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Location within Greater London
Population64,681  [1] (2011 census)
OS grid reference TQ255795
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district W8, W14
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°30′00″N0°11′24″W / 51.500°N 0.190°W / 51.500; -0.190

Kensington is an area of London in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, around 2.9 miles (4.6 km) west of Central London. [lower-alpha 1]


The district's commercial heart is Kensington High Street, running on an east–west axis. The north-east is taken up by Kensington Gardens, containing the Albert Memorial, the Serpentine Gallery and Speke's monument. South Kensington and Gloucester Road are home to Imperial College London, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Albert Hall, Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Science Museum. The area is also home to many embassies and consulates.


The manor of Chenesitone is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, [2] which in the Anglo-Saxon language means "Chenesi's ton" (homestead/settlement). One early spelling is Kesyngton, as written in 1396. [3]


Kensington photographed by scientist Sir Norman Lockyer in 1909 from a helium balloon. (This is a mirrored image of Kensington) Kensington from the air in 1909.jpg
Kensington photographed by scientist Sir Norman Lockyer in 1909 from a helium balloon. (This is a mirrored image of Kensington)

The manor of Kensington, in the county of Middlesex, was one of several hundred granted by King William the Conqueror (1066–1089) to Geoffrey de Montbray (or Mowbray), Bishop of Coutances in Normandy, one of his inner circle of advisors and one of the wealthiest men in post-Conquest England. He granted the tenancy of Kensington to his follower Aubrey de Vere I, who was holding the manor from him as overlord in 1086, according to the Domesday Book. The bishop's heir, Robert de Mowbray, rebelled against King William II and his vast feudal barony was forfeited to the Crown. Aubrey de Vere I thus became a tenant-in-chief, holding directly from the king after 1095, which increased his status in feudal England. [4] He granted the church and an estate within the manor to Abingdon Abbey in Oxfordshire, at the deathbed request of his eldest son Geoffrey. [5] As the de Veres became Earls of Oxford, their principal manor at Kensington came to be known as Earl's Court, as they were not resident in the manor, and their manorial business was not conducted in the great hall of a manor house but in a courthouse. In order to differentiate it, the new sub-manor granted to Abingdon Abbey became known as Abbot's Kensington and the church St Mary Abbots .

The original Kensington Barracks, built at Kensington Gate in the late 18th century, were demolished in 1858 and new barracks were built in Kensington Church Street. [6]

In 2022, 12.2% of Kensington residents have been granted non domicile status to avoid paying tax in the UK. [7]


Map of central Kensington (click to enlarge) Location map Kensington.png
Map of central Kensington (click to enlarge)
A map showing the wards of Kensington Metropolitan Borough as they appeared in 1916. Kensington Met. B Ward Map 1916.svg
A map showing the wards of Kensington Metropolitan Borough as they appeared in 1916.

The 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 due to its wide range and number of shops. [8] However, since October 2008 the street has faced competition from the Westfield shopping centre in nearby White City. [9]

Kensington's second group of commercial buildings is at South Kensington, where several streets of small to medium-sized shops and service businesses are situated close to South Kensington tube station. This is also the southern end of Exhibition Road, the thoroughfare which serves the area's museums and educational institutions.

The boundaries of Kensington are not well-defined; in particular, the southern part of Kensington has conflicting and complex borders with Chelsea (another ancient manor) whether electoral or postal definitions are used, and has similar architecture. To the west, a border is clearly defined by the line of the Counter Creek marked by the West London railway line. To the north, the only obvious border line is Holland Park Avenue, to the north of which is the district of Notting Hill (another ancient manor), usually classed as within "North Kensington".

In the north east is situated the large public Royal Park of Kensington Gardens (contiguous with its eastern neighbour, Hyde Park). The other main green area in Kensington is Holland Park, on the north side of the eastern end of Kensington High Street. Many residential roads have small communal garden squares, for the exclusive use of the residents.

The sub districts of Kensington: South Kensington and Earl's Court also consist largely of private housing. North Kensington and West Kensington are largely devoid of features to attract the visitor.

Kensington is, in general, an extremely affluent area, a trait that it shares with Chelsea, its neighbour to the south. The area has some of London's most expensive streets and garden squares, and at about the turn of the 21st century the Holland Park neighbourhood became particularly high-status. In early 2007 houses sold in Upper Phillimore Gardens, immediately east of Holland Park, for over £20 million. Brompton is another definable area of Kensington.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea forms part of the most densely populated local government district in the United Kingdom. This high density has come about through the subdivision of large mid-rise Georgian and Victorian terraced houses (generally of four to six floors) into flats. The less-affluent northern extremity of Kensington has high-rise residential buildings, while this type of building in the southern part is only represented by the Holiday Inn's London Kensington Forum Hotel in Cromwell Road, a 27-storey building.

Notable attractions and institutions in Kensington include Kensington Palace in Kensington Gardens, the Royal Albert Hall opposite the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, the Royal College of Music, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Heythrop College, Imperial College, the Royal College of Art, and Kensington and Chelsea College. The Olympia Exhibition Hall is just over the western border in West Kensington.


