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27th February 2017
Hotels in the area :
- Chelsea hotels
- Earls Court hotels
- Kensington luxury hotels
- Kensington & South Kensington moderate price hotels
- Kensington cheap hotels
- Knightsbridge Hotels
THE ROYAL BOROUGH OF KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA
- The borough has an area of 4.6 square miles (12 square km), and a resident population of over 150,000 people. It was established in 1965 by the amalgamation of the borough of Chelsea with the royal metropolitan borough of Kensington, whose royal charter had been granted in 1901.
- It includes such areas as North Kensington, Notting Hill, Kensington, Knightsbridge (in part), Brompton, Earl's Court, West Brompton, and Chelsea.
- The names Chelsea, Kensington, and Notting Hill are probably of Anglo-Saxon origin. In medieval times the Manor of Chelsea was in the possession of Westminster Abbey. With the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s, Henry VIII confiscated the manor, together with Sir Thomas More's estate, and gave it to his last wife, Catherine Parr.
- In the mid-1700s Chelsea became known for the production of Chelsea porcelain, and the area of Ranelagh was a popular entertainment centre in the late 1700s.
- Kensington Palace, still occupied by members of the royal family, is an originally Jacobean construction. Queen Victoria was born there in 1819.
- Other important buildings include the Commonwealth Institute (1962) and the world-famous Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Geological Museum. Earl's Court Exhibition Hall (1937) is a massive reinforced concrete structure covering 12 acres (5 hectares) of land. Also notable are Carlyle's House (1708); Chelsea Old Church, which was associated with Sir Thomas More in the 1500s; the surviving wings of Holland House (17th century); and the Linley Sambourne House, a Victorian townhouse within which are displayed the 19th-century decor, furniture, and Punch cartoons of its namesake.
- The southern part of the borough was a favoured area for artists, writers, musicians, and bohemians. But that was before the property prices went up in the 1970s and '80s. Some artists still cling to the riverbank in the houseboats immortalized in Joyce Cary's novel The Horse's Mouth (1944).
- On the south Chelsea is bounded by the river Thames. Chelsea Embankment (pictured above) is a section of the long line of embankments, the roads that run along the Thames in central London. Chelsea Harbour, which has historical origins as a Coal Wharf for the rail network, has been developed on the North bank of the Thames as a modern complex.
- Connecting the borough with the south bank of the Thames are Albert Bridge (opened in 1873), Chelsea Bridge (rebuilt in 1934-37), and Battersea Bridge (1890), which replaced the picturesque wooden structure depicted in paintings by James McNeill Whistler and J.M.W. Turner.
- The economy of Kensington and Chelsea is driven by service industries that centre on the boutiques, antique shops, pubs, and hotels of King's Road, Kensington High Street, and Knightsbridge (the site of Harrods and other stores).
- The annual Notting Hill Carnival is a popular event organized by Caribbean immigrants to the area, notably Trinidadians. Ethnic minorities account for nearly one-sixth of the borough's population.
PUBLIC OPEN SPACES
Public open spaces are an important asset of Kensington and Chelsea borough, although they cover only a small portion of its area.
- Summer ballet and opera productions are held at Holland Park Theatre, a parkland site by the ruins of Holland House.
- In the southeastern corner of the borough are Ranelagh Gardens and the Royal Hospital, which was built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1682-92 to house army veterans.
- The nearby Chelsea Physic Garden, established in 1673 as the Botanic Garden, was given to the Apothecaries' Society by Sir Hans Sloane in 1722. Cottonseed from the garden helped in 1732 to establish cotton growing in the southern North American colonies.
Kensington Gardens, a park lying mainly within the neighbouring City of Westminster, adjoins Hyde Park and is overlooked by Kensington Palace. It has a beautiful terrace with Italian Fountains (pictured right), used to film a scene of the box office success Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, the sequel to Bridget Jones's Diary.
GALLERIES, MUSEUMS, INSTITUTES
IN THE AREA
- The Orangery and the Ice House, buildings which originally pertained to Holland House.
- The Leighton House Museum and Art Gallery is known for its ornate Arab Hall (1870s) and its displays of Victorian art.
- Collections on the history of the British military since 1485 are in the National Army Museum, which also features an extensive reference library.
- The headquarters of the National Heart and Lung Institute (founded 1946) is in the borough; it was placed under the control of the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (in Westminster) in 1995.
- The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine is near the Royal Albert Hall at the southern border of Hyde Park.