“Try this for a shortlist: the most remarkable small literary house on the planet; London’s most palatial residential street; the ensemble of townhouses that are the final flowering of ‘the Restoration idiom’ (aka the signature London house for 220 years); a Victorian mortuary; Brigitte Bardot; Prince William’s apartment; four sub-villages; details on the High Street that nobody else sees (there’s a shocking amount of violence there if you know where to look); London’s most delightful cul de sac; centuries-old barracks…
“That’s a very short shortlist. There are getting on for 150 ‘point-outs’ on the walk. But the walk’s not just a magic lantern. In the immortal words of John Constable, “we see nothing until we understand it.” By walk’s end you’ll have seen Kensington because you’ll understand it. Understand what it is about Kensington – understand how and why it’s the wealthiest district in the country. Understand the skull beneath the skin. Understand that all-important house in Holland Street – ‘if you understand this one house in Kensington you understand London.’”
Short read: London’s royal village.
Medium read: This one’s special. It’s rarely the first – or even the second or third walk people go on but when they do get round to taking it they often say it’s the one they liked the most. And no wonder, because“Royal Kensington is London at its best – picturesque, stimulating and full of character”
Long read: Its parts are as delightful as London can provide: Europe’s most select residential street; warmly handsome old Kensington Palace, home to the late Diana, Princess of Wales (and, latterly, Princes William and Harry); Kensington Gardens (all meadows, shaded walks, bowers and flower gardens, it might be the grounds of a stately home in some rural shire); London’s most attractive and unusual mews; its most delightful cul de sac; cobbled little soigné lanes, girt with pretty cottages and charming old shops; regal avenues, beautifully kept squares and a clutch of the world’s greatest museums. Let alone Europe’s largest (and most astonishing) roof garden, the secluded townhouse of the greatest Londoner of the 20th-century, a matryoshka (Russian nesting dolls) of Kensington mini-neighbourhoods, grace and favour apartments, the most important centre outside Germany for the Nazi war trials, a “rising room,” a £300 million house, an artistic tour de force made out of 41,300 matchsticks, the most exotically beautiful garden in London, ghostly figures behind a balustrade, the four great rivers of the Old Testament, the most remarkable small literary house on the planet, a secret eyrie and more history and colourful characters than you can shake a stick at.
N.B. the above is just a sampling of what’s mostly served up on David’s walk – this being London Walks, Corin’s and Adam’s walks will each be stamped with its owner’s character and interests.
The Kensington Walk takes place at 2 pm on Thursdays* and 2 pm on Saturdays. The meeting point is High Street KensingtonTube. When you come up the steps and go through the ticket barrier at High Street KensingtonTube you’ll see, directly in front of you, a short shopping arcade that leads out to the High Street. At the far end – the pavement (sidewalk) end – of the shopping arcade, just before it debouches out onto the High Street, is a Wasabi restaurant. The meeting point is on the pavement (sidewalk) directly outside the shopping arcade, right by the Wasabi restaurant.
*To be on the safe side always check the date on the calendar. Or heed the top-level announcements that read: Click for dates this walk does not take place.
On Thursdays, the walk is guided by Adam or David. On Saturdays, it’s guided by Corin or David. N.B. the walk ends back at High Street Kensington tube – or a few minutes walk away.
LONDON WALKS REVIEWS
“If you want to know London better, if you want to learn some things about the world’s most cosmopolitan city that most people who spend their lives there never learn… I can think of no better investment than London Walks” The New York Times
“London’s best walking tours” Travel & Leisure
“Even jaded Londoners find these London Walks a source of astonishing gems of information about the city in which they live.” Daily Mail, Top London Treats
“Kensington walk – a total success, don’t miss it! Went on the Kensington walk today with David, a very experienced guide. How lucky were we? My husband and I were so impressed with not only his vast knowledge, use of language and literary references but his outstanding communication skills, wit and fervour. His enthusiasm was infectious and he brought the area to life-giving us an excellent insight into Kensington. We have done very many London walks and this was the best by far – do not miss it. In the words of Tina Turner it was ‘simply the best.’ Thank you David. This was our first outing after lockdown in Liverpool and it was not only a brilliant afternoon of learning but so enjoyable.” Geraldine M., May 2021, TripAdvisor
“Never have participated in but having seen and overheard walking tour guides over many years in the US, I was a bit sceptical that most of them were simply platforms for young aspiring actors to perform for small captive audiences. In the case of the London Walks I could not have been further from the truth. The stable of guides include barristers, physicians, professors, authors, historians and archaeologists–folks who actually know a bit about what they are talking about.” Rebecca D.
