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Kensington is a district of West London, Englandmarker within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelseamarker, located west of Charing Crossmarker. An affluent and densely-populated area, its commercial heart is Kensington High Streetmarker and it contains the well-known museum district of South Kensingtonmarker.

To the north, Kensington is bordered by Notting Hillmarker. To the east, Kensington is bordered by Bromptonmarker and Knightsbridgemarker. To the south, Kensington is bordered by Chelseamarker and Earl's Courtmarker. To the west, Kensington is bordered by Hammersmithmarker and Shepherd's Bushmarker.

Its name came from Anglo-Saxon Cēnsiginga tūn = "The village or enclosure of Keen-Victory's people".

Geography

The focus of the area is Kensington High Street, a busy commercial centre with many shops, typically upmarket. The street was declared London's second best shopping street in February 2005 thanks to its range and number of shops.

Kensington's second activity centre is South Kensingtonmarker, where a variety of small shops are clustered close to South Kensington tube stationmarker. This is also the southern end of Exhibition Roadmarker, the thoroughfare that links the area's museums and educational institutions together.

The edges of Kensington are not well-defined; in particular, the southern part of Kensington blurs into Chelsea, which has a similar architectural style. To the west, a transition is made across the West London railway line and Earl's Court Road further south into other districts, whilst to the north, the only obvious dividing line is Holland Park Avenue, to the north of which is the similar district of Notting Hill.

In the north east, the large Royal Parkmarker of Kensington Gardensmarker (contiguous with its eastern neighbour, Hyde Parkmarker) is an obvious buffer between Kensington and areas to the north east. The other main green area in Kensington is Holland Parkmarker, just north of Kensington High Street, whilst Kensington has numerous small residential garden squares.

Kensington is, in general, an extremely affluent area, a trait that it now shares with its neighbour to the south, Chelsea. The area has some of London's most expensive streets and garden squares, including Edwardes Square, Earls Terrace - an exclusive redevelopment of Georgian Houses, The Phillimores, and Wycombe Square - a new build development done to a very high standard. In early 2007, houses have sold in Upper Phillimore Gardens for in excess of £20 million. Additionally, most neighbouring districts are regarded as exclusive residential areas, including Knightsbridgemarker and Bromptonmarker to the east and the nearest parts of Notting Hill to the north. To the west is the less affluent but up and coming area of Earl's Court.

Kensington is also very densely populated; it forms part of the most densely populated local government district (the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) in the United Kingdom. This high density is not formed from high-rise buildings; instead, it has come about through the subdivision of large mid-rise Victorian and Georgian terraced houses (generally of some four to six floors) into flats. Unlike other parts of the Borough, Kensington itself has almost no high-rise buildings - the exception being Cromwell Road's Holiday Inn, a 27-storey hotel.

Notable attractions and institutions in Kensington (or South Kensington) include: Kensington Palacemarker in Kensington Gardens, the Royal Albert Hallmarker opposite the Albert Memorialmarker in Hyde Park, the Royal College of Musicmarker, the Natural History Museummarker, the Science Museummarker, the Victoria and Albert Museummarker, Heythrop College, Imperial College, Londonmarker, the Royal College of Artmarker and Kensington and Chelsea Collegemarker. The Olympiamarker exhibition hall is just over the western border in West Kensington.

Administration

Kensington is part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and lies within the Kensington & Chelsea parliamentary constituencymarker. Prior to 1965 Kensington formed the Royal Borough of Kensingtonmarker, and some residents objected to the merger with Chelsea, formerly an inexpensive and bohemian borough compared with the fashionable Royal Borough.

Transport

Kensington is crossed east-west by three main roads, the most important of which is the A4marker or Cromwell Roadmarker which connects it to both central London and Heathrow Airportmarker, as well as providing the main route out of the city from the district. To the north is the mostly-parallel Kensington Road (of which Kensington High Street forms a large part), linking central London and Hammersmith to the area. To the south is Fulham Road, which connects South Kensington with Fulhammarker to the southwest. North-south connections are not as well-developed and there is no obvious single route through the area.

Kensington is well-served by public transport and is located in the central zone of the public transport network; three London Underground lines serve the district via stations at High St Kensingtonmarker, Gloucester Roadmarker and South Kensingtonmarker. All three are served by the Circle Line which connects them to London's railway terminals. The District Line also serves all three stations, albeit on different branches; it links the latter two to Westminstermarker and the Citymarker. The Piccadilly Line also links South Kensington and Gloucester Road to the West Endmarker in about 10 minutes, and in the other direction to Heathrow Airportmarker in about 40 minutes.

A number of local bus services link Kensington into the surrounding districts, and key bus hubs are Kensington High Street and South Kensington station. These bus services are scheduled to be improved in frequency and spread with the western extension of the London congestion charge area, which requires vehicles driving into or around Kensington to pay a daily fee of £8.

History

The manor of Kensington, Middlesex, was granted by William I of England to Geoffrey de Montbray or Mowbray, bishop of Coutances, one of his inner circle of advisors and one of the wealthiest men in post-Conquest England. He in turn granted the tenancy of Kensington to his vassal Aubrey de Vere I, who was holding the manor in 1086, according to Domesday Book. The bishop's heir, Robert de Mowbray, rebelled against William Rufus and his vast barony was declared forfeit. Aubrey de Vere I had his tenure converted to a tenancy in-chief, holding Kensington after 1095 directly of the crown. He granted land and church there to Abingdon Abbeymarker at the deathbed request of his young eldest son, Geoffrey. As the Veres became the earls of Oxford, their estate at Kensington came to be known as Earls Court, while the Abingdon lands were called Abbots Kensington and the church St Mary Abbotsmarker.

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