Royal Residences

Royal Residences and Historic Buildings

There are many royal residences in the United Kingdom, some of these, such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, are owned by the Crown, while others like Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House are personally owned. Balmoral Castle was built by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. Sandringham was purchased by Victoria in 1863 for her eldest son and heir, the future Edward VII. The Osborne estate on the Isle of Wight was designed in the style of an Italianate villa by Albert, the Prince Consort, but is no longer in the possession of the crown, being presented to the nation by Edward VII, it is now in the care of English Heritage.

Prince Charles has several homes, including Clarence House, which serves as his London residence, Birkhall, his Scottish retreat on the Balmoral estate and his main country home and Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, famous for its stunning gardens.

Edinburgh Castle has long associations with the Stuarts, as does Holyrood House, the Queen's official residence in Scotland. One of Scotland's grandest castles, Stirling Castle perches dramatically on the crag of Castle Hill at Stirling, an extinct volcano, towering 250 feet above the plain below, with steep cliffs on three sides, it was a favoured stronghold of the Stewarts.

Some of the homes in this section have only links to the monarchy like Leeds Castle, once a medieval royal residence, imposing Kenilworth Castle was a royal castle for much of its history and was owned by the Lancastrian dynasty. Middleham Castle, once home to Richard III, Hever Castle, the ancestral home of Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn and Carisbrooke Castle, where Charles I was imprisoned during the English Civil War, all have links with the crown.

One of England's finest Gothic buildings and the country's national shrine, Westminster Abbey was founded by the Saxon king, Edward the Confessor. The Shrine of King Edward the Confessor was added by that enthusiastic royal builder, Henry III in the thirteenth century, while the Henry VII Chapel was built by the first Tudor King in the sixteenth century.