In this series of articles, specially written for "Every Woman's Encyclopaedia" by Mrs. Sarah Tooley {the well known author of "Royal Palaces and their Memories" "The Life of Queen Alexandra," etc.), will be narrated some of the tragedies, romances, and traditions that have in the course of centuries gathered round the historic walls of our ancient Royal seats. It is in such vividly sketched pictures of the past that characters and scenes of long ago live once more for the generations of to-day

To-day everyone may claim to know some-thing about the interior of Kensington Palace. Its State apartments are open to the public, and "conducted" tourists gaze upon the portraits of William and Mary, of Anne, and the Georgian monarchs and their consorts in the very rooms which they occupied, and may touch the faded old chairs upon which once they sat.

Even the children from the back streets of Bayswater may trot with wondering eyes along the Great Gallery where William III., stern scion of the House of Orange, unbent once to play at horses with little Lord Buck, and may feast their eyes upon the toys with which Queen Victoria played, arranged in the rooms where, as a merry child, she romped with the nurse, " dear Boppy."

The beautiful old gardens, once the exclusive domain of the Court, are now the' lounge of the million, and in the Broad Walk, where lords and ladies gay promenaded in their brocades, chintzes, swords, and cocked hats, Mary Jane trundles the go-cart and immaculately attired nurses push their perambulators in solid phalanx.

Gone from the gardens are the

Goodly dames and courteous knights,

The silken petticoat and broidered vest,

The peers and mighty dukes, with ribands blue, of whom Gay sang ; but the stately elms of the Broad Walk are taller than in the gay days of long ago, the may-trees make an even braver show in spring than when the ladies of Queen Anne's Court trailed their Watteau trains over the green sward, and the thrushes and blackbirds sing as sweetly as in those long-past days.

The Round Pond displays flotillas of miniature vessels which would have astonished that bluff Tsar, Peter the Great, who visited the palace when he came to these shores to study shipbuilding. The majestic Serpentine has broadened its curves and beautified its banks beyond the expectations of its originator, Queen Caroline. The tulip beds make as gay a show as ever around the old palace, and display a profusion of blooms which would have made King William's subjects stand aghast at the extravagance of their planters. The pure, dainty snowdrops, too, which, according to Tickell's poetic fancy, were first planted by the fairies in Kensington Gardens in honour of Queen Caroline's " virgin band " of fair Maids of Honour, still deck the turf in winter with patches of quivering white.

Every passer-by is familiar with the statue of King William III. in the private garden of Kensington Palace, and with that beautiful figure of Victoria, as the maiden monarch, sculptured by her daughter, Princess Louise, and placed in front of the apartments where Queen Victoria was born. Those two statues speak silently of the span of Court life passed within the walls of Kensington Palace.

The romance of the old rambling red-brick building begins with its first Royal mistress, Mary II., to whom, indeed, the palace is due. That strange union of William and Mary, the stern Hollander and the beautiful daughter of the Stuarts, begun in dislike on her part and contempt on his, ended, as the walls of Kensington Palace could reveal, in a love and devotion to each other which grew ever stronger as the years went by.

The Building Of The Palace

The story opens in 1689, when Mary arrives from Holland to share the sovereignty of this country with her husband, the stern Stadtholder of the House of Orange, whom the Protestants of England have summoned to be their ruler.

Ten years before Mary, daughter of the now exiled King James II., had left Whitehall Palace, in floods of tears, the unwilling bride of William Prince of Orange. The immature girl has become a beautiful and graceful woman, with much of the fascination and bonhomie of the Stuarts. She now adores her husband whom she married on compulsion, and has grown so fond of her peaceful life in Holland at her "house in the wood," that her return to regal dignity in her native land is most distasteful.

"My heart is not made for a kingdom," she sighs, "and my inclination leads me towards a retired life."

She feels acutely her unfortunate position in helping her husband to take the throne of her father; but devotion to her husband and zeal for the Protestant cause prevails.

No sooner has Mary reached this country than she is confronted with the task of preparing a suitable house for the King, who cannot live at Whitehall by reason of his asthma. Mary, too, longs for such a quiet country home as she has left in Holland, and is attracted by a pleasant villa, owned by her Chamberlain, my Lord Nottingham, in the rural and salubrious district of Kensington. It is purchased for eighteen thousand guineas, and Sir Christopher Wren is entrusted with the work of converting it into a Royal residence.

Mary has a woman's natural desire to see that her home is made to her liking, and endures the usual trials with dilatory workmen. She relates that she went "often to Kinsington to hasten the worckmen. I was so impatient to be at that place, imagining to find more ease there. This I often reproved myself for, and at last it pleased God to show me the uncertainty of all things below, for part of the house which was new built fell down."

The poor Queen rises superior to this calamity, and while the King is engaged in his Irish campaign, continues to struggle bravely with the trials of house building. But, alas ! when her victorious husband announces his home-coming after the Battle of the Boyne, the house at "Kinsington" is still in the hands of "worckmen."