Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for KENSINGTON

KENSINGTON, a metropolitan suburb, a parish, a sub-district, a district, and a division in Middlesex. The suburb lies on the Paddington and Kensington canals, and on the Southwestern, the Southeastern, the Brighton and South Coast, and the Northwestern railways, between Paddington and Brompton, and between Hyde Park and Hammersmith, 4 miles W by S of St. Paul's; is connected, by Knightsbridge suburb, with the main body of the metropolis; has stations on the railways, post offices‡ and postal letter boxes under London W; and contains the station of the T division of the metropolitan police, the West Middlesex water works, the London and Western cemetery, the Kensington new barracks, and a number of public institutions. Most of it is in Kensington parish; but some houses in High street, Kensington palace, Kensington gardens, and a portion between Kensington Gore and Knightsbridge, are in the parish of St. Margaret Westminster. The name was anciently written Chenesitune and Kœnigstown, and was probably derived from a Saxon proprietor. The manor belonged, at Domesday, to Aubrey de Vere; passed to Sir W. Cope and Richard Earl Holland; and is now divided. Foxes were hunted here so late as 1798. An old village, on the site of High street, stood nearly 2 miles W of Hyde Park Corner; but has been displaced or absorbed by comparatively modern buildings. The entire suburb is a remarkable instance of transmutation from a rural place into a grand wing of a great metropolis. The older extant part of it consists of well built houses extending a considerable distance along the Great Western road, with numerous streets branching to the N and the S; and the newer part includes Kensingtonsquare, St. Mary Abbots terrace, Warwick square, Addison road, Notting-hill, Kensington gravel pits, Kensington Gardens square, and Kensington New Town. The Gardens square was completed to the extent of 18 houses in 1859; was designed to comprise about 89 houses, all of five stories above the curb level; and is in the Italian style, of the usual features of that type, with the difference that the houses have double portico entrances, combined by a continuous entablature. Much of the New Town is contemporaneous with the square; makes a rich display of palatial looking houses; and is generally in varions modifications of the Italian style, from the severe details of the strictly Palladian to the ornate embellishments of the later renaissance. A scheme for a new street, 150 feet wide, with first class mansions and with rows of trees, from Sloane street to South Kensington museum, a distance of about five furlongs, mostly within Brompton, was introduced to parliament in 1865; but, though supported by the vestries of Kensington and Chelsea, and by the owners of £800, 000 of property in its way, and opposed only by owners of £27, 000 of property, was rejected. Kensington palace stands to the N of Old Kensington, on the way to Bayswater. It belonged originally to Heneage Finch, Earl of Nottingham and Lord Chancellor; was sold by his son, the second earl, to William III., soon after his accession to the throne; and has ever since belonged to the Crown. It is a large, irregular, brick edifice, of three quadrangles; and possesses no exterior beauty; but contains some very fine apartments, particularly the presence chamber, the king's gallery, the cube room, the banqueting room, and the grand drawing room. The lower portion of it was part of Lord Nottingham's house; the higher portion and the S front were erected by William III., after designs by Wren; the banqueting room was built by Queen Anne; the E front, the cupola room, and the grand marble staircase were erected by George I.; and the NW corner was built, as a nursery for his children, by George II. William III., his queen Mary, Queen Anne, Prince George of Denmark, and George II., all died in this palace; Queen Anne and the Duchess of Marlborough had here their last memorable interview; the Duke of Sussex, son of George III., lived and died here, and formed here his noble library of Biblical works; Queen Victoria was born here, and held her first court here; and the late Prince Consort placed here his collection of ancient Byzantine, Russian, German, Flemish, and Italian pictures, purchased from Prince Wallenstein. A previous collection of pictures here, known as the Kensington collection, and long famous under that name, has been removed to other palaces.

Kensington gardens lie immediately E of the palace; extend to Hyde Park; and are bounded, on that side, by a sunk fence and by the Serpentine. They were originally the pleasure grounds of the palace; but they are now open to the public, yet not to be traversed by carriages. They at first comprised only 26 acres; but they were enlarged, to the further extent of 30 acres, by Queen Anne, under the care of Bridgman; and were again enlarged, to the grand further extent of 300 acres, by Caroline, Queen of George II., under the care of Kent. They have rich attractions of walk and shade; they possess the additional attraction of stated performances by the regimental band from Knightsbridge barracks; and they are abundantly frequented by gaily dressed promenaders. A large formal sheet of water, called the Basin, is on the W; the Serpentine, as already noted, is on the E. This was formed in 1730-3, and a bridge over it, into Hyde Park, was erected in 1825, after designs by Rennie. Ornamental water works, for the twofold purpose of purifying the Serpentine and of forming a small Italian garden, were constructed in 1861. A screen, with vases on pilaster buttresses, separates the lower end from the Serpentine; an engine house, in Italian architecture, is at the head; and four large reservoirs, with a jet in the centre of each, are in the interior. The works occupy a space of 300 feet from N to S, and of 170 from E to W; and they make a liberal display of very good carving and statuary. A monumental column to Capt. Speke was erected near them in 1866. Beautiful wrought-iron gates are at the SE entrance of the gardens, from Rotten-row; and these were the entrancegates to the S transept of the Crystal Palace of 1851.

