London has many landmarks and monuments, but some of the most iconic ones are the royal residences which are dotted around the capital. Although they are not all currently resided in by a member of the royal family, they were all built by and for, royalty. Here are some of our Royal Residence picks!
1.Buckingham Palace (City of Westminster)
Often the centre of state occasions, Buckingham Palace has been the focus of national rejoicing and mourning.
It was initially known as Buckingham House as the original building at the core of today’s palace was a large townhouse. King George III acquired it as a private residence for Queen Charlotte in 1761. It was then enlarged during the 19th century when three new wings and a central courtyard were constructed. More additions were made in the 19th and 20th century, including the famous balcony on which the royal family stands to greet the crowds.
Queen Elizabeth II currently resides here part-time.
2.Hampton Court Palace (Richmond Upon Thames)
Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace situated in the Royal Borough of Richmond upon Thames, just outside of central London. The construction of the palace began in 1515 for a favourite of King Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey. Wolsey then fell from favour in 1529, gifting the palace to the King. Henry VIII later enlarged the building along with St James’ Palace. – The palace is now one of two palaces formerly owned by King Henry VIII that still stands.
The Palace was expanded again by King William III to rival Versailles. This expansion destroyed much of the original Tudor palace. This meant that the palace was left with two different styles of architecture, Tudor and Baroque, which are tied together with pink bricks.
George II was the last king to live here.
Currently, the palace is now open to the public and is a significant tourist attraction. The palace isn’t the only attraction as it also hosts a ‘real tennis’ court and a maze.
Annual Events hosted at Hampton Court Palace include the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and the Hampton Court Palace Festival.
There are reported to be many ghosts who reside in the palace, the most famous being Catherine Howard; one of Henry VIII’s six wives. Catherine was accused of adultery, and it is said that you can hear her screaming in the palace’s haunted gallery. There is also the famous ‘Grey Lady’, Sybil Penn, who was a servant to the Tudor monarchs. It is said that she cared for Elizabeth I while she was sick with smallpox and later died of the disease.
3.Kensington Palace (Kensington and Chelsea)
Kensington Palace is a current royal residence set in the Royal London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Currently, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Princess Eugenie and her husband, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester all reside here.
Formerly a two-storey mansion in a Jacobean style built-in 1605 by Sir George Coppin, Kensington Palace was purchased in 1619 by 1st Earl of Nottingham and became known as Nottingham House. In 1689, King William III and Queen Mary II brought the house and began an expansion instructed by Sir Christopher Wren. They added a three-story pavilion at each of the four corners of the original structure. Wren also reorientated the house to face west, building further north and south wings to border the entry.
4.The Palace of Westminster (City of Westminster)
The Palace of Westminster is the official name of the ‘Houses of Parliament.’
The Houses of Parliament was initially built as a royal residence for Edward the Confessor. The original structure was destroyed in a fire and then rebuilt, only to be destroyed again by another fire. It took thirty years for it then to be built again after construction started in 1840.
There are over 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases and 3 miles of passageways all spread over four floors.
5.Tower of London (Tower Hamlets)
The Tower of London was built in the 1070s by William the Conqueror to dominate the skyline and declare his royal power in the wake of his victory.
The tower took 20 years to build with Masons from Normandy using French stone and labour being mostly provided by Englishmen. Throughout history, adaptations and developments have been made to the Tower such as enlarging the moat and adding a huge defensive wall.
The tower was transformed into England’s most extensive and strongest castle in the concentric style. Kings and Queens have used the Tower to protect their possessions and even themselves.
Today the Crown Jewels are locked away and protected by a garrison of soldiers. The Yeomen Warders, also known as Beefeaters guard, still carry out ceremonial duties.