Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

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Kensington and Chelsea
Coat of arms
Rb kensington and chelsea logo.svg
Council logo
Kensington and Chelsea in Greater London.svg
Kensington and Chelsea shown within Greater London
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region London
Ceremonial county Greater London
Created1 April 1965
Admin HQ Holland Street
  Type London borough council
  Body Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council
  LeadershipLeader and Cabinet (Conservative)
  MayorCllr Gerard Hargreaves
  London AssemblyTony Devenish (Conservative) AM for West Central
   MPs Felicity Buchan (Conservative)
Greg Hands (Conservative)
  Total4.68 sq mi (12.13 km2)
Area rank316th (of 309)
 (mid-2019 est.)
  Rank126th (of 309)
  Density33,000/sq mi (13,000/km2)
  Ethnicity [1]
39.3% White British
2.3% White Irish
0.1% White Gypsy or Irish Traveller
28.9% Other White
1.1% White & Black Caribbean
0.7% White & Black African
1.9% White & Asian
2% Other Mixed
1.6% Indian
0.6% Pakistani
0.5% Bangladeshi
2.5% Chinese
4.8% Other Asian
3.5% Black African
2.1% Black Caribbean
1% Other Black
4.1% Arab
3.1% Other
Time zone UTC (GMT)
  Summer (DST) UTC+1 (BST)
Area code(s) 020
ONS code 00AW
GSS code E09000020
Police Metropolitan Police

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) is an Inner London borough with royal status. It is the smallest borough in London and the second smallest district in England; it is one of the most densely populated administrative regions in the United Kingdom. It includes affluent areas such as Notting Hill, Kensington, South Kensington, Chelsea, and Knightsbridge.


The borough is immediately west of the City of Westminster and east of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. It contains major museums and universities in Albertopolis, department stores such as Harrods, Peter Jones and Harvey Nichols, and embassies in Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Kensington Gardens. The borough is home to the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe's largest, and contains many of the most expensive residential properties in the world, as well as Kensington Palace, a British royal residence.

The local authority is Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council. Its motto, adapted from the opening words of Psalm 133, is Quam bonum in unum habitare, which translates roughly as 'How good it is to dwell in unity'. [2]


The borough was formed by the merger of the Royal Borough of Kensington and the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea, under the London Government Act 1963, which reorganised 86 boroughs and urban districts into 32 London boroughs on 1 April 1965 together with the creation of the Greater London Council.

The new borough was originally intended to be called only "Kensington", but after protests from thousands of Chelsea residents, the then Minister of Housing and Local Government, Sir Keith Joseph, announced on 2 January 1964 that the name of the new borough would be the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. [3]

Of its history the council states:

"Despite the boroughs being separate originally, Kensington and Chelsea still retain their unique characters. Even the amalgamation of the two boroughs, unpopular as it was at the time, has been accepted. Today conservation combined with the adoption of sympathetic new architecture is seen as a key objective. In every corner of the borough signs of its history can be seen: from Grade 1 listed buildings Kensington Palace and the Royal Hospital, Chelsea to others recalled in street names such as Pottery Lane and Hippodrome Mews." [4]

In 200 years the area has been transformed from a "rural idyll" to a thriving part of the modern metropolis. Chelsea had originally been countryside upon which Thomas More built Beaufort House. He came to Chelsea in 1520 and built the house, which in his day had two courtyards laid out between the house and the river, and in the north of the site acres of gardens and orchards were planted. It was from here in 1535 that More was taken to the Tower and beheaded later that year. [5] This area of Cheyne Walk continued its historic significance; nearby Crosby Hall sits on the river near the Church of Thomas More, and what was once Thomas Carlyle's residence remains on Cheyne Row.

Kensington's royal borough status was granted in 1901 as it was the home of Kensington Palace, where Queen Victoria was born in 1819 and lived until her accession in 1837. Commissioned by King William III, Christopher Wren enlarged and rebuilt the original house in 1689, turning it into a fitting royal residence. With the King came many court officials, servants and followers. Kensington Square, until then a failing venture, became a popular residential area. The Palace was regularly used by reigning monarchs until 1760 and since then by members of the Royal family. [6] Kensington's royal borough status was inherited by the new borough.

In the 19th century, the last emperor of the Sikh Empire, Maharaja Duleep Singh who was brought to England as a child following the Second Anglo-Sikh War, along with the Koh-i-noor diamond, lived in the borough at 53 Holland Park, while his mother Maharani Jind Kaur (wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh) lived at the nearby Abingdon House till her death in 1846.

