KENSINGTON PALACE has a double claim on our attention. Historically, the whole series of events, commencing with the purchase of Nottingham House by William III., and including the birth of our revered Queen, is of interest to us all. Artistically, the fine red brick mansion by Wren and Kent and some older architect, standing among its verdant lawns and avenues, appeals to every admirer of a style which, after a few years of comparative neglect, is again taking its proper place as eminently suitable not only to our requirements but also to our taste. There are not, in London at least, any more typical examples of the so-called "Queen Anne" than the Orangery and the Alcove; while, without what can be called great architectural pretensions, the Palace itself abounds in features worthy of study.
The history of the Palace goes back far beyond the time of King William, far beyond the time of Lord Chancellor Nottingham. The beautiful Park. which we know as Kensington Gardens, formed one of three manors with which Geoffrey Mandeville endowed the Abbey of Westminster. The other two were Hyde (now Hyde Park) and Ebury or Eybury, which now belongs to the Duke of Westminster. All three were, and are, in the old parish of St. Margaret, Westminster. That one with which we are now concerned was called Neyt, a name which seems to have contained a reference to its capabilities as pasturage. The old name did not die out until the time of the first Lord Nottingham, in the reign of Charles II. Of late years however, it seems to have been wholly forgotten; and the manor of Neyt was identified with the site of certain neat houses, or cattle sheds, near Chelsea, which are mentioned by Pepys, who visited them in order to drink fresh milk.
That the name of Neyt or Neat should have so completely disappeared is the more curious because we still speak of neat cattle, and of the neat herd's cottage in which King Alfred took refuge on a memorable occasion. Whether the manor of Neyt gave its name to Knightsbridge, a bridge over the Westbourne, the stream which divided Hyde from Neyt, I cannot undertake to say, but it seems highly probable. The Map referred to further on and one in the Crace Collection show that the stream must have formed an irregular boundary before 1662 between Hyde and Neyt.
The map shows us that the Palace and its predecessor, the manor house of the abbot, were close to the western boundary of the manor. This was because in the middle ages a house, unless it was fortified, or at least defended by a moat, was exposed to various kinds of depredations. The abbot therefore placed his manor house where it should be as nearly as possible in the town of Kensington, close to the old vicarage on the other side of the parish boundary, and probably fronting almost in Church Lane. It there partook of such protection as the watchmen of the little town could afford.
Kensington belonged to the Abbot of Abingdon in Berkshire, after whom the church is usually called St. Mary Abbots, and the arms of the abbey are assigned to the parish, namely, Argent, a cross flory, between four martlets, sable, as in a roll of arms of 1515; but some authorities say, five martlets.
The first time I find Neyt manor house mentioned on the page of history is soon after the 13th June, 1381, when the insurgents of that year had burnt the palace of the Duke of Lancaster in the Strand. John of Gaunt retired to the house of the Bishop of Ely in Holborn, then to Hertford Castle, and when the session of Parliament was about to commence, to this house, which was lent or leased to him by the abbot. Thus what we call Kensington Palace was connected with royalty as much as five centuries ago. John of Gaunt was the son of Edward III., and the father of Henry IV. The house, though it may have been low, was roomy enough and convenient even for a royal duke. A few years later, in 1386, the Lord Abbot of Westminster, Nicholas Litlington, came out to his manor house of Neyt very ill; here shortly afterwards he died. He was the builder of the famous chamber called Jerusalem, and much more at the Abbey; and we may be sure, improved this his country house also.
After the death of Litlington we hear of the manor house on at least two other occasions. In 1448 it was tenanted by another prince of the royal family. This was Richard, Duke of York, whose son ascended the throne as Edward IV. Here one of his children, Prince John, was born in November of the same year, but died shortly afterwards. Again, we hear of another Lord Abbot at his manor house of Neyt, namely John Islip, who died here in 1533. He is remarkable for the patronage, while he was prior of Westminster, which he accorded to William Caxton, England's first printer. Easteney was then abbot and, as Caxton tells us in one of his books, caused certain ancient manuscripts to be shown to him, no doubt by the hands and at the request of the prior, who did not succeed as abbot till after Caxton's death. He may be reckoned the last Abbot of Westminster who owned Neyt. His successor was put into office merely to give the estates to King Henry VIII. What became of this house after the Dissolution we do not know. It was probably granted to Sir Richard Rich, who, under Edward VI. became Lord Chancellor and a peer. From him, apparently, the estate went to his great-grandson, Henry Rich, who was made Lord Kensington by James I. He had already, through his wife, succeeded to what was then called Cope's Castle, and in 1624 he became Earl of Holland. he lived at Holland House and let or sold his lands and one "messuage with its appurtenances," probably Neyt manor house, to Sir George Coppin, who left the estate to his son, Robert. It contained thirty-six acres of land, a close called Thomas's Field, and a "parcel of land called Long Park Close" and other fields which abutted on the boundary of Hyde Park. In all Coppin's estate comprised seventy or eighty acres, and the house had a large kitchen garden to the northward. There were also some houses apparently at the eastern end of High Street.
What the old house was like we have no means of knowing. We may judge that, with its admirable situation and surroundings, Lord Holland would not have deserted it for Cope's half-finished castle, unless it was small and inconvenient, or else old and out of repair. It was taken by Sir Heneage Finch, at first on lease. Finch was Recorder of London. He died here in 1631. His widow continued to live in the house during the Commonwealth. Sir John Finch, the second son, a doctor and diplomatist, succeeded to the estate, and at the Restoration was knighted by Charles II. He sold it to his elder brother, the second Sir Heneage, who rose to be Lord Chancellor in 1675, and Earl of Nottingham in 1681. From him the house, which he probably in great part rebuilt, acquired the name of Nottingham House. Specimens of the architecture of his time may still, here and there, be recognised. As to Nottingham Park its new owner speedily did his best to improve it. In 1663 he had a grant from Charles II. of a narrow strip of land, ten feet wide, adjoining Hyde Park. This little strip began at "the south highway leading to the town of Kensington, and from thence crossed to the north highway, leading to the town of Acton." The object of this grant was that Sir Heneage might make a sunk fence or "Ha-ha" between his park and Hyde Park. The improvement in the view from the house was of course immense, while the view from Hyde Park was also enhanced. An avenue of fine trees was planted along the ridge, and from the wording of the grant we learn that the land already bore "woods, underwoods and timber trees." From the map we gather that the boundary between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens was the same a century later. A different opinion has been expressed by writers who have not taken the trouble of reading the grant of Charles II. The only addition made to Kensington Gardens since 1663 has been that of a narrow strip adjoining the Prince Consort Memorial, and was carried out by Act of Parliament a few years ago.
