Home Tourist – Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace has recently reopened to the public after a programme of refurbishment and as I’ve never been there, I thought I’d pay a visit on Saturday morning; and what a very odd place it is.  In its wings it is a London home for a number of members of the Royal family, but the central area is open to the public, where the various accessible suites of rooms are dressed by reference to  particular historical periods and the royal residents of the time.

The wood panelled rooms of the Queen’s Wing are dedicated to the last two Stuart monarchs.  You can sit on a window seat and trigger a recording of whispers around Court of what will happen when there is no surviving child of either Queens Mary or Anne, and there is a collection of child size chairs reflecting Anne’s 17 pregnancies.

The King’s Wing is all red swags, oil paintings and over the top murals, reflecting the occupancy of the early Hanoverian Kings with the excesses in which they seemed to enjoy indulging.

Victoria, the last of the Hanovers, grew up in Kensington Palace, and there are several rooms laid out commemorating this; toys, jewellery and some of her sketch books, as well as a couple of dresses, allowing us to see how tiny she was, are all there to see, as well as some stories of her jubilee and the Great Exhibition.

Overall, I could see that an effort had been made to make the displays a bit different to what you might usually expect to see in ‘Stately Home Britain’, but in consequence it was all somewhat bitty and without much of a coherent flow.

The final area was small and dedicated to Diana, a few photographs and a couple of her dresses, and covered with some of the most spectacularly peculiar wallpaper I think I’ve ever seen: cartoons of the woman herself, from various phases of her life, including those  poses when she peered sadly out from under her fringe through kohl lined eyes to garner sympathy of a worldwide television audience.

The catering could do with a bit of attention too; we gave up waiting for our cups of coffee in the Orangerie after about quarter of an hour.  When it’s only a few minutes walk to Queensway, there are far too many other options available to be hanging about for poor service.

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you once again Rowena for sharing what you see with fine words and excellent pictures…to be able to view them in such detail allows me to enjoy the day with you from my little room…go places I will never see because of my lack of mobility. You are a treasure!

    Reply
    • Thanks Evelyn. I’m pleased you’re joining me on the exploration of things I’ve never done but should have!

      Reply

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