Kensington and Chelsea, London Borough Genealogy

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Guide to The London Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, history, family history, and genealogy parish registers, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.

Portobello road sign.jpg

History[edit | edit source]

Coat of arms of the Royal Borough of Kennsington and Chelsea
Kensington and Chelsea Borough location within Greater London
Borough of Kensington and Chelsea logo

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) is an inner London borough with royal status. It is the smallest borough in London and the second smallest district in England; it is one of the most densely populated administrative regions in the United Kingdom. It includes affluent areas such as Notting Hill, Central Kensington, South Kensington, Chelsea, and Knightsbridge. It was cobbled together from the original areas of Kensington and Chelsea by the UK government in 1965, with no regard to the research required for Family History. They were both part of the ancient county of Middlesex, which was dissolved by the Government at the same time (1965). Researchers would be wise to refer to the records of Middlesex for earlier data.

The history will be continued in 2 parts, Kensington and Chelsea.

The manor of Kensington, Middlesex, was granted by William I 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 Abbey 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 Abbots. [1]

The word Chelsea (also formerly Chelceth, Chelchith, or Chelsey, originates from the Old English term for "landing place [on the river] for chalk or limestone" (Cealc-hyð: chalk-wharf, in Anglo-Saxon). Chelsea hosted the Synod of Chelsea in 787 AD. The first record of the Manor of Chelsea precedes the Domesday Book and records the fact that Thurstan, governor of the King's Palace during the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042–1066), gave the land to the Abbot and Convent of Westminster. Abbot Gervace subsequently assigned the manor to his mother, and it passed into private ownership. By 1086 the Domesday Book records that Chelsea was in the hundred of Ossulstone in Middlesex, with Edward of Salisbury as tenant-in-chief.

King Henry VIII acquired the manor of Chelsea from Lord Sandys in 1536; Chelsea Manor Street is still extant. Two of King Henry's wives, Catherine Parr and Anne of Cleves, lived in the Manor House; Princess Elizabeth – the future Queen Elizabeth I – resided there; and Thomas More lived more or less next door at Beaufort House. In 1609 James I established a theological college, "King James's College at Chelsey" on the site of the future Chelsea Royal Hospital, which Charles II founded in 1682.

By 1694, Chelsea – always a popular location for the wealthy, and once described as "a village of palaces" – had a population of 3,000. Even so, Chelsea remained rural and served London to the east as a market garden, a trade that continued until the 19th-century development boom which caused the final absorption of the district into the metropolis. The street crossing that was known as Little Chelsea, Park Walk, linked Fulham Road to King's Road and continued to the Thames and local ferry down Lover's Lane, renamed "Milmans Street" in the 18th century.

Chelsea once had a reputation as London's bohemian quarter, the haunt of artists, radicals, painters and poets. Little of this seems to survive now – the comfortable squares off King's Road are homes to, among others, investment bankers and film stars. The Chelsea Arts Club continues in situ; however, the Chelsea College of Art and Design, founded in 1895 as the Chelsea School of Art, moved from Manresa Road to Pimlico in 2005.

Chelsea shone again, brightly but briefly, in the 1960s Swinging London period and the early 1970s. The Swinging Sixties was defined on King's Road, which runs the length of the area. The Western end of Chelsea featured boutiques Granny Takes a Trip and The Sweet Shop, the latter of which sold medieval silk velvet caftans, tabards and floor cushions, with many of the cultural cognoscenti of the time being customers, including Keith Richards, Twiggy, and many others. [2]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries (Civil)[edit | edit source]

Gunnersbury Cemetery
143 Gunnersbury Ave
London W3 8LE
Phone: +44 20 8992 2924

Brompton Cemetery
Fulham Rd
Kensington, London SW10 9UG
Phone: +44 20 7351 1689

Kensal Green Cemetery
Harrow Rd
London W10 4RA
Phone: +44 20 8969 0152

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Parishes[edit | edit source]

St Helen's
Church address:
St Helens Vicarage
St Helens Gardens, North Kensington, London W10 6LP
Phone: +44 20 8968 7807

St Stephen's
Church address:
Gloucester Rd
Kensington, London SW7 4RL
Phone: +44 20 7370 3418

