Attractions and places to visit in Kensington

The grandest building in Kensington by far is the Royal Kensington Palace and Gardens, the birthplace of Queen Victoria - located on the western edge of the broad green fields of Hyde Park. Kensington's other famous buildings include the Royal Albert Hall, which overlooks the southern side of Hyde Park, famous worldwide for its annual hosting of 'The BBC Proms' and other distinguished concerts and festivals.

Any excursion to Kensington would not be complete without a trip along Exhibition Road, to visit one or more of its three magnificent museums, all with free entry. The museums are so large and packed with so many marvelous exhibits that it will require a day or more, in each one, to see all there is to see.

Natural History Museum

Life Sized Animated Tyrannosaurus Rex

The great halls of this impressive neo-Gothic building provide nearly 4 acres of gallery space, with over 50 million exhibits. It tells the story of natural history from prehistory to present day. The collections are divided into five main categories covering botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology. Among the exhibits are a wide array of fossils and stuffed animals, including a 91 ft long model of a blue whale in the Whale Gallery and hundreds of preserved spiders in the Creepy Crawlies Gallery.

A key exhibition in the museum is the Dinosaur Gallery, complete with a life sized, roaring, animated Tyrannosaurus Rex, plus an extensive a collection of dinosaur bones and fully assembled skeletons of dinosaurs.

Located within the same building complex is the Geological Museum, which tells the story of the Earth with minerals, rocks and crystals, including a magnificent collection of gem stones. The collection illustrates the principles of geology, earth history and world wide mineralogy. You can also see a piece of the Moon, collected by the Apollo astronauts in 1972.

Opening times: all year, daily 10am to 5.50pm (closed Xmas) - Free Entry
Location: Cromwell Rd, London, SW7 5BD - Tel: 020 7942 5000 - Website

Science Museum

Apollo 10 Capsule

Opened in 1857, the museum covers an all-embracing panorama of science and technology throughout the ages. Interactive displays recount discoveries and inventions, from the Industrial Revolution to the Space Age. The museum is absolutely packed to the rafters with fascinating exhibits from human biology and nutrition to industrial technology and space exploration.

Of all the museums in London, the Science Museum is the one most loved by children and their parents. There are thousands of interactive exhibits, buttons to press, handles to turn and all sorts of displays that light up, move and make noises. You can measure your heartbeat, shake hands with yourself and even star in your own special effects video. You will also discover a range of industrial wonders such as a Vickers Vimy aircraft (that made the first transatlantic flight in 1919) plus full sized working steam engines and steam locomotives, including, Stephenson's Rocket.

Opening times: all year, daily from 10am (closed Xmas) - Free Entry
Location: Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD - Tel: 0870 870 4868 - Website

Victoria & Albert Museum

Renaissance statues in the Victoria & Albert Museum

Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone for this national museum of fine and applied art museum in 1899. The exhibits and displays cover virtually all countries, periods and styles. The maze-like interior contains over seven miles of galleries, so it is wise to purchase a guide book from the forum and work-out route, so that you can visit all the galleries you wish to see before you start exploring.

There are basically two types of galleries: those that display a wide selection of exhibits covering a particular period or civilisation; and smaller subject based galleries that contain more specialised collections. All-in-all the Victoria & Albert Museum is like an enormous box of delights, with exhibits ranging from water colours to wallpaper. Fashions come and go in the Dress Collection, while lasting treasures include Medieval and Byzantine art, plus an array of oriental carpets, Chinese thrones and samurai swords.

Opening times: all year, daily, from 10am (closed Xmas) - Free Entry
Location: Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, London, SW7 2RL - Tel: 020 7942 2000 - Website

Baden-Powell House

Statue of Lord Baden-PowellThis contemporary brick and glass building, designed by Ralph Tubbs in 1961, commemorates the Scout Movement's founder, Lord Baden-Powell. A statue of the late Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, whose goal was 'to promote good citizenship in the rising generation', stands outside the entrance.

A number of exhibits and displays, which illustrate his life from an officer in the Boer War to chief of the Boy Scout organisation (including his hat and uniform) are now on display in Gilwell Park (Chingford, London E4 7QW).

Location: Corner of Queens Gate and Cromwell Road (not open to general public)

Kensington Palace and Gardens

Peter pan statue in Kensignton gardens

The palace is situated at the western end of Kensington Gardens. The state apartments are open to the public daily. Exhibits include a four-poster bed used by James II, Queen Victoria's doll's house and the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, which includes dresses worn by Princess Diana.

The palace was purchased in 1689 as a royal residence by William III, who then enlarged it with the help of Wren and Hawksmoor. King George II was the last reigning monarch to live here and who also died here in 1760. Queen Victoria was born here in 1819 and her room (where she was woken one morning with the news she was queen), is filled with her favourite paintings and souvenirs. The palace is still a residence for various Royal Family members, including Prince William and Kate.

The gardens were once part of the Palace grounds, and laid out in their present form by George II. The Peter Pan statue (designed by Sir George Frampton in 1912) was erected overnight to surprise local children; the pipes are said to disappear regularly.

Opening times: all year, daily, from 10am (closed Xmas) - Admission Charge
Location: Kensington Gardens, London, W8 4PX - Tel: 0844 482 7777 - Website

Leighton House Museum

Grand Victorian house on the edge of Holland Park. Built in 1866 as a studio-house for the artist Frederic Lord Leighton (President of the Royal Academy). In addition to works by Leighton there is a collection of Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian paintings on display.

Opening times: all year, daily 11am to 5.30pm (closed Xmas) - Admission Charge
Location: 12 Holland Park Rd, W14 8LL - Tel: 020 7602 3316 - Website

Linley Sambourne House

Former home of the leading Punch cartoonist and illustrator Edward Linley Sambourne (1844-1910). Drawings by Sambourne and fellow artists are on display. Access by guided tour only.

Opening times: Mar~Dec, Wed, Sat & Sun (see Website for tour times) - Admission Charge
Location: 18 Stafford Terrace, London, W8 7BH - Tel: 020 7602 3316 / 020 7938 1295

Next Page >> Theatres, Parks and Shops in Kensington

Please note that the above information was accurate at the time this page was last updated. This information is subject to change at any time (opening times in particular), therefore if you plan on visiting any of the above attractions, please check the owner's website first or phone them for the latest details.


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