South Kensington museum stands at Cromwell road,near Brompton church, 1 mile SW of Hyde Park Corner. It originated in 1838; took fuller shape in 1851; and acquired complete form, under the " Science and Art Department '' of Government, in 1857. It was designed to train teachers for schools of art, to assist local committees in forming such schools, to hold public examinations for the awarding of prizes, and to make collections of works of art, books, and engravings. It includes a train ing school, where drawing, painting, modelling, and casting are taught; a library of art, with books, drawings, engravings, and photographs; a museum of orna mental art, with collection originally formed at Marlborough House; an educational department, with large library of school books, models of school buildings, and appliances for education in the fine arts; a gallery of British fine art, with paintings, sketches, drawings, and etchings of all the most celebrated British painters, and with a collection of objects presenting a historic illustration of British sculpture; a gallery of British manufacture, with specimens of the raw materials used by manufacturers, and with samples of manufactured articles; and a food museum, with a collection of objects illustrating the history, varieties, and chemical composition of food and fermented drinks. The original building was a range of ugly boiler roofed structures, popularly designated the Brompton Boilers; became soon inadequate to the requirements of the constantly increasing collection; underwent enlargements, variously temporary and permanent, which rendered it increasingly incongruous; and began, in 1863, to be partially absorbed and partially displaced by a uniform and more capacious edifice. This was designed to extend 700 feet along Cromwell road, and 650 along the flank; to be of three stories, and in a comparatively plain style; and was estimated to cost £214, 000. A critique, in 1865, on the portion of it then completed, remarks, - " It would be a tolerably fair description of it to say, that the newest modes of construction are employed in something of a mediæval spirit, but decorated in a manner partly renaissance and partly naturalistic. We are not disposed to quarrel with these evidences of the study of different styles. It is satisfactory to see Gothic principles so far admitted as they are in the ground work of the design; and, though more character and interest might have been infused into the details, they are of a less common place and insipid character than is usual in English classic buildings. ''The site of the museum is part of an estate which was purchased with the surplus funds from the exhibition of 1851; and it cost £60, 000. The buildings, up to July 1860, cost £54, 536; the purchased collections, till that date, cost £53, 269; the private gifts, till then, were estimated to be worth upwards of £88, 000; the collections lent for temporary exhibition were estimated at nearly £500, 000; and the annual expenditure of management was about £7, 000. A great exhibition of the works of miniature painters, with 3, 081 examples, was opened in June 1865.

The Exhibition buildings of 1862 were erected on the same estate as the South Kensington museum; they presented a principal or S front to Cromwell road, a short distance beyond that museum; they adjoined the Royal Horticultural Society's new garden on the N, and were bounded by Prince Albert's road on the W, by Exhibition road on the E; they extended 1, 152 feet in length and 692 in width, exclusive of E and W annexes; they rose 50 feet above the ground level, and had two dodecagonal domes, 160 feet in diameter and 250 feet high; they included a flooring space of 1, 140, 000 square feet, exclusive of wings for machinery and agricultural implements; and they were computed to cost £200, 000, but actually cost about a third more. The design for them, as also that for South Kensington museum, was furnished by Captain Fowke; and the sum paid for it was £5, 000Details of the exhibition itself are matter of history, recorded in thousands of forms; and need not here be stated. A vote passed parliament in June 1863 for purchasing these buildings, and 17 acres of land around them, to serve for a patent and museum, an addition to the British museum, a portrait gallery, and other purposes. The cost was to be £80, 000 for the buildings and £120, 000 for the land; and a sum of £284, 000 was computed to be requisite for rendering the buildings substantial and for adapting them and the ground to their new uses.