“we were lucky enough to have David to take us on a walk around Kensington. David was the first guide to take us on a walk and from that moment we were hooked” Emberton75 Lancaster, United Kingdom
“this is a very informative and interesting route, the beautiful mews hidden in back streets, tiny alleys, grand addresses, nosey parkers would love this walk. you’re looking at architecture, history, famous people’s addresses. This particular company use actors and professional people to orate. I have done a different one each time I am in London. they are all equally impressive.” Joan C. Cardiff, United Kingdom
“We joined the Saturday afternoon Old Kensington walk, guided by Angela, on a windy, slightly dank day though, fortunately, the rain held off. We spent a considerable part of the walk laughing as Angela was such a witty, entertaining guide who delivered her anecdotes with perfect timing. I spent many years working in London and now regularly visit but the beautiful ‘old village’ part of Kensington (with its eye-wateringingly expensive houses) was unfamiliar to me and it was fascinating to learn so much about its history. I’ve already recommended this walk to family and friends and would happily join them and do it again next year. Thanks Angela.” BaHertford Hertford, United Kingdom
“My husband and I took part in the Old Kensington walk. Adam was our guide and he delighted us all with his humor, his knowledge and his obvious affection for the city. Questions are encouraged and duly answered. Photo ops abound. And quirky bits of history make Kensington come alive as the small neighborhood you’d long to be part of. As our schedule did not allow time for another tour, it will be first on our to-do list next time we land in London and it should be on your list as well. It is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours learning the history of one corner of London.” Rebecca D. Hamilton, Virginia
“Never failed to be amazed at the entertainment on these walks. Of all the ones I have done, the uniform areas are 1 The walk leaders are brilliant. Knowledgeable, entertaining and loud enough to be heard by all. 2 Hidden gems of London hiding behind the rush you normally see when sightseeing, shopping or just going to work in London. 3 Great eating recommendations in places you would not normally find. The reason you should do one of these walks early on your London trip? You will want to do another! This time we did the Old Kensington walk. It did not sound as dramatic as some of the other walks, but it was breathtaking. From meeting up at High Street Kensington tube station and all the rush there, within minutes we were transported back 300 years into a quiet and peaceful area. Lots of history, interesting insights into how the area developed, how housing styles developed, famous people who lived there, secret gardens both at ground level and higher, stables conversations into shops and houses, even stables on the 1st floor. The church we went into was so quiet and the size of a cathedral, the history outside equally as interesting. At the end of the walk, we retraced our steps on our own to take it all in – but it needs the expert to bring out all the interesting details. We stopped at one of the recommended eating places mentioned by the guide – very good.” FullNotGlum St. Ives, United Kingdom
“We did the Kensington Walk on a wet Saturday with David – and he was great! He showed us the real variation of the area, introduced us to the lovely Japan House and told us some great facts in a lively manner interspersed with fascinating anecdotes about the people who lived in Kensington.
We are still thinking about TS Eliot walking around with green face makeup so he could look ill!” VerityGraceKirk, TripAdvisor, October 2019
“We enjoyed an absorbing time wandering around a small part of Kensington with our guide, David. His tour combined an eye for interesting detail with an analysis of social history, putting the “village” of Kensington within the wider London context. He also discusses contemporary local trends, including the increasing cultural diversity. We enjoyed a brief foray into Japan House to see some of the exquisite items on display, and were pleased to have pointed out some of the quirkier shops amongst the, mainly, chains.
It was well planned, good value at well over the advertised two hours, and the delivery was lively.” Sydbunyip, TripAdvisor, November 2019
LONDON WALKS ADDED VALUE
Be sure to ask Adam or David or Corin for a toothsome recommendation or two if you’re feeling peckish after the walk
If you can’t make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, Kensington – Royal Village it can always be booked as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Kensington – Royal Village walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We’ll tailor it to your requirements. Ring Fiona or Noel or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at [email protected] and we’ll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk – they’re good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing.
GIVE THE GIFT OF LONDON WALKS
A private London Walk makes a fab gift – be it a birthday or anniversary or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that’s special. Memories make us rich.