This is the third volume of the Survey of London to be concerned with Kensington. The first was
published in 1973 under the title Northern Kensington, and the second in 1975 as The Museums Area of
South Kensington and Westminster. Work on the remainder of Kensington was then suspended for
several years, during which two volumes on the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair were prepared and
published. The present volume marks the resumption of work on Kensington, which will be
completed in a year or two by the publication of a fourth volume describing the Kensington High
Street and Earl's Court areas. It is intended that the final volume should also contain a general review
of the whole of South Kensington.
The present volume covers a triangular portion of the ancient parish of Kensington extending
westward from Knightsbridge Green as far as the railway line which forms the boundary between
Kensington and Hammersmith. At its narrower eastern end it includes both sides of Brompton Road,
while further west it is bounded on its north side by Old Brompton Road and on its south side by
Fulham Road. Building began around Knights bridge in the 1760's and spread sporadically westward
down these three main roads, along which there sprang up numerous villa residences, many of them
set in well-planted groves and surrounded by the nurseries and market gardens for
was famous in the early nineteenth century.
But this idyllic scene did not last long, and by the 1840's it and the small remnants of earlier
development at Little Chelsea in the Fulham Road were being submerged by the advancing tide of
streets and squares. This process was accelerated by the opening of the Metropolitan Railway in
1868, until by the end of the century the whole area had been covered with bricks and mortar. Most
of this present volume is therefore concerned with nineteenth-century residential development on
the Alexander, Smith's Charity, Gunter and other estates which make up this area, but it also
includes studies of several churches and of such varied subjects as Brompton Oratory, Brompton
Cemetery, Harrods, and Brompton Hospital.
On behalf of the Council I should like to thank the many people who have given help in the
preparation of this volume. Many of their names are recorded in the List of Acknowledgments, and
without their generous assistance much of the research for this study could not have been done. I am
particularly grateful to my colleagues, the Advisory Members of the Historic Buildings Panel—Sir
John Betjeman, Sir Hugh Casson, Dr. Henry Cleere, Sir Osbert Lancaster and Mr. Ian L. Phillips—who, despite the many demands made upon them, have given their valuable time and know ledge at
numerous meetings of the Panel. I also wish to thank two former Advisory Members-Lord Reilly
and Sir John Summerson, both of whom have retired since the publication of the last volume. The
Council is very fortunate to have had the help of two such distinguished Members for so long. Sir
John has, indeed, advised the Council and its predecessor, the London County Council, in all
matters relating to historic buildings since the establishment by the L.C.C. of a special
sub-committee for their management in 1953; and his connexion with the Survey of London has been
even longer. Everyone who cares for the well-being of the historic fabric of London owes him a deep
debt of gratitude.
No preface to this volume would be complete without reference to the immense contribution made
by Dr. Francis Sheppard, the General Editor of the Survey of London, who retired at the end of 1982
whilst the book was being printed.
Dr. Sheppard was appointed General Editor by the former London County Council in 1954 and
has been associated with every volume since then. Under his guidance, inspiration and leadership the
Survey of London has grown in stature and is recognised by leading authorities throughout the world.
Dr. Sheppard has maintained the highest possible standard of accuracy but his devotion to excellence
has in no way diminished his most interesting style which has kept the human reality behind London
bricks and mortar. Dr. Sheppard has made a notable and significant contribution to London's history
and fortunately for Londoners it remains available for future generations.
Associated with Dr. Sheppard in the work on this volume were Mr. P. A. Bezodis, Deputy Editor,
and Mr. J. Greenacombe and Mr. V. R. Belcher, Assistant Editors (all of the Director General's
Department), who with Dr. Sheppard wrote most of the text and edited all the material. The
architectural content was provided by the staff of the Historic Buildings Division of the Department
of Architecture and Civic Design under the aegis of the Surveyor of Historic Buildings, Mr. Ashley
Barker. The drawings were made by the Division's draughtsmen, Mr. John Sambrook, Mr. Alan
Fagan, Mr. Roy Bowles and Mr. R. Weston, under the general guidance of Mr. Sambrook. Several
chapters of the text were written by Mr. Andrew Saint, the Architectural Editor, who also organised
the drawing and photographic programmes: Dr. J. M. Robinson also contributed to these aspects of
the work, particularly in its earlier stages. Many of the photographs were specially taken for the
volume by members of the Council's Photographic Unit, under the supervision of Mr. Roy Ferriman.
Printing arrangements were made by the Central Reprographic Service of the Supplies Department,
particularly by Mr. Leslie Needs and Mr. Arnold Riley, with their respective support teams of Mr.
Reg. Corke, Mr. Ivor Croad, Mr. Peter Durrell and Mr. Brian Rees.
Chairman, Historic Buildings Panel
Greater London Council