A walk around South Kensington with James Moran

30th August 2022

Middleton's James Moran takes a walk around South Kensington, the established residential area in the heart of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. 

South Kensington is an established residential area in the heart of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Very little has changed since the houses were built in the late 1800’s, though many have now been converted to flats. Made up of numerous garden squares with towering plane trees planted to combat pollution at the time of the Industrial revolution when London was black with soot and smoke. These private ‘resident only’ gardens are very popular with families who enjoy direct access to communal gardens. These sought-after green spaces provide an oasis of calm far removed from the hustle and bustle of central London. 

Behind many of the large houses there are a collection of cobbled mews, that once housed the servants of the connected buildings and stables for the horses. These make charming homes, popular for their privacy and style. Kynance Mews, situated just off the cherry tree-lined street of Launceston Place, is frequently photographed by passers-by due to its arch adorned with scarlet virginia creeper.

South Kensington is rich in cultural and educational attractions, housing a variety of London landmarks. Whether it’s a lesson in history, science or the arts, the area is full of famous establishments welcoming locals and tourists alike.

There is no shortage of architectural statements with Kensington Palace, the Natural History Museum and the Royal Albert Hall all within a mile radius. Combining Italian-style architecture with an unmistakable domed roof, the Royal Albert Hall sits in pride of place just a stone’s throw away from Kensington Gardens. Celebrating its 150th anniversary as the “nations village hall”, the concert hall hosts an array of events throughout the year.

Due to the success of the Charles de Gaulle Lycee on Cromwell Road, like Deauville in France, South Kensington is often quoted as being the ‘unofficial’ 21st arrondissement of Paris. Many French families are drawn to the area as they are able to educate their children under the Baccalaureate system.

The area is well known for established prep schools, frequently recognised by a sea of boater hats. Founded in 1895, Glendower prep school is one of the oldest in South Kensington.

The KX Private members club is one of London's most exclusive health and fitness facilities. As with many social hubs in the local area, no luxury is spared, and the Draycott Avenue hotspot attracts a variety of clientele.

Nearby there are many temptations to undo all the good work done at the gym.  Daphnes is a South Kensington institution and is one of the most popular lunch spots in the area, particularly during Chelsea Flower show week. On the other side of Sloane Avenue is the highly acclaimed restaurant, Elystan Street, popular for its modern European cuisine and understated decor - a Middleton favourite.  Whilst on Sloane Avenue you cannot miss the iconic Michelin building that houses the recently installed Claude Bosi at his restaurant on the first floor in a stunning dining room. 

At the heart of South Kensington are two magnificent addresses that are well known as being leading London locations that families, domestic and international, are drawn to for the gardens and rooftop terraces. Situated between Old Brompton Road and Fulham Road are “The Onslows’.

Onslow Square is known for its Grade II Listed Stucco fronted houses, many of which have been converted into apartments. Famous for the immaculately kept buildings as well as the communal gardens with superb apartments. Some of which span across three buildings scattered amongst a few houses that remain, as well as a number of smaller apartments.

Onslow Gardens is situated to the west of Onslow Square that is able to offer four separate individual resident gardens, all with a personality of their own. All the buildings are immaculately kept, a number of which boast fabulous roof terraces that are not visible from the street. One of the areas most charming, cobbled mews is hidden off Onslow Gardens and Cranley Gardens, that you could easily pass without noticing. 

Many of the blocks back directly onto the communal gardens, so if you are looking for a quiet yet centrally located house, Pelham Crescent would have to be at the top of most buyers' wish lists. This stunning whitewashed crescent is one of South Kensington's most sought-after addresses. Inviting people who enjoy the convenience of living in a vibrant multi-cultural city, closely but quietly situated to take advantage of the shops, cafes and restaurants of Brompton Cross and Walton Street. The one-way street is accessed from the Fulham Road and the equally enchanting Pelham Place. 

There has been little development of note in recent times but that is about to change, TfL have plans to restore and enhance the buildings and land at South Kensington Tube station. This is to provide new homes, including on-site affordable housing as well as workspace and commercial premises. Though this is all subject to planning permission, as the original plans have been rejected TfL are appealing to get the plans ‘back on track’.

Buyers tend to seek property ‘safe havens’ and South Kensington is no exception to this, having maintained steady growth, and proved to be resilient when the market is not at its strongest. Having been established as one of London's most desirable neighbourhoods, and with so little space to develop, there is little chance of the stock level dramatically increasing.

For a two-bedroom flat on Onslow Gardens SW7 you would expect to have to pay no less than approximately £1m, depending on size, the floor and tenure and some achieving more than £3m. Houses on Pelham Crescent are rarely seen on the market but when they are you could expect to see the guide price at no less than £10m, in some cases breaching £3,000 per sq/ft.

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