Friday, December 4, 2009

Hidden London: Kensington Square

Photo from Open Squares.

It's been awhile since I've done a Hidden London post, mainly because I needed a wee break from writing about London. But I can't stay away from the topic for too long -- I just love this city.

Wandering around High Street Kensington today, I ducked behind Whole Foods and into the leafy quiet of Kensington Square. As a student of philosophy, The Man had been keen to show me this square where John Stuart Mill had lived and since then I've always loved its timeless ambiance.

It's one the oldest squares in London, created in 1685 by Thomas Young who 'did sett out and appoint a considerable part thereof to be built into a large Square of large and substantial Houses fit for ye Habitacion of persons of good Worth and Quality, with Courts and Yards before and Gardens lying backwards’.*

Building a square so far from the centre of London was fairly radical and Young apparently had problems finding tenants (today, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn't want to live there!), but his venture was saved by the establishment of a Court at Kensington Palace.

The Court left Kensington in the 1750s and the square languished, with no renovation schemes or remodernisation. Because of this, the square still retains a lot of its original characteristics.

Although the gated garden is for the use of residents only, it's enough to wander the square, examine the houses' facades and imagine the former residents.

And if you get hungry, pop by Kensington Square Kitchen for some delectable cupcakes and muffins to bring you back to reality.

*From: 'Kensington Square and environs: Introduction', Survey of London: volume 42: Kensington Square to Earl's Court (1986), pp. 5-11. URL: Date accessed: 04 December 2009.


India Drummond said...

Sounds lovely. Although I suspect it's not quite that green this time of year?

I've really been enjoying the blog lately! You really show the lovely side of London!

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Sighs of longing coming from across the ocean...

Girl Fren' said...

I, too, am longingly sighing from across the ocean...but not for long. London is next on our list. Meantime, you mention Thomas Young; please tell me exactly who he was and how to find more about him.

Marsha Moore said...

Thanks, India! It is still quite green - probably thanks to all the recent lashings of rain - but not as green as in the pic.

Girl Fren' - Thomas Young was a joiner at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, and that's really all I know. Google is your best best for more!

And Karen... come visit!

Cassandra Frear said...

Oh, I love this. I wish I were there. What a special place!