39.3% White British
2.3% White Irish
0.1% White Gypsy or Irish Traveller
28.9% Other White
1.1% White & Black Caribbean
0.7% White & Black African
1.9% White & Asian
2% Other Mixed
1.6% Indian
0.6% Pakistani
0.5% Bangladeshi
2.5% Chinese
4.8% Other Asian
3.5% Black African
2.1% Black Caribbean
1% Other Black
4.1% Arab

3.1% Other Time zone GMT (UTC)  • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1) Postcodes NW, SW, W Area code(s) 020 ONS code 00AW GSS code E09000020 Police Metropolitan Police Website http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) is an inner London borough of royal status. As the smallest borough in London and the second smallest district in England, it is one of the most densely populated in the United Kingdom. It includes the area of Chelsea and Kensington.

The borough is immediately west of the City of Westminster and east of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. It contains major museums and universities in Albertopolis, department stores such as Harrods, Peter Jones and Harvey Nichols, and embassies in Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Kensington Gardens. It is home to the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe's largest. It contains many of the most expensive residential properties in the world.

The local authority is Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council. Its motto, adapted from the opening words of the Latin version of Psalm 133, is Quam bonum in Unum habitare, which translates roughly as 'How good it is to dwell in unity'.[2]


The borough was created in 1965 from the former boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea. Kensington's Royal Borough status was inherited by the new borough. The new borough was originally to be called just "Kensington" – the inclusion of Chelsea was locally supported.[3]

Of its history the council states:

Despite the boroughs being separate originally, Kensington and Chelsea still retain their unique characters. Even the amalgamation of the two boroughs, unpopular as it was at the time, has been accepted. Today conservation combined with the adoption of sympathetic new architecture is seen as a key objective. In every corner of the borough signs of its history can be seen: from Grade 1 listed buildings Kensington Palace and the Royal Hospital, Chelsea to others recalled in street names such as Pottery Lane and Hippodrome Mews.

In 200 years the area has been transformed from a ‘rural idyll’ to a thriving part of the modern metropolis. Chelsea had originally been countryside upon which Thomas More] built Beaufort House. More came to Chelsea in 1520 and built the house, which in More’s day had two courtyards laid out between the house and the river, and in the north of the site acres of gardens and orchards were planted. It was from here in 1535 that More was taken to the Tower and beheaded later that year.[4]. This area of Cheyne Walk continued its historic significance; nearby Crosby Hall sits on the river near the Church of Thomas More, and what was once Thomas Carlyle's residence remains on Cheyne Row.

The borough's royal status was granted on account of its' being the home of Kensington Palace. Commissioned by King William III, Christopher Wren enlarged and rebuilt the original house in 1689, turning it into a fitting royal residence. With the King came many court officials, servants and followers. Kensington Square, until then a failing venture, became a popular residential area. The Palace was regularly used by reigning monarchs until 1760 and since then by members of the Royal family. Queen Victoria was born there in 1819 and it was her home until her accession in 1837.[5]

During the Second World War, civilians suffered great hardship and many casualties with some 800 deaths and 40,000 injuries. A huge army of civilian volunteers was raised, including Auxiliary Fire Service, Red Cross, Air Raid Wardens and Rescue Services. During the Blitz much damage was caused by explosive and incendiary bombs, especially along Chelsea’s riverside. But worse was to come in 1944 with the arrival of the V2 rockets, or flying bombs. Among the buildings either destroyed or seriously damaged, usually with terrible loss of life, were Chelsea Old Church, Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer, Our Lady of Victories, St Mary Abbots, St Stephens and St Mary Abbots hospitals, Sloane Square station, World’s End, the Royal Hospital and Holland House[6].

The two events that Kensington and Chelsea are perhaps best known for today demonstrate both their traditional and forwarding looking sides. The Chelsea Flower Show, held in the magnificent grounds of the Royal Hospital every May, is attended by Royalty and the ‘cream of society’; whereas the Notting Hill Carnival, held every August Bank Holiday on the streets of North Kensington, has grown over the past 30 years from a small community-based event into Europe’s biggest and most exuberant street party, attracting a million plus visitors.


