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The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
London Borough of Kensington is home to one of the world’s most expensive and sought-after streets, Kensington Palace Gardens, appropriately known as “Billionaire’s Row,” the average house price is around £30 million. Victorian mansions line the tree-lined private street, which is mostly home to Embassies.
Kensington Palace is set within Kensington Gardens and has been home to many kings and queens including King William III, his wife Queen Mary II and Queen Victoria. In 1689 when William III and Mary II became King and Queen they commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to design part of the Palace. It is now home to members of the Royal Family and part of the Palace is open to the public.
South Kensington has some famous family-friendly museums such as, The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum and The Victoria & Albert Museum which specialises in Fine Arts. The Royal Colleges of Art and Music and Imperial College are also located in the area.
Kensington Parks and Gardens
Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park together form the largest green space in London. Kensington Gardens is one of the Royal Parks and covers 111 hectares and boasts a variety of garden landscapes such as the stunning Italian Gardens, which is thought to have been dedicated to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert. The Princess Diana Memorial Playground and the Peter Pan statue are also features of the park.
Kensington Gardens also includes the grand monument to Prince Albert, known as The Albert Memorial. The monument is 55 metres high and was dedicated to Prince Albert by Queen Victoria. The Royal Albert Hall is opposite the memorial and its structure was modelled on the classic Roman amphitheatre; Queen Victoria also dedicated The Royal Albert Hall to the memory of Prince Albert. The concert hall hosts many events during the year, including the Statoil Masters Tennis and BBC Proms.
The Serpentine Gallery is set within Kensington Gardens and exhibits modern and contemporary art. It has showcased work by renowned artists such as Henry Moore, Andy Warhol and Damian Hurst.
St Mary Abbott is a Victorian church designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and has the tallest spire in London. It stands on the corner of Kensington High Street and Kensington Church Street.
Brompton Oratory, is the popular name for “The Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri;” a Roman Catholic church built in the Renaissance style during the Catholic revival in 1884. It is the second largest Catholic church in London with a nave that is wider than that of St Paul’s Cathedral in the City.
The artist Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896) lived at 12 Holland Park Road. His Victorian house, now known as Leighton House Museum, was built to his specification and now exhibits the artist’s work and that of his contemporaries. The artist had a passion for the arts of the Middle East, particularly decorative tiles, these can be seen en-masse on the walls of the magnificent Arab Hall.
A fine example of a late Victorian townhouse can be found at 18 Stafford Terrace. The house belonged to the Punch cartoonist, illustrator and photographer Edward Linley Sambourne (1844-1910). The house, built in about 1870, retains the original interior and also contents belonging to the cartoonist and his family. Some rooms are decorated with original William Morris wallpaper.
Kensington Roof Garden
Kensington Roof Garden, London’s spectacular roof garden and private members club, owned by Sir Richard Branson, is set within 1.5 acres of themed gardens. Set on Kensington High Street, it includes a restaurant, exotic trees and resident flamingoes.
Kensington High Street
There is a good range of shops in the area, including the largest Whole Food Market Store. Kensington High Street has a selection of mid to up-market clothes shops whilst Kensington Church Street is more traditional and known for its specialist antique shops.
Holland Park lies on the edge of Kensington and has a range of facilities to suit children, sports enthusiasts, a gallery for art lovers, a season of open-air opera in the summer and for those who look for tranquility, the Kyoto Garden. The surrounding area is notable for distinctive Georgian and Victorian terraces.