During the Second World War, civilians suffered great hardship; there were some 800 deaths and 40,000 injuries. A huge army of civilian volunteers was raised, including Auxiliary Fire Service, Red Cross, Air Raid Wardens and Rescue Services. During the Blitz much damage was caused by explosive and incendiary bombs, especially along Chelsea's riverside. But worse was to come in 1944 with the arrival of the V2 rockets, or flying bombs. Among the buildings either destroyed or seriously damaged, usually with terrible loss of life, were Chelsea Old Church, Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer, Our Lady of Victories, St Mary Abbots, St Stephens Hospital, St Mary Abbot's Hospital, Sloane Square tube station, World's End, the Royal Hospital and Holland House. [7]

Kensington and Chelsea is perhaps best known today for two events that demonstrate both their traditional and modern aspects. The Chelsea Flower Show, held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital every May, is attended by Royalty and the "cream of society"; and the Notting Hill Carnival, held every August Bank Holiday on the streets of North Kensington, has grown over the past 30 years from a small community-based event into Europe's biggest and most exuberant street party, attracting a million plus visitors.


The borough may be split into the following districts; these differ from the council's electoral wards:

See also Kensington and Chelsea parks and open spaces


Population census
1801 22,088    
1811 31,085+40.7%
1821 43,296+39.3%
1831 55,865+29.0%
1841 46,807−16.2%
1851 69,379+48.2%
1861 128,828+85.7%
1871 188,277+46.1%
1881 247,725+31.6%
1891 258,015+4.2%
1901 250,267−3.0%
1911 242,884−3.0%
1921 243,589+0.3%
1931 244,297+0.3%
1941 233,377−4.5%
1951 223,144−4.4%
1961 205,598−7.9%
1971 189,571−7.8%
1981 125,892−33.6%
1991 145,171+15.3%
2001 158,922+9.5%
2011 158,649−0.2%
Note: [8]

At the 2011 census, the borough had a population of 158,649 who were 71% White, 10% Asian, 5% of multiple ethnic groups, 4% Black African and 3% Black Caribbean. It is the least populated of the 32 London boroughs. Due to its high French population it has long held the unofficial title of the 21st arrondissement of Paris. [9]

In 2005, the borough had more of its land covered by domestic buildings than anywhere else in England at 19%, over half the national average. [10] It also had the fifth highest proportion of land covered by non-domestic buildings at 12%. [10]

As of 2010, statistics released by the Office for National Statistics showed that life expectancy at birth for females was 89.8 years in 2008–2010, the highest in the United Kingdom. Male life expectancy at birth for the same period was 85.1 years. [11] The figures in 1991–1993 were significantly lower: 73.0 years for males (ranking 301st in the nation) and 80.0 for females (ranking 129th). Further investigation indicates a 12-year gap in life expectancy between the affluent wards of Chelsea (Royal Hospital, Hans Town) and the most northerly wards of North Kensington (Golborne, Dalgarno), which have high levels of social housing and poverty.

The borough has a higher proportion (16.6%) of high earners (over £60,000 per year) than any other local government district in the country. [12] It has the highest proportion of workers in the financial sector and the lowest proportion working in the retail sector.

In December 2006, Sport England published a survey which showed that the borough's residents were the fourth most active in England in sports and other fitness activities. 27.9% of the population participate at least three times a week for 30 minutes. [13]

A 2017 study by Trust for London and the New Policy Institute found that Kensington & Chelsea has the greatest income inequality of any London Borough. Private rent for low earners was also found to be the least affordable in London. However, the borough's poverty rate of 28% is roughly in line with the London-wide average. [14]

The following table shows the ethnic group of respondents in the 2001 and 2011 census in Kensington and Chelsea.


Ethnic Group2001 [15] 2011 [16]
White: British79,59450.08%62,27139.25%
White: Irish5,1833.26%3,7152.34%
White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller1190.08%
White: Other40,14725.26%45,91228.94%
White: Total124,92478.61%112,01770.61%
Asian or Asian British: Indian3,2262.03%2,5771.62%
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani1,2030.76%9110.57%
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi1,1480.72%8360.53%
Asian or Asian British: Chinese2,5921.63%3,9682.50%
Asian or Asian British: Other Asian2,1601.36%7,5694.77%
Asian or Asian British: Total10,3296.50%15,86110.00%
Black or Black British: African6,0133.78%5,5363.49%
Black or Black British: Caribbean4,1012.58%3,2572.05%
Black or Black British: Other Black9670.61%1,5400.97%
Black or Black British: Total11,0816.97%10,3336.51%
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean1,2900.81%1,6951.07%
Mixed: White and Black African1,0570.67%1,1480.72%
Mixed: White and Asian1,8631.17%3,0211.90%
Mixed: Other Mixed2,2951.44%3,1221.97%
Mixed: Total6,5054.09%8,9865.66%
Other: Arab6,4554.07%
Other: Any other ethnic group4,9973.15%
Other: Total6,0803.83%11,4527.22%
Black, Asian, and minority ethnic: Total33,99521.39%46,63229.39%
Total158,919 100.00%158,649100.00%


