Looking west across Kensington Square from the southeastern corner
|Length||0.2 mi (0.3 km)|
Kensington Square is a garden square in Kensington, London, W8. It was founded in 1685; hence it is the oldest such square in Kensington. In London, St. James's Square, Soho Square and Golden Square are a few years older, but in contrast with these Kensington Square still retains its residential character. 1–45 Kensington Square are listed Grade II for their architectural merit.
In 1685, Thomas Young, a woodcarver, acquired land in Kensington which he sought to develop, and as he later described it in 1701, "did sett out and appoint a considerable part thereof to be built into a large Square of large and substantial Houses fit for ye Habitacion of persons of good Worth and Quality, with Courts and Yards before and Gardens lying backwards".
The communal gardens were laid out in 1698 and are 0.3642 hectares (0.900 acres) in size. The garden is private and not open to the public, though it has taken part in the annual Open Garden Squares Weekend.
Located at number 23 is Heythrop College, University of London, "the Specialist Philosophy and Theology College of the University of London," which includes a library of books originally established "in 1614 in Louvain by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) for the study of philosophy and theology."
The square includes the former home of the composer Hubert Parry at number 17; the former home of the nineteenth century liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill at number 18; the former home of John Simon the sanitary reformer and pathologist at number 40; and the former home of Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones at number 41—each of whom is commemorated with a blue plaque. The lawyer and Positivist Vernon Lushington had 36 Kensington Square as his family's London home. It was Lushington who had introduced Burne Jones to Dante Gabriel Rossetti at the Working Men's College. The Lushingtons and Parrys were often in and out of each other's houses.
The scholar and philanthropist Richard Buckley Litchfield (1832-1903) lived at number 31 with his wife Henrietta Litchfield (1843-1927), who was Charles Darwin's daughter. Their niece, the artist Gwen Raverat, describes visits to the house in her memoir Period Piece.
Between 1831 and 1896 the Kensington School was based in the square, starting at number 31 and eventually occupying number 25-29. The school is notable as one of the founders of the Football Association in 1863. The school built classrooms and fives courts in the gardens of the houses; all that remains is number 27a, the cottage behind number 28.
- "Driving directions to Kensington Square". Google. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Kensington Square". London Gardens Online. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- "Kensington Square and environs: Introduction". British History Online (BHO). Retrieved 18 February 2016.
- Heythrop College: How to find us
- Heythrop College: About us
- Raverat, Gwen (2013). Period Piece. London: Slightly Foxed. pp. 139–154. ISBN 978-1-906562-58-8. First published by Faber & Faber, 1952