Heritage Building Profile – Kensington Palace

Heritage Building Profile – Kensington Palace

With the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle having taken place in mid-May of this year, it has captivated the nation’s imagination as you would expect from a Royal marriage. Prince Harry has been resident at Kensington Palace for many years and the couple will be moving into Nottingham Cottage, a two-bedroom property positioned on the estate.

The history of Kensington Palace stretches back over 300 years and has welcomed many of the Kings and Queens that have ruled the UK during that time. In this article we are going to run through a few fascinating facts about the building itself to give you a closer look at its history and make up.

How it all started

Kensington Palace was originally an earl’s two-storey Jacobean countryside mansion before it was slowly transformed into a royal apartment complex in the mid-to-late 1700s. William III and Mary II purchased the property, then known as Nottingham House, before Sir Christopher Wren was tasked with enlarging the structure.

Jacobean style architecture followed on from the Elizabethan style and is named after King James I who reigned in England from 1603 to 1625. It is heavily influenced by German and Flemish architecture and is characterised by it use of columns, round-arch arcades and pilasters.

Window frames

Timber sash and casement windows can be found all around Kensington Palace, a style that became popular in the borough during the 17th century. These type of frames focus on their vertical dimensions with a number of smaller panes, glazing bars and a more complex glazing pattern than seen in timber windows during the later Victorian era.

It is a style that has helped to characterise the beautiful architecture of period homes throughout Kensington. There has been a gradual evolution over time towards larger panes but the original designs can still be found scattered throughout the residential streets today.

The Palace Gardens

The gardens of Kensington Palace are held in high esteem and it was George II’s wife, Queen Caroline, who created the grounds in 1728 as we see them today. The gardens include the beautiful Serpentine as well as the Long Water from the Westbourne stream. Although the gardens are open to the public, this was not the case throughout the 18th century.

Popular features in the grounds include the bronze statue of Peter Pan and The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground. Opened in 2000, a 7-mile Memorial Walk stretches into nearby Hyde Park, St James’ Park and Green Park.

Previous and current occupants

While Meghan Markle may be the newest royal family member to set up home in Kensington Palace, the list of those who have lived there is quite remarkable. As we mentioned above, William III and Mary II were the first to move in and it was also home to Queen Victoria during her childhood. The last reigning monarch to live under its grand roof was King George II in the mid-18th century.

The Princess of Wales lived there for some time and currently Prince William, Kate Middleton and their children are residents, along with The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester in Apartment 1, The Duke and Duchess of Kent in Wren House and the Prince and Princess of Kent in Apartment 10.

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