Kensington's greatest period of prominence came during the reign of King George II (1727-60) and his consort, Queen Caroline. George II and Queen Caroline used Kensington as their main residence and it became the focus of court life.
The King and Queen could not have been more different. Caroline kept tigers in the gardens while the King remained content with snails and tortoises. He was a bore to her sharp and enquiring mind, off campaigning while Caroline reorganised the gardens, created a cabinet of curiosities and discovered rare and precious treasures in secret closets. Yet they formed a good team, hosting lavish receptions and leading society with sparkle.
Queen Caroline is responsible for much of the gardens' later development. She applied considerable imagination in redesigning the wider park on a grand scale, extending the plantings and views to the far distance. The gardens were also opened to the public when the Royal Family were at Richmond on Saturdays, abd it became a place to be seen and show off the latest fashions.
After Queen Caroline's death in 1737, the court lost much of its sparkle and Horace Walpole noted that 'the king has locked up half the palace since the Queen's death'.
The Hanoverian Succession, Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II