Skip to main content
Search
No.11 Cavendish Square Science Gallery London No.4 Hamilton Place One Birdcage Walk The Postal Museum Sadler’s Wells Horniman Museum and Gardens House of Commons The Royal Institution of Great Britain 10-11 Carlton House Terrace ArcelorMittal Orbit RSA House British Library Two Temple Place The National Gallery Chiswick House and Gardens Goldsmiths' Centre, The Somerset House Sir John Soane's Museum Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe Science Museum Royal Opera House Royal Museums Greenwich The Royal Institute of British Architects Royal Hospital Chelsea Whitechapel Gallery Royal Horticultural Halls Westminster Abbey Wellington Arch Royal Geographical Society Wellcome Collection Events Spaces Wallace Collection Royal College of Physicians Royal Albert Hall Victoria and Albert Museum Twickenham Stadium Royal Air Force Museum Trinity House Royal Academy of Arts Tower of London Tower Bridge Old Royal Naval College Tate Modern Tate Britain Syon Park St Paul's Cathedral St Martin-in-the-Fields Southwark Cathedral Spencer House Natural History Museum National Theatre Museum of the Order of St. John Museum of London Museum of Brands The Honourable Society of The Middle Temple Madame Tussauds LSO St Luke's Lord's Cricket Ground London Zoo (ZSL) London Transport Museum London Museum of Water & Steam Leighton House Museum Laban Building Kew Gardens Kensington Palace IWM London (Imperial War Museum) Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn HMS Belfast Harrow School Hampton Court Palace Guildhall Garden Museum Foundling Museum Dulwich Picture Gallery the Design Museum Cutty Sark BFI IMAX BAFTA Piccadilly Banqueting House Churchill War Rooms Central Hall Westminster Freemasons’ Hall Spitalfields Venue

Beautiful Rooms - The Cupola Room, Kensington Palace

Thursday, July 2, 2020 - 08:45

Arguably the most splendidly decorated room in Kensington Palace, the Cupola Room marks a great new beginning in the history of design. The Cupola Room was the first royal commission of William Kent, the artist who went on to decorate the rest of the State Apartments at Kensington Palace. Here, he re-created a baroque Roman palace, with the Star of the Order of the Garter at the centre of the trompe l'oeil ceiling.

Image copyright: Hayley Bray

William Kent was a surprising choice. Everyone thought that George I would choose the established painter, Sir James Thornhill, but Thornhill was expensive, and Kent undercut him on the cost. Consequently, Thornhill’s friends tried to get Kent dismissed by complaining about the quality of his work. The gilded statues, they said, made a ‘terrible glaring show’!

The unusual object in the centre of the room is a musical clock, the 'Temple of the Four Great Monarchies of the World'. Clockmaker Charles Clay worked on this magnificent clock for 20 years and spent over £2,000 on it. It was unfinished when he died, and in his will he instructed it to be 'beat to pieces' to save any more time or money spent on it. His wife did not comply, and the clock was acquired by Princess Augusta in around 1743 and placed in this room soon after.

Image copyright: David Jensen

George II and Queen Caroline hosted lavish parties in this room. Later in 1819, a much celebrated gathering occurred in the Cupola Room for the baptism of Princess Victoria.

Image copyright: Hayley Bray

For information on hosting your event at Kensington Palace, please contact the events team: kensingtonpalaceevents@hrp.org.uk