Kensington/Knightsbridge Walking Tour, London

Kensington/Knightsbridge Walking Tour (Self Guided), London

Situated just below Hyde Park, Knightsbridge and South Kensington are two adjacent neighborhoods with grand Victorian homes and leafy garden squares. Home to London’s most expensive homes, Knightsbridge has some of the highest density of millionaires in the world. This is clearly reflected in the selection of stores & restaurants in the area, including the famous Harvey Nichols and Harrods department stores.

Next comes a very Mediterranean corner of London: Ennismore Gardens Mews – a cobbled, L-shaped idyllic hamlet tucked away from the bustle of Knightsbridge and even boasting its own arch!

If you get the chance, go to a concert or activity in the iconic Royal Albert Hall. If not, then be sure to admire both its initial simplicity of design and its beautiful detail. Located nearby is the huge Albert Memorial, an interesting attraction in its own right.

On this self-guided walking tour, you will also visit Kensington Gardens and former Princess Diana's residence, with various tours offered and exhibitions on display, among which some lovely items in Diana’s memory. You’ll also be able to catch more than a glimpse of Queen Victoria’s life before she became the 2nd-longest British reigning monarch.

If that’s wasn’t enough, finish with the Leighton House Museum – a jewel of an artist house that has been preserved as a love letter to Lord Leighton and his contemporaries. Its chief glory is the Arab Hall, packed with wonderful tiles, mosaics, and stained glass.

Follow the map and explore at your own pace!
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Kensington/Knightsbridge Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Kensington/Knightsbridge Walking Tour
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles
Author: Xena
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Harvey Nichols
  • Harrods Ltd
  • Ennismore Gardens and Mews
  • Prince's Gate
  • Royal Albert Hall
  • Albert Memorial
  • Kensington Gardens
  • Kensington Palace
  • Kensington High Street
  • Linley Sambourne House (18 Stafford Terrace)
  • Leighton House Museum
Harvey Nichols

1) Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols is one of the top high-end shopping destinations in London and is said to be the favorite place to shop of the late Princess Diana who used to live in Kensington Palace nearby.

This luxury retail shop was founded in 1831 as a textile shop by Benjamin Harvey. It was a small shop located at the corner of Knightsbridge and Sloan. Harvey expanded his business over the years and eventually hired James Nichols.

After Harvey's death, his wife Anne partnered with Nichols. The space was demolished to make way for the Harvey Nichols building that exists today. It was completed in 1894 by C.W. Stephens. The store and its locations around the world now are operated by Dickson Concepts.

Visitors to Harvey Nichols can enjoy shopping, dining or gazing at the architecture. The store offers clothing, accessories, beauty supplies, gifts, home goods, food and wine. Dining experiences offer everything from sandwiches to steaks. Tourists can pick up food to carry with them as they walk through the busy London streets or have a fine dining experience in the store.

Harvey Nichols is located in the heart of London near Hyde Park. The store is open seven days per week from 11 AM through 7 PM.
Harrods Ltd

2) Harrods Ltd (must see)

Argubly the best known luxury department store in the world, Harrods is an emporium of elegance, sophistication, and opulence. The history of this famous luxury store goes back to 1849 when Charles Harrod opened a small shop at Brompton Road in Knightsbridge. It started out in a single room employing two assistants and a messenger boy. But two years later when the Great Exhibition of 1851 took place at Crystal Palace in nearby Hyde Park, it brought many visitors to the area. Harrod store boomed.

Charles Harrod's son (also named Charles) took over and quickly expanded the store into a thriving retail operation selling medicines, perfumes, stationery, fruits and vegetables. Harrods rapidly expanded, acquired the adjoining buildings, and employed one hundred people by 1881. The department store also became well known for its high quality products and excellent personalized service.

Today the store has 330 departments covering 1.1 million square feet (102,200 m2) of retail space. Products on offer include clothing for women, men, children and infants, electronics, jewellery, sporting gear, bridal trousseau, pet accessories, toys, food and drink, health and beauty items, packaged gifts, stationery, housewares, home appliances, furniture, and much more.

The items in Harrods are pricy, but don't let that put you off. There are so many beautiful things, stunning art, ornaments, cutlery, crockery, glassware and cookware, clothes, food and everything else you can imagine can be found in its beautiful historic building! Harrods is a must-visit for any London shopping experience.

Business Hours: Monday - Saturday: 10 am - 9 pm; Sunday: 11.30 am - 6 pm.
Ennismore Gardens and Mews

3) Ennismore Gardens and Mews

Behind the Holy Trinity Church sits Ennismore Gardens Mews. This quaint, cobbled street is a favorite among those who want to photograph an iconic London scene. The 43 residential properties feature Victorian architecture with wrought-iron terraces and arched windows and door frames.

