Kensington (St. Mary)

KENSINGTON (St. Mary), a parish, and the head of a union, in the Kensington division of the hundred of Ossulstone, county of Middlesex, 2 miles (W. by S.) from London; containing, with the hamlet of Brompton, 26,834 inhabitants. This place, which, since the reign of William III., has been a royal residence, forms one of the most interesting, populous, and extensive appendages to the metropolis. The salubrity of the air, the pleasantness of its situation, the beauty of the gardens belonging to the palace, and its proximity to Hyde Park, render it highly desirable as a place of residence. The village extends for a considerable distance on the great western road, and comprises several ranges of handsome and well-built houses, with numerous streets branching off from the main road to the north and south, and a number of tasteful detached residences; among the more recent buildings are St. Mary Abbot's terrace, Warwick-square, and some houses on the Addison road leading to Notting Hill, on the latter of which are some very elegant villas. The district is well paved, lighted with gas, and amply supplied with water by the West Middlesex Company, who have a capacious reservoir at Kensington Gravel Pits, elevated more than 120 feet above the level of the Thames. A creek from the Thames has been widened within the last few years, and made navigable to Counter's bridge; the Paddington canal runs through the northern extremity of the parish, near Kensal-Green, and the Great Western railway passes in a slightly curved tunnel, 320 yards in length, through the same part of the parish. In 1836 an act was procured for making a railway from the basin of the Kensington canal, to join the London and Birmingham and Great Western railways near Holsden-Green, and to be called the Birmingham, Bristol, and Thames Junction, but which is now styled the West London railway; it crosses the high road, passing through Kensington Crescent, and is about three miles in length. In 1846 an act was passed authorising the extension of this railway to the Thames, thus increasing the length from three miles to five. Kensington, with the parishes of Hammersmith, Fulham, and others, was formed into a police-court district, by an order in council, in 1841.

The palace, which stands within the parish of St. Margaret, Westminster, originally built by Heneage Finch, lord high chancellor, and afterwards Earl of Nottingham, was purchased from his son, the second earl, by William III., who made it his principal residence. It was subsequently inhabited by Queen Anne, George I., and George II., whose queen, Caroline, made many additions to it, and very much extended and improved the gardens and pleasure-grounds, which, under certain regulations, are open to the public, and are frequented as the most fashionable and favourite promenade in the environs of the metropolis. The edifice comprises three quadrangles, neatly and substantially built of red brick, and ornamented with columns, quoins, and cornices of stone; and though externally wanting uniformity of design, and destitute of architectural interest, it contains a noble suite of apartments. The gardens are beautifully laid out, the walks are spacious, and the grounds altogether more than three miles in circuit. Detachments of the foot guards and of the lancers are stationed here in barracks. Holland House, originally built by Sir Walter Cope, and now the seat of Lord Holland, though enlarged under the superintendence of Inigo Jones, retains much of its Elizabethan character; and Campden House, erected by Baptist Hicks, Viscount Campden, is a good specimen in the same style of domestic architecture. Hale House, now in a dilapidated state, is said to have been the residence of Oliver Cromwell; and there are some other remains of ancient buildings in various parts of the parish.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £18. 8. 4.; net income, £1242; patron, the Bishop of London. The church is a large modern brick building; in the window of the chancel are whole-length figures of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John, and St. Andrew, in stained glass, and on the south side of the altar is a monument of Edward Henry Rich, Earl of Warwick and Holland, who died in 1721, and whose statue in white marble is finely sculptured. William Courten, a celebrated virtuoso, who died in 1702; Dr. Jortin, vicar of the parish, and an eminent theological writer; the Rev. Martin Madan, author of Thelypthora; George Colman, sen., a dramatic writer; Dr. Richard Warren, an eminent physician; Samuel Pegge, F.S.A.; and James Elphinstone, a writer on grammar and elocution, were all interred here. A chapel was built at Brompton in 1769. The district church in Addison road, dedicated to St. Barnabas, was erected in 1829, by subscription among the inhabitants, aided by a grant of £5000 from the Parliamentary Commissioners, and is a handsome edifice of Suffolk brick, in the later English style, with four campanile turrets: the living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Vicar; net income, £405. The church at Brompton, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was erected at the same time and by the same means as that of St. Barnabas. A church, called St. John's, was commenced in November, 1843, on a site given by All Souls' College, Oxford, at Kensal-Green; it was consecrated in Aug. 1844, and is in the Norman style, with two towers at the west end, each about 80 feet high: the cost of erection was about £3000. St. John's church, in Kensington Park, consecrated in Jan. 1845, occupies an advantageous site, and is a handsome structure in the early English style, in the form of a Latin cross, with a lofty spire rising from the centre; the interior is of singularly bold and simple design, and has accommodation for 1500 persons. St. James' church, Notting-Hill, consecrated in July 1845, is a mixture of the Norman and pointed styles, and contains 750 sittings. Of these three churches, the Bishop presents to the two first, and the Vicar to the last church. There are places of worship for Baptists and Independents; and a Roman Catholic chapel. The Kensal-Green public cemetery, formed by the General Cemetery Company, and consecrated by the Bishop of London, in 1833, comprises 39 acres of ground on the north of the Paddington canal, inclosed by a stone wall, and laid out in appropriate style; and 15 acres on the south side of the canal, for the interment of dissenters, have been also inclosed. His late Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex was interred here, May 4th, 1843.

The national school was originally founded as a parochial free school, in 1645, by Roger Pimble, who endowed it with tenements in the parish, the rents of which, augmented by subsequent benefactions, produce an income of more than £250 per annum; the premises, situated in High-street, are handsomely built of brick. Lord and Lady Campden in 1635 bequeathed £200, with which, including a benefaction of £45, supposed to have been given by Oliver Cromwell, and called Cromwell's gift, an estate was purchased producing nearly £200 per annum, one moiety of which was to be given to the poor, and the other appropriated to the apprenticing of children. Six almshouses were built in 1652, by William Methwold, who endowed them with sixteen acres of land, for the support of aged women; and there are numerous other gifts for the relief of the poor. The union of Kensington consists of five parishes or places, containing a population of 114,952. Here are several chalybeate springs, which were formerly in repute, though now little noticed. Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery, born in 1674; and Charles Pratt, Earl Camden, lord high chancellor; were natives of Kensington. —See Brompton.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.