The borough may be split into the following districts, although these differ slightly to the council's recognized wards :

See also Kensington and Chelsea parks and open spaces


Population census
Year Pop. ±%
1801 22,088 —    
1811 31,085 +40.7%
1821 43,296 +39.3%
1831 55,865 +29.0%
1841 46,807 −16.2%
1851 69,379 +48.2%
1861 128,828 +85.7%
1871 188,277 +46.1%
1881 247,725 +31.6%
1891 258,015 +4.2%
1901 250,267 −3.0%
1911 242,884 −3.0%
1921 243,589 +0.3%
1931 244,297 +0.3%
1941 233,377 −4.5%
1951 223,144 −4.4%
1961 205,598 −7.9%
1971 189,571 −7.8%
1981 125,892 −33.6%
1991 145,171 +15.3%
2001 158,922 +9.5%
2011 158,649 −0.2%

At the 2011 census, the borough had a population of 158,649 who were 71% White, 10% Asian, 5% of multiple ethnic groups, 4% Black African and 3% Black Caribbean. Due to its high French population it has long held the unofficial title of the 21st arrondissement of Paris.[8]

In 2005, the borough had more of its land covered by domestic buildings than anywhere else in England at 19%, over half the national average.[9] It also had the fifth highest proportion of land covered by non-domestic buildings at 12%.[9]

As of 2010, statistics released by the Office for National Statistics showed that life expectancy at birth for females was 89.8 years in 2008–2010, the highest in the United Kingdom. Male life expectancy at birth for the same period was 85.1 years.[10] The figures in 1991–1993 were significantly lower: 73.0 years for males (ranking 301st in the nation) and 80.0 for females (ranking 129th). Further investigation indicates a 12-year gap in life expectancy between the affluent wards of Chelsea (Royal Hospital, Hans Town) and the most northerly wards of North Kensington (Golborne, Dalgarno), which have high levels of social housing and poverty.

The borough has a higher proportion (16.6%) of high earners (over £60,000 per year) than any other local government district in the country.[11] It has the highest proportion of workers in the financial sector and the lowest proportion working in the retail sector.

In December 2006, Sport England published a survey which showed that the borough's residents were the fourth most active in England in sports and other fitness activities. 27.9% of the population participate at least three times a week for 30 minutes.[12]

Figures released in 2013 by London’s Poverty Profile – a joint project between New Policy Institute and Trust for London – found Kensington and Chelsea to have the greatest imbalance between high and low earners. The top quarter earn at least £41 per hour, three and a half times the level of the lowest quarter at £12 per hour or less.[13]

The following table shows the ethnic group of respondents in the 2001 and 2011 census in Kensington and Chelsea.


Ethnic Group 2001[14] 2011[15]
Number % Number %
White: British 79,594 50.08% 62,271 39.25%
White: Irish 5,183 3.26% 3,715 2.34%
White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller 119 0.08%
White: Other 40,147 25.26% 45,912 28.94%
White: Total 124,924 78.61% 112,017 70.61%
Asian or Asian British: Indian 3,226 2.03% 2,577 1.62%
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 1,203 0.76% 911 0.57%
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 1,148 0.72% 836 0.53%
Asian or Asian British: Chinese 2,592 1.63% 3,968 2.50%
Asian or Asian British: Other Asian 2,160 1.36% 7,569 4.77%
Asian or Asian British: Total 10,329 6.50% 15,861 10.00%
Black or Black British: African 6,013 3.78% 5,536 3.49%
Black or Black British: Caribbean 4,101 2.58% 3,257 2.05%
Black or Black British: Other Black 967 0.61% 1,540 0.97%
Black or Black British: Total 11,081 6.97% 10,333 6.51%
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean 1,290 0.81% 1,695 1.07%
Mixed: White and Black African 1,057 0.67% 1,148 0.72%
Mixed: White and Asian 1,863 1.17% 3,021 1.90%
Mixed: Other Mixed 2,295 1.44% 3,122 1.97%
Mixed: Total 6,505 4.09% 8,986 5.66%
Other: Arab 6,455 4.07%
Other: Any other ethnic group 4,997 3.15%
Other: Total 6,080 3.83% 11,452 7.22%
Black, Asian, and minority ethnic: Total 33,995 21.39% 46,632 29.39%
Total 158,919 100.00% 158,649 100.00%


As of 2014, the Council has 37 Conservative, 12 Labour and 1 Liberal Democrat councillors.[16] The Labour or Liberal councillors have tended to date to have represented areas of the borough with pockets of economic deprivation; some marginal wards in the borough are concentrated towards the north where north Kensington meets Kilburn, Kensal Rise/Green and Ladbroke Grove. All the wards in Holland Park, Notting Hill, Kensington, South Kensington, and Chelsea are termed under the first past the post electoral system safe seats based on their results since the Council's creation in 1965.

The borough has combined a number of services and departments with its neighbours, Hammersmith & Fulham and Westminster City Council.

The borough is divided between two constituencies represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom:

At the 2005 General Election, the borough was divided differently:

  • Kensington and Chelsea, held by Sir Malcolm Rifkind for the Conservative Party, and
  • Regent's Park and Kensington North, held by Karen Buck for the Labour Party.

