On the 21st of March 2018, we had the pleasure of taking a group down to the prestigious Kensington palace for a special guided tour of the Kings Apartments.
Our valued Members experienced something really quite fabulous on this tour.
13 of us from SELVIS met with our wonderful Guides: Roz and Julian at reception, after security checks, we were divided into 2 groups, the purpose of the visit?
Well, a special guided tour of the Royal Kings Apartments and an opportunity to view and enjoy the extremely popular Diana exhibition.
To say the guides were well-informed would be the understatement of the century. I think our service users would agree, we were all treated to a lesson in history, one that we should all remember for a lifetime, at least I will.
I only wish I had my note taker with me, because I was honestly astonished, it was better than any radio or tv show I’ve ever watched, a truly historical visit
Not only were the 2 guides incredible story tellers, but two encyclopaedias, no notes, no paper and yet facts and figures poured out, frankly I was overawed by the experience; they told us stories from 1734 to the present day.
So to the Kings apartments:
The first thing you will notice about these opulent rooms is that they are surprisingly sparse. This is because unlike domestic rooms, the State Apartments were used for audiences and meetings.
Courtiers and visitors stood in the presence of royalty, so there was no need for the sorts of furniture you normally find in a home.
However, these rooms contain many sculptures and works of art, such as the terracotta busts of George II and his wife Queen Caroline, made by Michael Rysbrack in 1738 and 1739.
The King’s Staircase
The King’s Staircase is the first link to the circuit of rooms making up the King’s State Apartments. All the great and good of Georgian London would have climbed these stairs to visit the King.
The Presence Chamber
The Presence Chamber is where the monarch received courtiers, ministers and foreign ambassadors. The fireplace is surrounded by limewood carvings by Grinling Gibbons. They include cherubs that were originally painted white.
The Privy Chamber
The Privy Chamber was one of Queen Caroline’s favourite entertaining spaces. See the magnificent ceiling painted by William Kent in 1723, as well as some impressive tapestries made in the Mortlake Tapestry workshop founded by King Charles I.
The Cupola Room
The Cupola Room is the most splendidly decorated room in the palace. It was the first royal commission of William Kent, the artist and designer who would go on to decorate the rest of the State Apartments and create a distinctive visual style for the Georgian age.
The King’s Drawing Room
The King’s Drawing Room is the climax of the whole suite of rooms. This is where courtiers would have come in search of power and patronage.
To be allowed into these rooms was something an average human being could only wildly dream about and in any case you were required to dress impeccably to get anywhere near to these rooms.
In fact, you had to wear this spectacular dress just to be considered, in today’s money this 1 dress would cost you £275000.
In addition, the highlight of this room is the painting of Venus and Cupid by Vasari. Queen Caroline tried to have the painting moved while her husband was away in Hanover. When the King returned he furiously insisted it be put back. It still hangs there today.
The King’s Gallery
In the King’s Gallery, William III played soldiers with his little nephew and it was here that the King caught the chill that led to his death in 1702.
“Best tour I’ve ever been on with SELVIS”
“Thank you for organising a special tour and for making sure I got to the station at the end”
If you would like to know more about SELVIS or to attend an activity please do not hesitate in contacting us on:
020 3815 3660
Written by Hassan Khan SELVIS Project Coordinator