Thanks to the picturesque nature of the facade, Ennismore Garden Mews has been featured in film and television as wellas commercials and photo shoots. Alfred Hitchcock used #31 as the home of Barbara Leigh-Hunt's character, 'Brenda Blaney', in the 1972 film Frenzy. The 1987 VW Golf TV advertisement directed by David Bailey featured Paula Hamilton leaving #23.

Ennismore Garden Mews has not only been used for photographing an iconic London scene, they have also served as homes to some of the most iconic British actors. Sir Michael Caine, Sir Alec Guinness and Terrence Stamp have all called this street their home.

Ennismore Gardens is a much larger space than the cobbled street of Ennismore Garden Mews. The garden itself is a lush, green space that is surrounded by luxury residences that have been occupied by aristocrats, statesmen and actors.
Prince's Gate

4) Prince's Gate

Running adjacent to Kensington Road on the south side, separated by a high wall, is Prince's Gate. It was named after a gate into Hyde Park, opened in 1848 by Edward VII, the then Prince of Wales. In 1855 some stuccoed terraces were built opposite it, facing Kensington Road. The whole terrace is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building.

Many of the individual properties are now embassies or offices. Notable ones include: The Embassy of Iran at 16 Prince's Gate; The Embassy of Ethiopia at 17 Prince's Gate; The Embassy of Tunisia at 29 Prince's Gate; Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum at 20 Prince's Gate.

Several notable people lived in Prince's Gate too. Field Marshal Douglas Haig lived and died at No. 21 in 1928; Robert Baden-Powell, founder and first Chief Scout of the world-wide Scout Movement, lived at No. 32 in 1903–14; and Joseph Chamberlain, a famed British statesman, lived at No. 72 in 1880–2. No. 14 was the home of Joseph Kennedy when he was the American ambassador to Britain in 1937–40, accompanied by his son John F. Kennedy.
Royal Albert Hall

5) Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall is arguably one of the most recognizable buildings in London. The brain child of Prince Albert, the hall is located south of Kensington Park facing the Albert Memorial.

The concert hall was built in 1871 from a design by Captain Francis Fowke and Major General Henry Y.D. Scott of the Royal Engineers. The Italianate-style building stands at 135 feet tall. The building is constructed of Fareham red brick with a 20,000 square foot glazed iron roof. An 800 foot long mosaic frieze titled "The Triumph of Arts and Letters" encircles the building.

Royal Albert Hall features regular performances by artists of varying styles from around the world. Though many associate Richard Wagner with the hall, due to his early involvement as a conductor, modern acts have appeared with much more frequency. For instance, Eric Clapton has played at the hall more than 200 times. The Cirque du Soleil has performed an annual show since 2003.

Visitors may walk the periphery of the hall to enjoy the architecture and atmosphere. Those interested in viewing the interior may book a tour, take in a show or dine in one of the venue's restaurants.
Albert Memorial

6) Albert Memorial

The Albert Memorial stands in Kensington Gardens directly adjacent to the Royal Albert Hall. This memorial was commissioned by Queen Victoria to honor the memory of her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

The memorial is 176 feet high. It features a statue of Prince Albert enclosed in a Gothic-style ciborium. It is surrounded by a 210 foot long frieze titled "Frieze of Parnassus." This highly-detailed work shows 169 figures of famous, historical artists and composers. Some of those depicted include Moliere, Pythagoras, Mozart, Rembrandt and Michelangelo.

A series of sculptures surround the memorial. These sculptures represent traditional arts and sciences as well as four continents. They are titled, "Agriculture," "Commerce," "Engineering," "Manufacturers," "Africa," "America," "Asia" and "Europe."

Visitors to Kensington Park can see the Albert Memorial at any time during the park's opening hours of 6 AM through 5:45 PM. Those who want a closer view of the frieze can attend a free tour of the statue on Sundays.
Kensington Gardens

7) Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens comprise 265 acres of green space that includes numerous buildings and monuments. This was once the private garden of Kensington Palace. Today it is a public space where locals and tourists alike can enjoy art and history.

Visitors to Kensington Gardens have their choice of things to see and do. They can look for statues and monuments like The Albert Memorial, Peter Pan or Queen Caroline's Temple. They might prefer to take a stroll on the flower walk, which is a path populated by various blooms.

Another option is a visit to one of the art galleries in the gardens. The Serpentine Gallery and Serpentine Sackler Gallery have temporary exhibits that change throughout the year. Previous featured artists include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Man Ray and Andy Warhol.

Children can enjoy Kensington Gardens thanks to the Diana Memorial Playground, which offers a toddler area and a playground for older kids. They will also enjoy the fountains found throughout the gardens.

