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Despite the ravages of time, wars and often brutal post-war redevelopment schemes Kensington and Chelsea still retain their unique characters. Even the amalgamation of the two boroughs, unpopular as it was at the time, has been accepted. Today conservation combined with the adoption of sympathetic new architecture is seen as a key objective. In every corner of the borough signs of its history can be seen: from Grade 1 listed buildings Kensington Palace and the Royal Hospital, Chelsea to others recalled in street names such as Pottery Lane and Hippodrome Mews.
The two events that Kensington and Chelsea are perhaps best known for today demonstrate both their traditional and forwarding looking sides. The Chelsea Flower Show, held in the magnificent grounds of the Royal Hospital every May, is attended by Royalty and the ‘cream of society’; whereas the Notting Hill Carnival, held every August Bank Holiday on the streets of North Kensington, has grown over the past 30 years from a small community-based event into Europe’s biggest and most exuberant street party, attracting a million plus visitors.
In 200 years the area has been transformed from a ‘rural idyll’ to a thriving part of the modern metropolis. Along the way it has been home to Royalty and pig farmers, cowboys and artists, entrepreneurs and soldiers. Only time will tell what new and exciting chapters await to be written in the future.
Kensington High Street in 1811 with the White Horse inn
Kensington High Street in 2005, the White Horse is now a Thai restaurant