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Vanessa

London’s palaces, fit for a Queen!

Put on your airs and graces for this one – we’re looking at London’s palaces and taking a tour of the royal residences to give you a look into some of the most impressive historic London attractions. From central London, to the rural countryside, we've got five firm favourites where you can learn something about our British monarchy as well as enjoy a lovely day out - not to mention take those all important selfies. Hampton Court Palace Perhaps one of the most historic palaces of them all is Hampton Court Palace which lies just outside London. Famously Hampton Court Palace is the old residence of King Henry VIII who moved in in the 1520s and developed it into largely most of what we still see today. As Henry VIII was a character somewhat ‘larger’ than life, visitors can still see his impressive Tudor kitchens which fed over 600 people (twice a day!) as well as tour the vineyard and 60 acres of gardens and estate. Hampton Court Palace is one of the most impressive London palaces to visit with its sprawling red brick architecture and paintings and tapestries within. Don’t miss the stunning (and accurate!) replica crown which was made after the original was melted down at the Tower of London in 1649. Can you count the 344 rubies, sapphires, diamonds, emeralds.... Kensington Palace Considered a palace for the modern royal family, Kensington Palace has undergone much renovation and refurbishment over the past decades as it has been home to the late Princess Diana, and now, aptly her son Duke of Cambridge (aka, Prince William) and his wife Kate have moved in with their son George. Kensington Palace is open for visitors and contains a fascinating exhibition, Victoria Revealed, which looks at the life and childhood of Queen Victoria growing up in this beautiful palace in central London. Another not-to-miss exhibition is Fashion Rules, which explores the changing attire of influential royal women through the ages from HM the Queen, her sister Princess Margaret and Diana Princess of Wales. Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace really needs no introduction, it’s the palace of all palaces and one of the most iconic attractions in London. This gorgeous historic building dates back to the 17th century and has been the official seat of the royal monarchy since 1837. With Green Park as a front garden and St James Park at the back, its location is second to none and during the months its open (1st August – 27th September) the 19 lavishly decorated State Rooms are open to the public. Visitors can admire the tastes of George IV as they tour these stunning reception rooms used by the royals on special events. If you’re a London Pass holder and want to get behind the scenes and visit Buckingham Palace yourself, click here to buy tickets. Kew Palace Kew Palace in Kew Gardens, nicknamed the Dutch House thanks to its gables, is one of our favourite secret palaces, as not many visitors who come to London know about it. The Kew Palace we see today is actually the second palace to have been built there but is now the only surviving one, dating back to 1631. A new feature opening this year are the Kew Palace’s Royal Kitchens which until this year hadn’t been restored, or even touched, since Queen Charlotte’s death in 1818. Visitors can explore what our 19th century royals would have had to eat and take a step back in time through the Princesses bedrooms and Queen Charlotte’s rural cottage on the estate which was used for tea breaks when they would take a walk around the gardens. Eltham Palace Not your typical palace, Eltham Palace was built in the 1300s and was once home to Henry VIII as a boy. Eltham Palace passed down the monarchy over the years until the Civil War when it was used as a barn. Later it was bought by the millionaire Stephen Courtauld in the 1930s who converted it into the fine Art Deco house that we see today. The only one of its kind in the country, it’s a much loved palace reminiscent of the lavishness and decadence of the ‘30s. It’s great in the summer when you can take a picnic and stroll through the stunning grounds. You’ll be pushed to find another palace in London (or anywhere) with such a unique story.

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