They say that one of the most popular reasons so many tourists visit the UK is because of our Royal Family, and that has to include our stunning historic residences and the rich heritage we have to offer. But you don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy the fine architecture, why not take the time this summer to discover the wonderful history that Britain has, within the walls of some of the finest buildings in the world. We’ve chosen probably the three most well known Royal residences, Balmoral, Kensington Palace and Windsor Castle, and provided details of how you can visit them.
Did you know that the Royal Family actually live at Balmoral from August, September and October, but from November and December 2013 you can go on winter guided tours. The tour consists of the formal gardens, water garden and grounds of Balmoral. The gardens, which Prince Albert started, have been continually expanded upon by successive members of the Royal Family. Between 1923 and 1925, Queen Mary created a beautiful garden, it has a semi circular wall of rocks surrounding a fountain. There is also a large kitchen garden, designed by the Duke of Edinburgh, and it is known that the Royals use the vegetables from this garden whilst they are in residence. Covering three acres are the formal gardens, which feature a range of Victorian glasshouses and the conservatory.
Tickets cost £10 for adults, £5 for children and you can buy on the day. The guided tour lasts approximately one hour and afterwards you are free to wander around the gift shop or visit the cafe. Visit Balmoral Castle for more information.
Kensington Palace is the essence of style. It was first used for royal residence in 1689 by William and Mary, and since then, Queen Anne, George I and George II have all taken up home in this fabulous palace. It was the home of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge. Kensington Palace has recently undergone a two year refurbishment, costing £12million, which include new gardens, shops, café and terrace. There is also a new exhibition opening known as ‘Fashion Rules’ on the 4th July 2013.
If strolling around stately gardens isn’t your thing, how about dining within the Palace walls? Visit the opulent splendour of Queen Anne’s Orangery for an elegant afternoon tea, or try a tasty breakfast or lunch. The 18th-century Orangery is located within the heart of Kensington Gardens, and was once the setting for the most lavish of court entertainments.
Visit Kensington Palace for more information.
Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world and of course, it is where Queen Elizabeth resides for most of the time. Having stood for around 900 years, in 1992 a fire broke out and destroyed or damaged more than 100 rooms at the Castle. Thankfully the worst affected rooms happened to be empty at the time, but a few artistic works were damaged. The Castle covers about 13 acres and features beautiful state apartments, complete with treasures from the Royal Collection, St George’s Chapel, arguably one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in England and the burial place of 10 monarchs, and Queen Mary’s Dolls House, a masterpiece in miniature.
Ticket prices are around £17.75 for adults and £10.60 for under 17, under 5’s go free. Check the Royal Collection for more details.