St Luke's
Church address:
Redcliffe Gardens
Kensington, London SW10 9HF
Phone: +44 20 7370 0338

St Barnabus

St Clement

St Cuthbert

St John the Baptist

St Matthias

St Peter's
Church address:
Kensington Park Rd
London W11 2PN
Phone: +44 20 7792 8227

St Phillip's
Church address:
Earls Ct Rd
Kensington, London W8 6QH
Phone: +44 20 7938 1367

Christ Church
Church address:
Christchurch St
Chelsea, London SW3 4AS, UK

St Paul's
Church address:
44 Onslow Square
Kensington, London SW7 3NX
Phone: +44 20 7052 0200

St Mary's
Church address:
The Boltons
Kensington, London SW10 9TB
Phone: +44 20 7835 1440

St Paul's Knightsbridge
Church address:
32a Wilton Pl
Knightsbridge, London SW1X 8SH
Phone: +44 20 7201 9999

St Augustine's
Church address:
115a Queen's Gate
Kensington, London SW7 5LP
Phone: +44 20 7581 1877

St Simon Zelotes
Church address:
34 Milner St
Chelsea, London SW3 2QF
Phone: +44 20 7589 8999

St George's
Church address:
28 Aubrey Walk
Kensington, London W8 7JG
Phone: +44 20 3602 9873

St Gabriel's
Church address:
Warwick Square
Pimlico, London SW1V 2AD
Phone: +44 20 7828 0185

Non Conformists[edit | edit source]

Other Christian and non Christian religious groups follow:

  • Baptists
  • Evangelical
  • Christ Church
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  • Church of Christ, Scientist
  • Evangelical
  • Iglesia Ni Christo (Philippines)
  • Methodist
  • Pentecostal Church
  • Roman Catholic
  • Reedeemed Christian Church of God

Non Christian populations include:

  • Buddhist
  • Hindu
  • Jews
  • Muslims
  • Sikhs

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the UK government, from July 1837 to the present day. Previous to that date, records were primarily kept by local parishes, and by other ecclesiastical bodies.

The Borough has a confirmed Registry Office as follows:

  • Hornton St
  • Kensington, London W8 7NP
  • Phone: +44 20 7361 4100

Other searchable links follow:

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

All the major UK dailies are readily available in the Borough. More specific units follow:

Occupations[edit | edit source]

Kensington and Chelsea Borough is one of London's wealthiest boroughs and the country's most populous local authority, with more than 13,000 people per square kilometre, and occupying some of the most valuable real estate in the world. Its proximity to the City of London and central location attracts corporate head offices and small businesses alike, drawn also by the much valued vibrant and attractive environment.

In all there are approximately 18,000 businesses in the Royal Borough, who benefit from being in the midst of the most highly qualified population anywhere in the country and by the ability to attract a workforce from across London and the wider South East. Approximately 120,000 people are employed across all business types but Business Services, Retail, Hospitality, Real Estate, Medical, and Personal Services are the most significant employment sectors.

Oversees and other visitors are a significant driver of the local economy, with over £3 billion coming into the borough from non-resident spend. The entertainment sector provides a wealth of employment opportunities, as the Royal Borough is home to London's 'Museum Quarter'. The Natural History, Science and Victoria and Albert Museums can all be found in South Kensington, while Kensington Palace and many other hidden cultural gems can be found further north. Visitors and residents will also soon be welcoming the Design Museum to Kensington and Chelsea, when it comes to its new home at the former Commonwealth Institute - where Holland Park meets Kensington High Street.

These same visitors spend close to half their spending funds in shops. It's no wonder, as the Royal Borough is home to some of the world’s most renowned and exclusive shopping districts, with the iconic Portobello Road in the North, to Knightsbridge and the King’s Road in the south. Aside from these internationally renowned shopping attractions, there are a plethora of small boutiques and unique merchants, adding to the character and village feel of many parts of the borough. [3]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Kensington," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 30 September, 2018.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Chelsea, London," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_London, accessed 30 September, 2018.
  3. Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea economic profile, ,accessed 8 October, 2018