LondonLife – World War I commemorated at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show…

A tribute marking the centenary of World War I, Battlefields to Butterflies, has gone on show at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this week. Designed by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, the special feature garden features two very different scenes – one depicting the desolate landscapes of the trenches and the other a landscape restored to peace by nature. The display draws on the words and paintings of World War I artist William Orpen and reflects what he witnessed firsthand on the Western Front. Among the plants on show are poplars, hornbeams, willow and birch and massed wildflowers including poppies, cornflowers, loosestrife, mallows and cranesbills. A special plaque commemorating the 24 Royal Parks and Palaces gardeners and park keepers who lost their lives in the world is also included in the garden. The plaque will be taken to Brompton Cemetery following the flower show to form part of a permanent memorial garden that will commemorate all parks, gardens and grounds staff, from across the UK and its allies, who died in the war. The show runs until 8th July. For more, see PICTURE: © Historic Royal Palaces/Michael Bowles.


LondonLife – The Queen visits the newly transformed Kensington Palace…

Queen Elizabeth II looks over gifts exchanged by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in a display which forms part of the Victoria Revealed exhibition at Kensington Palace.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited palace last week to officially reopen the building following a £12 million, two year renovation project aimed at “transforming the visitor experience”.

The works have involved restoring the palace gardens – which will now be permanently open to the public free-of-charge – and reconnecting the palace with the surrounding parklands of Kensington Gardens partly through the provision of a new entrance. Landscape designer Todd Longstaffe-Gowan’s plan – which centres on a statue of Queen Victoria – features new lawns and avenues and a “maze-like path” inspired by 18th century “wilderness walks”.

There is also a new visitor reception area and “orientation hub” as well as a new courtyard terrace and cafe to complement The Orangery, shop and learning centre.

Victoria Revealed, a new permanent exhibition at the palace looks in intimate detail at the life of the Queen who once lived here and features everything from her black silk baby shoes to her wedding dress and the mourning clothing she wore following the death of Prince Albert as well as archive film footage showing the celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee of her reign in 1897.

The palace reopens on 26th March.

WHERE: The Broad Walk, Kensington Gardens, Kensington (nearest Tube stations are High Street Kensington or Queensway); WHEN: Daily 10am to 6pm (until 31st October); COST: £14.50 adult/£12 concession/children under 16 free (online booking discounts available, Historic Royal Palaces members free); WEBSITE:

PICTURES: Courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces/