Local architecture

About the Royal Borough

The Royal Borough has been described as a Victorian Citadel. It has some outstanding examples from that architectural era.

There are fine examples of Georgian architecture such as Kensington Square. There are also magnificent modern buildings like the Michelin Building on Fulham Road.

Some controversial buildings, like Trellick Tower, dominate the North Kensington skyline.

Places to visit

Crosby Hall

Crosby Hall, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea originally stood in Bishopsgate. It was the Great Hall of the 15th century Crosby Place. 

Shakespeare was familiar with this former city mansion, and wrote it into 'Richard III' as the scene of Gloucester's plotting. The building was occupied by Richard while he was Duke of Gloucester. Later it was owned by Sir Thomas More.

The Hall was moved stone by stone from Bishopsgate to Chelsea in 1910 to rescue it from proposed demolition. It was then incorporated into the buildings of the British Federation of University Women and used as a dining hall. It is now a private house.

Electric Cinema

The Electric Cinema in Portobello Road opened in 1910. It is a Grade II listed building. It is now London's oldest and one of its finest purpose-built cinemas. It recently underwent restoration and now looks much as it did when first opened.

The foyer retains its tiny gilt-domed box office and mosaic floor. This leads to a baroque panelled auditorium with fine plasterwork. The cinema now has new comfortable seating and the latest 35mm projector.

Holland House

Holland House, built in 1605 for Sir Walter Cope and originally known as Cope Castle, was one of the first great houses built in Kensington. The 500 acre estate stretched from Holland Park Avenue to the current site of Earls Court tube station. His son-in-law, Henry Rich, the first Earl of Holland eventually inherited the house.

The Earl was beheaded for his Royalist activities during the Civil War and the house was then used as an army headquarters. It was regularly visited by Oliver Cromwell. After the war, it was owned by various members of the family, renamed Holland House and passed to the Edwardes family in 1721. In 1874 the estate was transferred to the Earl of Ilchester.

Under the 3rd Lord Holland the house became noted as a glittering social, literary and political centre. It had many celebrated visitors such as Byron, Macaulay, Disraeli, Dickens and Sir Walter Scott.

Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and King George VI attended the last great ball held at the house. This was only a few weeks before the outbreak of the Second World War.

In September 1940, the building was badly hit during a ten hour bombing raid and almost destroyed.

Today the remains form a backdrop for the open air Holland Park Theatre. The theatre offers an annual summer programme of opera and dance.