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KENSINGTON
Description and History from 1868 Gazetteer

KENSINGTON, a parish and populous suburban district of London, in the Kensington division of the hundred of Ossulstone, county Middlesex, 4 miles W.S.W. of St. Paul's, London. It includes the populous neighbourhoods of Brompton, Earl's Court, Norland, Notting Hill, with parts of Little Chelsea, and Kensall Green.

It was anciently an inconsiderable village, and is mentioned in Domesday Survey as Chenesitune, at which time it was possessed by Aubrey de Vere. Foxes were hunted herein the end of the 18th century. In the 16th and 17th centuries several mansions were erected, including Holland House, built by Sir Walter Cope, and enlarged by Inigo Jones; Campden House, erected by Baptist Hicks, Viscount Campden, and recently burnt; Hale House, once the residence of Oliver Cromwell; and Kensington Palace, originally the seat of the Finches, earls of Nottingham, but subsequently purchased by King William III., and converted into a royal palace. This building, which stands within the parish of St. Margaret, Westminster, is wanting in uniformity of design, consisting of three quadrangles of red brick, ornamented with quoins, columns, and cornices of stone. It contains an extensive suite of apartments, with staircase and ceilings by Kent, and a mantle-piece by Rysbrach. The pictures have been moved to Hampton Court, and the Duke of Sussex's library of rare bibles, &c., sold. This palace is surrounded by beautifully laid out grounds, by Wise, Bridgman, and Kent, with a flower garden by Loudon, together comprising more than 3 miles in circuit, which are now thrown open to the public on certain conditions. In this palace lived and died Queen Mary, Queen Anne, and her husband, Prince George of Denmark, George II., and his queen, Caroline, who contributed to improve it, and the Duke of Sussex, whose niece, Queen Victoria, was born in it in 1819. The other mansions are, Kensington House, once the seat of the Duke of Portsmouth, but afterwards a school; Kensington Gore, formerly the residence of Wilberforce, situated opposite the site of the Great Exhibition building of 1851; and Villa Maria, the residence of Canning. The older part of Kensington consists of several ranges of well-built houses, stretching for a considerable distance along the Great Western road, with numerous streets branching off from the main road to the N. and S. The newer portion includes Kensington-square, St. Mary Abbot's-terrace, Warwick-square, Addison-road, Notting-hill, Kensington Gravel Pits, and the ranges of building adjoining the Horticultural Societies' Gardens and the South Kensington Museum. Some portion of the parish is still in nursery and market gardens, but the greater portion is built over. It contains the station of the 'T' division of the metropolitan police, a savings-bank, West Middlesex water-works, situated at Kensington Gravel Pits, the London and Westminster cemetery, three lunatic asylums, and union poorhouse. There are several mineral springs, and amongst the red gravel yellow amber has been found. Detachments of the foot guards and of the Lancers are stationed here in barracks. The Paddington and Kensington canals, and the West London and Great Western railways traverse the northern part of the parish, the last passing through a slightly curved tunnel of 320 yards in length. In Kensington Gardens is a large sheet of water called the Basin. The illustrious Sir Isaac Newton resided here for some years, and died in a house at Pitt's Buildings. Many other men of eminence, as Addison, Charles Fox, Sir P. Perceval, and Lord Chancellor Camden, were residents. The living is a vicarage* united with the curacy of Christ Church and St. Paul's Temporary- Church, in the diocese of London, value 1,242, in the patronage of the bishop. The mother church of St. Mary, or St. Mary Abbot, formerly belonged to Abingdon Abbey. It contains tombs of the Riches, Dr. Jortin, Goodall, the physician, the Countess of Warwick, wife of the poet Addison, Dean Hodges, Lord Molesworth, the Ponsonbys, and George, son of the statesman Canning, with some lines by him as an epitaph on his son. In addition to the parish church, there are ten district churches-St. Barnabas, Addison-road; St. Philip's, Earl's Court; St. John's, Notting-hill; St. Peter's, Notting-hill; All Saints', Notting-hill; St. James's, Norland; St. Andrew's, Norland; Holy Trinity, Brompton; St. Mary's, West Brompton; and St. Paul's, Onslow-square, the livings of all which are perpetual curacies, varying in value from 300 to 639. There is also a chapel-of-ease at Brompton, and places of worship belonging to the Roman Catholics and several of the denominations of Protestant Dissenters. The parochial charities produce 577 per annum, of which a part was left by Oliver Cromwell, besides 18, the endowment of Methwold's almshouses. There are two proprietary schools, Pemble's school, built by Vanbrugh, and several National, infant, and other schools, besides charitable institutions of all kinds for relief of the sick and poor. Kensington is a Poor-law Union and head of a superintendent registry, but belongs to Brompton New County Court district.

[Description(s) from "The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland" (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson 2003]
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[Last updated on 9 Oct 2003 by David Hawgood. 2003]