The first Lord Nottingham was succeeded by Daniel, second Earl, in December, 1682. He held Nottingham House until the coming of William of Orange. Very soon after the King and Queen had ascended their joint throne, William began to seek for a more suitable residence than Whitehall or St. James's. He suffered from asthma, and both these palaces were on very low ground and near the Thames. In 1689 he drove through Kensington to look at Holland House, and the event was celebrated by the parishioners, who spent 5.s,, probably on bell ringing and beer. But Nottingham House, with its noble park extending to Hyde Park, pleased him better. For what appears the small sum of £18,000 the Earl agreed to part with it, and William came into residence as soon as he returned from his famous campaign in Ireland. At the news of the battle of the Boyne the parishioners excelled their former liberality and gave the ringers 12s.
Thus, on the 25th February, 1690, Nottingham House became Kensington Palace, and was inhabited by the King and Queen; and successively by Queen Anne, by George I., and by George II. One more royal name must be added. The Princess Victoria was born in the palace, and was residing here with the Duchess of Kent when she received the news that she had succeeded to the throne of William IV. This is an event which we in Kensington look upon as the most important in our annals, for then commenced the longest and by far the most prosperous reign in the history of our country. Recent events have brought the old palace into special prominence, and my object here is to describe briefly the circumstances of each royal occupation, and then to visit the place both without and within, adding short sketches of the more interesting features. Separate apart - merits have been granted from time to time, as at Hampton Court, to individuals, chiefly persons of some eminence, and at the present time Lady Granville and her son, Lord Granville, Colonel Chaine, assistant Master of the Ceremonies to the Queen, and Mrs. Chaine, the Hon. Harriet Lepel Phipps, Bed-chamber Woman to the Queen, and several others have residences in the Palace, besides the Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lome.
William III. found Kensington Palace to be very conveniently situated with respect to the other parts of Westminster, where he attended to the affairs of state. He made "a straight new way through the park," and so into Hyde Park. Here accordingly he chiefly resided, with excursions to Hampton Court at intervals. Evelyn describes the house as greatly patched by the new owner, but adds, that with the gardens it is a very sweet villa. The gardens here mentioned are not to be confounded with what we now call Kensington Gardens, which are alluded to by Evelyn as "the Park." The old gardens lay chiefly to the west and north west, and were laid out in something of the Dutch fashion which the King loved. The walks were straight, and converged upon vases or busts which terminated vistas. The royal apartments seems to have been on an upper storey, no doubt for the benefit of the fresher air, to say nothing of the better views across the park, over the sunk fence into Hyde Park; with Westminster, the Abbey and the Hall, in the distance. Whether this part of the house is as it was built by Lord Nottingham, or whether it was added by William and Mary after a fire in November, 1690, it is impossible to tell. Evelyn visited it in 1696, about a year and a half after the Queen's death. He calls it the King's House at Kensington, and says it is noble but not great. Of the gallery he speaks in higher terms. It is furnished, he says, with the best pictures from all the houses, and he enumerated works of Titian, Raphael, Correggio, Holbein, Julio Romano, Bassano, Vandyke and Tintoretto. He also mentions a great collection of porcelain, and a pretty private library. Finally, he describes the gardens as "very delicious."
While William was absent on the continent, Mary lived chiefly at Kensington, pushing on the improvements and preparing surprises in the house and gardens. The weather-cock on the clock turret over the entrance bears her initials and those of King William. The park, the Queen seems to have left untouched, and it must have formed with its old trees and underwood — its "boundless contiguity of shade" — a delightful contrast to the prim gardens. Faulkner quotes Bishop Burnet's account of Queen Mary, and says of her that when the King went abroad with the sword she stayed at home with the sceptre.
On the 27th December, 1694, she died after a few days illness, of small pox, to the great grief of the King and her subjects. The Princess Anne now became next heir, after William III., and she and her little son took up their residence at Campden House, which was then only divided from the Palace by the open hill with its gravel pits and by the royal gardens. The King was very fond of the poor boy, and frequently rode over to visit him and see him drill his young soldiers. The gateway of Campden House towards the palace finally disappeared last year, having been built up for more than half a century. A gate in the garden wall of the palace probably faced it near where St. Paul's Church stands now. The King named his nephew Duke of Gloucester, but no patent of creation was ever issued. The Prince was also made a Knight of the Garter. He died at Windsor, 29th July, 1700, of fever, a few days after his eleventh birthday had been celebrated. His death was a serious blow to the King and the kingdom, and led to the succession of the House of Hanover.
William III. loved Kensington; the improvements begun and partly carried out by Queen Mary were continued to the end of his reign. His attachment to the place seems to have been strengthened "from the circumstance of its having been the favourite residence of his beloved Queen till her death," says Faulkner, "and he divided his time between Kensington and Hampton Court." The fire at Whitehall in 1698, by which most of the royal apartments were consumed, led to the removal of many works of art to Kensington; and William had a gallery filled with portraits of admirals, and another in which many of the celebrities of the day and previous generations, Michael Angelo, Inigo Jones, Paul Veronese, Julio Romano, as well as the royal family, were represented, chiefly at full length. This gallery, which faced south , was, with other state apartments, built by Sir Christopher Wren, probably after the fire in 1690. When William met with the accident at Hampton Court which eventually proved fatal, he hastened to return at once to Kensington, which he did not reach till nine at night. The ignorant physicians wrangled over his bed, and seem only to have been agreed as to constant and violent bleeding. William was only fifty-one and had never been a strong man, but we all know the proverb as to "threatened lives." The accident took place on the 21st February, 1702. On the 5th March the King rose and walked for a time in the gallery. On the 7th he appointed special commissioners to give the royal assent to certain bills. On the 8th he received the Holy Sacrament from the hands of Archbishop Tilotson. As the ceremony concluded the King died. When his body was examined it was found to be in a tolerably healthy state, promising many years of life. Round his arm was a bracelet composed of the hair of his lost Queen. William III. was buried on the 12 th of April, in the chapel of Henry VII., where his coffin lies beside that of his wife. It was during his reign that the modest gateway leading to the High Street was set up, and we still see on it the arms of England, with an escutcheon of pretence for Orange, one of the most tangible relics of the great king now left in "the old court suburb." His initials and those of Queen Mary are over a door near the Orangery.
