Kensington is a district of
West London, Englandwithin the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, located convert|2.8|mi|km|1 west of Charing Cross. An affluent and densely-populated area, its commercial heart is Kensington High Streetand it contains the well-known museum district of South Kensington.
To the north, Kensington is bordered by
Notting Hill. To the east, Kensington is bordered by Brompton and Knightsbridge. To the south, Kensington is bordered by Chelsea and Earl's Court. To the west, Kensington is bordered by Hammersmithand Shepherd's Bush.
Its name came from Anglo-Saxon "Cēnsiginga tūn" = "The village or enclosure of Keen-Victory's people".
infobox UK place
country = England
map_type = Greater London
london_borough= Kensington and Chelsea
postcode_district = SW7
postcode_district1= W8, W14
os_grid_reference= TQ255795The focus of the area is Kensington High Street, a busy commercial centre with many shops, typically upmarket. The street was declared London's second best shopping street in February 2005 thanks to its range and number of shops. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4289237.stm]
Kensington's second activity centre is
South Kensington, where a variety of small shops are clustered close to the Underground station. This is also the southern end of Exhibition Road, the thoroughfare that links the area's museums and educational institutions together.
The edges of Kensington are not well-defined; in particular, the southern part of Kensington blurs into Chelsea, which has a similar architectural style. To the west, a transition is made across the West London railway line and Earl's Court Road further south into other districts, whilst to the north, the only obvious dividing line is Holland Park Avenue, to the north of which is the similar district of Notting Hill.
In the north east, the large Royal Park of
Kensington Gardens(contiguous with its eastern neighbour, Hyde Park) is an obvious buffer between Kensington and areas to the north east. The other main green area in Kensington is Holland Park, just north of Kensington High Street, whilst Kensington has numerous small residential garden squares.
Kensington is, in general, an extremely affluent area, a trait that it now shares with its neighbour to the south, Chelsea. The area has some of London's most expensive streets and gardens squares, including Edwardes Square, Earls Terrace - an exclusive redevelopment of Georgian Houses, The Phillimores, and Wycombe Square - a new build development done to a very high standard. In early 2007, houses have sold in Upper Phillimore Gardens for in excess of £20 million. Additionally, most neighbouring districts are regarded as exclusive residential areas, including
Knightsbridgeand Brompton to the east and the nearest parts of Notting Hill to the north. To the west is the less affluent but rapidly up and coming area of Earl's Court.
Kensington is also very densely populated; it forms part of the most densely populated local government district (the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) in the United Kingdom. This high density is not formed from high-rise buildings; instead, it has come about through the subdivision of large mid-rise Victorian and Georgian terraced houses (generally of some four to six floors) into flats. Unlike other parts of the Borough, Kensington itself has almost no high-rise buildings - the exception being Cromwell Road's
Holiday Inn, a 27-storey hotel.
Notable attractions and institutions in Kensington (or South Kensington) include:
Kensington Palacein Kensington Gardens, the Royal Albert Hallopposite the Albert Memorialin Hyde Park, the Royal College of Music, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Heythrop Collegethe Royal College of Art, Imperial College Londonand Kensington and Chelsea College. The Olympia exhibition hall is just over the western border in West Kensington.
Kensington is part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and lies within the Kensington & Chelsea parliamentary constituency. Prior to 1965 Kensington formed the Royal Borough of Kensington, and some residents objected to the merger with Chelsea, formerly an inexpensive and bohemian borough compared with the fashionable Royal Borough.
Kensington is crossed east-west by three main roads, the most important of which is the A4 or
Cromwell Roadwhich connects it to both central Londonand Heathrow Airport, as well as providing the main route out of the city from the district. To the north is the mostly-parallel Kensington Road (of which Kensington High Street forms a large part), linking central London and Hammersmith to the area. To the south is Fulham Road, which connects South Kensington with Fulhamto the southwest. North-south connections are not as well-developed and there is no obvious single route through the area.
Kensington is well-served by
public transportand is located in the central zone of the public transport network; three London Undergroundlines serve the district via stations at High St Kensington, Gloucester Road and South Kensington. All three are served by the Circle Line which connects them to London's railway terminals. The District Linealso serves all three stations, albeit on different branches; it links the latter two to Westminsterand the City. The Piccadilly Linealso links South Kensington and Gloucester Road to the West End in about 15 minutes, and in the other direction to Heathrow Airportin about 45 minutes.
A number of local bus services link Kensington into the surrounding districts, and key bus hubs are Kensington High Street and South Kensington station. These bus services are scheduled to be improved in frequency and spread with the western extension of the
London congestion chargearea, which requires vehicles driving into or around Kensington to pay a daily fee of £8.
The manor of Kensington, Middlesex, was granted by William I of England to
Geoffrey de Montbrayor Mowbray, bishop of Coutances, one of his inner circle of advisors and one of the wealthiest men in post-Conquest England. He in turn granted the tenancy of Kensington to his vassal Aubrey de Vere I, who was holding the manor in 1086, according to Domesday Book. The bishop's heir, Robert de Mowbray, rebelled against William Rufusand his vast barony was declared forfeit. Aubrey de Vere Ihad his tenure converted to a tenancy in-chief, holding Kensington after 1095 directly of the crown. ["Victoria County History of England", Middlesex, vol. 1, pp. 116-7] He granted land and church there to Abingdon Abbeyat the deathbed request of his young eldest son, Geoffrey. ["Chronicon Monasterii de Abingdon", vol 2, pp. 55-6] As the Veres became the earls of Oxford, their estate at Kensington came to be known as Earls Court, while the Abingdon lands were called Abbots Kensington and the church St. Marys Abbots.
Kensington Roof Gardens
* [http://80.1911encyclopedia.org/K/KE/KENSINGTON.htm Kensington] - 1911 Encyclopedia article
* [http://www.geocities.com/londondestruction/kensington.html London Kensington Market (Destroyed)]
* [http://www.ashbournecollege.co.uk Ashbourne College]
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/21643 The Kensington District] , by Geraldine Edith Mitton, 1903, from
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.