Recent and upcoming Kensington Society events
Dare to care! Meet SAVE Britain’s Heritage
Date: Monday 19 June 2023
The Kensington Society AGM 2023
Date: Thursday 1 June 2023
On Thursday 8 December 2022, The Kensington Society held its traditional Christmas drinks party with mince pies in the Mayor’s Parlour in Kensington Town Hall. Some 60 members and guests attended.
The Kensington members who managed to get the 60 available spaces for our visit to the recently restored Leighton House (they sold out within a few days) had a wonderful experience, exploring 19th century artist Fredrick Leighton’s fantastic home and studio near Holland Park. An event that we probably will redo in a few years’ time, as so many who wanted to come couldn’t.
Kensington Society’s event on 10 August 2022, “An evening at the Kensington Palace”, will be remembered for a long time by the lucky sixty who managed to get a ticket. Drinks on the Pavilion veranda, a walk along the Sunken Garden and private tours of two of the palace’s main attractions… What better way to spend a warm and glorious summer evening?
After one cancelled AGM in 2020 and one held virtually in 2021, the Kensington Society could finally hold a face-to-face Annual General Meeting in Kensington Town Hall’s Great Hall again. The guest speaker was Sir Peter Bazalgette, “the most influential man in British broadcasting”, who talked about his great-great-grandfather, Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who designed and built the great revolutionary Victorian sewage system that helped to eliminate cholera and reduced outbreaks of typhus and typhoid. Counter’s Creek sewer, on Kensington’s west boundary, is part of the network he built.
On Wednesday 8 December 2021, The Kensington Society held its first “live” event since the Covid-19 pandemic arrived; our now traditional Christmas drinks party with mince pies in the Mayor’s Parlour. Some 70 Kensington Society members and guests attended.
On Monday 7 June 2021, The Kensington Society held its 2021 AGM. Due to Covid, it was held virtually over the internet and encompassed both 2019 and 2020, as the 2020 AGM had to be cancelled.
Our third virtual event was an online talk and Q&A about the Passivhaus system for creating low energy buildings, and Octavia’s award-winning Passivhaus experiment in Princedale Road, where a Victorian terraced cottage was gutted and re-built to be almost completely insulated and powered by low carbon technology.
Our second virtual event was an online talk and Q&A with Chris Lenon about the daunting task of making all UK buildings net zero carbon compliant before 2050: what the government and the council will be doing, and what all home owners must do.
More than 40 members took part in a very successful Kensington Society virtual event on 24 February, where councillors Johnny Thalassites and Cem Kemahli talked about electric cars and the council’s efforts to help residents to switch over to them. It was obvious that most attendees found it useful and interesting, with several sharing their experiences as EV owners, while others asked very good questions or came with practical suggestions that the two councillors promised to look into.
As a follow-up to our successful November 2018 event, where Sue Harris, executive RKBC director for Environment and Communities, answered questions about the changes to the council’s organisation, especially the planning department, we held a similar free event in February, where residents could put questions to those responsible for the borough’s rubbish collection, parks, community gardening, leisure centres, markets and local arts events.
In December some 70 members and guests gathered in the Town Hall’s Mayor’s Parlour for Christmas drinks, nibbles and mince pies. It was a very successful event which may become a tradition.
In October we were invited to a private view of a brand-new exhibition of work by two important Japanese sculptors in Dora House – the fascinating Old Brompton Road home of the Royal Society of Sculptors. We also learned more about the house and the society.
In September, Nicholas Mellor took us on a short but fascinating walk in the immediate area of St James’s Gardens in the Norland ward, showing us five or six very different faith centres. Within two days, this event was unfortunately sold out, but hopefully we’ll be able to repeat it at a later date.
In July we had a fascinating guided tour of the oldest and largest of London’s seven large commercial cemeteries that were established between 1833 and 1841: Kensal Green Cemetery, where more than 250,000 bodies have been interned through the years. Today there are 65,000 marked graves; some are simple while others are enormous mausoleums.
On 20 June 2019, some 30 Kensington Society members and members’ guests had a very interesting private curator’s tour of the Frestonian Gallery’s ‘Hill & Park’ exhibition, which displays works by many of the artists who have called Notting Hill and Holland Park their home, such as Patrick Caulfield, Lucian Freud, Patrick Heron, David Hockney and Bridget Riley.
On 9 May 2019, the Kensington Society members were invited to see the inside of the Supreme Court, the highest appeal court in the United Kingdom, which has only existed since 2009.
Some 25 members took the opportunity and were given a fascinating tour through an old building repurposed for a very new court.