Rifkind held the Kensington seat until the 2015 General Election when he stood down after becoming embroiled in a scandal, uncovered by a television investigation, over accepting money in return for access to influential British diplomats and politicians.[17]

Evolution of Parliamentary constituencies in RBKC
From 1885 From Feb 1974 From 1997 From 2010
Kensington North


Part of Regent's Park and Kensington North


Kensington South

Kensington and Chelsea


Part of Chelsea and Fulham

Two of the more notable council leaders were Nicholas Freeman, from 1977 until 1989, and Sir Merrick Cockell who held the position from 2000 to 2013.[citation needed]

Public transport


The borough has 12 tube stations, on five of the 12 London Underground lines:

with stations at South Kensington, Gloucester Road, Kensington High Street, Earl's Court, Sloane Square, West Brompton, Notting Hill Gate, Holland Park, Latimer Road, Knightsbridge, Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove.

Chelsea (SW3, SW10 and partly SW1) has less Underground access than Kensington, the only station within Chelsea being Sloane Square. There are long-term plans for the Chelsea-Hackney line, with a station in the King's Road near Chelsea Old Town Hall, and possibly another at Sloane Square. Its estimated completion is 2022.

National Rail and Overground

Paddington and Victoria are the nearest major railway termini, and National Rail stations in the borough are Kensington (Olympia) and West Brompton (and partly Kensal Green), both served by London Overground and Southern.


Many London bus routes pass through the borough, most of them along King's Road, Fulham Road, Kensington High Street and Ladbroke Grove.

Travel to work

In March 2011, the main forms of transport that residents used to travel to work were: underground, metro, light rail, tram, 23.6% of all residents aged 16–74; driving a car or van, 8.2%; on foot, 8.2%; bus, minibus or coach, 8.0%; work mainly at or from home, 7.0%; bicycle, 3.1%; train, 2.1%.[18]

Possible new Crossrail station

The borough council is pushing for an additional Crossrail station in the north of the borough, at Kensal[19] off Ladbroke Grove & Canal Way. A turn-back facility will have to be built not too far west of Paddington, and siting the turn-back at Kensal rather than next to Paddington would provide a frequent service, helping to regenerate the area.[20][21][22] London Mayor Boris Johnson stated that a station would be added if it met three tests: it must not delay construction of Crossrail; it must not compromise performance of Crossrail or any other railway; and it must not increase Crossrail's overall cost. In response, the borough council agreed to underwrite the projected £33 million cost of the station to the extent that section 106 payments from the promoters of property developments expected near the station do not reach this sum.[23] The Council funded a consultancy study, which concluded that in many scenarios a Kensal station would not compromise Crossrail performance. Transport for London is conducting a feasibility study on the station. The project is supported by local MPs, the residents of the Borough, National Grid, retailers Sainsbury's and Cath Kidston, and Jenny Jones (Green Party member of the London Assembly).[24] It is also supported by the adjoining London Borough of Brent.[25]


Northcliffe House, head office of the Daily Mail and General Trust

The head office of Daily Mail and General Trust is in the Northcliffe House in Kensington.[26][27] Round Hill Capital has its headquarters in Chelsea.[28]

Sonangol Limited, a subsidiary of the Sonangol Group, has its head office in Merevale House in Kensington.[29]


The RBKC is a major provider of social housing in the borough owning 9,459 properties.[30] Of these over 73% are tenanted, with the remainder being leasehold.[30] The management of this housing has been devolved to the Kensington and Chelsea TMO (KCTMO), a tenant management organisation. Their properties include Trellick Tower.

Grenfell Tower fire

The 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, in which a public-housing tower block was completely destroyed, with great loss of life, drew international attention to the borough. After widespread criticism of the borough council's response to the fire,[31][32] responsibility for providing services to those affected by the fire was taken away from RBKC.[33] Prime Minister Theresa May previously branded the response to the tragedy "not good enough", with Whitehall civil servants drafted in as part of a beefed-up operation in the local area.


A typical mews in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

The borough has a number of notable churches, including:

It is home to a small Spanish and Portuguese synagogue, several mosques and the Sikh Central Gurudwara in Holland Park. There are two Armenian churches - Saint Sarkis Armenian Church and Church of Saint Yeghiche

According to the 2001 Census, 24% of the borough's population identified themselves as being non-religious or chose not to state their faith.

Featured places

Within the borough there are several of London's tourist attractions and landmarks:



Social services transport provided by the Borough

The council's education department finances state schools.[34]

Further education


Public libraries

Libraries include the Kensington Central Library, Chelsea Library, Kensal Library, Brompton Library, North Kensington Library and the Notting Hill Gate Library.[35]

International relations

The French community

The number of French people living in Britain has increased every year since 1991, according to French government statistics.[36] It jumped by 8,716 in 2006, the biggest gain in at least 20 years. French people live throughout much of London, but particularly in Kensington. There are several French schools, officially classed as independent schools in Britain, as they are not maintained or owned by local councils or the Department for Education: La Petite École Française in west London and the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington (which is owned and run by the French state) are among them.

