The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea
Kensington Palace, probably the finest building in the Borough was originally a Jacobean building constructed for the Earl of Nottingham and called Nottingham House. It was acquired by William and Mary in 1689 and underwent alterations and additions. The house was reconstructed by Christopher Wren and Hawkesmoore. The gardens were landscaped and the Royal Kitchen Gardens formed. Queen Victoria spent her childhood there and it was in Kensington Palace that she learned of her accession to the throne in 1837. More recently, the Palace was the London home of Diana, Princess of Wales and is home to several members of the Royal family today.
However, in 1840 it was decided that the Kitchen Gardens should be resited at Windsor and the ground of the original gardens let on building leases. By an Act of 1841 the grounds were formally put into the hands of the Commissioners of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues (the forerunners of The Crown Estate). They included the Kitchen Gardens and land previously laid out as "wilderness" by Queen Anne around 1705.
Surveyors Thomas Chawner and (Sir) James Pennethorne produced a projected layout for the building land. It consisted of a broad straight avenue, 70 feet wide which was named The Queen's Road (now Kensington Palace Gardens). It was necessary to purchase three properties at the northern end of the planned road in order to create access off Bayswater Road. The rest of the land was divided into 33 building plots. The intention was to create two rows of detached, and some semi-detached houses, each with their own plot of land of about an acre in size. The plots would be let on 99 year leases to lessees who would be expected to spend not less than £3,000 on their houses. Plans and specifications were speedily approved. They included the layout of an ornamental garden, boundary walls to the plot and carriage entrances with iron gates. It was at this time that principle of a service charge for the upkeep if the roadway was established.
The first tender to be accepted was submitted by Samuel West Strickland for three plots, on which 1-5 KPG were erected (only Nos 4 and 5 now survive). Another tender was not submitted until 1843 by Blashfield, known as a manufacturer of inlaid and tessellated pavements. He wished to develop 21 houses. Although the orginal intention had been to let the plots to individuals it was agreed to let the 21 plots to Blashfield.
In spite of the disastrous start in the 1840s all the houses were eventually occupied, and by 1860 Kensington Palace Gardens could be said to have fulfilled the expectations of The Illustrated London News, which in 1846 had predicted that from 'its great breadth, imposing aspect, and the correct taste displayed throughout [this road] bids fair to become a most aristocratic neighbourhood'. However, in general it was an aristocracy of wealth rather than of birth that was attracted to the road, its social character being aptly summed up in the nickname 'Millionaires' Row'.
Partly from: 'The Crown estate in Kensington Palace Gardens: Individual buildings', Survey of London: volume 37: Northern Kensington (1973).