South Kensington

South Kensington

infobox UK place
country = England
map_type = Greater London
region= London
official_name= South Kensington
latitude= 51.4912
longitude= -0.1769
london_borough= Kensington & Chelsea
post_town= LONDON
postcode_area= SW
postcode_district= SW7, SW3, SW5
dial_code= 020
os_grid_reference= TQ265785

South Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It is a built-up area located 2.4 miles (3.9 km) west south-west of Charing Cross.

It is hard to define notional boundaries for South Kensington, but a common definition is the commercial area around the tube station and the adjacent graceful garden squares and streets (such as Thurloe Square, opposite the Victoria and Albert Museum). The smaller neighborhood around Gloucester Road tube station can also be considered part of South Kensington, as well as the institution area around Exhibition Road, which includes such famous names as the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Baden-Powell House, Royal Albert Hall, Imperial College London, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Royal College of Music, although this part is officially part of the small area known as Knightsbridge. Although the postcode SW7 stands for South Kensington, some parts of Kensington also fall under this postcode. Only the area south of Cromwell Road is regarded as South Kensington.

Sandwiched between the extremely affluent centres of Knightsbridge and Chelsea, South Kensington is harder to characterise. Although a wealthy area overall, it also caters for large tourist and student populations; the former is reflected by the type of shops and eateries around South Kensington station, whilst the latter is evident by both the halls of residence for Imperial College London and the large number of language schools in the area, which attract a sizeable number of foreign students.

The foreign students at both these language schools and at Imperial College London, and the large numbers of tourists contribute to an international (predominantly European) atmosphere to the area. Large numbers of French, Spanish and Italian citizens live in the area. A significant French presence is evidenced by the location of the consulate, the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle - a large French secondary school opposite the Natural History Museum - and the [ French Institute] , home to a French cinema. There are also several French bookshops and cafes in the area.

The nearest Tube stations are South Kensington and Gloucester Road.


The area was largely undeveloped until the mid-19th century, being an agricultural area supplying London with fruit and vegetables. However, following the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, an 87 acre (352,000 m²) area around what is now Exhibition Road was purchased by the commissioners of the exhibition, in order to create a home for institutions dedicated to the arts and sciences - resulting in the foundation of the museums and university here. Adjacent landowners began to develop their land in the 1860s as a result of the creation of new roads and a boom in the development of areas around London, and the absorption of South Kensington into London was sealed by the arrival of the Underground to Gloucester Road and South Kensington in 1868, linking the area directly to the main railway termini and to the political, commercial and financial hearts of the city in Westminster, the West End and the City of London.

Notable Residents

Notable residents have included:

*Sir Henry Cole (1808-1882), Campaigner, educator and first director of the Victoria Museum lived at 33 Thurloe Square.
*Charles Booth (1840-1916), Pioneer of social research lived at 6 Grenville Place.
*Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1853-1917), Actor-manager lived at 31 Rosary Gardens.
*Francis Bacon (1909 - 1992), Irish-born British artist lived at 7 Cromwell Place.
*Benny Hill (1924-1992), British comedian lived at 1 & 2 Queen's Gate.
*Nicholas Freeman, OBE, (1939 - 1989) Controversial Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea lived in Harrington Gardens, near Gloucester Road.
*Charles Crichton English director and script writer.
*Mika currently resides in South Kensington
*Dakota Blue Richards actress

Nearby places

*Earls Court

External links

* [ South Kensington Web site]
* [ Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Web site]
* [ City of Westminster Web site]

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