27 November 2015

Kensington Palace – what a revelation

Why oh why had I never been in here before. What a lovely surprise.
It's always the way, isn't it? you live in a city and take it for granted saying that next week you'll go and see what these bloody tourists are all looking at, and the day never comes.
Well, I finally went inside and it's bloody marvellous.
Kensington palace is sort of split into three historical periods. And, by chance we viewed it in, what we now believe in hindsight to be, the right order...
Actually this is a bit silly me posting about this and showing you pictures because I think the reason I loved it there so much is because I had no preconceptions whatsoever.
Oh well... sorry... here goes...

First we admired some of Queen Elizabeth II's frocks. She was tiny!!
The simple elegance of these dresses compared to the ones particularly worn by Diana Princess of Wales on display in another room was quite a shock. The 80s has a lot to answer for fashionwise; padded shoulders, puffball skirts, off the shoulder asymmetric concoctions, dropped waistlines, electric blue, gaudy green, hideous fabrics etc. 
Next to the Queens apartments. Simple and functional and homely.
Then... crash bang wallop!!! into the Kings Apartments – trompe l'oeil agogo!!!
Shown here is the famed staircase (the Queen's one has plain wooden panelling on the walls).  
Almost every room had a splendiferous ceiling and faux columns on the walls.
I caught Malcolm sitting on the throne.  
I was impressed that the information was given not on the standard boards but could be found subtly placed on relevant items within each room such as on fire screens, or on the excellent clothing recreated by the palace's design department sewn using a waterproof paper that beautifully imitates soft material.
Also, there was interactive lighting, sounds and music which occurred intermittently. In one room some dancers could be heard tapping the floorboards as their 'shadows' appeared on the wall. Delightful.
And lots of paintings, some large and fruity and others pocket-sixed and exquisite.
We played tried out some old dice and card games.  
Getting dressed back then wasn't a quick lick and a promise and sling on a onesie to pop out for a pint of milk. Those enormous dresses were as wide as a double bed and took hours to put on and take off, requiring helpers in order to be tied into the things. The second pic shows the uncomfortable under-structure that must have caused all sorts of wear and tear to the hips. What a painful palaver.
The third and fourth pic were taken in the Kings Gallery which is the only one of his rooms that bears any resemblance to the Queen's equivalent (see above left) – though, note the ceiling. 
We spotted a beautifully carved bust of a black slave. Wrong. Totally wrong. But how can you not admire the workmanship using different stones for different elements?
Time was running out and the palace staff (all absolutely lovely by the way and obviously happy to be working there) were ushering us out of the building closing doors behind us. So we whizzed through the Victorian wing vowing to come back soon so I only managed to snap a couple of pics of the The Great Exhibition Hall before exiting through the gift shop.
In the gardens outside I was a bit upset by the message being sent out by the topiary.
How jolly rude!

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