Town twinning

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is formally twinned with:

See also


  1. ^ 2011 Census: Ethnic group, local authorities in England and Wales, Office for National Statistics (2012). See Classification of ethnicity in the United Kingdom for the full descriptions used in the 2011 Census.
  2. ^ "How council works: our Mayor: Coat of Arms". Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Retrieved 16 June 2017. 
  3. ^ "Chelsea Name Retained: New Decisions on Three Boroughs." The Times. 3 January 1963
  4. ^ https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/vmhistory/general/vm_hs_p02.asp
  5. ^ https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/vmhistory/general/vm_hs_p04.asp
  6. ^ https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/vmhistory/general/vm_hs_p14.asp
  7. ^ "Kensington: Total Population". A Vision of Britain Through Time. Great Britain Historical GIS Project. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Global Business. "High earners say au revoir to France". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Key Statistics: Dwellings; Quick Statistics: Population Density; Physical Environment: Land Use Survey 2005
  10. ^ Nadine Burham-Marshalleck. "Kensington & Chelsea has UK's highest life expectancy - South West Londoner". Swlondoner.co.uk. Retrieved 16 June 2017. 
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 February 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  13. ^ "Inequality Poverty Indicators London's Poverty Report". Londonspovertyprofile.org.uk. 8 October 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2017. 
  14. ^ "KS006 - Ethnic group". NOMIS. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  15. ^ "Ethnic Group by measures". NOMIS. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  16. ^ "Local Elections May 2014". Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  17. ^ "Malcolm Rifkind to stand down as an MP at the election after lobbying controversy". www.newstatesman.com. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  18. ^ "2011 Census: QS701EW Method of travel to work, local authorities in England and Wales". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 23 November 2013.  Percentages are of all residents aged 16-74 including those not in employment. Respondents could only pick one mode, specified as the journey’s longest part by distance.
  19. ^ "The case for Kensal crossrail". Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Retrieved 26 June 2011. 
  20. ^ "Case for a Crossrail station gains momentum" (Press release). Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. 1 July 2010. 
  21. ^ Bloomfield, Ruth (24 August 2010). "Study to explore adding Crossrail station at Kensal Rise". Building Design. London. 
  22. ^ "Crossrail at Kensal Rise back on the cards?". London Reconnections (blog). 27 August 2010. 
  23. ^ "Council to pay for Crossrail station". Evening Standard. London. 25 March 2011. [permanent dead link]
  24. ^ Kensal Crossrail station would 'transform' the area, says deputy mayor. Regeneration + Renewal. 16 May 2011.
  25. ^ "Brent backs plans for Kensal Crossrail". Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  26. ^ "Contacts Archived 9 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.." Daily Mail and General Trust. Retrieved 6 September 2011. "Northcliffe House 2 Derry Street London W8 5TT Great Britain"
  27. ^ Ponsford, Dominic. "Sharing with Mail 'will safeguard future of Independent'[permanent dead link]." Press Gazette. 28 November 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2011. "Under a deal signed today, the Independent titles will share back office functions with the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Metro and Evening Standard at Northcliffe House in Kensington."
  28. ^ "Contact Us." Round Hill Capital. Retrieved on 10 April 2014. "250 Kings Road London SW3 5UE United Kingdom"
  29. ^ "Contact." Sonangol Limited. Retrieved 6 August 2011. "Sonangol Limited Merevale House Brompton Place London SW3 1QE United Kingdom."
  30. ^ a b "Business Plan 2014-17" (PDF). kctmo.org.uk/. Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation. Retrieved 18 June 2017. 
  31. ^ Horton, Helena (19 June 2017). "Anger as leader of Kensington Council appears to blame Grenfell residents for sprinklers not being installed". telegraph.co.uk. Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  32. ^ MacAskill, Ewen (19 June 2017). "Council sidelined in Grenfell Tower response as leader refuses to quit". Guardian.co.uk. The Guardian. Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  33. ^ Flood, Rebecca (18 June 2017). "Specialist team set up after Grenfell Tower fire after response 'not good enough'". Express.co.uk. Daily Express. Retrieved 18 June 2017. 
  34. ^ "Family and Children's Services". Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. 14 June 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2017. 
  35. ^ http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/leisureandlibraries.aspx Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Retrieved 13 January 2009.
  36. ^ IHT – the French making themselves at home in London
  37. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns [via WaybackMachine.com]". Archant Community Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 

External links

Coordinates: 51°30′N 0°11′W / 51.50°N 0.19°W / 51.50; -0.19