Tag Archives: kensington palace

things to do on valentines day in london

Things to do on Valentines Day in Westminster

I know that Paris is usually touted as being the city of ‘love’ and you are often encouraged to pop across the channel for Valentines day.    Now whilst I agree Paris is a marvellous city, and I do enjoy visiting, I think London has so much more to offer for an extraordinary Valentines Day.

love valentines day in london
L O V E – Valentine’s Day in London

WESTMINSTER:
The City of Westminster is a hot-house of romantic liasons and intrigue. If I had to list all the places with romantic links, I may as well write a book…..however to keep it brief here are a few of what I consider to be some of the most romantic places for Valentine’s Day:

KENSINGTON GARDENS:

THE ITALIAN GARDENS: probably one of the most gorgeous of all the features you can see in Kensington Gardens. Meander, hands linked as you listen to the melodious tinkling of water sprouting joyfully in the air from the magical fountains.

italian gardens in kensington gardens, valentines day in london
the Italian Gardens make a most romantic setting for Valentine lovers

See the engravings on the gardens walls of that most loved-up pair of Royals ever: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

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Queen Victoria – Italian Gardens
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Prince Albert – Italian Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KENSINGTON PALACE:

Kensington Palace is steeped in romance, with intrigue and secrets in every corner.   Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace and spent her childhood there under the watchful eye of her mother. It was Kensington Palace where she first set eyes on her beloved Prince Albert….one of the most enduring of romances of English history.  Why not spend a few hours roaming the corridors with your loved one!

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Queen Victoria at Kensington Palace

 

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The Round Pond at Kensington Palace – swans

Feed the swans at the ROUND POND near Kensington Palace.

As you probably know, swans mate for life, watch them as they set a good example of how to nudge and cuddle, necks entwined.

BOATING ON THE SERPENTINE: What could be more romantic that a row on the Serpentine? Although not suitable for this time of year, Boating on the Serpentine is open from Easter until October 31. So why not plan a romantic surprise for later in the year and make your own Valentines’s day; times are from 10:00 am until sundown which is around 4:00 pm in the winter and 8:00 pm in the summer. Check the website for details of boating in Hyde Park

boating on the serpentine in hyde park
make your own Valentine’s Day outing with a row on the Serpentine

DISCOVER ART WITH A HEART at The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

Want to impress an art lover?    The National Gallery holds some of the UK’s best-loved paintings.

the national art gallery london, valentines day
The National Gallery; an Art-Lovers paradise

“Make love, not War: Botticelli’s ‘Venus and Mars’ – Curator’s Talk”. Date and time Thursday 14 February, 1–1.45pm Sainsbury Wing Theatre. Admission free.  Join National Gallery curator Caroline Campbell in this lecture exploring Botticelli’s great painting of love, ‘Venus and Mars’.  Caroline will consider the painting’s possible meanings within the context of patrician marriage customs in late 15th-century Florence. Visit www.nationalgallery.org.uk or call 0207 747 2885. (information obtained from their website)

13/02/13 23:45 UPDATE: via @NationalGallery – “Unfortunately tomorrow’s lunchtime talk on Botticelli’s ‘Venus and Mars’ has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.”   But don’t despair, there is so much to see and so many beautiful paintings at the National Gallery that it is well worth a visit anyway.

horatio nelson trafalgar square, valentines day
Nelson’s Column at Trafalgar Square…he sure has the best view in London!!

NELSON’S COLUMN

While you are at Trafalgar Square you can see that most legendary of lovers; Horatio Nelson – included amongst more than a 1,000 unpublished letters were private love notes to his mistress, Emma Hamilton – His relationship with Emma, Lady Hamilton was a very infamous one when he was alive.

the eleanor cross at charing cross, valentines day
the beautiful Eleanor cross at Charing Cross Station

Before you leave the area, take a stroll over to Charing Cross Station where you can see the ‘Eleanor Cross’ in the forecourt.

This is one of 12 originally wooden crosses that were erected by King Edward I between 1291 and 1294 in memory of his wife Eleanor of Castile, marking the nightly resting-places along the route taken when her body was transported to London…..

What could be more romantic than your true love building a monument to mark the spot where you once lay?

The Eleanor crosses were a series of twelve originally wooden, but later lavishly decorated stone monuments of which three survive intact.

 

 

ROBERT BURNS:

statue of robert burns scotlands world famous poet at vcitoria embankment gardens
the statue of Robert Burns in Victoria Embankment Gardens, London

 

After your visit to The National Art Gallery and Charing Cross, take a stroll to Victoria Embankment Gardens where you can see a statue of Robert Burns, one of the most romantic of poets.

Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) also known as Robbie Burns or Rabbie Burns, Scotland’s favourite son, the Ploughman Poet, Robden of Solway Firth, the Bard of Ayrshire and in Scotland as The Bard.

A Scottish poet and lyricist, he is widely regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement and is celebrated worldwide.

Although not strictly a Londoner, his statue resides in Victoria Embankment Gardens. At this time of the year the park will be filled with the heavenly scents of the first blooms of spring; delicate snowdrops and the the sunny faces of daffodils – just what you need to brighten a cold spring day!

 

 

From here take a ride on the iconic #15 Bus from Trafalgar Square to the Tower of London where many a tale of love abounds within the walls of this superlative Palace.

iconic routemaster bus in london
the iconic Routemaster – #15

 

Click here for Things to do in the City of London on Valentines Day.

If you have enjoyed this post please retweet it. If you have any further suggestions for things to do on Valentines Day please do leave me a comment :) I look forward to hearing from you!

Queen Victoria in London

Just a few days ago; January 22, marked the anniversary in 1901 of Queen Victoria’s death aged 81.

Queen_Victoria_by_Bassano 1882
Queen Victoria by Bassano 1882 (photo from wikipedia)

I have met Queen Victoria at various places during my many #walkabouts in London and of course in Windsor too.
When just eighteen years old, Victoria inherited the throne after her father’s three elder brothers had all died leaving no legitimate, surviving children.  Victoria became Queen and remained on the throne for sixty-three years. Her reign of 63 years, 7 months and two days, known as the Victorian era, is longer than that of any other British monarch and the longest of any female monarch in history.

princess victoria and her mother - via website Historic royal palaces
the Princess Victoria and her mother - photo via Historic Royal palaces

Born Alexandrina Victoria on 24 May 1819 and brought up in Kensington Palace, Victoria had a lonely childhood and it wasn’t until she met her husband, Prince Albert, that Kensington began to hold happy memories.

Kensington Palace:

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statue of Queen Victoria outside Kensington Palace

They married on 10 February 1840, in the Chapel Royal of St. James’s Palace, London.

St James’s Palace:

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St James's Palace where Victoria and Albert married

Victoria was besotted. She spent the evening after their wedding lying down with a headache, but wrote ecstatically in her diary:I NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening!!! MY DEAREST DEAREST DEAR Albert.

Victoria's marriage to Albert - painting by George Hayter
Victoria's marriage to Albert - painting by George Hayter

After Albert’s death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning and avoided public appearances.

albert memorial kensington gardens
the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens

Queen Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death; a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, marked by a great expansion of the British Empire.  From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India.

Buckingham Palace:

queen victoria at buckingham palace
statue of Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace

23 September 1896, Victoria surpassed her grandfather George III as the longest-reigning monarch in English, Scottish, and British history; the last monarch of Britain from the House of Hanover.
Blackfriar’s Bridge:

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P1010112 Queen Victoria opening Blackfrair's New Bridge 13th November 1869
queen victoria on blackfriars bridge
at Blackfriar's Bridge - Queen Victoria wears a hat - Hatwalk was commissioned as part of the London 2012 Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Victoria died at 6.30pm in Osborne House on the Isle of Wight where she spent the last few weeks of her life.

osborne house isle of wight photo english heritage
Osborne House on Isle of Wight where Queen Victoria died in 1901 - photo English Heritage

St Paul’s Cathedral where Queen Victoria’s coach stopped during her Diamond Jubilee,

st pauls cathedral queen victoria
St Paul's Cathedral - City of London

although she was not well enough by then to leave the coach there is an engraving in the forecourt to mark the spot where her carriage stood.

queen victoria diamond jubilee st pauls cathedral
The engraving on the forecourt of St Paul's Cathedral

And of course we have the wonderful Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington, a fitting memorial to a great Queen.

victoria and albert museum
The wonderful Victoria and Albert Museum, aka V&A in South Kensington

If you have enjoyed this blog you are welcome to retweet it. Thanks for dropping by and enjoy your day.

Kensington Palace #LondonPalaces

KENSINGTON PALACE – once home to Diana, Princess of Wales, and now home to her eldest son William and his wife Catherine; Duke & Duchess of Cambridge.

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a glimpse of Kensington Palace through the trees in Kensington Gardens

Be prepared to be enchanted.   Kensington Palace; a royal residence set in Kensington Gardens, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, started as a residence of the British Royal Family in the 17th century.  Your first glimpse of the palace is through the trees of the marvellous gardens and if you approach via the Albert Memorial and the Round Pond….you are in for a treat – the view is fabulous.