Queen Anne loved Kensington and Windsor more than any other palace. The improvements begun by Queen Mary were carried on; and she commissioned Wren to design two beautiful but long ill-treated buildings for the ornamentation of the Gardens. The question often asked: What is the Queen Anne style? — may be answered by a brief reference to the Orangery and to the Alcove. They will be described further on. With Wren as architect came Nicholas Hawksmoor as clerk of the works; but the greatest improvements were in the gardens and park. The absurd fiction that Queen Anne took thirty acres from Hyde Park to add to the gardens was apparently started by Faulkner, and was seized with avidity by Leigh Hunt, and even by Cunningham. We shall see how Hunt added to the legend in describing the residence here of Queen Caroline. Queen Anne, who seems to have made the beautiful Broad Walk, a straight double avenue from Bayswater to Kensington, brought the gardens, which had previously lain chiefly on the northern and north-western side of the house, up to the line of the new Avenue, and a second but shorter walk was planted to lead from the south front to the Alcove in the old red brick wall along the Kensington Road. The delightful converging vistas through the park and right up to Lord Nottingham's Ha-ha, seem for the most part to be of later growth. Bowack, in his Antiquities of Middlesex, mentions, writing in 1705, the great improvements the Queen was engaged upon, and names in particular a stately greenhouse not then finished. This was of course the Orangery.
Prince George of Denmark, the Queen's consort, died in Kensington Palace, 28th October, 1708. He was a person of little force of character, and was nicknamed by his father-in-law, James II., "Est il possible!" He is described by his contemporaries as comely but too much inclined to fat, and Evelyn says he had "the Danish countenance; blonde, of few words." Sir Richard Steele commends his comely and erect aspect, and Bulstrode says he was "a person of a good mien." He bore the title of Duke of Cumberland in England, and was both Commander-in-Chief and also Lord High Admiral. He was fifty-six at the time of his death, having been more than a quarter of a century united to the Princess, afterwards Queen Anne; so that he passed through all the stirring: scenes of the time — the death of Charles II., the deposition of James I., the wars of William III. and Marlborough -and yet seems to have made little or no impression on public affairs. His body was buried in the royal vault under the Chapel of Henry VII. The Denmark Staircase, by which visitors are now admitted to the Queen's Gallery, is called after him.
Queen Anne survived Prince George till 1st August 1714, when she died rather suddenly of apoplexy at Kensington. Her body lay in state in the Palace for three weeks, while preparations were made for the funeral at Westminster. The wax effigy of this Queen, as well as those of Queen Mary and King William, in Islip's Chapel, have often been described and are well known. She had in all six children, not one of whom survived her; and at her death the crown devolved, under the Act of Settlement, upon a descendant of James I., the Elector of Hanover. With Queen Anne died the last of the Stuart Dynasty. Had her children lived they would have formed a Danish Dynasty; but it was otherwise ordered, and we who have lived all our lives under the beneficient sway of Queen Victoria have no occasion to repine.
George I. came to Kensington early in his reign, and employed Kent to build and decorate the great staircase. Kent also built the Cupola Room, which, in spite of many faults, chiefly faults of taste, is a very stately apartment. When George II. succeeded his father, 11th June, 1727, he found the palace externally very much as it is at present. The park was the same which had been laid out before William III. bought the place, except that Queen Anne had, as we have seen, added to the ornamental garden near the house. One great improvement was still required. The Westbourne, a winding brook in the further part of the park, was straightened and spanned, where it reached Hyde Park, by a bridge. The winding Westbourne had formed a series of water-holes, and being almost dry in summer was liable to sudden inundations in rainy seasons. Strange to say it retains this characteristic, though most of us have forgotten its very existence. The brook is carried across Sloane Square Station in an iron aqueduct, but a few years ago burst its conduit and flooded the platform. In February, 1737, a similar occurrence took place. The Serpentine, we are told, "blew up" and inundated Knightsbridge and Brompton. The lower end of the bourne divides the estates of the Duke of Westminster and Earl Cadoean, and the exact line of demarcation was, owing to the winding habits of the stream, matter a few years ago for special survey and settlement. The brook falls at length into the Thames by the Grosvenor Canal. Queen Caroline employed an engineer named Jepherson, under Withers, the Surveyor-General, to make the Serpentine in 1730. The dug-out earth formed a mound noticed below. It continued to be called the Serpentine, a name acquired in its wandering days, but Rocque in 1736 calls it "The New River." The road along the park railings on the south side was improved, and ran straight to Hyde Park, where it joined Rotten Row. This quarter has been much altered of late years. The King and Queen lived chiefly at Kensington, and the Queen formed a large collection of pictures, searching for such as had belonged to Charles I. The well-known series of portraits in crayons by Holbein, which are in the royal library at Windsor Castle, originally belonged to Charles, who gave them to Lord Pembroke in exchange for the St. George of Raphael, now in the Louvre. Queen Caroline curiously inspected the furniture with which Kensington Palace was so richly stored, and in the drawers of an ancient bureau she discovered these priceless drawings, which had disappeared ever since the Civil war. It seems that at one time they were in the great Arundel collection, probably by an exchange with Lord Pembroke. Queen Caroline was so pleased with her discovery that she had some of the best examples hung in her private sitting room. The Queen died at St. James's on the 20th November, 1737. George II., after her death, but seldom visited Hampton Court, and made Kensington his headquarters, and here he died, very suddenly, on the 25th October, 1760. His apartments were on the ground floor, opening by a window into the gardens.
There is an interesting passage in Thackeray's Virginians describing a visit to Kensington Palace in the reign of George II. The visitors alighted at Kensington Palace Gate and modestly made their way on foot "to the summer residence of the Sovereign. Walking under the portico of the Palace, they entered the gallery which leads to the great black marble staircase." They then passed through several rooms, richly hung with tapestry and "adorned with pictures and bustos," and at length reached the King's great drawing room. Here, with the rest of the visitors to the Court, the gentlemen waited until his Majesty issued from his private apartments. There is much more, for Thackeray knew Kensington well and avowedly built his house on Palace Green to harmonise with the older buildings. He mentions four pictures as having specially called forth the admiration of George Warrington, a Venus by Titian, a Rubens, a Vandyke and a Tintoret. The Titian, No. 164, is now at Hampton Court, as is the Tintoret. In Dodsley's London, published in 1761, all these pictures are described, with many more, as being in the Palace at that date.
