MAY 11,2013 - MAY 11,2013 (1 DAYS)
Start: Kensington High Street Tube Station.
End: Lancaster Gate Tube Station.
Note: Parts of this short itinerary are covered in the "Knightsbridge, Kensington and Hyde Park" 1 day trip.
On Sundays the gardens are busy with lots of visitors but this fact doesn't not spoil the ambience and beauty of the gardens.
Duration: One leisurely day.
Weather: Ideal itinerary for a sunny day. Spare one-three "rainy" hours for the primary section of Kensington Palace. You can stay, during pours of rain, also in the Serpentine and the Serpentine Sackler Galleries. The Palace is very expensive. The two galleries are free.
From Kensington High Street Tube Station head northeast on Kensington High St. toward Derry St. At the intersection with Kensington Church Street - have a glance at the St. Mary Abbots Church. The church has the tallest spire in London. The present church was built in 1872 by the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. Friday lunchtime concerts given by students of the Royal College of Music every Friday during term time. All concerts starting at 13.05, tea and coffee on sale, you may bring sandwiches:
After 500 m.turn left at Victoria Rd and enter the Kensington Gardens. Kensington Gardens open during the hours of daylight. Kensington gardens is a vast green space & a great place to get some tranquility away from the City. You can take an extensive walk around the gardens in case it is your very first day in these gardens: the ornate and magnificent Italian Gardens with their beautiful water features and the outstanding statues and large stone urns, the large boating pond adjacent to Kensington Palace, the Peter Pan statue, the Serpentine Lake, the Serpentine Gallery, the Albert Memorial and eventually the Princess Diana Memorial playground. Great way to get some fresh air and walk off the jet lag. Most of the year the gardens are in burst of colors and flowers are in full bloom.
These beautiful gardens prove to be a truly memorable experience and we would thoroughly recommend all tourist visitors to London to find a few SUNNY hours to enjoy the beauty of these gardens. A great escape from the hub and noise of the city. Great to wander round or just sit and enjoy.
Turn right onto The Flower Walk. After 150 m. turn left, after 300 m. turn left. A bit later you see the The Albert Memorial. Albert in gold sits under a grandiose canopy. It is very magnificent and impressive with the surrounding statues: Europe, Africa, Asia and America and further four groups depicting Victorian industrial arts and sciences. The central part of the memorial is surrounded by the elaborate sculptural Frieze of Parnassus (see my blog on the British Museum). On a sunny day the gold positively shimmers. The monument was commissioned by Queen Victoria in the memory of her beloved husband, Prince Albert who died due to typhoid in 1861. It has a great symmetry and imposing design. The base includes a bas-relief of scores of famous men from throughout European history, an attraction in itself. The memorial was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and opened in year 1872 by Queen Victoria. It took ten years to complete and the cost of building it was met by public subscription of the Great Exhibition of London in year 1851 !
Opposite the Kensington Road (to the south) you see the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal College of Art. Open for: events, exhibitions and tours only. This is a one-hour tour covering all Front of House areas including the stunning auditorium, the Gallery and the Queen's private suites, the Royal Retiring Room. All tours are conducted in English. Each tour is subject to availability and limited to 20 people. Groups of 15 or more may book a private group tour. Booking in advance is strongly recommended. Tours are not recommended for children under 7 but they are welcome to attend. Grand Tour dates are generally made available 3 months in advance. Please check back later if you wish to book a tour after that time period. Adult: 12.25 GBP, Concessions: 10.25 GBP, child: 5.25 GBP. The Great Exhibition of London in 1851 made a massive (for those days) profit. Prince Albert was going to use the money to fund his dream of building a conclave to the Arts and Sciences along Exhibition Road. His dream was realized, but he died before it could be initiated. Part of this dream was to be a grand concert hall - which we know as the Royal Albert Hall today. The Albert Hall’s six restaurants are open only two hours before every concert. A guided tour of the Albert hall is a wonderful learning experience. The whole event takes about an hour and gives a thorough history of the building along with the historical links with Prince Albert. Attending an event in the RAH would be, certainly, once-in-life event:
From the Albert Memorial it is 800 m. (10 minutes) walk to the Kensington Palace. Head north toward The Flower Walk. Turn left. Walk 150 m.
Turn right and Kensington Palace is on the right. Opening times (summer/winter): Daily 10.00-18.00/17.00. Shop and Orangery 10.00-18.00/17.00. Last admission 17.00/16.00. Cafes at the KP: The Orangery (pop in if you have the time - very good food) and the Palace Cafe. Admission Rate: 16.50 GBP. Very pricey. If you use a Travelcard allow a 2 for 1 deal on the entrance fee. There is a cloakroom with lockers where you can leave bags and outside coats, so they don't have to be carried around with you. £1 returnable deposit. Note: you are allowed to take photos without flash, but this is not clearly stated at the entrance.
