London has a history spanning 2 millennia, and this means that there’s plenty of history to explore. From the London Museum to the London Wall, you’ll find countless exhibitions that explore the ancient history of the UK Capital and how it became the 1500 square kilometre city that it is today.
For some, it’s the more recent history that will take your fancy. Guests at the Park Grand Paddington Court are well placed for some of the best tourist attractions in London. Among these are the many palaces, stately homes and residences of reigning monarchs and their nobility. From Grade 1 listed relics to repurposed manor houses, London is teeming with unique interiors, fascinating stories and all-round enlightening royal attractions.
Buckingham Palace and Queen Elizabeth
The official royal residence for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, Buckingham Palace is quite possibly the best-known royal palace on this list. This is not least due to the constant activity at the palace, which sees tours, exhibitions and distinctive royal palace guards outside its gilded gates every day. Easy to reach for those capitalising on Park Grand Hotel deals in London, Buckingham Palace should be top of the royal residence list.
Tower of London and William the Conqueror
Now a historic palace of London, the Tower is not used as a royal residence by any monarch or member of the royal family anymore but does house the Crown jewels. With daily tours around the tower charting its history from William the Conqueror until its use as a royal prison, there are many secrets to unearth on a visit to this iconic symbol of the English monarchy.
Hertford House and the Seymour Family
The family of Jane Seymour, one-time wife to Henry VIII built their empire and influence from this house on Hertford Square during the Victorian era. Once the lineage had died out (partly due to the 4th Marquess of Hertford’s hedonistic lifestyle), Richard Wallace, the illegitimate yet highly regarded son of the 4th Marquess of Hertford had his collection of 5500 artworks offered to the British public. Nowadays, the plush interior of Hertford House can be visited for free, and its magnificent collection of decorative art, antiques and 18th-century French paintings on full display.
Hampton Court and Henry VIII
Based 12 miles from the centre of London, Hampton Court Palace is a Thames-side palace that was built in 1515, originally for Cardinal Wolsey of Tudor fame. Once the palace was taken by King Henry VIII, it became a royal residence and is one of the only surviving palaces of the well-known 16th-century king. Spanning 6 acres with many buildings, Hampton Court Palace is still visited today on account of its expansive museum and world-famous maze and gardens.
Kensington Palace and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester
Easily reachable from hotels and restaurants near Paddington Station, Kensington Palace is the residence of a number of royals, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Gloucester and Kent and Princess Eugenie. With exhibitions, tours and the nearby Kensington Gardens, this is a surefire hit for a royally great day out.
Kew Palace and Queen Caroline
Overlooking the River Thames, Kew Palace was once an expansive royal residence in the 18th century but now remains only as the famous red-bricked Dutch House. Whilst no royal family members currently live there, it has become a tourist attraction thanks to the Historic Royal Palaces charity and the nearby Kew Gardens, a botanic garden and home to over 27,000 species of living plants.
Windsor Castle and Queen Elizabeth II
Windsor Castle is one of the longest-standing and occupied castles in the UK and was built in the 11th century after William the Conqueror’s invasion of England. With its fortifications, wards and even a small village within its walls, this palace spans 13 acres and is the perfect day out for those looking for some royal walkabouts outside of the city centre. Still used by the royal family to this day for entertaining and weekend retreats, Windsor Castle is home to around 500 occupants, all of whom directly or indirectly, serve the crown.
Thatched House Lodge and Princess Alexandra
This 17th-century cottage was once the home of British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole but was bought by the royal family in the 1960s’. The Grade II listed house is home to Princess Alexandra and was redesigned by famous 18th-century architect Sir John Soane. Whilst it is closed to the public, the beautiful white Thatched House Lodge can still be seen from behind its gates in Richmond Park.
St James’s Palace and the Princess Royal
Although not a home for members of the royal family, St James’s Palace is easily reachable from hotels near Paddington Station and still a widely visited tourist destination. As one of the oldest still-functioning royal palaces, St James’s is a used as a ceremonial meeting place for the royal family and is the home of the Accession Council, who meet on the death of a monarch to agree upon the next king or queen to be crowned.
Bushy House and William IV
Bushy House passed between nobility and royalty under the ownership of the Ranger of Bushy Park, before it was bequeathed to exiled French royals by Queen Victoria in the 1870s’. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Bushy House has acted as the National Physical Laboratory, which is responsible for the practical uses of science in commercial and everyday life.
The Albany and Prince Frederick
Still visible from Piccadilly Circus today, The Albany Apartments were once home to Prince Frederick, Duke of York between 1791 till 1802. These beautiful apartments have since been turned into 69 separate flats, but still retains its glamorous exterior right in the heart of the West End of London.
Now used as the grounds for the National Maritime Museum, the interior of Queen’s House is home to hundreds of Maritime paintings from the 17th and 18th century. Before it’s conversion in the 20th century, however, Queens House in Greenwich Park was a royal residence used by the likes of Henry VII as the former Palace of Placentia and by King Charles I for the Queen’s Consort before the English Civil War.