George III. apparently did not like Hampton Court, nor do we hear of him at Kensington Palace. Its history therefore as a royal residence would cease at this epoch but for a circumstance already mentioned. Here, on the 24th May, 1819, was born Alexandrina Victoria of Kent, the only child of Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, fourth son of George III. The duke died on the 23rd of the following January, and the young Princess became heir to the throne after her uncles, George IV. and William IV. The last named had two daughters, the Princesses Charlotte and Elizabeth, but one of them died before Princess Victoria was born, and the other in 1821. The birth of the Princess is therefore the most important event in the annals of Kensington Palace, after its purchase by William III.
The Duke and Duchess of Kent inhabited a suite of rooms on the east side of the Palace, immediately under the State Apartments. Some doubt has been thrown on the identification of the room in which the future Queen was born; but the late lamented Dr. Merriman, whose father attended the Duchess, had no doubt that a spacious chamber which has been marked with a brass plate, was that in which the happy event took place. The tablet bears the brief inscription: "In this room Queen Victoria was born, May 24th, 1819." The Princess was christened on the 24th June following, the great silver gilt font being brought from the Tower for the purpose. The sponsors were the Prince Regent, the Emperor Alexander of Russia, the Queen Dowager of Wurtemberg and the Dowager Duchess of Coburg. The Duke of York represented the Emperor, Princess Augusta and the Duchess of Gloucester the two god-mothers. The Archbishop of Canterbury (Charles Manners Sutton) assisted by the Bishop of London (William Howley) officiated, and the ceremony took place in the Cube Room, the principal apartment of the State Suite. Of the future Queen we find the following amusing notice in the well-known Memoirs of Baron Stockmar: — "A pretty little Princess, plump as a partridge, was born. The Duke of Kent was delighted with his child, and liked to show her constantly to his companions and intimate friends, with the words: 'Take care of her, for she will be Queen of England.'
Although the young Princess became virtually heir presumptive to the crown on the death of her cousin the Princess Elizabeth, it was not until a good many years had elapsed that the Duchess of Kent made her aware of the fact. Meanwhile, and indeed until her accession, the Duchess and the Princess lived in great privacy in their apartments here. At times the Princess was seen in Kensington Gardens with her attendants, and as she grew older excursions were arranged in the environs of London, and even on one occasion at least, to the West of England. At Bath, part of the old common was turned into a park, and in 1830 the Princess formally opened it. This event was commemorated by an obelisk, which forms a conspicuous feature of the Victoria Park in that beautiful city. During her residence here in Kensington Palace the Princess was chiefly taught by Fraulein Lehzen, who was her constant companion in her walks. This lady, who was the daughter of a Hanoverian clergyman, entered the service in 1824, and remained with her royal pupil until her accession. Afterwards, Baroness Lehzen, who had been ennobled by George IV., as King of Hanover, at the instance of the Princess Sophia, who lived in York House, Church Street, remained with the Queen till 1842. She died in 1870 in Germany.
The Princess Sophia, living thus close to the Palace, and the Duke of Sussex, whose apartments adjoined those of the Duchess of Kent, formed a kind of family circle, and must materially have influenced the character of the future Queen, The Duke was remarkable for a love of books. At Kensington he accumulated a vast library, with the help of the learned Dr. Pettigrew, one of our earliest Egyptologists. His catalogue of the Duke's books was published at intervals between 1827 and 1839 and is still a standard work. The collection comprised many biblical manuscripts, and there were more than forty-five thousand other volumes. The long corridor or gallery which led and leads from the entrance gateway on the visitor's right was fitted up as a library, and here, during many years of ill-health, the Duke occupied all his leisure moments, arranging, cataloguing, annotating and weeding, until, in the one department of theology alone, as well as in others, the Biblioiheca Sussexiana became famous among the learned. The Duke's wife, Lady Cecilia Underwood, whom he married in defiance of the Royal Marriage Act, was one of Queen Victoria's early friends and, in March, 1840, was raised to the peerage as Duchess of Inverness. The Duke was Earl of Inverness. He died in April, 1843. The young princess acquired from her uncle a warm love of literature and especially of beautiful and rare books, and one of her first cares after her accession was to found the noble library now in Windsor Castle. The Duchess of Inverness received many visits from the Queen in subsequent years, and died here in August, 1873. The apartments are now tenanted by the Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lome. The rooms occupied by the Duchess of Kent remained untenanted for a time after her death in 1861, but eventually they were inhabited for some years by the Princess Mary, Duchess of Teck, and here the Duchess of York was born, in 1867.
The State Apartments were dismantled early in the reign of William IV. and their more valuable contents were removed, some to Hampton Court, some to Windsor Castle. A few years ago these once gorgeous chambers presented a deplorable appearance. Some fine mantlepieces alone remained and a ceiling or two. The tapestry had all departed.
Just before the young Queen finally left Kensington for Windsor, what might have been a serious accident happened. Only sixteen days after she succeeded to the throne the Queen and the Duchess of Kent were descending the West Hill, Highgate, in a carriage, when the horses took fright and ran away. They were passing Holly Lodge at the moment. At the opposite side of the road, which is here very steep with an awkward turn just below, stood an old fashioned tavern, the Fox and Crown. Turner, the landlord, perceived at once the danger of the occupants of the carriage, and stepping forward, with a firm hand he arrested the horses in their mad career. He was handsomely rewarded, and a little later the Queen gave him leave to place the Royal Arms over his door.
One other royal tenant of the palace must be mentioned. Queen Caroline, at that time Princess of Wales, and her mother, the Duchess of Brunswick, were here for a short time. Her behaviour was, to say at least, odd. Leigh Hunt says "she did not content herself with keeping a sort of open house, receiving visitors in a dressing gown, and sitting and talking about herself with strangers, on the benches in the garden, at the risk of being discovered." She died at Hammersmith in 1821. The contests in Church Street at her funeral need not be detailed here.
