Kensington Palace

The birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria, this elegant 17th-century palace lies in the heart of Kensington, surrounded by gardens and tucked away from the bustle of the high street.

The palace has recently reopened after a £12-million renovation project, and has been reorganised into a number of permanent exhibitions arranged as journeys through different centuries of royal life.

The first of these new routes focuses on the lives of William & Mary, who commissioned Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor to design the building. The second route relates to the later occupancy of George II, whose court was centred at the palace, while the third highlights Victoria and Albert's time there.

Queen Victoria was born and grew up in Kensington Palace. It was here that she first found out she was to be Queen, and where she met her future husband, Albert.

Later, in the 20th century, princesses Margaret and Diana both spent time living at the Palace and it is currently the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge, Prince Harry of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Permanent collections

A permanent display, Victoria Revealed, explores the life and reign of Queen Victoria in her own words. Extracts from her journals and correspondence are displayed alongside personal objects and artworks in the rooms where Victoria once lived.

The Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection has been housed at Kensington Palace since 1982, telling the social history of high society through fine fabrics, sumptuous dresses and wasp-waisted outfits.

Art Funded works

We helped the palace acquire two 'court mantuas' or 18th-century dresses designed for ladies attending court. They were both export-stopped due to their historical significance. One is made by Giacomo Herman and was bought for the Palace in 2006; the other is by an unknown British maker and was bought in 1995.

Visitor information

The merchandise on offer at the Kensington Palace shop reflects the generations of royal women that have influenced the development of the palace and includes exclusively designed china and exquisite lace accessories.

The Orangery Restaurant has a fine selection of teas and provides morning coffee, light lunches, afternoon tea and al fresco dining on the terrace. Cakes, pastries and a selection of wines and Historic Royal Palace beers are also on offer. Children are welcome and can take a special children's version of afternoon tea.

Art we've helped buy at Kensington Palace

Venue details

Kensington Palace Kensington Gardens London W8 4PX 0844 482 7788

Entry details

Free entry with National Art Pass (standard entry charge is £15.00)

1 Nov 2013 – 28 Feb 2014
Daily, 10am - 5pm
Last admission 4pm

Closed 24 - 26 Dec

1 Mar 2014 – 31 Oct 2014
Daily,10am - 6pm
Last admission 5pm

Share this article