Council Archives, Family History and Building History

Council Archives

We hold material relating to the council of Kensington and Chelsea including rate books and electoral registers.

  • Rate books

    Rate books for Chelsea 1779-1965, Kensington 1779-1965 and combined until 1979. We also hold valuation books from 1880-1936. The rate books give the names of rate payers listed by street, and detail the amount of rates paid. The rate payer is the person paying the local taxes and can be the occupier or owner of the house. The books can be used to establish how long someone was at a particular address.

  • Council minutes

    We hold a full set of council minutes for the vestries of the separate boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea up to 1965, and the combined boroughs thereafter.

  • Electoral Registers

    From 1887 to 2000 for Chelsea and 1890 to 1982 for Kensington. These include absent voters lists of 1918. We hold combined Kensington and Chelsea electoral registers from 1982 to the year before the current year. For the most current, edited version, please speak directly with our colleagues in the Reference department of Kensington Central Library. There is no name index to these electoral rolls, so you must know the street of the person you are searching for.

Family History

  • Parish Registers

    The majority of the parish records for the borough of Kensington and Chelsea are held at the London Metropolitan Archives. Contact details for the LMA can be found below:

    Parish records at the LMA have been digitised and uploaded to Ancestry so it is not always necessary to visit them. Ancestry is available at many local libraries including within our Local Studies department. Please see below for links to our online databases page:

  • We hold the parish indexes for St Mary Abbotts and the parish records for St Luke’s (Chelsea) 1559 -1850. It should be noted that St Mary Abbots continue to hold their own parish records. Their contact details can be found here:

  • Cemeteries

    Unfortunately we do not keep burial records here in the Local Studies and Archives department - most municipal cemeteries keep their own records. Please see our list of cemeteries for the area; you may wish to continue your search by contacting these.

Building History

The Survey of London for Kensington and Chelsea is available in our department on open access.

  • Drainage Plans

    For any address in the Borough we often hold a drainage plan which is associated with an application to gain permission to run pipes into the public sewer. These can be very rudimentary sketches of the ground/basement floor(s) through to drawings of the whole building. They can date for more or less any period from the 1850’s to the 1980’s. Applications had to be made when buildings were first built or when a major change was carried out that affected the drainage. Please let us know the address(es) you are interested in so we can see if we hold a plan. These are paper documents and a visit would be necessary to view them.

  • Street Directories

    We hold directories for Kensington which cover 1888 – 1953, Chelsea for 1890 – 1939 and London Post Office directories 1902 – 1991. We also hold earlier London directories which cover the dates 1778-1863, but not exhaustively, and some Royal Blue Books and Boyle’s Court guides for the period 1873-1989. Again, these dates are not exhaustive.

  • Rateable values

We hold material relevant to historic rateable values. Please read the information on our rateable value procedures

or email us to find out more.