The magnificent Kensington Palace was once a two-story mansion built by Sir George Coppin in 1605. It was purchased by Heneage Finch, 1st Earl of Nottingham, in 1619 and it then became known as Nottingham House. Joint monarch William and Mary began to search for a new residence, and they purchased Nottingham House from the 2nd Earl of Nottingham in 1689. They ordered an expansion, and the original structure was kept intact, but a three-story pavilion was added at each of the four corners. They took up residence shortly before Christmas 1689. It remained a favourite royal residence for the next 70 years.
Queen Mary died at Kensington Palace of smallpox in 1694, and William too died there in 1702. He was succeeded by Queen Anne, and she had Christopher Wren complete the extensions. She also attributed to the gardens. Queen Anne’s husband died at Kensington Palace in 1708, and she also died there on 1 August 1714.
King George I created three new state rooms, known as the Privy Chamber, the Cupola Room and the Withdrawing Room. He housed his mistress, Melusine von der Schulenberg, Duchess of Kendal, in one of the apartments. The last reigning monarch to use Kensington Palace was King George II. His wife, Caroline of Ansbach, had the gardens redesigned in a form that is still recognisable today. When she died, George let the Palace fall into disrepair. He died at the Palace on 26 October 1760.
The Palace continued to be used for minor royals, like Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex and his second wife, Lady Cecilia Letitia Buggin. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, used two floors of rooms below the state apartments, next to those of his sister Princess Sophia. His daughter, the future Queen Victoria, was born at the Palace on 24 May 1819, and she was baptised in the Cupola Room. She had an unhappy and lonely childhood before succeeding to the throne at the age of 18. Her first privy council was held in the Red Saloon. She quickly moved into Buckingham Palace. The Duke and Duchess of Teck, parents of Mary of Teck, had rooms at the Palace. Queen Victoria’s daughter Louise had an apartment and an art studio there. Another daughter, Beatrice, was given the apartments where her mother grew up.
Other royal inhabitants included: Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont, Duchess of Albany and her daughter, Princess Alice, Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, Diana, Princess of Wales and Princess Margaret.
The Palace was damaged during the Second World War, and renovations had to be carried out. The Palace is still used as a royal residence for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Prince Harry.
In addition, the staterooms are now open to the public, and the Palace regularly hosts exhibitions.