Kensington Town Hall, completed in 1976 Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall 2005.jpg
Kensington Town Hall, completed in 1976
A London Underground train departing from Earl's Court station London Train Station.jpg
A London Underground train departing from Earl's Court station
Kensington Central Library, London W8 Kensington Central Library 10.JPG
Kensington Central Library, London W8

As of 2018, the Council has 36 Conservative, 13 Labour and 1 Liberal Democrat councillors. [17] The first past the post electoral system is used. The Labour or Liberal councillors have tended to represent areas of the borough with pockets of economic deprivation; some marginal wards in the borough are concentrated towards the north, where north Kensington meets Kilburn, Kensal Rise/Green and Ladbroke Grove. All the wards in Holland Park, (parts of) Notting Hill, Kensington, South Kensington, and Chelsea have been safe Conservative seats since the Council's creation in 1965.

The borough has combined a number of services and departments with its neighbours, Hammersmith & Fulham and Westminster City Council.

The borough is divided between two constituencies represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom:

At the 2005 General Election, the borough was divided differently:

Rifkind held the Kensington seat until the 2015 General Election when he stood down after becoming embroiled in a scandal, uncovered by a television investigation, over accepting money in return for access to influential British diplomats and politicians. [18]

Evolution of Parliamentary constituencies in RBKC
From 1885 From Feb 1974 From 1997 From 2010
Kensington North Kensington Part of Regent's Park and Kensington North Kensington
Kensington South Kensington and Chelsea
Chelsea Part of Chelsea and Fulham

Two of the more notable council leaders were Nicholas Freeman, from 1977 until 1989, and Sir Merrick Cockell who held the position from 2000 to 2013.[ citation needed ]

Public transport


The borough has 12 tube stations, on five of the 11 London Underground lines:

with stations at South Kensington, Gloucester Road, High Street Kensington, Earl's Court, Sloane Square, West Brompton, Notting Hill Gate, Holland Park, Latimer Road, Knightsbridge, Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove.


Chelsea (SW3, SW10 and partly SW1) has significantly less Underground access than Kensington, the only station within Chelsea being Sloane Square. There have for some time been long-term plans for a Chelsea-Hackney line, with a station in the King's Road near Chelsea Town Hall, and possibly another at Sloane Square. As of June 2019, the plans for Crossrail 2 materialising show the proposed route tunnelling through Chelsea and featuring a station on the site of Dovehouse Green. The future of this station, being the only fully new station on the proposed line, remains ambiguous; initial scrapping of the station idea [19] have been decried by withstanding placement of the station on official Transport for London information on the route. [20]

A Crossrail station on the original Crossrail route, from Paddington to Reading, has been proposed and endorsed by the council. [21] This station would be located near the northern end of Ladbroke Grove, and would serve the areas of North Kensington and Kensal. The council supports this station concept as it would renew infrastructure and build regeneration benefits in the area.

National Rail and Overground

Paddington and Victoria are the nearest major railway termini; National Rail stations in the borough are Kensington (Olympia) and West Brompton (and partly Kensal Green), both served by London Overground and Southern.


Many London bus routes pass through the borough, most of them along King's Road, Fulham Road, Kensington High Street and Ladbroke Grove.

Travel to work

In March 2011, the main forms of transport that residents used to travel to work were: underground, metro, light rail, tram, 23.6% of all residents aged 16–74; driving a car or van, 8.2%; on foot, 8.2%; bus, minibus or coach, 8.0%; work mainly at or from home, 7.0%; bicycle, 3.1%; train, 2.1%. [22]

Social housing and Grenfell tower fire

Grenfell Tower in the early morning of 14 June 2017. Grenfell Tower fire morning.jpg
Grenfell Tower in the early morning of 14 June 2017.

The RBKC is a major provider of social housing in the borough owning 9,459 properties. [23] Of these over 73% are tenanted, with the remainder being leasehold. [23] The management of this housing was devolved to the Kensington and Chelsea TMO (KCTMO), a tenant management organisation. Properties included Trellick Tower.

