We all know Buckingham Palace with it’s famous balcony, but these other fascinating buildings in central London were royal palaces and home to a reigning monarch, once upon a time. A day trip spent visiting castles and grand country houses outside London is popular with visitors to our London apartment rentals –  it’s worth knowing that you don’t have to get on a train to find old royal residences to explore.

St James Palace – King Henry VIII’s hunting lodge and hideaway

Surprisingly, St James Palace is the most senior royal palace in London.  It lies close to the lovely St James Park and was built in the 1500’s.  This solid, red brick castle-like palace was used by King Henry VIII as a hunting lodge and an escape from royal duties. Queen Victoria married her beloved Prince Albert in the Royal Chapel here. These days, this historic royal retreat is home to various members of the royal family.

Magnificent Whitehall, Europe’s grandest palace

The name Whitehall is synonymous with politics.  This famous road runs towards Parliament Square and is the home of government.  It was named for The Palace of Whitehall which was once the most spectacular palace in Europe, rivalling The Vatican and Versailles for royal luxury and splendour. A devastating fire destroyed most of the palace in 1698, leaving only the beautiful Banqueting House to remind us of it’s past glories.

Big Ben in Westminster Palace

In the City of Westminster lies Westminster Palace, also known as the Houses of Parliament. This ancient royal palace was built in the eleventh century, named for Westminster Abbey. Once again, it was fire that destroyed part of the monarch’s home and after restoration, it became home to parliament instead. The Queen still owns this political palace and the iconic clock tower that is home to the famous bell, Big Ben, is named after her.

The Tower of London – palace turned prison

The Tower conjures up visions of damp dungeons and misery – not much palace over that!  This castle was originally built as a medieval palace, however, furnished in royal splendour and comfort for the king. Officially known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, it was later used primarily as a fortress and prison. It is home to The Crown Jewels, The Beefeaters (warders of the Tower) and some very important ravens.

Buck House and a pretty palace in Kensington

Buckingham Palace was once a grand country house built by the Duke of Buckingham, known as Buckingham House. It was acquired and expanded by the royal family and Queen Victoria was the first monarch to move into the shiny new palace in 1837. The Changing of the Guard is a famous attraction for visitors to our apartments in London and as you know, if the flat is flying, the queen is home!

Queen Victoria was born in Kensington Palace which was also home to Diana, Princess of Wales. Originally known as Nottingham House, the building was modified by Sir Christopher Wren into one of the prettiest palaces in the capital, with the delightful Kensington Gardens alongside.  We recommend our London apartment rental tenants stroll through these much loved gardens up into Hyde Park, anytime of year.