The Palace Gardens

An intimate, tranquil and secluded oasis

An intimate, tranquil and secluded oasis

When

  • Open daily

Ticketing information

You do not need a ticket to enjoy the Kensington Palace Gardens. However, if you would like to explore inside the palace you will need to purchase an admission ticket. 

Free

The Sunken Garden

The beautiful Sunken Garden was planted in 1908, transforming part of the gardens previously occupied by potting sheds into a tranquil ornamental garden of classical proportions. It was modelled on a similar garden at Hampton Court Palace and celebrated a style of gardening seen in the 18th century.

The garden is terraced with paving and ornamental flower beds, surrounding an ornamental pond with fountains formed from reused 18th century water cisterns retrieved from the palace.

Today, the garden continues the tradition of rotational flower displays in the spring and summer. Vibrant colours and exotic planting are on display from April to October when the garden is looking its best. In the spring, tulips, wallflowers and pansies bloom while in the summer months geraniums, cannas, begonias and many more provide the vivid colour.

Cradle Walk

An arched arbour of red-twigged lime, the walk surrounds the Sunken Garden with arched viewpoints equally spaced along the sides. In the summer, this shady tunnel provides the perfect place to view the bright colours in the Sunken Garden to the north or the re-landscaped gardens to the south.

The trees have been coppiced, or stooled, meaning that they have been cut back to the ground. This preserves the original tree stock and allows new stems to be trained over the new framework of the bower.

Some people will remember the colloquial name 'Nanny Walk' as this beautiful spot was a favoured meeting point for the many nannies in Kensington.

Vines and planting across Cradle Walk in the gardens of Kensington Palace
The Orangery at Kensington Palace surrounded by the gardens. The Orangery was previously used as to house plants in the winter months but is now used a restaurant and wedding venue.

Formal gardens

Kensington Gardens began life as a King's playground; for over 100 years, the gardens were part of Hyde Park and hosted Henry VIII's huge deer chase.

When William and Mary established the palace in 1689, they began to create a separate park. Mary commissioned a palace garden of formal flower beds and box hedges. This style was Dutch and designed to make William, who came from Holland, feel at home.

The diarist, John Evelyn, described the gardens as 'very delicious'. On 2 September 1705 he wrote 'I was able to go take the aire, as far as Kensington, where I saw that house... & the plantation about it, to my great admiration and Refreshment...'

When Anne became Queen in 1702, she created an English-style garden. The Orangery was added in 1704, an elaborate greenhouse built in the style of an elegant palace to protect Anne's citrus trees from the harsh frosts of winter.

Anne also recognised the Orangery’s beautiful garden setting and graceful architecture made it a perfect venue for fashionable court entertaining away from the chaos of 'town'.

From 1728, Queen Caroline began to transform the 242 acres of Kensington Gardens into the park we know today. She created the Serpentine boating lake and the Long Water, as well as the Broad Walk and round pond. These are now in Kensington Gardens and looked after by The Royal Parks.

For most of the 18th century the gardens were closed to the public except on Saturdays and only to the 'respectably dressed'. The intriguing garden was admired by Samuel Pepys, amongst others, as 'a mighty fine cool place... with a great layer of water in the middle'.

A gold crown sits on a bright pink background covered in pink flowers
Events

Join us for a fun-filled celebration of summer in the stunning setting of Hampton Court Palace.

04-07 July 2019 (Preview evening: 01 July, RHS Members' Days 02 and 03 July)

Hampton Court Palace

Monday: 17:00-22.30; Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00-19.30; Sunday: 10:00-17.30

Separate ticket (advanced booking required)

Two gentlemen and a group of visitors enjoy a wander through a garden on a sunny Summers day at Hillsborough Castle. The westerly facade of the castle is visible in the background.
Things to see

Enter the castle grounds through the wonderful 18th-century walled garden, which has been expertly restored using traditional methods.

Opening in spring 2019

Hillsborough Castle

Included in all admission tickets (members go free)

View of Stair Hall looking towards stairs that lead to the Royal Corridor. The walls are a soft blue and a large patterned rug covers most of the wooden floor. The walls are adorned with old political cartoons depicting the history of Irish and American politics. A gold-framed mirror hangs on the wall and a red-cushioned bench sits opposite.
Things to see

Explore the story of some key moments in the history of Ireland that shaped the role of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens.

Open Wednesday-Sunday for castle tours

Hillsborough Castle

Included in castle tours (members go free)

Discover the history and design of Kensington Palace and learn about the royals who lived there in the official guidebook.

Official Kensington Palace guidebook

Discover the history and design of Kensington Palace and learn about the royals who lived there in the official guidebook.

£4.99

Crafted from fine English bone china, this mug features the famous royal unicorn from Kensington Palace gates.

Kensington Palace gates mug

Crafted from fine English bone china, this mug features the famous royal unicorn from Kensington Palace gates.

£35.00

This stunning tote bag features a 18th century view of Kensington Palace, showing the work of Christopher Wren.

Kensington Palace vintage tote bag

This stunning tote bag features a 18th century view of Kensington Palace, showing the work of Christopher Wren.

£12.99