Thursday, March 10, 2016

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace Entrance

I thoroughly enjoyed Kensington Palace. Just two days before I left Europe, I walked a 14 mile circle to there, then to Buckingham Palace, then back to where I was staying. I was surprised to find that there wasn't anything particularly palatial about the building, other than its size. And that opinion was reinforced when I finally made it to Buckingham Palace. That place is almost entirely composed of the wow factor.

Kensington Palace ExteriorKensington Palace, however, seemed to me like a really huge manor house. Still very attractive...
Gates...especially the decorative gates that were quite ornate.

It does hold a great deal of really interesting stuff. Enough so, that I may go back. Yet I don't think it quite lives up to the sign inside. I'm sure there are a great many secrets in the public lives of those who lived there. But very few of them are revealed to us, so the sign is a bit misleading.

Kensington Palace Bathroom SignI liked the bathroom sign a lot more, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has read some of the posts on this blog. Everyone is royal in the Kensington Palace Bathrooms.

Kensington Palace State BedroomI always like looking at decor, and there was certainly plenty of rooms to wander through. The usual State Bedroom...

Kensington Palace Small Dining Room
...a small dining room that underscored a fact hinted at by the exterior: this palace was, indeed, more of a home than just a public royal residence.

Kensington Palace GalleryThere was a long gallery, common to big houses of the era, where residents could get mild exercise
during inclement weather by walking up and down. In non-royal homes, these often doubled as ballrooms.

Kensington Palace King's Grand Staircase
The King's Grand Staircase was even slightly less imposing than in other palaces we've visited, though still quite fancy, of course.

Kensington Palace Throne RoomWhile the throne room was understated in the extreme. 

There is a fairly startling light display almost as soon as you are inside which, while quite nice to
look at, didn't suit my ideas of mixing modern decor with historic architecture.

Queen VictoriaQuite a few generations of royal lived here since William and Mary bought and extended a house in what was then a suburb of London. But my favorite rooms were from the era of Queen Victoria.  

Queen Victoria Daughter

She grew up here, and seemed to be a fairly hands-on mother when she started her own family, considering she became the Queen of England when she was still a teenager. I think my favorite room in the whole place is the nursery. There were paintings of her lovely children...

Kensington Palace gold cradle...antique cradles...

Kensington Palace Cradle
...which I've seemed to have developed a fondness for, there is an excellent one at the Carnavalet in Paris which belonged to the son of Napoleon III...

Kensington Palace Dollhouse
...some of their toys...

Queen Victoria Children's Clothes...and some of their adorable clothes.

Queen Victoria DressA few of her own outfits were on display, as well. And she seemed to have exquisite taste, as did
many of the women who lived here.

Kensington Palace Fashion Rules
There is an exhibit called Fashion Rules inside Kensington Palace, featuring the clothes of Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Princess Margaret, who was quite the fashion icon during the 60s, as well as Princess Diana. This is a must see for anyone visiting London who is interested in women's fashion. Very well done...

Kensington Palace sitting room...though I have to say that the rather Spartan sitting room outside the entrance struck a bit of a
discordant note with all of the glamour on display inside. The couch was certainly striking, but did not at all make up for the lack of other pleasing decor.

Kensington Palace Servants HallStill, after all of that, I was most excited by the most mundane areas of the Palace...the servants hall. There were restrooms at the front of this hall, and I was happy to see such  a cheerful ambiance.

Kensington Palace Housekeeper's DoorBut across from the restrooms was the Housekeeper's Door! I would hope that it was locked, I certainly didn't try it. But it seems to me that those glass panels are not as secure as I would expect.

Kensington Palace Kitchen Corridor DoorThe hall opposite this one had the door to the kitchen corridor...

Kensington Palace Palace Guards well as to the area reserved for the Palace Guards. Personally, I think it would be more secure to not even label these doors with where they lead to. 

I mean, it's not like the Queen didn't have her share of scares at Buckingham Palace. Didn't a guy get right up to her bedroom window or something? And Buckingham Palace is way more secure than this place. 

Kensington Palace Secret Servants Door
But no, just look at this. The Servants Secret Door, use only with permission. And it's OPEN! What, are we all on the honor system here? Not to mention that it's not a secret if you paint it in big letters right on the door, smdh.

Tempting though it was, because I am every bit as fascinated by the downstairs as the upstairs, I did not walk through and plan to tell anyone I might run into that I was lost. I like to think it was my staunch sense of right and wrong which kept me from succumbing to temptation, but also my plane back to the States was less than 48 hours away and I wasn't sure that I could talk my way out of a British jail that quickly for an offense inside a royal palace. 

But I would just like to note that we don't get to see nearly enough of the rooms inhabited by the people who keep these places running. While all of the gilt and grandeur is ravishing to behold, I don't feel they give you quite the full picture of what it was really like to live in these places that the behind the scenes environment would. And as much as I love looking at the breathtakingly expensive decor, I am most interested in how everyone actually co-existed within these vast structures. 

Still, as I said before, there is a lot of truly interesting things here. Well worth a visit, and I will almost certainly return. The question is when. Hoping to figure that out in another few weeks or so. Will keep you posted.

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