Before going on to describe the State Apartments we may make brief survey of Kensington Gardens. They comprise, in all, 245 and a quarter acres. The assertion of Faulkner that Queen Anne and Queen Caroline added 330 acres from Hyde Park thus falls to the ground, as does Leigh Hunt's absurd repetition of the story in his Old Court Suburb. He at least should have known better. In order to see the Gardens to the greatest advantage we may enter them at Buck Hill Gate, where there is a not very successful attempt at rustic architecture, a park-keeper's lodge. On the left, to southward, on high ground, is a noble avenue of old elms, which would lead us to a gate at the Magazine, alongside of Lord Nottingham's Ha-ha. The hill is marked on a map of 1763, as Buck Barn Hill, and the avenue is Buck Hill Walk. These names show that in the middle of the eighteenth century there were deer in Kensington Gardens. Below the hill to the westward is the Serpentine or the Canal, called by Boque the New River. This is one of Queen Caroline's improvements, and was begun in 1730. The valley was previously marked by a line of ponds connected by the stream of the Westbourne. This brook rises at Hampstead, near West End, and receiving on its way the tributary Kilbourne or Kilburn, enters Kensington Gardens near the Bayswatering, a hamlet of which now only an old Inn, the Swan, remains. A mound was formed of the earth thrown up in the excavation, and on its summit was built a little but very picturesque temple, known as "The Tower of the Winds," from a chair "that could be easily turned round so as to afford shelter from the wind." The water tower and fountains are in a very poor style, and form an eyesore which is not improved by contrast with the Alcove. This lovely building was originally intended for a very different situation, and was the termination of a vista through an avenue south of the Palace. It was built by Wren for Queen Anne, and bears her initials. At present it is wholly out of place. The landscape gardening of the eighteenth century consisted largely of these vistas, and all Kensington Gardens was divided into them; the Palace forming the object of each view from where we stand on Buck Barn Hill.
Proceeding westward, we find "Front Walk," once a noble avenue of fine trees, now decimated by tempests and not a little marred by irregular plantation. Front Walk leads directly to the Basin, an octagonal sheet of Water. Two other but longer avenues converged also on the Basin, Bayswater Walk and Mount Walk. The Tower of the Winds stood a little to the north-east of the site of the Albert Memorial on an artificial mound which accounts for the name. It was very near the new and handsome gate from Hyde Park, which opens on the site of the palace of glass and iron in which was held the Exhibition of 1851. The exhibition building was 1851 feet long, and inclosed several great elm trees, all of which have since perished. The Albert Memorial marks the site of the western end of Sir Joseph Paxton's magnified conservatory, the materials of which were eventually removed to Sydenham Hill. Unfortunately South Walk, which traversed the Gardens from Lancaster Gate, and afforded one of the most pleasing of the old vistas, was diverted to reach the Cross, and the former view is obliterated. In South Walk, near the northern end is an obelisk built of granite, inscribed with the name of Speke, the traveller, who was accidentally killed when shooting in Wiltshire in 1864. The South Roundabout was nearly on the site of the present well-known and beautiful Flower Walk, the lawn to the north-westward being the "Colts Quarter." The corresponding Walk, on the north side of the Garden, along Bayswater Road, was the North Roundabout The Basin Lawns form the green expanse round the pond, but there was formerly another pond among the trees, the site of which was a little to the east of the absurdly-named St. Gover's Well. St. Gover was a Welsh saint, and his name was imported here by Sir Benjamin Hall, when he was Chief Commissioner of Works, To him also most of the alterations we have mentioned, none of them improvements, are attributable. He was raised to the peerage in 1859, as Lord Llanover. On the north side of the Basin we find the Horse Quarter, and next it, to the west, Grindstone Quarter, the meaning of whose name may be conjectured. Near the Fountains is the statue of Jenner, by W. Calder Marshall, R.A.
A paddock for deer was said to have been "taken from Hyde Park in 1705." It had, however, belonged to Kensington Gardens after 1663, and, as we learn from a subsequent document, had been rented by the Hanger of Hyde Park. In 1729 a sum of money was paid to the Hanger as compensation for the loss of this holding, which would seem to have extended as far west as "Horse Quarter" and "Colt Quarter," but of course, never formed any part of the adjoining Hyde Park. Another sum, a pension of £18, was paid to Sarah Gray, whose husband was accidentally shot in 1798, by the keepers when they were destroying foxes in the "Deer Harbour" or Paddock.
We have now reached the noblest feature of the Gardens. The Broad Walk is edged by four rows of elms, which border a gravelled roadway, sixty feet wide. It descends the hill for more than. half a mile from Black Lion Gate, on the Bayswater Road, to near the site of the old Cavalry Barracks, now Palace Gate, on the Kensington Road. Many of the trees are of considerable antiquity, and it is possible that some of them are of Queen Caroline's planting. Few elms survive the second century of their existence, and almost every year the Broad Walk or Grand Walk as it was called, suffers diminution in the gales of winter. The ground to the westward of the Broad Walk appears to have been scarped, so that between the Palace and the Walk there is a bank. This used to be Slope Lawn. It was edged by a second avenue which led direct from the south front of the main building of the Palace. This walk terminated at the Alcove, noticed above as having been removed. At that time the Gardens were bounded on the south by a brick wall, and the Alcove was arranged, with a clump of old trees, to hide the wall and to end a charming vista from the windows. It is much to be hoped the present repairs and improvements may include the return of the Alcove to the place for which it was intended.
The Albert Memorial is approached by two or three walks, and stands on a spacious lawn which was formerly reckoned to be in Hyde Park. The gilt bronze cross rises 180 feet from the ground on the summit of a great metal canopy in an Italian style of Gothic which does not commend itself to eyes accustomed to English work of the kind. The design is ornamented with some beautiful and much very ordinary sculpture, the white marble pedestal with its altorelievo figures interfering with the appearance of stability which is further diminished by the slenderness of the pillars supporting the weight of the vast canopy above. An ingenious but architectually unsatisfactory expedient is employed in the use of bent iron girders concealed in the vaulting. The coloured inlays, the gilding, the delicate carvings, and other embelishments are worthy of more praise than can be bestowed upon the design or the general effect. The whole memorial cost nearly £200,000, of which £120,000 was subscribed by "Queen Victoria and her people." The House of Commons, in addition, voted £50,000.
The beauty of the southern lawns, with the Broad Walk hemming them in on the east side, is greatly enhanced on a fine summer day by the groups of brightly dressed children with their attendants, which are to be seen in all directions. So cheerful a scene probably does not exist elsewhere in England, if any where in the world. A writer in Notes and Queries in 1878 says that "during the French Revolution Kensington House," now pulled down, "was a great centre for refugees. Alfred Chalon, the well-known artist, used to say he remembered services being held in Queen Anne's Alcove in Kensington Gardens, owing to the crowds of refugees here."
