- Cultural & historical sites
What you'll do
Kensington Palace has been shaped by generations of royal women from Queen Mary to Victoria and, more recently Diana, Princess of Wales
Enjoy access to Kensington Palace with The London Pass®
- Explore the birthplace of Queen Victoria and home to young royals for over 300 years.
- Walk in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, in her reimagined childhood rooms.
- Discover the splendour of the King’s State Apartments and the Sunken Gardens.
- 10% discount in the Palace Cafe.
As one of central London’s royal residences, Kensington Palace has been a home and refuge to the royal family since the 17th century. Now, it is the official residence of the Prince and Princess of Wales. Built in 1605, it has roots in Jacobean architecture and was first known as Nottingham House. William III and Mary II were crowned jointly in 1689, and were instrumental in transforming Nottingham House into Kensington Palaces.
When Queen Mary died from smallpox in 1694, William was overcome with grief. Despite this he finished the building with a grand gallery at the south of the Palace, enlarging Sir Christopher Wren’s original plan. Now it is one of London’s most exquisite palaces and comes with acres of manicured gardens and the world-famous Orangery.
Kensington Palace history
Home to the British Royal Family since the 17th century, Kensington Palace was once an unassuming villa known as Nottingham House. The Stuart and Georgian monarchs who lived there, however, transformed Nottingham House into the Kensington Palace visitors can enjoy today. The newly-crowned monarchs William III and Mary II (1689-1702) first sought out Kensington as a much-needed retreat from the smoke and damp of the city; their first home was Whitehall Palace, in the heart of London. In 1689, the King and Queen commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to draw up the plans for transforming Nottingham House into Kensington Palace. Queen Mary project managed the renewal of the building herself.
While the Palace was in progress, the royals spurred on an era of magnificent balls, showcasing their new ornate rooms, opulent staircases and impressive halls. Once or twice a week, the King and Queen also held Drawing Rooms, which became the focal point of court life. In all their finery, the King and Queen would meet and mingle with ambassadors and foreign princes. However, when Queen Mary died from smallpox in 1694, William ceased these decadent evenings in favour of more sedate concerts and gatherings. Despite his grief, William finished the building with a grand gallery at the south of the Palace, enlarging Sir Christopher Wren’s original plan.
Kensington Palace highlights
- 16th century painted King’s Staircase depicting frescoes of the court of King George I.
- The glorious Kings Gallery hung with exquisite paintings from The Royal Collection.
- Queen Mary’s State Apartments preserved over time.
- The sunken garden, planted each spring and summer with a kaleidoscope of colourful flowers.
Kensington Palace facts
- The second-oldest reigning monarch (of 63 years), Queen Victoria, was born here and spent her childhood in the palace.
- The gallery, originally hung with green velvet, served as a clandestine place to meet. William would meet his spies and plan his military campaigns here.
- A 1697 inventory documented that Mary II owned over 800 items of Chinese Porcelain.
- To celebrate the arrival of the German King George I at Kensington he ordered a bonfire, six barrels of strong beer and over 300 bottles of wine.
- Composer Handel was invited to the palace to perform for King George II, who was such a fan that he gave Handel British citizenship (originally he was from Germany, like the King himself).
- A book of original Leonardo da Vinci drawings was miraculously found in the palace in 1778 and sent to Windsor Castle.
- Princess Louise allowed injured soldiers hurt in the Great War to rest and recover in her private apartments in 1914.
The Swan Lake at Kensington Garden
A popular London attraction is the Swan Lake at Kensington Gardens. It's like a scene straight out of a fairy tale. You'll find elegant swans gracefully cruising on the water, while ducks waddle around near the banks. If you're lucky, you might even catch a swan stretching its wings in the sunlight which make for quite the photo opportunity. A lot of visitors simply sit on a bench and watch the world go by. Very peaceful.
The Peter Pan Statue
If you've ever been a fan of Peter Pan, you can't miss the statue dedicated to him in Kensington Garden. It can be found near the Long Water, this bronze statue is a fun surprise among the trees and pathways. Kids and adults alike love it. Some people even hang little trinkets or notes on it, making it feel like a community treasure chest of sorts.
What to Expect with Kensington Palace Tickets
With The London Pass®, there's no shortage of things to do and see in the beautiful Kensington area of London. You can't miss the Kensington Palace, located in the heart of Kensington Gardens. This historic palace was the childhood home of Queen Victoria and is now the official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. With Kensington Palace tickets included in your London Pass®, you can explore the grand State Rooms, wander through the well-kept gardens, and even visit the exhibit dedicated to Queen Victoria herself. With so much to see and do at Kensington Palace and across the city, The London Pass is the perfect way to make the most of your trip to London.
Know before you go
Pass customers do not need to book Kensington Palace tickets in advance but please be aware that at busy times, you may be asked to wait for the next available time slot. Please simply show your pass at the admissions desk in the ticket office where it will be validated.
Where you'll be
Kensington Palace Gardens, London, GB
From 13 December 2023
Wednesday - Sunday: 10AM - 4PM (last entry 3PM)
Closings & holidays
Mondays and Tuesdays
24, 25 & 26 December annually.
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