace is also used on an unofficial basis by Prince Harry, as well as his cousin Zara Phillips.
Princess Diana is supposed to have rsided here after her seperation from prince Charles??And there are always floral tributes to her at the Gate.
The Palace was the birthplace of Queen Victoira in 1819. And it was the home of Princess Diana.
At the Gardens is a giant pond with a lot of ducks and geese to feed.
The Gardens open daily and the palace is open daily from 10 ap to 5 pm.
The entrance: the Gardens free - the palace 10 Pounds.
kensington palace was commissioned by william III in 1689. the palace was designed by christopher wren. queen anne and queen victoria once lived here. before her divorce from prince charles, princess diana also lived here. the palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens which are open to the public. open 10:00am to 6:00pm daily.
3rd visit July 2011
Kensington Palace is perhaps best known as the home of late Princess Diana prior to her divorce from Prince Charles, in the years just after she died you could see cards, flowers and stuffed animals adorning the gates but I haven't seen any of that on my last few trips to London. It was also the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria.
The 1st time I visited the highlight of the visit was the dress collections of both the current Queen, Elizabeth II, and also Princess Diana. In April 2011 that was gone. The palace is currently undergoing a major renovation and while that is taking place you can still visit the palace, currently running is the Enchanted Palace that tells the story of seven princesses that lived at Kensington Palace-Queen Mary II, Queen Anne, Queen Caroline, Princess Charlotte, Queen Victoria, Princess Anne and Princess Diana.
You don't see as much of the palace as I did on my 1st visit, parts of it are closed off due to the renovation and while is sounds like it's going to be quite wonderful I'd advise to hold off visiting until the renovation is complete although people visiting with their kids, especially young girls, should enjoy the current displays as much of it is geared towards kids.
There is no photography allowed inside the Palace. The Orangery is also location near the Palace in Kensington Gardens, it's a nice place if you want to enjoy a casual afternoon tea.
We got our admission at 1/2 price by buying our travelcards at a rail station and taking advantage of the 2 for 1 offers
Kensington Gardens is a very lovely Royal park adjacent to Hyde Park. It is different from Hyde Park in that it is so ornate, with lovely statues and fountains - and Kensington Palace, which is where Princess Di lived after divorcing Prince Charles - I add a photo of the gate to the palace where people put heaps of flowers after she died. Queen Victoria was born in Kensington Palace and there is a statue of her by the palace.
Kensington Gardens were a part of Hyde Park until 1689.
There is an entrance to the park from Bayswater road by Queensway, where you enter into the beautiful Italian Garden with its ornate fountains, urns and statues. This garden was a gift to Queen Victoria from her husband Prince Albert.
The part of The Serpentine that is in Kensington Gardens is called The Long Water. There is another lake in the park called The Round Pond, they were given very simple names :)
There is a small gallery in Kensington Gardens, The Serpentine Gallery, where one can visit exhibitions. Free entrance.
There are lovely statues at Kensington Gardens, f.ex. the Peter Pan statue and Physical Energy (see my photo).
Albert Memorial (see my next tip) is at the very end of Kensington Park by Kensington road.
Opening hours: 06:00 - dusk.
Finally, in July 2004 after many delays, the official monument to Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales was ceremoniously unveiled.
It consists of two streams of water than run around a roughly oval / heartshape formed out of grey granite. It twists, turns and ripples as it goes, before meeting under a bridge and disappearing.
Although it has been variously described by world-weary journalists as "An open sewer" or a "waterslide", it may not work too well as a piece of sculpture, but it certainly gets a five-star rating from appreciative toddlers as a kiddies paddling pool.
This was always part of the design and even on a cloudy day in London it seemed immensly popular with children, most of whom born after her sad demise. In view of her character, I think it is a wonderful idea.
It does however seem a pity that the sculpture is only surrounded by plain grass (and now quite matted), at least a few flowerbeds would really make it feel a bit more like a memorial - a red rosebed would be perfect.
As can be seen in the picture, kids of all ages are certainly taking to it.
During the summer of 2004, the memorial was shut down a couple of times because algae has been growing on it, making the surface a bit slippy, and we couldn't possibly have the little dears falling over and bruising themselves, could we ?
A month later a solution was found - exemplifying the worst excesses of the nanny state. A fence was erected around the monument, visitor numbers controlled, six 'busybodies' employed to police it and signs put up to tell people not to walk or run in the fountain. It's enough to make you ashamed to be an Englishman. You can't even paddle now. Pathetic isn't it ?
Kensington did not become a palace until William III decided the air at Kensington might benefit his lungs. Nottingham House, as it was then called, had been built in 1661 for his Secretary of State, the Earl of Nottingham. The King and Queen Mary moved from Whitehall in time for Christmas in 1689. Of great historical importance, Kensington Palace was the favorite residence of successive sovereigns until 1760. It was also the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria.
In 1897 plans were made to demolish it, but Queen Victoria, who did not want to have the building demolished while she was living, convinced the Parliament to restore Kensington Palace. After the restoration, the State Apartments were opened to the public May 24, 1899.
Today Kensington Palace in London is a working Royal residence. Parts of the palace remain a private residence for members of the Royal Family; the State Apartments and Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection are open to the public. It was formerly the London residence of Diana, Princess of Wales and bore the brunt of the tremendous public outpouring of sympathy following her 1997 death in the form of hundreds of thousands of bouquets of flowers piled upon the palace gates.
