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SELVIS experience the glory of Kensington Palace

Category News Date 26 March 2018

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.

Members feedback:

“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





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Jess and Steve running over Tower Bridge

Jess ran The Big Half on Sunday 4th March

Category News Date 16 March 2018

I had done my training, I was really excited for the race …. And then the snow came! A week of anxiety wondering whether the race would go ahead but fortunately by Saturday the weather was improving and the decision was made that all would go ahead as planned. This was a huge relief for me and the excitement began again.

It was an early start on Sunday morning. There were engineering works on all my train routes into London which meant a taxi coming at 6.30am to take me and my guide runner Steve to Lewisham DLR. It was still really cold so we were wrapped up in many layers over our running clothes. We arrived at Tower Gateway to see a mass of other runners and it all became a reality that I was actually doing this!

Steve helped to attach the timing chip to my trainers, we handed over our bags and prepared for the start. The sun was shining unfortunately though not on the section where we were waiting so it still felt bitterly cold. The fast runners started at 9am but as we were in a slower section there was a long wait until we were set off. My hands and feet were frozen and nobody wanted to take off any more layers until really necessary. Eventually we started moving forward to the start line. It was very exciting to hear the announcement that Mo Farah had just taken the lead and he was about to cross in front of us – even though we hadn’t started yet and he was already half way round! And then we were off too! Everyone was really excited to start running and we ran quickly just to warm up. Then we went through Rotherhithe tunnel which seemed endless. Coming out the other side to cheers and music was fantastic. The support continued throughout the race. It was great to hear people shouting my name and encouraging me on. Despite this being the first ever half marathon in London there were still many people out to support the runners. There were even the runners in costumes, we saw a rhino, tractor and phone box amongst others along the way. We were keeping up a steady pace and the cheers from the crowds definitely spurred me on. We crossed Tower Bridge and I was still feeling ok. The crowds were encouraging us all. Steve expertly guided me round corners and over the cobbles. I started to feel tired around mile 9 and then the miles seemed to get further and further apart. Steve was encouraging me all the way and we still had the support from the crowds and the other runners. I was determined to keep going, thinking of all the people supporting me and all the training we had done. But my legs got heavier and my head felt dizzy so I walked for a bit at about mile 12. It was brilliant to hear the crowd and everyone urging me on. I started running again and somehow made it to the finish! It is all a bit of a blur after then. It was an amazing feeling. I’m so proud that I did it. I finished in 2hours 24minutes and 56 seconds so I was really happy with the time. I met up with my family and friends at the end to celebrate although I was so exhausted I just wanted to sit down somewhere. I proudly wore my finishing medal for the rest of the day. I’ve definitely got the running bug now and am keen to do more races. It’s a day I’ll never forget. Huge thanks to Steve for putting up with me throughout the last three months training and keeping me going on the day. Thank you to everyone who came out and stood in the cold to cheer me on and to everyone who has supported me through donating to SELVIS. Can’t wait for next year’s big half!

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