The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 11 Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

Kensington Palace

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Kensington Palace was bought by William III. from the 2nd Earl of Nottingham in 1689, and from that time onwards was his principal residence. The old house was altered and added to by Sir Christopher Wren, and the south front stands pretty much as he left it. The ugly east front, however, was built for George I. by William Kent. The lower building to the north, a little farther back, is Wren's; it has a beautiful door at its north end. The north-west angle of the palace was built under George II. Mary II., William III., Anne, and George II. all died in Kensington Palace; but on the accession of George III. it ceased to be the residence of the reigning sovereign, and since then its suites of apartments have been occupied by junior members of the royal family and aristocratic pensioners of the Crown. Among the earliest of these occupants were two sons of George III., the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Kent. The latter's daughter, afterwards Queen Victoria, was born here on May 24th, 1819, and continued to live at the palace until her accession in 1837 Queen Mary was likewise born in this palace (May 26th, 1867). The STATE APARTMENTS, entered from the north end of the palace, are open to the public on Sunday and Saturday from 2 to 4, 5, or 6 p.m. (admission 6d.). They comprise some very fine apartments by Wren, with wainscoting and carving by Grinling Gibbons, and some magnificent but inartistic rooms by Kent. The King's Gallery (91 feet long, 21+ feet broad, 19 feet high), a beautifully proportioned room by Wren, on the south side, has a fine cornice by Grinling Gibbons, but is somewhat spoilt by an over decorated ceiling by Kent. Among the pictures with which the rooms are hung are numerous royal and other portraits by Kneller and others. Several rooms used by Queen Victoria before her accession, and various mementoes of her are shown here. The north end of the Broad Walk debouches on Bayswater Road, nearly opposite the Queen's Road Station on the Central London Tube (see below).