Redesigned landscape removes clutter to restore views at Kensington Palace

Todd Longstaffe-Gowan relocates public entrance to free up views of palace and reconnect it with Kensington Gardens.

Kensington Palace: more than 60 trees were felled to clear views of walks and terraces with yew trees - image: Robin Forester/HRP
Kensington Palace: more than 60 trees were felled to clear views of walks and terraces with yew trees - image: Robin Forester/HRP

A £12m redesign has helped to transform the gardens at Kensington Palace and make the imposing red-brick building look and feel more open and welcoming.

A key change by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan Landscape Design was to swing the public entrance from the north to the east palace front. This freed up views of a facade that were previously obscured by forbidding railings and overbearing trees and shrubs.

"We removed great swathes of clutter including benches, dustbins, security railings, trees and shrubberies to the north-east and south-east of the palace," said a practice spokesman.

"The aim was to create a more coherent, dignified setting and reconnect the palace to the neighbouring park, thus restoring Kensington Palace to its place at the heart of Kensington Gardens.

"The 4ha royal garden builds on and complements the bold unaffected Englishness of Charles Bridgeman's early 18th century landscape. There is, however, a contemporary response to the palace, the park and the needs of a modern audience."

A new east garden involved shifting 7,000cu m of soil to form a ramp between the new palace entrance and a raised broad walk. More than 60 mature trees were felled to clear views of new gravelled walks and grass terraces studded with yew.

The changes were supported by the Historic Royal Palaces, English Heritage, Historic Royal Palaces Access Group and the Royal Parks. Longstaffe-Gowan worked on the project with John Simpson Architects.

Designer's view - Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, founder, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan Landscape Design

"Our landscape scheme has been informed by a detailed analysis of the long and complex history of the development of the palace and its setting. It does not, however, represent an historical recreation of an earlier phase."

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