The Horticultural Society's new garden was formed in 1859-62, on a plot of 20 acres, leased from the estate of the Exhibition of 1851; is adorned with suitable buildings, well stocked, and beautifully laid out; and cost about £100, 000.-The Royal Kensington literary and scientific institution was established in 1837, under the auspices of Queen Victoria, the Duchess of Kent, the Duke of Sussex, and many distinguished gentlemen; and was formed on a very comprehensive plan, to meet the wants and means of all literary persons.-The Kensington observatory was erected by Sir James South; is a circular building, about 29 feet in internal diameter; and has a dome which cost nearly £2, 000.-Kensington House and Earl's Court House are lunatic asylums; and, at the census of 1861, had 73 and 41 inmates.- A consumption hospital and a cancer hospital are noticed in our article BROMPTON. The London home for females is at Notting-hill; St. Philip's orphanage, a Roman Catholic institution for poor orphan children, is in Brompton; and these, at the census of 1861, had respectively 21 and 76 inmates. The Kensington new barracks are occnpied by detachments of the foot guards and the lancers.-There are a school in High street endowed with £265 a year; two proprietory schools; several national, infant, and other public schools; a variety of benevolent and miscellaneous institutions; and endowed charities, partly left by Oliver Cromwell, about £330. St. Mary's church, or St. Mary-Abbot, the original parochial church of Kensington, belonged to Abingdon abbey; was rebuilt in 1272, and again in 1694; was recent1y repaired; and contains monuments of the Riches, the eighth Earl of Warwick, and the three Colmans.- Christ Church, in Victoria road, was built in 1851, at a cost of £5, 000; and is in the decorated English style.- St. Barnabas' church, in West Kensington, was built in 1830, with aid of £5, 000 from the Royal commissioners; and is in the early English style.-All Saints church, in Kensington park, stood for years half finished and wholly neglected; was restored and completed, at a new cost of about £ 4, 000, in 1861; and is in the early decorated style.-St. Mark's church, in Notting-hill, was built in 1863, at a cost of £6, 011. - St. George's church, at Campden hill, was built in 1864, at a cost of £7, 500; and is mainly French second pointed, but approximating to early decorated English.-ST. Stephen's church, in Old Brompton, was built in 1866, at a cost of about £10, 000, exclusive of site and of tower and spire; and is in the decorated English style, and cruciform. - St. Peter's church, in Onslow square, was built in 1867; and also is in the decorated English style, and cruciform. - St. Matthew's church, in South K., was founded in 1869; and is in the early decorated style.-The English Presbyterian church, in Shaftesbury place, was built in 1863; is in the second pointed style, with short transepts; and has a NW tower and spire.-The Wesleyan chapel, in Warwick place, was built also in 1863; is in transitional pointed style; and has a high pitched roof, and a tower and spire. -A Roman Catholic chapel, in Church street, connected with a Carmelite convent, was built in 1866; and is in the French first pointed style.-St. Mary's Roman Catholic church, in Highstreet, K., was built in 1868; and is in the late first pointed style.

Kensington Gore occupies the line between Kensington Town and Knightsbridge, and extends thence southward to Brompton. A part of it, now edificed, was the site of the once famous Kensington or Brompton nursery, which is mentioned in the " Spectator." Kingston House here stands on the highest ground between London and Windsor; was built by the notorious Duchess of Kingston; was the residence and death place of Marquis Wellesley; and passed to Earl Listowel. Gore House was occupied by Wilberforce; afterwards by Lady Blessington; afterwards by Soyer, who made it a symposium during the time of the exhibition; and was eventually purchased by government for the scheme of the South Kensington museum. Kensington House was once the seat of the Duke of Portsmouth; and was converted first into a school, afterwards into a lunatic asylum. Holland House has been separately noticed in its own alphabetical place. Villa Maria was the seat of Canning. Pitt's buildings were the death place of Sir Isaac Newton. A house in Lower Phillimore place was the residence of Wilkie, while he painted his " Chelsea Pensioners, '' his " Reading of the Will, '' his " Distraining for Rent, '' and his " Blind Man s Buff;'' and a detached mansion in Vicarage place was his residence immediately prior to his leaving for the Holy Land. Sir P. Perceval, Lord Chancellor Camden, and the fourth Earl of Orrery were natives; and the traveller Chardin, Lord Keeper Bridgman, General Lambert, Talleyrand, the Earl of Craven, and the Duchess of Mazarine were residents. The family of Edwardes take from Kensington the title of Baron.

