KENSINGTON GARDENS, LONDON W8
Telephone: 020 7937 7079
Kensington Palace, a rather unpalatial building on the west side of Kensington Gardens, 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.
Queen Victoria, born in Kensington Palace on May 14, 1819, was baptized in the fabulous Cupola Room. She lived here throughout her childhood until June 20, 1837, her accession to the throne. She then made an unprecedented move to Buckingham Palace and ruled her kingdom from there.
The state apartments, opened by Queen Victoria to the public in 1899, have since been restored to their former 18th Century grandeur with selected paintings and furniture from the Royal Collection. The painted decorations by William Kent have also been refurbished. The suite of rooms used by Queens Mary II, Anne and Victoria contain some of their personal effects and furniture. It is a bit surprising amid the 18th Century elegance to enter the suite of rooms done entirely in the Victorian style. The last room to be seen by visitors is the Cupola Room, the most splendid of the 1720's additions. Intended to be the main State Room, it is decorated with pilasters and gilded statues of Roman gods and emporers. In addition to the State Rooms, the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection is open to the public.
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