Page 1: Anglo-Saxon beginnings

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Kensington and Chelsea developed from Anglo-Saxon settlements. Some modern historians believe that it was a single region stretching from Kensal to the Thames, similar to today’s boundaries. Chelsea’s location on the riverside near to London and close to the Bishop’s Palace at Fulham made it a convenient meeting place in early times. Documents at The National Archives at Kew reveal that at least 10 synods were held at Chelsea between 785 and 816. These were attended by Mercian kings, like Offa, who probably had a residence in Chelsea. King Alfred is also known to have visited the area in 898.

After the Norman invasion of 1066 William the Conqueror ordered an inventory to be made. All land and resources were to be recorded to assess the extent of taxes that he could raise. The Domesday Book was compiled in 1086 and both Kensington and Chelsea are mentioned. At this time the Manor of Chelsea belonged to Edward of Salisbury and that of Kensington to Aubrey de Vere.

For centuries the area was an agricultural settlement, crossed by at least two roads of Roman origin. Small clusters of homes existed around the two medieval churches on or near Chelsea Old Church and St Mary Abbot’s Church.


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Page from the Domesday Book showing the Manors of Chelsea and Kensington
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Virtual Museum – The History of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
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