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The Round Pond in Kensington Gardens - a splendid first view of the palace

I recently visited the palace, my 3rd such visit but the first since they revamped the place.  Of course my first visit was to see the tributes to Diana that remained on the gates and fence of the palace after her premature death in 1997.  It is a truly poignant area and even after all these years people still leave their tributes on the anniversary.  Today of course her lovely son William and his delightful wife Catherine live there, as well as which her younger son Harry sometimes stays there too.  I could not think of a more fitting tribute to Diana than her sons.

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Princess Diana remembered

The main story of Kensington Palace starts with Queen Victoria; her childhood home and the place where she grew up, the place where she first heard that she would be Queen.  The exhibition and the apartments, although minimalist is a good depiction of what the palace would have been like in her day.  Walking along the corridors she may have walked along is a surreal experience and I fancy I can hear her laughter.  This is one aspect of the palaces in this city that fascinates me the most, walking in the footsteps of the Kings and Queens and many famous people who walked there in the past.

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Victoria Revealed

The full story of the palace begins with a Jacobean mansion that grew into a palace: in the summer of 1689 William and Mary purchased Nottingham House, a Jacobean mansion built about 1605.  It stood in Kensington, a village that ‘esteem’d a very good Air’….I am not entirely sure if they thought the air was good or the area :)  Only one of those would be true today!

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the view of a Princess - esteem'd a very good air

When William III (1689-1702) and Mary II (1689-94) came to the throne, the sovereign’s principal London residence was Whitehall Palace.  William instructed Sir Christopher Wren, Surveyor of the King’s Works from 1669 to 1718, to improve the Jacobean house.   George I (1714-27) rebuilt Nottingham House and spent lavishly on decoration, employing the little-known William Kent.  During the reigns of George I and George II, Kensington housed many of the finest paintings in the royal collection – ‘much the best…of any of the royal palaces’ one visitor wrote in 1738.   An archway surmounted by a clock tower, still survives.

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staircase leading to the King's apartment - walls and ceiling painted by William Kent

Princess Victoria; the future queen is born at Kensington; her mother’s palace alterations upset William IV.   On 12 January 1898 and 3 years before her death, The Times reported the Queen’s declaration that: ‘while she lived, the palace in which she was born should not be destroyed’.  Fortunately the palace has in fact lasted a lot longer than that!

The State Apartments were opened to the public on Queen Victoria’s 80th birthday, 24 May 1899.   Today, the State Rooms are open to the public and managed by the independent charity Historic Royal Palaces; a nonprofit organisation that does not receive public funds.  Well worth a visit to see the Royal Rooms; outstanding and fascinating.

3 days in london, kensington palace, victoria revealed, things to do 3 days in london, places to visit in london
It's still standing - Kensington Palace re-opened after a revamp for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee

The Gardens are well worth exploring too and you are spoilt for choice with wonderful sculptures, the Albert Memorial, Italian Gardens, Peter Pan Statue and much more.    Kensington Palace is used on an unofficial basis by Prince Harry, as well as his cousin Zara Phillips.  Also home the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, whilst the Duke and Duchess of Kent reside at Wren House.

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The Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens - a tribute to Queen Victoria's beloved Bertie

HOW TO GET THERE: The nearest tubes are in Queensway (Central Line), Bayswater & High Street Kensington (District & Circle Lines), or (slightly further) Gloucester Road (Piccadilly & District & Circle Lines).

There are a number of buses that service the palace along various routes and your best bet would be to complete a journey planner that you can find on this website.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please do leave a comment and retweet to your followers.  I would like to invite you to join the growing community on facebook and post any of your favourite photos on the page.

If you only have 3 days in London, we wish you a wonderful stay and look forward to your next visit.

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the staircase leading to Victoria's apartments
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London in the 1890's - the sounds of horse and carriage is evocative
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as the old King sails away; a new King & Queen arrive
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an exhibit in the palace
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Queen Anne's 18 little hopes
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this is rumoured to be the bed in which Mary of Modena gave birth to the heir of James II
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from Princess to Queen; Victoria revealed
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The King's State Apartments - these apartments were created for George I & George II in the 18th century
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the staircase leading to the King's Apartments
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Presence Chamber - lowly petitioners to the King made their requests here in front of the throne

one photo tour of London – Queen Victoria

On a recent visit to Kensington Palace and Gardens I saw this lovely image; Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace and spent her childhood there and it was at Kensington Palace where she was informed of the death of her uncle King William IV in 1837 and became Queen.  Kensington Palace was also the place where she first set eyes on her beloved Prince Albert.

Queen Victoria at Kensington Palace

It was Queen Victoria who first opened Kensington Palace, her childhood home, to the public in 1899.

Easter – things to do in London

There is nothing we love more than an event in London. There is always something happening and you are sometimes spoilt for choice. Easter is no exception!   There are a great number of things to do in London over Easter.things to do in london over easter

So if you were wondering what to do at Easter in London, to make it a wee bit easier for you, I have selected a few; all different, at a wide variety of venues so that you don’t have to ‘put all your eggs in one basket’ :) Some of the venues have an entrance fee, others are FREE.  Check the links I have provided to get the full costs.

Along with the link to the specific event/website, I have given a brief history of the venue. Hope you find womething that is of interest to you. If you do attend any of these events I would love to feature your photos on our facebook page.

Bank of England Museum: put all your eggs in one basket April 18-21 10am-4.30pm Easter Egg Trial; find hidden eggs http://ht.ly/4BJtD
The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom. Sometimes known as the ‘Old Lady’ of Threadneedle Street, the Bank was founded in 1694, nationalised on 1 March 1946, and gained independence in 1997. Standing at the centre of the UK’s financial system, the Bank is committed to promoting and maintaining monetary and financial stability as its contribution to a healthy economy.

Nearest tube station: Bank – Northern Line

bank of england museum, things to do in london over easter, threadneedle street london
Threadneedle Street, Bank, London

Kensington Palacehttp://www.hrp.org.uk/kensingtonpalace/KensingtonPalaceActivitiesforfamilies.aspx
Easter holiday activities The Secret Garden 9 – 21 April 2011 11.00 – 16.00 in the Gallery of War and Play
In the summer of 1689 William and Mary purchased Nottingham House, a Jacobean mansion built about 1605. It stood in Kensington, a village that ‘esteem’d a very good Air’. The royal court took up residence at Kensington House, as it was known, shortly before Christmas 1689.

Nearest tube station: High Street Kensington – Circle & District Lines

kensington palace, things to do in london over easter
Kensington Palace, Kensington, London

what’s on at Easter April 9 -24. HMS Belfast ‘Waving Not Drowning: Signalling & Signals workshops. £. http://ht.ly/4BJc2
When the Imperial War Museum was founded in 1917, one of its functions was to be a memorial to those who had died and suffered in the First World War. HMS Belfast is one of their venues.

Nearest tube station: London Bridge – Northern line

hms belfast, things to do in london over easter
HMS Belfast, Southwark, London

Handel House Museum – live music & easter trail. Handel House Harpsichord is being performed April 24 all afternoon. £6 http://ht.ly/4BJLD
Handel moved into what is now 25 Brook Street in the summer of 1723. As far as is known, this is the first London house he occupied in his own right. His career seemed secure and at the age of thirty-eight, perhaps he felt it was time to have his own space. He lived at the Brook Street house for 36 years and, in 1759, died there.

Nearest tube station – Bond Street – Central and Jubillee Lines

Easter at Shakespeares Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1. Until Tue Apr 26 http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/theatre

The Globe Theatre is a faithful reconstruction of the open-air playhouse, first built in 1599, where Shakespeare worked and for which he wrote many of his greatest plays.

Nearest tube station: St Pauls (I suggest this so that you can approach the venue via the Millenium Bridge which offers great views of the river and city) 

shakespeares glbe theatre, whats on at shakespeares globe theatre, whats on in london over easter
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, near Tate Modern, London

The Clink – Easter Vermin Hunt April 11-25 10am-6pm. No rats, but theres a chocolate egg for the winner. http://ht.ly/4BJSq on
‘The Clink’ the prison that gave its name to all others, dates back to 1144 making it one of Englands oldest, if not the oldest Prison.

Nearest tube station: London Bridge – Northern Line

the clink prison museum, the clink, things to do in london over easter
The Clink Prison Museum

Finsbury Park Easter Funfair Returns – 16th April to 2nd May 2011 - http://ht.ly/4BKzb    Finsbury Park is a 112-acre oasis in the middle of a hectic patch of north London, with the buzzing traffic of Seven Sisters Road on one side and the chatter of Green Lanes on the other. It’s a prime example of what a London park should be.

Nearest tube station: as the park is so enormous, there are a number of tube station accesses. The one I know is Finsbury park on the Piccadilly & Victoria Lines. I suggest you do a TFL journey planner from whereever you are based to get the one best suited for you.

Lots to do and see, and these venues will take you to different parts of our fair city.  If you only have 3 days in London, you may not be able to see it all, but you can always come back, we would love to see you! have a fab time and Happy Easter.

pic of the egg in the busby compliment of Eurostar.com