The parish includes all Kensington Gore, Earl's Court, Gravel Pits, Brompton, Norland, and Notting-Hill, and parts of Knightsbridge, Little Chelsea, and KensallGreen; and is ecclesiastically divided into St. MaryK., St. Barnabas West K., St. Philip-Earl's Court, St. John-Notting-hill, St. Peter-Bayswater, All Saints-K. Park, St. Mark-Notting-hill, St. James-Norland, Holy Trinity-Brompton, St. Mary-West B., St. Paul-Onslowsquare, St. George-Campden-hill, St. Stephen, St. PeterOnslow-square, and St. Clement-with-St. Andrew. Acres of the whole, 1, 942. Real property in 1860, £423, 984; of which £700 were in gas works. Pop. in 1851, 44, 053; in 1861, 70, 108. Houses, 9, 481. Pop. of St. Mary-K. ecclesiastically, 15, 198; of St. B., 2, 584; of St. Ph., 5, 264; of St. John, 8, 662; of St. Peter, 6, 660; of A. S., 4, 000; of St. Mark, 3, 000; of St. James, 7, 800; of H. T., 9, 650; of St. Mary W. B., 4, 236; of St. Paul, 1, 000; of St. G., 6, 500; of St. ST., 1, 500. Some portion of the land is still disposed in market gardens. The sub-stratum is a deep bed of rich red gravel, and has been found to contain some yellow amber. The Great Western railway, in passing through the northern part, traverses a slightly curved tunnel, of 320 yards. Thirteen of the livings are vicarages, and the others p. curacies, in the diocese of London. Value of St. Mary-K., £1, 242; of H. T., £639; of St. Mary-W. B., £300; of the others, not reported. Patron of St. Mary-K., St. John, St. James, H. T., and St.with-ST. A., the Bishop of L.; of St. B., the Vicar of St. Mary-K.; of St. Ph., the Rev. J. D. Clayton; of St. Peter, R. Martin, Esq.; of A. S., the Rev. Dr. Walker; of St. Mark, Miss Keye; of St. Mary-W. B., the Vicar of H. T.; of St. Paul and St. Peter, Onslow-square,J. Freake, Esq.; of St. G., J. Bennett, Esq.; of St. Stephen, the Rev. J. A. Aston. There are also, without defined limits, two chapelries of Christchurch and St. Paul annexed to St. Mary-K. vicarage; a chapelry of St. John, annexed to St. Barnabas; a chapelry of St. Matthias, annexed to St. Philip; a chapelry of Brompton, in the patronage of the Vicar of St. Mary-K.; and a chapelry of St. Augustine, in the patronage of the Vicar of Holy-Trinity-Brompton.

The sub-district bears the name of Kensington-Town; comprises all the part of the parish N of a line drawn from the S end of Gore-lane to the E end of Kensingtoncrescent, abutting on Countess-creek; and surrounds a detached portion of St. Margaret-Westminster parish, forming the site of St. Margaret's workhouse. Acres, 1, 244. Pop., 51, 910. Houses, 6, 909.—The district comprehends also the sub-district of Brompton, comprising the rest of K. parish; the sub-districts of Paddington-St. Mary and Paddington-St. John, comprising all Paddington parish; the sub-districts of HammersmithST. Peter and Hammersmith-St. Paul, comprising all Hammersmith parish; and the sub-district of Fulham, conterminate with Fulham parish. And it consists of the poor law unions of Kensington, Paddington, and Fulham; the first and the second being single parishes under the Poor Law amendment act; the third containing the parishes of Hammersmith and Fulham. Acres of the entire district, 7, 342. Poor rates, in 1863, of K. union, £34, 122; of P. union, £40, 526; of F. union, £21, 254. Pop. of the whole, in 1851, 120, 004; in 1861, 185, 950. Houses, 25, 813. Marriages, in 1863, 2, 039; births, 6, 350, -of which 303 were illegitimate; deaths, 4, 371, - of which 1, 795 were at ages under 5 years, and 70 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 16, 376; births, 45, 217; deaths, 30, 980. The places of worship, in 1851, were 23 of the Church of England, with 22, 506 sittings; 1 of English Presbyterians, with 340 s.; 6 of Independents, with 2, 497 s.; 7 of Baptists, with 1, 676 s.: 7 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 1, 656 s.; 3 of Primi tive Methodists, with 253 s.; 1 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 80 s.; 1 of Brethren, with 50 s.; 2 undefined, with 540 s.; 1 of the Catholic and Apostolic church, with 300 s.; 2 of Latter Day Saints, with 250 s.; and 3 of Roman Catholics, with 1, 408 s. The schools were 49 public day schools, with 8, 207 scholars; 215 private day schools, with 4, 419 s.; 38 Sunday schools, with 5, 380 s.; and 6 evening schools for adults, with 170 s. The workhouses for the three unions are in Kensington Town, PaddingtonST. Mary, and Fu1ham; and, at the census of 1861, had 295, 276, and 373 inmates - The division is part of Ossulstone hundred; and contains the parishes of Kensington, Hammersmith, Fulham, Chelsea, Acton, Chiswick, Ealing, Willesden, and Twyford-Abbey. Acres, 18, 863. Pop. in 1851, 151, 910; in 1861, 199, 121. Houses, 29, 255.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a metropolitan suburb, a parish, a sub-district, a district, and a division"   (ADL Feature Type: "populated places")
Administrative units: Kensington CP/AP/Vest       Kensington PLPar/PLU/RegD       Kensington RegD       Middlesex AncC
Place names: CHENESITUNE     |     KENSINGTON     |     KOENIGSTOWN
Place: Kensington

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