The 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, in which a public-housing tower block was completely destroyed, with the loss of 72 lives, drew international attention to the borough. After widespread criticism of the borough council's response to the fire, [24] [25] responsibility for providing services to those affected by the fire was taken away from RBKC. [26] Prime Minister Theresa May previously branded the response to the tragedy "not good enough", with Whitehall civil servants drafted in as part of a beefed-up operation in the local area. Prof Anna Stec who gave evidence as an expert witness to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has urged the authorities to test rescue workers, nearby residents and survivors for carcinogenic chemicals following the fire. [27]


Religion in Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (2018) [28]

   Christianity (48.9%)
   Islam (10.3%)
   Judaism (4.7%)
   Hinduism (1.7%)
   Buddhism (1.7%)
  Any other religion (6.0%)
   Non-religious (26.8%)
A typical mews in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Typical Street In The Royal Borough Of Kensington And Chelsea In London.jpg
A typical mews in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

The borough has a number of notable churches, including:

It is home to a small Spanish and Portuguese synagogue, several mosques and the Sikh Central Gurudwara in Holland Park. There are two Armenian churches - Saint Sarkis Armenian Church and Church of Saint Yeghiche. Westminster Synagogue is also partially located in the borough.

Diplomatic Missions

The borough's notable districts are home to numerous international diplomatic missions:

High Commissions


Main entrance of the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College London ImperialCollegeLondon.jpg
Main entrance of the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College London

Within the borough there are several of London's tourist attractions and landmarks:



Social services transport provided by the Borough Social services transport in Kensington and Chelsea.jpg
Social services transport provided by the Borough

The council's education department finances state schools. [29]

London's Poverty Profile - a 2017 study by Trust for London and the New Policy Institute - found that 75% of 19-year-olds in Kensington and Chelsea have at least a C in their GCSE English and Maths. This is the highest success rate in London. [14]

Independent preparatory schools

Further education


Public libraries

Libraries include the Kensington Central Library, Chelsea Library, Kensal Library, Brompton Library, North Kensington Library and the Notting Hill Gate Library. [30]

International relations

Town twinning

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is formally twinned with:

Freedom of the Borough

The following people and military units have received the Freedom of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.


Military Units


See also

Related Research Articles

Notting Hill Area of London, England

Notting Hill is a district of West London, England, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Notting Hill is known for being a cosmopolitan and multicultural neighbourhood, hosting the annual Notting Hill Carnival and Portobello Road Market. From around 1870, Notting Hill had an association with artists.

London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Borough in United Kingdom

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is a London borough in West London and which also forms part of Inner London. The borough was formed in 1965 from the merger of the former Metropolitan Boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham.

Chelsea, London Human settlement in England

Chelsea is an affluent area in west London, England, situated south-west of the City of Westminster. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames and for postal purposes is part of the south-western postal area.

Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea

The Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea was a metropolitan borough of the County of London between 1900 and 1965. It was created by the London Government Act 1899 from most of the ancient parish of Chelsea. It was amalgamated in 1965 under the London Government Act 1963, with the Royal Borough of Kensington to form the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Metropolitan Borough of Kensington Metropolitan borough of England

The Metropolitan Borough of Kensington was a Metropolitan borough in the County of London from 1900 to 1965, which since 1901 was known as the Royal Borough of Kensington, following the death of Queen Victoria, in accordance with her wishes.

South Kensington Human settlement in England

South Kensington is a district just west of Central London in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Historically it settled on part of the scattered Middlesex village of Brompton. Its name was supplanted with the advent of the railways in the late 19th century and the opening and naming of local tube stations. The area is known as a popular tourist destination owing to the density of museums and cultural landmarks. Adjacent affluent centres such as Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Kensington, have been considered as some of the most exclusive real estate in the world. Since World War I it has become a cosmopolitan area attracting Belgian and French refugees, but also Poles during World War II and after, and latterly Spanish, Italian, American, and Middle-Eastern expatriates. The French presence is emphasised by the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, the French Institute, hosting the Ciné Lumière a window on French cinema and the Alliance française and the French consulate, among other diplomatic residences. With a French bookshop and many international cafés in the area, it has been called Paris’s 21st arrondissement.

