Tuesday 15th May – 16th meeting of 2012

Our usual meeting place this week at Charing Cross from there we got the District line to High Street Kensington and at M & S went for a coffee and catch-up. We got our drinks then spotted an old lady who is a regularly there and is very fussy that she sits in the same place every time, so we made sure we were suitably seated away from her.

From here we walked to Kensington Palace but needed to ask a few times the correct route. We arrived and walked to the entrance. The first sight of the Palace is the Golden Gate and my thoughts went back to the scenes of this area laden with flowers at the news of the death of Princess Diana.  We purchased our tickets, as this is on the 2 for 1 offers from British Rail it worked out at £8 each.

The palace has undergone a £12 million, two-year makeover and is set in four main areas, The Queen’s State Apartments, The Kings’s State Apartments, Victoria Revealed and Diana (temporary display).  The King’s State Apartments were very sumptuous with beautiful paintings, elaborate wall paintings, court dress and King’s Grand Staircase. There was also ‘The Game of the Court’ which seemed to be a card game but unfortunately we didn’t quite get the idea of it! But up the staircase were some lovely street lamps with small model dolls and cards inside which must have been part of the game!

The Queen’s state apartments showed the life of William 111, Mary 11, Queen Annes and son William.  These rooms have a very theatrical modern feel to them and personally I am not really sure if I like this mixing modern with old but it does make it very different.

The Diana display showed many pictures and showed five of her dresses.  A small but good exhibition.  The wallpaper in the corridor was very interesting with lots of different paintings and drawings of Diana.

Upstairs the Victoria Revealed was a large display with exhibits of Victoria including clothes, writings, jewellery, paintings and furniture.  This is a special display that coincides with the Diamond Jubilee of our present Queen. This covered the whole of Victoria’s life from her time living in Kensington Palace, becoming Queen, her marriage to Albert, her family life, her Diamond Jubilee and a whole room devoted to her widowhood. The thing that struck us was how small she was.  The dresses were so short and had such small waists! This was a good exhibition but I thought that it was very dark in many places and the writings on the mirrors and glass were not very easy to read.

We all agreed that there has been an awful lot of work has been done to the Palace. It is light and airy in the entrance, corridors and vestibule and the way that all the exhibitions start and end in the vestibule makes it easy to tour.  Although we were not keen on the modern artistic additions.

We spent quite some time in the Palace and when we came out into the Gardens it was raining so we had to abandon the idea of a walk around the garden itself, which was a shame as the flowers looked really beautiful from a distance.  But there is always the opportunity to return.

We walked back to the underground and Charing Cross and made our way home.  It was raining but we suffered this very well with umbrellas and hoods after a very good day.

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