There were in the eighteenth century two parallel roads to Hyde Park from this point, one on either side of the wall just mentioned. Lord Hervey, writing to his mother, Lady Bristol, in 1736- the year before the inundation of the Serpentine mentioned above, — observes "There are two ways through the Park, but the new one is so convex, and the old one is so concave, that by this extreme of faults they agree in the common one of being, like the high road, impassable." We have thus, apparently, three roads named, of which it would seem that one answered to Rotten Row continued perhaps along the line of the present flower walk: one led through what was then an outlying corner of Hyde Park facing Kensington Gore, and ending at the Barracks near what is now Palace Gate: the third was the old highway from Knightsbridge towards Reading which before entering the High Street of Kensington was crossed by the Turnpike Gate.
Passing northward up the Broad Walk, we come, when we are abreast of the eastern side of the Palace, to the very graceful and dignified statue of the Queen, designed and sculptured in white marble by Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lome. When the privet hedges and the hot-houses have been removed, the statue will be seen in its full beauty, and though every view is interfered with at present, we can easily judge of what it will be when it is unencumbered.
We now approach the Orangery, one of Wren's most learned and beautiful buildings, designed, like the Alcove, for Queen Anne. It is sometimes called the Banqueting House, and other names have been given to it, and we are glad to hear that the ill usage it has suffered will no longer be permitted, the repairs having been carefully carried out. The low appreciation of Wren's work fifty years ago is well exemplified by Leigh Hunt's account of this beautiful example: "Anne exerted herself so far as to build a long kind of out-house which still remains, and which she intended, it is said, for the balls and suppers which certainly took place in it; though we suspect, from the narrowness of its construction, it never was designed for anything but what it is, a green-house." Mr. Wheatley, on the other hand, calls it "a very fine detached room;" and a prize in the Architectural School of the Royal Academy was awarded to Mr. Weald, in 1895, for a measured set of drawings representing it carefully. Bowack, writing in 1705 speaks of it as "a stately green house, not yet finished." Faulkner, writing in 1820, says "The superb building situated to the north of the palace, originally designed by Queen Anne for a banqueting house, and frequently used by her Majesty as such, is one story in height; the south front consists of a centre, ornamented with four rusticated pillars, supporting a pediment, of the Doric order; over which is a semicircular window; both ends terminate in a semicircular recess; and the brickwork of the whole is justly admired. The interior is divided into three apartments, against the wall of the centre are placed pillars of the Corinthian order supporting a rich entablature. The roofs of the circular pavilions at each end, are covered, and supported by eight fluted pillars of the same order." A recent writer in the Times speaks in terms of high admiration of this little masterpiece: "Undoubtedly the most beautiful portion of the whole group of buildings is the Orangery, a long garden house which was built by Sir Christopher Wren towards the end of his life, and which bears Queen Anne's monogram. It is in red brick, and so far as the south front and the ends are concerned, is in admirable preservation: but the exquisite interior has been the victim not of neglect, but of chronic outrage. For, as the little garden between this and the Palace has been found a convenient place on which to put up the glass-houses, frames, and potting sheds necessary for the park gardeners, what more natural, to the official eye, than that of the Orangery close by should be pressed into the same service? Accordingly, at some time or other, which can not have been very many years ago, more than half the beautiful high oak panelling of this building was torn down and has disappeared, the gardener's stands have been let into the walls, and there the daily work has proceeded with no thought that it was a daily desecration."
The Orangery was being built when Bowack notices it in 1705, and cannot tberefore be described as the work of Wren's later years. He was, at that date, just seventy-three, and as he lived and worked and designed some of his most important buildings until 1723, he cannot be correctly described as towards the end of his life in 1705, or a few years earlier when the Orangery was designed, that is before Burlington House, or Spencer House, or any of the works of Gibbs, Vanbrugh, Hawksmoor, or other architects of what we might describe as the great school, down to Sir Charles Barry. It is a mistake to say that Queen Anne's initials appear on the front. They are on the Alcove, but occur nowhere, if Mr. Weald's drawings and a somewhat careful examination may be trusted, in the Orangery In fact, the absence of ornament, apart from such architectural features as the capitals of Corinthian columns, is, in itself, a striking feature of the whole work.
Of the Wilderness, which lay to the north-west of the Orangery, little now remains. A pair of gate pillars, in Wren's best red brick, marks the entrance, and a few rapidly decaying yew or cedar trees seem to show where it was. The path by the side of what is now an open field was known in old times as Brazen Face Walk, called, no doubt, from a bronze statue or bust which stood in it. Hog Walk is now the main thoroughfare of the double row of stucco mansions called Palace Gardens. A gravel pit was used to make a sunk garden, but, except for the formal walks, the name of Wilderness suited the place well. Here William III. enjoyed as much privacy as a king can ever command. The kitchen garden was further south-west, where the barracks now stand.
The late Mr. Tristram-Valentine made a special study of the birds which during many years he had observed in Kensington Gardens. Leaving aside the sparrows, starlings, jackdaws, and other familiar residents, we may mention the nightingale, which has now become very rare; the redstart, thrush, redwing and blackbird, which are fairly common; the robin, and its congener the wrongly named hedge-sparrow, the three titmice, the great, the cole, and the blue; all of which, if not exactly common, are to be seen by a careful observer. A cuckoo is occasionally to be heard. The ringdove, or wood pigeon, is very common; and in winter, woodcocks, sandpipers, terns, and two or three kinds of gulls have also been noticed. Mr. Tristram- Valentine saw the shallow, floating nest of a little grebe, "moored to some aquatic plants in the Round Pond."
We now turn to the Palace itself. It is a very irregular structure in redbrick; picturesque on the whole and admirably suited to its surroundings. Of grandeur it has nothing; but many features are interesting and more beautiful, as for instance the carving over a door at the north-eastern corner and a portico close by. The principal entrance is by a wooden building in advance of that on which the bell turret stands. The turret, with its vane and the clock which gives its name to the first courtyard, is full in sight from the western windows of the State Apartments. George I. and George II. watched the vane anxiously when they contemplated a journey to Hanover, or when they expected dispatches from the Continent. It will be observed that the principal floor of the Palace is in the upper storey, a device, no doubt, of Wren's for raising the rooms to be occupied by William III. as much as possible above the damp mists which brought on his asthma.