Ladbroke Grove Human settlement in England

Ladbroke Grove is a road in West London in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, running north–south between Harrow Road and Holland Park Avenue. It is also a name given to the immediate surrounding areas of Notting Hill, North Kensington, Latimer Road, Kensal Green and Westbourne Park straddling the W10 and W11 postal districts although parts of the wider area cover parts of NW10. Ladbroke Grove tube station is located on the road, at the point where it is crossed by the Westway. It is the nearest tube station to Portobello Road Market. The adjacent bridge and nearby section of the Westway were regenerated in 2007 in a partnership including Urban Eye, Transport for London and London Underground. Ladbroke Grove is the main road on the route of the annual Notting Hill Carnival. The northern tip between the Harrow Road and the iron bridge is located in Kensal Green, the middle section between Barlby road and the flyover is in north Kensington with the southern end between Lancaster road and Holland Park Avenue situated in Notting Hill.

Ladbroke Grove tube station London Underground station

Ladbroke Grove is a London Underground station on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines, between Latimer Road and Westbourne Park stations, and in Travelcard Zone 2 set in The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Kensington and Chelsea (UK Parliament constituency)

Kensington and Chelsea was a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom 1997–2010. It was one of the safest Conservative seats in the United Kingdom, and since its creation in 1997 became a prestigious seat, with MP Alan Clark, the former Defence Secretary Michael Portillo and the former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind all holding the seat for the Conservatives. The seat was abolished for the 2010 election, when the 1974–1997 Kensington constituency was recreated and Chelsea formed a new constituency together with the southern part of the former Hammersmith and Fulham constituency, called the Chelsea and Fulham constituency.

Kensington (UK Parliament constituency) British parliamentary constituency

Kensington is a constituency in Greater London which first existed between 1974 and 1997 and was recreated in 2010. Since 2019, it has been represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament by Felicity Buchan of the Conservative Party.

North Kensington neighbourhood of west London

North Kensington is an area of west London. It is north of Notting Hill and south of Kensal Green and in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The names North Kensington and Ladbroke Grove describe the same area. Despite its namesake, it is not actually part of the larger district of Kensington from which it is separated by Notting Hill town centre.

Fulham Road Street in London, England

Fulham Road is a street in London, England, which comprises the A304 and part of the A308.

Brompton, London Human settlement in England

Brompton, sometimes called Old Brompton, survives in name as a ward in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. Until the latter half of the 19th century it was a scattered village made up mostly of market gardens in the county of Middlesex. It lay south-east of the village of Kensington, abutting the parish of St Margaret's, Westminster at the hamlet of Knightsbridge to the north-east, with Little Chelsea to the south. It was bisected by the Fulham Turnpike, the main road westward out of London to the ancient parish of Fulham and on to Putney and Surrey. It saw its first parish church, Holy Trinity Brompton, only in 1829. Today the village has been comprehensively eclipsed by segmentation due principally to railway development culminating in London Underground lines, and its imposition of station names, including Knightsbridge, South Kensington and Gloucester Road as the names of stops during accelerated urbanisation, but lacking any cogent reference to local history and usage or distinctions from neighbouring settlements.

West Brompton Human settlement in England

West Brompton is an area of south-west London, that straddles the boundary between the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The centuries-old boundary was traced by Counter's Creek, now lost beneath the West London Line railway.

Chelsea (UK Parliament constituency)

Chelsea was a borough constituency, represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Ladbroke Grove is a proposed railway station in London, England on the Crossrail Route between Old Oak Common and Paddington. This is not part of the internal route and would be added at a later stage. Locals want the station to be called Portobello Central to serve the nearby Portobello Market. It was originally called Kensal.

Golborne Road

Golborne Road is a street in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London's Kensal Green. The road runs east from Portobello Road to Kensal Road.

Tri-borough shared services

Tri-borough is a project between three councils in west London, England to combine service provision. The councils are Westminster City Council, Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council and the Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council. It launched in June 2011 and is due to come to an end in April 2018

The Parks Police Service was a small constabulary responsible for policing 87 parks and open spaces in the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham. The police force was created through the merger of Hammersmith and Fulham Parks Constabulary and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Parks Police in 2013. In 2019, the respective councils of Hammersmith & Fulham and Kengsinton & Chelsea disaggregated their shared some of their services, including the Parks Police. As such, the Parks Police Service ceased to exist and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Parks Police and the Hammersmith and Fulham Parks Constabulary came back into existence.

Nicholas Paget-Brown is an English Conservative politician who was leader of the Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council. He was first elected as a councillor for Hans Town on 8 May 1986. He became leader of the council on 23 May 2013. On 30 June 2017, he announced that he would step down as leader due to the council's response to the Grenfell Tower fire, and was replaced as leader by Conservative Elizabeth Campbell on 19 July 2017.


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Coordinates: 51°30′N0°11′W / 51.50°N 0.19°W / 51.50; -0.19