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Kennington, Surrey

Historical Description

Kennington, a metropolitan suburb and a parliamentary borough in Lambeth parish, Surrey. The suburb forms part of the S side of the metropolis; lies between the Thames and Walworth, and between Newington and Brixton, adjacent to Vauxhall station on the L. & S.W.R., 2½ miles SSW of St Paul's; and is in the S.W. Suburban Postal District. The borough returns one member to the House of Commons, and has a population of 73, 850. The name was anciently written Cyningtune and Chenintune, and signifies " king's town." The place was a royal manor so early as the Saxon times; it was annexed to the Duchy of Cornwall in the time of Edward III.; and it still in that annexation belongs to the Crown. A palace of the Saxon king stood on it, continued to be occasionally used by kings after the Conquest, and appears to have been restored in the time of the Black Prince. Two events, the death of Hardicanute and the coronation of Harold, which are usually said to have occurred at Lambeth, seem rather to have taken place at Kennington. Henry III. kept Christmas here in 1231, the same king convoked parliaments here in 1232 and 1234, Edward III. kept Christmas here in 1342, the Black Prince resided here, John of Gaunt took refuge here in 1377 under the protection of Richard, Prince of Wales, Henry VII. took up his residence here previous to his coronation, and Charles I. resided here when Prince of Wales. A vestige of the old royal residence stood till the 18th century close to Kennington Cross, but has been displaced by modern buildings. A street called Prince's Road, and a square called Prince's Square, still commemorate the residence of one or other of the princes, and the former is said to have been the road by which the Black Prince came to the palace from Lambeth. Much of the manor was infested in the time of Edward III. by bands of ruffians, who sallied from it at night to rob the city, and who required to be especially watched and repressed by the city authorities. A large tract also lay in commonage under the name of Kennington Common till so late as 1855; was the usual place of execution for criminals prior to the erection of Horsemonger Lane Jail; was the scene of the great Chartist meeting summoned in 1848 by Fergus O'Connor; but is now enclosed and laid out as a public park. Shen-stone, in his poem entitled "Jemmy Dawson," describes the execution on Kennington Common of one of the officers who fought for the Pretender. The entire place has changed its character from rural to urban; it is now a well-built, respectable, airy portion of the metropolis; it contains very numerous streets, running in various directions; and it includes a large aggregate of open spaces, serving for both adornment and ventilation. A chief one of the open spaces is the Park, and another chief one is the Oval, an area of nearly 10 acres, formerly disposed as market-garden and nursery, but now used as the Surrey cricket-ground. The Horns Tavern at Kennington has large assembly-rooms, which are frequently used for political and other public meetings. J. Calcott the composer and Sir A. Calcott the painter were natives. See also LONDON.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySurrey 
Civil parishLambeth 
Poor Law unionLambeth 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records, in association with Surrey History Centre, have images of the Parish Registers for Surrey online.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Kennington from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Surrey is available to browse.


Online maps of Kennington are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Surrey papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Surrey, 1662-1668 is available on the Heraldry page.

CountyGreater London
Postal districtSE5
Post TownLondon