Why You Should Visit:
Fabulous place to take a walk or enjoy a picnic. Serene setting and beautifully maintained. Boating is one of the main attractions.

Opening Hours: daily: 6am - 7:45pm
Kensington Palace

8) Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace is a residential palace belonging to the British royal family. Royalty have lived in Kensington Palace since the 17th century when it was purchased by William and Mary.

The palace was built in 1605 by Sir George Coppin. The two-story home was constructed in the Jacobean architectural style. Shortly after it was built, the home was purchased by the Earl of Nottingham. It was therefore named Nottingham House.

William and Mary bought Nottingham House in 1689. It was significantly expanded and the name reverted to Kensington Palace. It has remained in use by the royal family since that time.

Kensington Palace is the official London home to a number of royals. Perhaps most notably, it is the home of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. It is also home to the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Visitors are welcome at Kensington Palace. They are taken on a one-way route through Stone Hall where they will see the Jewel Room, Queen Victoria's childhood apartments, the King's State Apartments and the Queen's State Apartments. Visitors are also welcome to explore the grounds, which include the Princess Diana Memorial Garden and the Queen Victoria statue.
Kensington High Street

9) Kensington High Street

A visit to the Kensington district is not complete without walking along Kensington High Street. This street is the primary shopping center of the region. Tourists will see a variety of boutiques and high-end retail establishments. The street offers visitors a good opportunity to pick up something special while exploring London by foot.

Though Kensington High Street is heavily populated by modern businesses, the history of the street begins in the late 17th century. The street developed around a residential terrace, with large houses occupied by a number of distinguished residents. Today Kensington High Street is one of western London's most popular shopping streets, with upmarket shops serving a wealthy area.

Along with shopping and dining venues, Kensington High Street is home to the Design Museum and the Leighton House Museum. A walk along Kensington High Street also guides tourists directly to Kensington Gardens.
Linley Sambourne House (18 Stafford Terrace)

10) Linley Sambourne House (18 Stafford Terrace)

Linley Sambourne House at 18 Stafford Terrace was the home of the Punch illustrator Edward Linley Sambourne (1844–1910) in Kensington, London. The house, now Grade II listed, is currently open to the public as a museum.

Linley Sambourne House was an almost new townhouse when the Sambournes moved in, in 1875. It was Linley Sambourne who set about re-decorating the house in the Aesthetic style. Today the house is a fine example of middle-class Aestheticism; its influences can still be seen permeating throughout the house, from decorative Sunflower motifs in the stained glass windows to the fine selection of William Morris wallpapers that hang within the rooms through to the displayed collection of blue-and-white Chinese import porcelain.

Linley Sambourne died in 1910 but it wasn't until his wife Marion's death four years later that the house passed to their bachelor son Roy. Roy kept the house's interior largely unchanged until his own death in 1946. The house then passed to Roy's sister Maud Messel. Maud already had a large London residence therefore it remained mostly unoccupied and unchanged. In the years leading up to Maud's death in 1960, the house had become increasingly fascinating to her daughter Anne, Countess of Rosse. This fascination led to Anne proposing the foundation of the Victorian Society in 1957, and in turn the continued preservation of the house largely as it had been lived in by Linley.

Linley Sambourne House served as the set for the interiors of Mrs. Vyse's London home in the Merchant Ivory film A Room with a View. The house has featured in Arthur & George (2015) a three-part British television drama based on the book of the same name by Julian Barnes.

The Linley Sambourne House offers a fantastic insight into how the upper middle class Victorian lived and is well worth stopping by if you are visiting the Kensington area.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Leighton House Museum

11) Leighton House Museum

The Leighton House Museum is an art museum in the Holland Park area of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in west London.

The building was the London home of painter Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton (1830–1896), who commissioned the architect and designer George Aitchison to build him a combined home and studio noted for its incorporation of tiles and other elements purchased in the Near East to build a magnificent Qa'a (room). The resulting building, completed 1866–95, on the privately owned Ilchester Estate, is now Grade II listed. It is noted for its elaborate Orientalist and aesthetic interiors.

The museum has been open to the public since 1929. In 1958 the London County Council commemorated Leighton with a blue plaque at the museum. The museum was awarded the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in 2012. It is open daily except Tuesdays, and is a companion museum to Linley Sambourne House at 18 Stafford Terrace, another Victorian artist's home in Kensington.

The house's pseudo-Islamic court has featured as a set in various film and television programs, such as Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Brazil (1985), and an episode of the drama series Spooks, as well as the music video for the songs "Golden Brown" by The Stranglers and "Gold" by Spandau Ballet.

Leighton House Museum is one of the lesser known smaller museums that offers great value to lovers of Victorian art or art nouveau. The house interior and the art work by Lord Leighton are absolutely beautiful to look at.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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