Kensington is administered within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and lies within the Kensington parliamentary constituency.

Media sector

The head office of newspaper group DMGT is located in Northcliffe House off Kensington High Street [10] in part of the large Barkers department store building. In addition to housing the offices for the DMGT newspapers Daily Mail , Mail on Sunday and Metro , Northcliffe House also accommodates the offices of the newspapers owned by Evgeny Lebedev: The Independent , The Independent on Sunday , and the Evening Standard . [11] The i newspaper, sold to Johnston Press in 2016, [12] is still produced from offices in Northcliffe House. Most of these titles were for many decades produced and printed in Fleet Street in the City of London.

The building also houses Lebedev's TV channel London Live, with its news studio situated in part of the former department store, using St Mary Abbots church and Kensington Church Street as live backdrop.


High Street Kensington tube station is served by the Circle and District lines High Street Kensington tube station, platform 1 - - 809853.jpg
High Street Kensington tube station is served by the Circle and District lines
Kensington Gardens in the summer Kensington Gardens Of London Summer.jpg
Kensington Gardens in the summer
Kensington Town Hall, completed in 1976 Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall 2005.jpg
Kensington Town Hall, completed in 1976

Kensington is crossed east–west by three main roads, the most important of which is the A4 Cromwell Road which connects it to Central London on the east and to Hounslow and Heathrow Airport on the west. Parallel to the north is Kensington Road (of which Kensington High Street forms the eastern part), linking central London and Hammersmith and Hounslow to the area. To the south is Fulham Road, which connects South Kensington with Fulham to the south-west. North-south connections are not as well-developed and there is no obvious single north–south route through the area.

Kensington is well served by public transport. Most of Kensington is served by three stations in the Travelcard Zone 1: High Street Kensington, Gloucester Road and South Kensington. All three are served by the Circle line which connects them to London's railway terminals. The District line also serves all three stations, albeit on different branches; it links the latter two to Westminster and the City. The Piccadilly line also links South Kensington and Gloucester Road to the West End in about 10 minutes, and in the other direction to Chiswick, Ealing, Hounslow and Heathrow Airport in around 20–40 minutes, depending on the area of choice. In addition Kensington (Olympia) in Travelcard Zone 2 serves the western part of Kensington, with District line trains to Earl's Court and High Street Kensington. Nearby West Kensington station takes its name from the former boundaries with Hammersmith and is not in the Borough.

A number of local bus services link Kensington into the surrounding districts, and key hubs are Kensington High Street and South Kensington station. These bus services were improved in frequency and spread from 2007 until 2010 when the western extension of the London congestion charge area existed (which required drivers of cars and vans during the charging hours Monday-Friday to pay a daily fee of £8).

In 2020 a temporary cycle lane on Kensington High Street caused a nationwide media stir. [13] [14] The temporary cycle lane was installed by the local council in September 2020 with £700,000 in funding from central government grants, but it was removed in December 2020. [15]


Kensington has one football team, Kensington Borough F.C., which currently plays in the Combined Counties Football League.

Notable people

See also

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  1. "Wards of Brompton, Courtfield, Campden, Earls Court, Holland, Queens Gate and Abingdon". Archived from the original on 16 June 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  2. "DocumentsOnline".
  3. "CP 40/541; year 1396", Plea Rolls, Court of Common Pleas— with county margination "midd". Kesyngton is the place where the trespass (taking animals) occurred (line 3)
  4. Victoria County History of England, Middlesex, vol. 1, pp. 116–7
  5. Chronicon Monasterii de Abingdon, vol 2, pp. 55–6
  6. Kensington Barracks, London Picture Archive, retrieved 25 September 2016
  7. "Non-doms: 12% of residents in London's richest parts claimed status in 2018". the Guardian. 7 April 2022. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  8. "Best shopping street' in London", BBC News,, 23 February 2005, retrieved 23 October 2008
  9. Core Strategy:Putting the neighbourhood first, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, retrieved 14 May 2010
  10. "Contacts Archived 9 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine ." Daily Mail and General Trust. Retrieved 6 September 2011. "Northcliffe House 2 Derry Street London W8 5TT Great Britain"
  11. Ponsford, Dominic. "Sharing with Mail 'will safeguard future of Independent'." Press Gazette . 28 November 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2011. "Under a deal signed today, the Independent titles will share back office functions with the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Metro and Evening Standard at Northcliffe House in Kensington."
  12. Mackie, Gareth, "Johnston Press agrees £24m deal for i newspaper", The Scotsman, Johnston Press, retrieved 14 December 2017
  13. "Council to 'revisit' removal of cycle lane on Kensington High Street". The Independent. 9 January 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  14. "Residents back 'ripped out' cycle lanes, Khan says – The Transport Network". Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  15. "Council to scrap £700k Kensington High Street bike lane – The Transport Network". Retrieved 28 May 2021.


  1. Measured from Kensington High St, outside the Underground station to Charing Cross, following tradition.

Further reading