The entrance to the Palace is by an archway in the western front. A long passage or gallery, one of the oldest parts of the existing building, led from the archway alongside the court, but it has not been available for visitors since the Duke of Sussex filled it with his library. It is now a portion of the apartments of Princess Louise and Lord Lome. The windows of this gallery are of the old type in vogue under Charles II., with small panes and cross mullions. Similar windows may be seen in the old guards' barrack on the green close by. It is possible they are relics of Nottingham House. Crossing the Clock Court from the archway, to the principal entrance, visitors obtained admission to the hall and staircase. They are not and can never have been very magnificent; and Kent's paintings in colour, now they have faded, impart a ghostly look to the walls. Three or tour archways have painted balustrades across them. Looking through the arches, and leaning over the balustrades, are the spectators of some regal pageant, in old-fashioned dresses. We see in the several groups the inhabitants of the court of George II. There we see Mohammed and Mustapha, two of the late Kings servants, Turkish prisoners, originally taken in Hungary. Thev were said to have saved the King's life at the siege of Vienna in 1085. Mohammed, who lived longest, turned Christian, and persuaded a fair Hanoverian to marry him. When he died in 1720, killed by the November fogs, he left a family. He is spoken of with praise by Pope in one of his Epistles. There too we meet with Peter, the Wild Boy, who, never having learned to speak, survived till 1785, when he died at a farm house near Berkhampstead. Mr. Ulric, a page of George I., figures in one group, as does a page of Lady Suffolk, the King's favourite. The ceiling is flat, but is painted to look like a dome, and faces are peeping over from painted skylights in the roof. Among them we are supposed to recognise Kent, the architect himself; a pretty actress, whom he is said to have loved; and some of his pupils. Altogether, these pictures, weak and poor and faded as they are, add an interest to the gloomy old staircase, with its black marble steps, its black and white pavement, and its wrought iron balustrade. A conspicuous feature used to be a tall stove pipe, surmounted by a black vase. The decorations include, according to the taste of that day, figures of heathen gods and goddesses, sea horses, heads of unicorns, masks of lions, warlike trophies, and festoons of fruit and flowers. The melancholy aspect of what can never have been very cheerful or gorgeous even at its best, was unspeakable. We must of course remember that the neglect of one hundred and forty years will account for much, but as we have seen, the predominant colour in the decorations of this staircase was a pearly grey, relieved with black, so we can only suppose that Kent wished to enhance the impression to be produced by the apartments beyond.
The first room entered from the staircase is the so-called Presence Chamber. It was decorated by Kent, and according to all accounts was really very magnificent. It was hung with tapestry, all of which has long disappeared, and in addition it still boasts of a chimney piece attributed to Grinling Gibbons and beautifully carved, and of a ceiling by Kent, an imitation of the wall paintings of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The predominant colour is a vivid scarlet, but there is plenty of blue, gold and white, and, on the whole, the effect is good, but it must have completely eclipsed the tapestry. It was perhaps on this account that a large number of pictures of very varying degrees of merit were hung on the walls. Some of these pictures may be identified at Hampton Court, and others are at Windsor Castle. Faulkner says: — "A looking-glass of large dimensions, is placed between the windows of this apartment, which was tastefully decorated with festoons of flowers, painted with great truth and spirit, by John Baptist Monnoyer, an artist who was brought to England, by the Duke of Montagu, to embellish his house, now the British Museum. It is remarkable that Queen Mary sat by the painter during the greater part of the time he was employed in painting it. It is now much defaced." In spite of Faulkner's liberal use of commas, it is by no means clear whether Monnoyer decorated the whole room or the mirror only, but the mirror has departed and no trace of the painter's work is visible on the walls.
From the Presence Chamber we enter the Privy Chamber. It, or, rather, what remains of it, is very much in the style of Kent, and the ceiling is evidently by him. Here, too, the tapestry has been removed, but there is a good deal of fine old woodwork, and the chimney piece of dark marble is handsome. Marble tables used to stand between the windows. The design of the ceiling shows us Minerva with History and Art supporting her. The pictures in this room were chiefly portraits, among them one of William, Duke of Gloucester, Queen Anne's last surviving child. This picture was removed to Hampton Court, from which it has been withdrawn, and is now shown in Queen Anne's Dining Room. It is described in West's list as "a child sitting, a cap and a leather, a shock dog by his side." Another portrait of the young duke, by Lely, represented him in armour. It is now at Hampton Court, and Mr. Law ascribes it, as well as the foregoing, to Kneller. Besides these and some fifty other pictures, the Privy Chamber contained several examples of sculpture.
The next chamber, the Queen's Drawing Room, must have been one of the most beautiful in the whole suite. The ceiling is coved, and when the colouring was fresh, must have had a charming effect. The walls were hung with tapestry, and the wainscotting was in dark oak. The pictures were numerous, and included the large half length group by Maingaud of the daughters of George II. which is now at Hampton Court in the Queen's Private Chamber. These princesses all figure largely in Lord Hervey's amusing Memoirs. The eldest, Princess Anne, married the Prince of Orange in 1734. Princess Amelia, called by Hervey, "Princess Emily," and the third sister, Princess Caroline, both died unmarried. This room is the scene of the amusing account given by Hervey of the differences between the King and Queen about the pictures. The King liked the fat figures of Venus, of the Venetian School — copies of Titian for the most part, while the Queen thought them unsuitable in her drawing room. The Queen in the King's absence, had taken several very bad pictures away and substituted good ones. The King, though he knew nothing about art, desired Lord Hervey, who was Vice-Chamberlain, to bring back those which had been removed, including "the gigantic fat Venus." But they had been sent some to Hampton Court and others to Windsor and could not be brought back at once. In fact they never were brought back, and some of them may be seen at Hampton Court to the present day. The windows of this room look out across the Clock Court, towards the weather cock already mentioned. It is said that on the morning of his death George II. looked anxiously to see if the wind had changed, so that his ships and despatches might arrive. The Queen's Drawing Room communicates with the King's Drawing Room through the Grand Saloon or Cube Room, described below.
Next to the Queen's Drawing Room was a private Dining Room, used by Queen Caroline. It is small and plain, and calls for no special remark. The pictures were many and must have covered the walls. They were nearly all portraits, the most important of which is now numbered 710, at Hampton Court, and has often been attributed to Raphael. "Some," says Mr. Law, "consider it a genuine portrait of Raphael by himself; others a portrait of Raphael, but not by himself; others not a portrait of Raphael, but by him, others neither a portrait of him nor by him." In any case, though it is a little more than a foot square, it is a magnificent picture and must have been the gem of the Kensington Palace collection. Two or three other pictures were attributed to Holbein, and one, probablv rightly, to Albert Durer. It represents a young man with red hair and is now at Hampton Court, where it is numbered 589.
