A Guide To London's Royal Palaces
London’s rich history is scattered all around our wonderful city, with our iconic landmarks and royal traditions making London one of the most interesting places in the world to visit. Strolling round our Royal Palaces, you are quite literally walking in the footsteps of royalty; Henry VIII married Catherine Parr at Hampton Court Palace, the not-so-lucky Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard were beheaded at the Tower of London, and Queen Victoria first clapped eyes on future husband Prince Albert at Kensington Palace. So why stick to Netflix versions of events when you can wander through these hallowed halls in person? Read on for more!
Tower of London
[Image Credit: Yesterday Channel]
The Tower of London is one of the capital’s most iconic landmarks, despite being shrouded amongst the towering skyscrapers of the City. Of course, it’s heaving with people, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a visit. Built in the 1190s, this fortress is truly a slice of British history at its very finest. Within its walls you can view the crown jewels (go early to beat the crowds), the historic armour of Henry VIII, horrifying torture instruments and ancient arsenals. The staff are super friendly and knowledgeable, and you can even chat with a Beefeater, what more do you want?!
Hampton Court Palace
[Image Credit: Days Out Guide]
This majestic palace, where Henry VIII’s lived in the 1500’s, followed by King William III in the following century, is worth every bit of time spent here! Exploring Henry VIII’s magnificent state apartments, the vast Tudor kitchens, William III’s apartments, and wandering around the stunning gardens are just a few things to do during your time here.
Don’t forget to bring your ghost detector, because it’s said that at least two of Henry’s VIII’s wives haunt the palace!
The ghost of Catherine Howard, whom was executed at Tower of London following being accused of adultery, is said to frequently appear in what is now called the ‘Haunted Gallery’ in the palace. Some visitors have reported feeling a chill in the air, strange sensations, and some have even fainted (in the exact same spot each time) when passing through the corridor! Eeeek. (Who you gonna call….?)
A little less creepy, but equally as thrilling for art enthusiasts – the palace houses hundreds of artworks from the Royal Collection, some of which are even displayed in their original locations!
During the era that the palace was used as a royal residence from the early 1500s until the 1730s, great royal art collectors King Charles I and Frederick, Prince of Wales assembled one of the biggest and finest art collections in the world. So be sure to head to the Cumberland Art Gallery, which houses a consistently changing array of artwork, reflecting Hampton Court Palace’s long history of being a place for art lovers to go and admire great artwork.
As Hampton Court Palace site puts it, ‘you can expect to find a masterpiece at every turn!’ (and maybe a ghost or two if you’re lucky!)
[Photo Credit: Get Your Guide]
Kensington Palace may not have the same grandeur as Hampton Court, or is as steeped in blood as the Tower of London, what it lacks in gore it makes up for in its sheer beauty. Being a working palace, half of the building is divided into apartments for your royal family, but the other is open to the public as an attraction. The grounds are manicured to perfection, hiding the elegant Orangery, which has hosted numerous banquets for the last 300 years. You can now pop by for a spot of lunch or afternoon tea, and dine like a real royal.
Family in tow? There are excellent digital garden trails to follow using an app (as well as offline ones) and special child-friendly activities set up in the school holidays. For those still in search of something a little darker, Kensington Palace is said to be haunted by multiple ghosts, including King George II and a child found in a wood by George I known as ‘Peter the Wild Boy’. The apartments belonging to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are supposedly one of the most haunted rooms of the entire palace – I hope Will and Kate aren’t scared of the dark!
[Photo Credit: Pricket and Ellis]
Surely the iconic face of Buckingham Palace is the most recognisable home in our nation's capital (maybe even in the whole of England?). However, it is a relatively new addition to the royal portfolio, in 1633 it was home to Lord Goring who has forced to hand it over to King George III (known as the mad king...) because of a contractual loop hole!
A lucky turn of events for the Windsors, as Buckingham Palace has become the principle hub for the Monarchy, and meetings with diplomats and other heads of state take place here every day, as well as ceremonial events, and of course it is home sweet home for Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh -- talk about taking your work home with you!
The palace is usually closed to the public over the winter, however this year members of the public will have the chance to take a tour of magnificent State Rooms of Buckingham Palaces, from 15 Dec 2017 – 4 Feb 2018.
Your expert tour will take you through the rooms, where you’ll be dazzled by gilded ceilings, glittering chandeliers, stunning famous artworks from the Royal Collection, and the glass of champagne that’s included in the ticket price - don’t mind if we do!
[Photo Credit: Mail Experiences]
Want to visit the Queen -head out to her weekend residence, Windsor Castle. The largest inhabited castle in the world, it has been home to many a famous monarchs over the years and was even secretly occupied by the royal family in WWII. With the splendid State Apartments, St George’s Chapel, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House and the change of the guards (at 11am every day from April-July) you will never be short of something interesting to see here!
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