The gardens of the Kensington Palace cover around 260 acres and border Hyde Park on the east. This should be another place to spend a liesurely day. The famous statue of Peter Pan is located to the north of the Sepentine Bridge and a true masterpiece. Also home to the Albert Memorial and the Seprtine Gallery. I will have a seperate tip for Peter Pan and Albert. :) Princess Diana memorial playground is also located within these gardens .Kensington Gardens was a playground for the nation's young queen in the not so distant past. Now children can enjoy not only the playground but the model boats on Round Pond. We enjoyed the geese everywhere at Round Pond and the nice lawn chairs for relaxing. Pack a lunch , kick off your shoes and relax. Another lovely place to take a walk and wander through some beautiful flower gardens. Careful of the hungry wildlife. LOL! Ask me about the squirrel sometime. :)
Update April 2014: link to new second gallery and additional photo
The Serpentine Gallery has no permanent collections, but instead shows a programme of modern and contemporary art exhibitions. Admission to these is free, and details of what’s on at any particular time can be checked on the gallery’s website (below). We particularly enjoy the photographic exhibitions, but you may also find sculpture or paintings on show. Most exhibitions last a couple of months – and between them the gallery is closed, so do check what, if anything, is on before making a special visit. Or if you're taking a walk through Kensington Gardens or nearby Hyde Park, why not detour to see if there's anything here of interest.
As well as the exhibitions, there are various talks and other events. The gallery is open daily, 10.00AM – 6.00PM. Nearby is a new second gallery, the Serpentine Sackler - see my separate review.
I've been through Kensington Gardens oodles of times on various visits to London, we've stayed close by several times and it's a lovely place to stroll through on a warm sunny day. When the weather turns nice, it doesn't seem to matter whether it's a weekday or a weekend, the parks are jammed with people trying to get a little sun and fresh air, they are there with their dogs playing fetch, kids playing with model boats on the round pond, people sunbathing in the grass or queing for tea at the Orangery.
Hyde Park is right next door and you pass freely between the two, I started my most recent walk at the Italian Gardens on the north end, along the Long Water, around the Serpentine in Hyde Park, past the Diana Memorial and then back into Kensington Gardens to see Peter Pan, past the Physical Energy sculpture and then over to the Orangery at Kensington Palace for tea.
After tea I visited the elaborate Albert Memorial, built by Queen Victoria in 1876 for her beloved husband who died in 1861, is across from Royal Albert Hall on the south side of the park.
We stayed at a hotel near Kensington and were amazed our first morning out at the number of beautiful spring flowers that were already blooming in late March.
The area around Kensington Palace (I believe this was where Diana spent her time) was busy with Londoners enjoying the bright spring weather.
Knightsbridge is a street and district in the City of Westminster, London notable for its expensive shops, including Harrods, and as a prime residential area with some of the highest property prices in London or anywhere in the world.
The district was named after a crossing of the River Westbourne, which is now an underground river due to extensive building over. It is recorded that the citizens of London met Queen Matilda at the Knight's Bridge in 1141.
The elliptical Royal Albert Hall is a renowed venue for a wide variety of entertainment from classical music to sporting events. It has a capacity of approximately 5000.
The Italian Renaissance style building was completed in 1871. Just opposite to the Albert Hall, the Albert Memorial can be found. The elaborate monument was built in 1876 and recently restored.
We know from our own experience that visiting large cities with younger kids can often be a bit of a trial, as there can be limited safe and affordable opportunities for them to let off steam. So the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens is a wonderful option to have in your 'back pocket' when you can sense that your offspring are reaching overload from being cooped up indoors! This would be a particularly good option for breaking up the day if you were planning to bring your children to one of the spectacular museums in South Kensington (Natural History, Science, Victoria & Albert), which are brilliant but can be a bit overwhelming for a full day: it's only about 15 minutes walk, most of it through the park.
The playground - which opened in 2000 - is a truly wonderful resource and a fitting tribute to a woman who unquestionable had an affinity with children. The centrepiece is a jungle gym in the form of a pirate ship, which is particularly apt given that Kensington Gardens is also home to the Peter Pan statue with commemorates J.M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan) - see my other travel tip. It is superbly designed - including a concrete crocodile reclining in nearby shallows and a treasure chest (thankfully securely locked) - and would keep any child happy for hours!
The pirate ship is the main event, but there are also many other attractions such as an encampment of Red Indian teepees (presumably where Tiger Lily lives?), a water feature that kids can play in, sound sculptures and all manner of things to bounce on, clamber over/under/through and slide down.
The playground is well landscaped with lots of vegetation to hide in. As a result, there is quite a lot of small wildlife - squirrels and a range of birds - which enchanted my children: these will be familiar to anyone living in Northern Europe, but paradoxically, since we live in Africa, grey squirrels seemed really exotic to my lot!
Sad to say, one of the highlights of the playground is the security (which sounds like a very South African concern, but a very real consideration in any big city with the risk of pedophiles using them as stalking grounds). The playground is securely fenced, and although entrance is free, adults can only enter if they are accompanying children (except for one hour in the morning). Conversely, children have to be accompanied by an adult so that the playground cannot be used as an unsupervised childcare facility. There are also good on site toilet facilities.
The best - and most cost effective - option if you're planning to stay for any time would be to bring your own picnic. However, if you're not that well organised, there is also an on site cafe which epitomises the sort of moneyed clientele that the playground attracts: organic produce, several vegetarian options, lots of goat's cheese and rocket with everything! Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that, but it did make me smile that the menu would so clearly betray the priveleged demographic!
While wandering around in Kensington Palace grounds we ran across this beautiful secluded garden area which we later learned was called the Sunken Garden. Surrounded by tall hedges and locked gates it was a treat to peek throught the many openings and feast eyes upon this lovely area. I am including it as a seperate tip because I felt it was worthy of a special visit.The garden was created in 1909 and based on a Tudor garden in Hampton Court. On the path surrounding the area are several park benches to sit on and enjoy ones surroundings.Rather romantic also.