The Queen's Dressing Room is small and plain, but was also plentifully supplied with pictures, chiefly portraits for which Queen Caroline had a passion. Among them were the two by Holbein, Erasmus and Frobenius, which are among the masterpieces at Hampton Court. They had belonged to Charles I., and were sold by the authorities of the Commonwealth for £100 each. Mr. Claude Phillips remarks of them that two eminent German connoisseurs were of opinion that neither of them was really by Holbein. An old fireplace and chimneypiece, on which is marked the initial of Queen Elizabeth, has been removed here from the old law courts at Westminster.
The Queen's Gallery, by which visitors are now admitted to the Palace from the Denmark Staircase, was, we are told, very slightly ornamented, the panelling being painted in white and gold. It is 84 feet long and 21 wide, and held a small organ. Faulkner mentions the five gilt chandeliers which were suspended from the coved roof, the Egyptian marble tables, the ten mahogany cabinets, the busts and other articles of decorative furniture. All is gone now. In this room hung Zucchero's picture of Queen Elizabeth in a forest with a stag and a tree, inscribed with numerous verses. It is now in the Queen's Audience Chamber at Hampton Court, where it is well known. Faulkner, besides the pictures, mentions some models in cork of ruins of ancient Roman building's. In this gallery are now hung a series of portraits, chiefly representing the royal occupants of the Palace from William III. to George II.
The Cupola Room or Cube Room is in many respects the most important of the State Apartments. It has the further merit of being the least altered. There is a kind of dome above, whence the name. The walls are thirty-seven feet square, richly decorated with marble and gilding. In niches, stand six gilt statues of heathen divinities. Above the niches are gilt busts of classical poets. The centre of the Cupola has a now faded representation of the Star of the Order of the Garter. The door-cases are formed of Ionic columns supporting an entablature, all of marble. The chimney-piece is of white marble ornamented with a beautiful bas-relief by Rysbrach, representing a Roman Marriage. In a niche above was a "bust" of Cleopatra. The windows look into a small courtyard. There is much that may be criticised in the lavish decorations of this gorgeous saloon, and much also that must be censured. Kent, who designed it, probably had to please the King, whose taste, as we have seen, was not remarkable for its purity.
In this saloon, on the 24th June, 1819, the Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent was baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London — the last of many great ceremonies here celebrated.
Passing through the southern doorway we reach the King's Great Drawing Room. This fine apartment lies to the south and looks over the green lawns and through a short avenue of old elms leading to the place where Wren's beautiful little Alcove, already mentioned, used to terminate the view. It was one of the first parts of the Palace to be dismantled, and little can now be made out of its former grandeur. Pyne reports that "it was on the walls of this drawing room that the then new art of paper hangings, in imitation of the old velvet flock, was displayed." It was lighted up at night with four gilt chandeliers. The ceiling was painted by Kent with the story of Jupiter and Semele, which may still be made out.
The King's Gallery is ninety-four feet in length but was long divided into two or three smaller rooms. The windows, nine in number, look over the lawns towards the Alcove. A pretty fireplace and over-mantle is all that now remains of its former glories. A dial shows or showed the direction of the wind, and a small fresco after Raphael, now nearly obliterated,was underneath. Statuary and other marbles stood between the windows, and the walls were nearly covered with pictures, some of them fine. It is said to have been in this gallery that William III. acted the part of a coach horse to please a child, the little Lord Buckhurst, the eldest son of Lord Dorset. He subsequently became the first Duke of Dorset and is described by his contemporaries as remarkable for his winning manners and personal beauty.
One of the chambers into which the gallery was divided was used as a playroom by the youthful Princess Victoria. It still contained, a few years ago. a large doll's house and several dolls, as well as the model of a full-rigged ship. These and other toys were left in this room after the princess grew too old to care for them. An adjoining division of the gallery contained the golden gods and goddesses from the Cupola Room now restored to their places.
Passing by a number of small chambers and passages, some of which have now been opened to the public, we reach the two rooms already, mentioned, in the south-eastern part of the Palace, underneath the King's Gallery. They are the chamber in which the future Queen was born and the ante-room in which she received the news of her accession. Close by is a third apartment which is under the Grand Saloon. It looks into the same courtyard, and the ceiling is supported by massive columns, placed here, no doubt, with a view to strengthening the Cube Room above. The appearance of this room is well known from engravings of Wilkie's picture of "Queen Victoria's first council." Wilkie has made it hold more people than could possibly have been got into it. The artist lived at Maitland House in Church Street, close by. Neither for proportions nor for decorations is the Council Chamber in any way remarkable, and the difficulty of opening it and the adjoining apartments on the same floor to the general public has been found insuperable. There is also a small, plain private chapel, removed to its present place at the instance of the Duchess of Kent, in order to give better access to the staircase which led to her apartments. The communion plate is magnificent, several pieces dating as far back as the time of William III. and Queen Anne. It must have been from one of these chalices Archbishop Tillotson administered the Holy Communion to William on the morning of the day (8th March, 1702) on which he died. A chaplain resides in the Palace, appointed by the Crown to minister to the four or five families who have had grants of apartments.
The repairs now carried out by the Office of Works were badly needed. The roof over the State Apartments was in an unsafe condition; the floors were in danger of giving way: the King's Gallery, once so fine, was divided into several rooms by partitions of very flimsy construction. Except for a few handsome fireplaces, for the marble decorations of the Cube Room, and for the faded ceilings of some of the chambers, all ornament had departed. The series of historical pictures now to be seen goes far to make up for the departed tapestry with which the walls were lined. An exhibition of pictures was organized by the late Prince Consort, and for a short time occupied the old walls in 1848. The collection is mentioned by Dr. Waagen [Galleries and Cabinets]. A copy of the original catalogue is in the Kensington Reference Library.
We can see in Pyne's excellent views what the rooms looked like before they were dismantled, and though it will be impossible to do much more than indicate the former condition of the old Palace, even that will be something gained. When the hot-houses are gone and when the Alcove has been removed from its present absurd position and replaced facing the windows of the King's Gallery, we shall be better able to judge of the beauty of a building which, apart altogether from its artistic merits, has passed into the most glorious chapter of our country's annals, as the spot in which began the unequalled reign of Queen Victoria.Kensington Palace and Gardens
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