We all know that the London Underground gives us quick and convenient access to all the city’s attractions, but with so much to see when you stay in London, where are the best places to visit? Let’s forget about theatres, landmarks and famous streets, and concentrate instead on casting our eyes upon what we believe are the top must-see palaces, all courtesy of my Best London Palaces Tube Tour.
Okay, let’s begin our journey at Victoria Station. No more than five minutes walk away is arguably the city’s most famous building. The official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace hosts among other events the spectacular changing of the guards, and opens its doors to the public every summer. The building was originally purchased by George III. When George IV came to the throne, he decided to convert the house into a palace and hired architect John Nash to oversee the renovation. As of 1837, Victoria was the first monarch to officially live in the palace.
Palace of Westminster
From Victoria Station, let’s now hop on the Circle Line eastbound and hop off at the very next stop, Westminster Station. Many people are unaware that this historic building is actually a palace, as nowadays it is mainly referred to as the Houses Of Parliament. The site was originally Westminster Hall, completed in the year 1100 and one of the largest medieval halls in Europe. In 1512, Henry VIII turned the palace into the official home of the government.
Tower of London
We continue our journey eastbound along the Circle Line until we reach Tower Hill station. Here, we find the infamous Tower of London, another building that some people forget is a palace, as more focus is placed on the venue historically being a prison and place of execution. It was built on the orders of King William soon after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Home to the crown jewels, rooks and beefeaters, the Tower of London is deeply ingrained in England’s rich heritage, and so thus is well worth the visit.
Now let’s get back on the Circle Line, but this time we head westbound until we reach High Street Kensington station. A short walk and we find ourselves at Kensington Palace, the birthplace of Queen Victoria and of course what used to be the official residence of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The palace is home to exquisite family portraits, lavish original furnishings and the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection which boasts beautiful outfits of monarchs from the 18th century to the present day, plus many evening gowns worn by Princess Diana.
Hampton Court Palace
For our final leg of the journey, we leave the hustle and bustle of the city centre for the calming green lawns of Richmond, Surrey. At High Street Kensington Station, we hop on the District Line southbound until we reach Richmond Station. From there, we can jump in a cab, or take a river boat to Hampton Court to bask in the sheer splendour of over 500 years of royal history at Hampton Court Palace, former residence of Henry VIII, and the oldest surviving Tudor palace. Here’s one word of caution: make sure you don’t get yourself lost in Hampton Court Maze.