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Castles in London

The only castle in the centre of London is the spectacular Tower of London. The castle is named after the square-shaped White Tower located at its centre on the banks of the River Thames. It played an essential role in the Norman Conquest in 1066. It was built by Duke William of Normandy after his invasion of England. Over the centuries, it has served many purposes having been a zoo, fortress, treasury, a palace, a royal mint and a place of execution. As a jail it has housed many famous inmates including Queen Elizabeth I, detained here during the reign of her sister, Mary Tudor. It has also witnessed many famous executions including that of Henry VIII’s wife Anne Boleyn. Just outside the city lies possibly one of the most spectacular castles in England. Windsor Castle, located in the royal town of Windsor, is the largest occupied castle in the world being one of the main, official residences of the British Royal Family. The castle's floor area is approximately 484,000 square feet. The Queen spends many weekends of the year at the castle, using it for both private and state entertainment.


Buckingham Palace
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Buckingham Palace, by Elisabeth Gaj
Buckingham Palace
Address: Buckingham Palace Road,
  Phone: +44 20 7766 7300
  e-mail: bookinginfo@royalcollection.org.uk  
Website: http://www.royal.gov.uk  

The 775-room Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence of Britain's rulers since 1837. Initially, the palace was a town house belonging to the dukes of Buckingham at the beginning of the 17th Century, and today is home to the Queen of England. In 1761, King George III purchased the family house from the duke of Buckingham for his wife Queen Charlotte. The Buckingham House, close to St James's Palace, where many court functions were held, became known as the 'Queen's House', where 14 of George III's 15 children were born. The present forecourt of the palace, where the 'changing of the guard' takes place, was built in 1911 as part of the Victoria Memorial plan. Buckingham Palace is also the administrative headquarters of the monarchy and boasts one of the most famous façades in the world.
Windsor Castle
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Windsor Castle, by Sabinche Reuss
Windsor Castle
Address: Windsor
  Phone: +44 20 7766 7304
  e-mail: bookinginfo@royalcollection.org.uk  
Website: http://www.royal.gov.uk  

The 900-year-old fortress Windsor Castle, the largest occupied castle in the world, is one of the official residences of the queen of England. The castle was founded by the Norman king William the Conqueror in 1705 above the river Thames, near a Saxon hunting ground. British monarchs who are buried in the castle's St George's Chapel include Charles I, Edward IV and VII, George III, IV, V and VI, Henry VI and VIII, and William IV. Today, the queen often uses the castle as a weekend home and as a royal residence where she performs formal duties. The sections of Windsor Castle which are open to visitors include the precincts, the state apartments, the Albert Memorial Chapel and St George's Chapel. Queen Mary's doll house, designed in 1924 by Sir Edwin Lutyens and master craftsmen, is also on display for the public.
Hampton Court Palace
Phone: +44 16 28 82 59 25
 
Price: 0 - 55 EUR  

Hampton Court Palace, located in the southwest London borough of Richmond-upon-Thamse, is one of the most popular palaces in the world. The palace was built in 1514 by the archbishop of York and acquired by the king of England, when it fell in, and out, of monarchial favour. It became home to the world's oldest tennis court, as well to the impressive hedge maze of Hampton Court and priceless art collections. It was also known to house popular ghosts, as is the case with many English palaces.
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Clarence House
Address: Clarence House, St James's Palace
  Phone: +44 20 7766 7303
  e-mail: bookinginfo@royalcollection.org.uk   
Website: http://www.royal.gov.uk  

Clarence House, located next to St James's Palace, is the London residence of the duchess of Cornwall and the prince of Wales. John Nash completed construction of the house in 1827 for the duke of Clarence, Prince William Henry, who lived here as King William IV from 1830 until 1837. The house has been renovated through the course of time to reflect the tastes of its occupants for nearly 200 years. Clarence House is open to the public during the summer months.
St. James's Palace
Address: Pall Mall
 
Website: http://www.royal.gov.uk  

Construction of St James's Palace, on the site of a former leper hospital, was commissioned by Henry VIII to be the residence of London's monarch in 1698, after a fire destroyed Whitehall Palace. As the Palace of the Sovereign, the palace boasts a long history of housing members of the royal family and their offices. Today, St James's Palace is often used for official purposes and is not open to the public.
Kensington Palace
Address: High St Kensington, Queensway
  Phone: +44 844 482 7777
  e-mail: kensingtonpalace@hrp.org.uk  
Website: http://www.hrp.org.uk  

Kensington Palace was the residence of Princess Diana and birthplace of Queen Victoria, and continues to be home to London's royalty. In 1689, King William III purchased the palace from the earl of Nottingham and had it remodeled by Sir Christopher Wren. The palace was the residence of a successive line of monarchs until 1760. Today, Kensington Palace houses the offices and apartments of the royal family.
The Banqueting House
Address: Whitehall Palace, Whitehall
  Phone: +44 844 751 5178?
  e-mail: banquetinghouse@hrp.org.uk  
Website: http://www.hrp.org.uk  

The Banqueting House, built by architect Inigo Jones in 1622 for James I to replace a previous one destroyed by fire, is the only part of London's Whitehall Palace in tact. In 1649, Rubens was commissioned by Charles I to paint the house's huge ceiling panels, which depict kingship and the Stuart reign. As once the principal residence of London's monarch, the last majestic ceremony at the house included the coronation of the prince and princess of Orange (William III and Mary II) in 1689.
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