The famously sullen Queen Victoria once said of her time at Kensington Palace: "It was a most merry and happy dinner, the merriest we have had for a long time… We laughed a great deal together." This must really say something about the palace experience, when these enthusiastic words come from a monarch who was renowned for the words, "We are not amused".
In fact, Queen Victoria was born at the Palace, and the residence is of historical note for numerous other reasons, too. Beginning as the more modest Nottingham House, it was purchased and transformed into a palace by King William and Queen Mary in 1689, after the prior royal residence, Whitehall Palace, was judged too "damp" for William, who suffered from asthma. The village of Kensington, meanwhile, seemed to be filled with "good air". The palace would then go on to host many events throughout the ages, including being the starting point for Princess Diana's funeral procession in 1997.
For events today, Kensington Palace is still a favourite; its beauty and charm is evident in its grandeur and parkland location – it's surrounded by beautiful gardens and ponds. Various spaces host events of all kinds, with the King's Gallery, Cupola Room and the quirky Sunken Garden (which connects to the palace via the "Wiggly Walk", and which Samuel Pepys once called "a might fine place") all popular depending on the size and type of function.
For summer parties, though, the choice is clear. The Orangery was originally constructed for Queen Anne in 1704-5 by three famous architects of the time, Sir Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor and John Vanbrugh. The bright and impressive building was intended as a winter greenhouse for exotic plants and citrus trees – specifically orange trees, as you'll have guessed – and as a summer supper house in the warmer months.
Today, you'd be hard-pressed to find a classier alternative to The Orangery for summer shindigs – whether in the form of drinks receptions, dinners (with cabaret- or theatre-style seating) or even wedding parties – with space for up to 200 guests in the main building. The principal pull of the palace for summer soirées is the wide-stone terrace and the Orangery lawns, onto which parties can spill on warm summer nights – complemented by music, dancing and pyrotechnics, if desired. Besides, a marquee can be erected in the garden for larger parties, meaning up to 570 guests will be guaranteed a summer spot.
Don't hesitate to get in touch with us if you're tempted to hold your summer party at this majestic venue that's one of the five Royal Palaces. It's easily accessible, close to Queensway, High Street Kensington and Notting Hill Gate tube stations. In 2012, the Queen reopened the palace after a £12 million update, meaning now is a better time than ever to take advantage of that "good air" at Kensington Palace.