Top things to see: The King's State Apartments, The Queen’s State Apartments, Current exhibition (The exhibition of the life and times of Victoria), Luminous Lace: an amazing light piece at the centre of the palace, The Red Saloon, Victoria Revealed: the life and reign of one of the palace's most famous residents - Queen Victoria, The Gardens: Don’t miss the dramatic East front where Queen Victoria, is seated looking out over the park.
Allow 2-3 hours for the interior and 1 hour for the exterior. You can spend virtually a full day here. On the plus side you get great views of the park:
The displays of some rooms are dark and it is difficult to read the displays and the text on the cabinets. There are no audio guides offered, however, the palace is filled with guides that you can freely ask:
The king's Apartments are pretty luxurious and nice to watch:
Esther and Ahasuerus:
Queen State Apartments:
The palace itself has wonderful green pathways leading up the the front gates, and wonderful gardens which are great for pictures. Kensington Palace is especially beautiful with the sun setting behind it.
King William II - Kensington Palace:
Main Entrance to the palace:
There are 4 parts of this palace to visit and you may start in any order but you always end up back where you originated to connect to another part of the palace. Allow yourself at least 2-3 hours to go through everything before leaving through the Gift Shop.
Temporary Exhibition in the Palace - the life and times of Victoria. The exhibition includes authentic clothing, personal writings, etc. It is a great insight into a mighty monarch. You can see almost the life of queen Victoria from when she was very young till a very later stage in her life:
Queen Victoria Coronation:
Young Queen Victoria:
Old Queen Victoria:
1851 London Great Exhibition:
Queen Victoria and her 4 daughters:
"Fashion Rules"- temporary displays of dresses worn by Queen Elizabeth II during 1950s-60's, Queen Elizabeth II's sister, Margaret 1970's, and Princess Diana's 1980's:
Prince William and Kate Middleton:
Previously the Palace was hidden away in the trees behind railings now it is fully visible and with free access from the Kensington Gardens Park.
The park, the palace's facade, the orangery and the gardens are lovely. Modest but beautiful. The pond nearby is full of ducks, swans and other birds and you can sit down in the palace cafe and enjoy a view of the gardens. The restaurant at the Orangery is lovely as well. Prices for food are high (£4.50-5.00 for a muffin and a cup of tea!). The grounds are free.
Kensington Palace - Orangery Beds:
600-650 m. NORTH to the Kensington Palace, in the north-west edge of Kensington Gardens - you find the Diana Memorial Playground. Tucked away in Kensington Gardens, this wonderful playground offers a whole new experience in terms of fantasy and playfulness. A wonderful place for children in central London, There are lots of different areas, from the Pirate Ship with a lot of sand for them to play to the water play area and the musical section. A great Memorial to her being used everyday by children in the middle of London. This playground has been made where she would have spent hours walking in her days gone by.
It may be quite busy in warm and sunny Sundays:
Princess Diana Memorial Playground - "The Time Flies":
Head south from Diana Memorial Playground. Turn left toward Broad Walk and immediately right onto Broad Walk.
Turn left, turn left, the Round Pond is on your right,
turn a bit right and turn left - to arrive after 700 m. to the Serpentine Gallery in the eastern side of the Kensington Gardens. Open 10.00 - 18.00, Tuesday - Sunday. Only for lovers of Modern Art. The Gallery is "covered" under my blog on Knightsbridge and Kensington areas. It always has unique art displays, free admission, and is not crowded. The gallery itself isn't anything special although the temporary exhibits frequently are. Taking photos is not allowed inside:
The glass & steel Pavillion by Sou Fujimoto is the key attraction in this gallery:
From the Serpentine gallery walk north-east and cross the Long Water (W Carriage Dr)
towards the Serpentine Sackler Gallery (designed by Zaha Hadid). Opened November 2013. The Magazine building,, a 200-year-old former gunpowder store, has been transformed into a marvellous gallery:
Walk back to the Serpentine Gallery direction. Cross the Long Water bridge (the Serpentine Lido seen on your left)
and, immediately, turn rifht. After 400-500 m. walk you arrive to the Peter Pan statue. The world of the imagination and the appeal of Kensington Gardens for children is further enhanced by a popular bronze statue of Peter Pan, a gift from J.M. Barrie to the children of London. Located next to the Long Water between the Serpentine Bridge and the Italian Gardens the statue was mysteriously installed in 1912 by Barrie himself:
Continue to walk northward. Three minutes later you arrive to the Italian Gardens on the north edge of Kensington Gardens (opposite Lancaster Gate Tube Station). The Italian Gardens are believed to be a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria. Albert, a keen gardener, designed similar gardens at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight where the Royal family vacationed. Many of those features, including raised terraces, fountains, decorative urns and geometric flower beds, were replicated in the Italian Gardens, attributed to James Pennethorne and completed in 1860: