Saturday, January 26, 2019

5 Historic Royal Palaces in London

One of the few things I do during my free in London especially on weekends was making short trips to small cities, town and sightseeing places. Since my university offer us entrance to all the royal places around London, I decided to put into good use for it.

There are a total of 6 Historic Royal Palaces where 5 is located in the UK and 1 in Northern Ireland. I learnt so much about the London royal history visiting these palaces. Each of the palace has it's own unique story and history. I been to the five palaces around UK except Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland.

The historic royal palace is an independent charity that take cares of the maintenance of all the royal palaces around London. Hence, they would ask for donations apart from the entrance ticket to help with the maintenance of these places. The places are owned by The Queen 'in Right of Crown' which meant that Her Majesty holds the palaces in Trust for the next monarch and by law cannot sell, lease or otherwise dispose of any interest in the palaces. If you are member of the Historic Royal Palaces, all entrance fee would be free. 

In the 18th century, these palaces were ceased to be used for royal court purposes and open to the public for 19th century. Tower of London was already open to the public before that but to selective visitors. Being able to visit these castle allows you to experience how it was like living in the castle and see what its like in the castle. 

Tower of London

1,000 year-old castle that houses the Crown Jewel, which also a fortress and prison. A castle full of history and stories, so much to tell and experience in this ancient stone castle. I spend almost a full day visiting the tower. There is three (3) part to this place labelled Fortress, Palace and Prison. I definitely recommend you to get the map and plan your visit to ensure you get to see everything. 

Legend has it 'If the ravens leave the Tower, the kingdom will fall...' There are six ravens but now, they have a spare one. Try spotting the ravens when you are visiting the tower. 

The building with the longest queue would be the fortress housing the crown jewels. We visited there slightly later in the evening to miss the peak hour of the line. Right at the entrance, there would be a free guided tour called 'Yeoman Warder Guided Tour' to help you understand the place even more and a brief overview of the important events that happen in this historic place. 

Online prices are cheaper by 15% so why not get it online and skip the queue!
Adult (+22) : £22.70
Senior, full time student, disabled visitors : £17.70
Child : £10.75
There's also the family saver package which you can look up here

Opening Times : 
Tuesday-Saturday: 09:00-16:30
Sunday-Monday: 10:00-16:30
Last admission: 16:00

Hampton Court Palace

The home of Henry VIII, located in the borough of Richmond on Thames. A 35 minute journey from Waterloo Station and you find yourself in the home of Henry VIII. Walking through the palace of Henry VIII and his families life along the great hall and beautiful art piece. 

I've also visited the Privy Kitchen Cafe and the Wine Cellar which I thought was pretty insightful. The olden ways of cooking in the palace and the way the wine were kept was exactly the way you see it in movies. Being there at the actual place is quite amusing and I was just fascinated by the pots and equipment tools they used previously. 

The apartments would walk you through the lives of the royalties from Henry VIII to his wives and children through an audio guide. The apartments were all well maintain and you can see their rooms they used to live in, place they eat, reading room and the meeting room. My favourite part was the garden, created by William III and Mary II. The Great Fountain Garden was created to complement the baroque style of the palace. You'll get a beautiful view of the garden from the William's apartment. 

You won't have to spend a whole day there and there's many other sightseeing places around the palaces that you can visit. There you go, one day at Hampton! 

Buy it online here too to save money. I did not see the queue when I was there but during holiday seasons, you definitely get the queue over there. 
Adult (+22) : £11.35
Senior, full time student, disabled visitors : £9.05
Child : £5.65

Monday-Sunday: 10:00-16:30
Last admission: 15:30
Last entry to Maze: 15:45

Banqueting House 

The sole survivor of the Whitehall fire in 1698, another historic landmark where important events occurred at this particular building. The tickets to this hall was really cheap and it was close to Westminster Abbey and other historic landmark. A good stop for more history lesson! 

Adult (+22) : £5.50
Senior, full time student, disabled visitors : £4.60
Child : Free

Monday-Sunday: 10:00-17:00
Last admission: 16:30

One of the significant event was the execution of Charles I's after he lost the civil wall and his enemies convicted of high treason. The painting of Charles I is hung very close to the window where he walk through and was beheaded. Up till today, the executioners are still unknown. 

The Banqueting Hall had paintings on the ceiling which was painted by Ruben. These canvases was painted in Antwerp and brought over to the hall after it was finished. The hall is huge with the tall ceiling and every corner of the building has a story to tell. The hall provided moving mirrors which allow you to look out at the reflection of the ceiling instead of holding your head up high all the time. 

I found it really relaxing. Although it was just a hall, they provided bean bag which I sat there for two hours hearing all the audio guide. Sitting on the bean bag and admiring the painting on the ceiling while hearing the audio guide explaining what each painting meant. As it wasn't very crowded, I felt more comfortable there. 