Some 200 members attended the Kensington Society’s 2019 annual general meeting, where the guest speaker was Dr Simon Thurley, the architectural historian and former head of English Heritage, whose gave a fascinating speech about the main reason why super rich Londoners began to move to remote villages like Kensington in the early 17th century: the Hungarian invention of the suspended coach, which enabled whole families to be transported in comfort over long distances at a speed previously available only for those skilled enough to ride a horse in full gallop.
The meeting was followed by the traditional wine reception in the Mayor’s Parlour.
In February, wine merchants Jeroboams staged a fantastic wine tasting evening for us in North Kensington’s Museum of Brands, which took us to all corners of France’s wine growing districts without us even having to stand up – which towards the end of the evening probably was a very good idea…
We were given the unique opportunity to visit the Natural History Museum’s Sloane Herbarium, which is normally only accessible for scientists. We also got to see “Expeditions and Endeavours”, a new exhibition about the artists that accompanied the many British expeditions around the world during the 18th and 19th centuries.
For the second year, the Kensington Society arranged a very popular carol singing event in Kensington Town Hall’s Mayor’s Parlour, with parents and other grownups attending, who sang along with the 35 young members of the St Mary Abbots School’s chamber choir, while enjoying some wine and nibbles.
The structure of the borough’s daily operations has drastically changed in the last few months, with the goal of making it more responsive and flexible. At an evening seminar in Kensington Town Hall, we met Sue Harris, who is the head of the largest of the new “service areas”, and were given a chance to asks her questions about anything handled by the seven departments she leads.
Starting from the South Kensington tube station, 15 Kensington foodies did a gastronomic tour through South Kensington, visiting the Cave au Fromage, the Brompton Food Market and Orsini Caffe, where they had a chance to sample some of the products. The tour ended at the Hour Glass pub on the Old Brompton Road. This gastro tour was so popular that we plan to repeat it elsewhere in Kensington.
Local historian Caroline MacMillan took us on a walk through Notting Dale, visiting the sites of the famous “Potteries”, where bricks were made for London’s growing suburbs, and the “Piggeries”, where once three times as many swine as humans lived.
The walk finished at The Mitre pub, which stands on the site of Notting Hill Farm.
Kensington Society members were given a very eppreciated private showing of Kensington Palace, beginning with drinks by the Sunken Garden and including several of the state rooms and as well as exhibitions, among them the highly successful exhibition of Princess Diana’s dresses: Diana: Her Fashion Story.
This walk and lecture about the dramatic Victorian architecture of Sir Ernest George and Harold Peto in Collingham Gardens and Harrington Gardens was quickly sold out when we held it in May 2017, so we decided to do it again this year – and once again it was sold out weeks before!
Some 200 members attended the Kensington Society’s 2018 annual general meeting, where the guest speaker was Barry Quirk, the new RBKC chief executive, whose talk highlighted the borough’s dire need for more social housing.
The meeting was followed by the traditional wine reception in the Mayor’s Parlour.
Our second emergency first aid training course with the London Ambulance Service was sold out just as quickly as the first one. Hopefully, we’ll be able to arrange a third course in a not too distant future.
Kensington Society’s visit to the recently restored Benjamin Franklin House was a great success. The historian George Goodwin, who is the museum’s honorary author in residence, entertained us with fascinating stories of Franklin’s life and friendships in London.
Kensington Society arranged a very popular carol singing event in Kensington Town Hall’s Mayor’s Parlour. Some 85 attended and sang along with the 30 young members of the St Mary Abbots School’s chamber choir, while enjoying some wine and nibbles.
Together with the London Ambulance Service, we held a first aid training course in Kensington Town Hall. The course was so popular that the 12 available seats were booked within a couple of days, so a second course was arranged for April 2018.
The chairman of the Twentieth Century Society, Peter Ruback, took us on a two-hour walk through central Kensington to see some well-designed but under-appreciated modern buildings.
The dramatic architecture of Sir Ernest George and his design partner Harold Peto graces Collingham Gardens and a stretch of Harrington Gardens. Professor Hilary Grainger, an expert on the two men’s work, gave a spirited talk and took everyone on a fascinating tour along the two streets. This event, limited to 25 people, quickly sold out, but we hope to repeat it in a not too distant future.
Some 200 members attended the 2017 Kensington Society Annual General Meeting, where the guest speaker was the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, Mr Kenneth Olisa OBE, who very entertainingly told us what a lord-lieutenant’s job entails.
The meeting was followed by a lively wine reception in the Mayor’s Parlour.
Page updated 10/05/2023