Next in the Historic Royal Palaces series, we take at look at Kensington Palace’s Orangery…
The Orangery at Kensington Palace. Photo Courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces.
In 1704, Queen Anne decided that Kensington Palace was to have a greenhouse. Not just a simple greenhouse to care for her citrus trees during the bitter winter but one crafted in a refined and sophisticated style. With this in mind, The Orangery at Kensington Palace would begin construction.
The Orangery would not be a building to simply house citrus during the winter. Utilising the lavish gardens of Kensington, the building and surrounding gardens would become a place for lavish entertaining as well as a sign of wealth and prestige of the Monarchy.
The design of The Orangery is accredited to Nicholas Hawksmoor. It was however altered by Sir John Vanbrugh. Vanbrugh was an English architect and playwright. He is best known as the designer of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard.
According to Kensington Palace, the original estimate of £2,599 had more than doubled by the time work was finished.
In the late 19th century during restoration, the interior paneling was removed. The interior of The Orangery is now white with 24 Corinthian columns, cornice and replace paneling.
Atop the arches on each end of the room are pine and pearwood carvings by Grinling Gibbons. Grinling Gibbons was a Dutch-British sculptor and wood carver. Gibbons is recognised for some of the greatest buildings such as: St Paul’s Cathedral, Blenheim Palace and Hampton Court Palace.
Under the Gibbons carvings, one will find recesses that contain four statues by Pietor Francaville of female deities. The statues were purchased in 1751by Frederick, Prince of Wales.
Beyond in two circular rooms, one will find two great vases by sculptors Caius Gabriel Cibber and Edward Pearce. The vases were created for the Hampton Court Palace gardens at the end of the 17th century. In the surrounding niches copies of Roman busts are on display.
Open daily throughout the year, the Orangery is now a tearoom that offers breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.
Photo Credit: Historic Royal Palaces Press Image Library
The Orangery is also used now for private receptions, weddings, etc. When I visited KP a few weeks ago, I did the garden tour (which includes being able to visit the sunken garden and a lot of details about the gardens and orangery.)
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