Also, they allow costume fitting and the staff there was really helpful in helping out and guiding you around as well. 

Apart from costume fitting, the staff has a pop up stand at the side to explain certain historic artifact that were during the olden days. She explained to me carefully and also, gave me more facts about the hall. 

Kew Palace / Kew Gardens

Kew Palace, another royal palace located in Kew Gardens and summer home of King George III. It was constructed in 1631 which was leased by Queen Caroline and subsequently bought by King George. Kew Palace is not as big as the other palaces but definitely another royal history to gain. After you've been to a few palace and hearing the history, you would be able to kind of put the story up together. 

The entrance fee includes not just the Kew Palace but the gardens as well and a lot of places that you can visit. The Royal Botanical Garden is beautiful. 
Adult (+22) : £12.50
Concession : £11.00
Child : £5.75

I would say that you definitely need the whole day to spend in Kews. The garden is just beautiful and there's a big map which you will find it really interesting to walk around as well! There was so much to see and I was only there half day. Other things to see there would be :- 
  • Princess of Wale Conservatory
  • Duke's Garden
  • Pagoda
  • Japanese Gateway
  • Queen Charlotte's Cottage
  • Palm House Parterre
These are just some of the place to visit all around the garden. If you love botany and plants, you definitely enjoy this place here. 

The Hive - this is actually pretty interesting because you are allowed to hear what is it like to be in the bee hive sound. An manbuild hive. 

Kensington Palace

The birth place and childhood home of Queen Victoria, located in Hyde Park, stand the royal building open to the public for visit. The home to Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection and Royal collection, also the magnificent showcase of Princess Diana. 

Ticket Prices 
The ticket price are different for peak (P) and offpeak (OP) hours. Peak is before 2pm. 
Adult (+22) : £19.50 (P), £16.00 (OP)
Concession : £15.50 (P), £12.70 (OP)
Child : £9.70 (P), £8.00 (OP)

Opening Hours: 
Summer (01 March - 31 October)
Monday-Sunday: 10:00-18:00
Last admission: 17:00

Winter (01 November - 28 February)
Monday-Sunday: 10:00-16:00
Last admission: 15:00

A brief history of this palace which was originally known as the Nottingham House : 
  • William III bought the Jacobean mansion in 1689
  • Favourite residence of successuve sovereigns
  • Birth place of Queen Mary in 1867
  • Residence place for Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 

The Kensington Palace has four routes which you can visit and can be done in about 2-3 hours:
  • King's State Apartment - era of music, fashion and arts
  • Queen's State Apartment - Queen Mary II 
  • Victoria Reveal -  journey through Queen Victoria life through the different rooms in the palace
  • Diana - The Fashion Story
My favourite was Princess Diana Fashion exhibition, showcasing all the pretty and beautiful dresses she once wore to each of the occasion. I felt like after visiting so many places, this was one that I was really fascinated by. 

Every palace would definitely have a majestic garden. Kensington Palace has one which named was 'The Sunken Pond'. I was here in 2014 and it was my favourite garden back then. Flash forward to 2019, I am still find it a very elegant and pretty garden. It's not as big as the others but I love the way it's structured and decorated.

Well, these marks the end of my list and experience at the Historic Royal Places. First time tourist who only have a few days in London, would normally visit the main tourist attraction sites first before exploring these palaces. I found it very interesting as I was learning a lot of the UK royal history. As I am already residing here and will be here for awhile, this was really useful to know and understand the place more. 


  1. Very interesting post. I feel London has a ton of historical places but you have picked all they key ones, which are also varied from each other. I favourite will always be the Tower of London.

  2. I always thought of tower of london as a massive fortress, didn't know it was a historic royal palace too. I am planning UK this year so this list is really useful. Don't want to miss any of them

  3. I'm still bummed I didn't go in the Tower of London while I was in London. I'll just have to go back!

  4. I would love to take another trip to London and visit these palaces, so much history! Hopefully I’ll get the chance later on in the year, thanks for sharing.

  5. I have missed couple of those places while my visit to London. Nicely sorted out article. Plus stunning images.

  6. England is on our bucket list and our boys LOVE castles- pinned this so I have it for when we finally get to London!

  7. I loved the name of the garden - "the sunken pond" by the way. Stunning pictures of Tower of London and it's interiors. I envy England for having such historical architecture in plenty. There is so much to explore that I am sure locals never really run out of ideas while planning for the weekends.

  8. This is quite informative and interesting post. I always love to know about places and things from history. Your photos are quite appealing. Beautiful architecture of the palaces.

  9. What an interesting post. I visited 3/5 but I hope to complete the list next time I visit London :)

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