Saturday, December 27, 2008

Neighbourhood History

Coming from a country where 'old' generally means anything pre-1950 (OK, I'm exaggerating here, but still -- Canada wasn't even a country until 1867), I'm constantly amazed by the history of things around me. This includes the very neighborhood in which we live.

The Man moved to England from his native Cairo almost 11 years ago now, and our flat in Kensington was his first London abode. He knew the area mainly because of the Royal Albert Hall, which he'd read about from Egypt whenever a famous musician from his country would play there. When the estate agent showed him the flat, he immediately put in an offer.

I can see why. Our flat is tiny (by Canadian standards) and on a busy street, but you can't beat the location. We're on a stretch well known for its antique shops, smack between Notting Hill Gate and High Street Kensington, and only five minutes to Kensington Palace and the green of Hyde Park. Surrounded by tiny bookshops, great pubs and wonderful cafes and coffee shops, it's a wonder we still have any money left!

And in the summer when the Proms are on, The Man still can't believe his good fortune as he relives his childhood dream of walking through Kensington Gardens to the Royal Albert Hall and listening to some of the world's best music for only a fiver.

As part of his Christmas gift, I found some old photos of our neighbourhood. It really brought home to me how wonderful it is to live in an area that's existed for hundreds of years, and how we're now part of its fabric.

High Street Kensington, 1811

High Street Kensington, 1929.

Notting Hill Gate, 1800s

Notting Hill Gate, 1920s

Muzio Clementi's house, Kensington Church Street

Kensington Church Street, 1970s

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