Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Andrew and Audrey's Amazing and Astounding Adventure to High Street Kensington

August 21, 2009 · No Comments

To get to High Street Kensington, we took the Underground (fondly referred to as the Tube) on the Central Line from the Tottenham Court Road station west to Notting Hill Gate where we switched to the Circle District Line to get to our desired High Street Kensington destination. This jaunt was approximately thirty minutes in duration and was made confusing by the indecisiveness of directional walking. Does one stay to the left or to the right when walking through crowds? Apparently no one knows! The locals like to stick to the left but when one finds oneself in more tourist filled locations the rules are discarded completely.

We came out of the station to find a busy street full of shops of all sorts and bustling with people. To get our bearings a bit, we ducked into an alley way that led to a quaint garden and church. Thinking this was where we had to go, we spent time looking around the cemetery, school, park, etc around there. Europe at its finest. You couldn’t even hear the busy street literally right on the other side of the buildings. This was an area in the middle of London that had a true small town feel to it. When we reflected on why we were sent to that area, we realized that we were looking at something that had nothing to do with the name Kensington at all. So, we pulled out our London A-Z maps and discovered that if we continued to walk a block or so we would arrive at Kensington Palace and Gardens. Righto. Still, this microcosm, we think, is representative of London itself. You find this encompassing environment but if you take a step back you find that that very environment is composed of smaller factions that are just as enveloping as the larger one.

Now onto the Kensington we were supposed to find! The station seems to be in place to allow for the public to have access to the gardens. The governing body appears to be Kensington. Never have I seen a prettier place full of not only plants and beautiful vegetation but also just people enjoying themselves in a most relaxed and respectful fashion. People from every race and age were present including the wealthy and those sleeping on benches but we saw mostly young people out enjoying a beautiful day in the garden.
We strolled around what could have been an entire park but truly was only a small fraction of the area. Some of the many sights we saw included Kensington Palace, William the II’s Palace (now a busy tea shop), a statue of Victoria R., and George Frederick Watt’s statue of Physical Motion. Attracted to a shiny, gold something in the distance, we headed to what we later found to be the Albert Memorial across from the Royal Albert Hall. This beacon was truly breathtaking! Prince Albert was the husband of Queen Victoria. A social activist and a financier of the arts and sciences, the hall and this statue are dedicated to his memory as well as Victorian achievement. Perched around a sitting Albert are representations of Africa, America, Europe and Asia, all of which were in some way connected to British imperialism. Above him rest figures of farming, engineering, manufacturing, and commerce. Then at the top of the memorial stand virtuous angels. The monument as a whole is also an acknowledgement of the many artisans that Albert had worked fiercely to promote. Prince Albert not only purchased the land of South Kensington as a means to create an educational and cultural institution, but he also worked to have the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park. Both these events may have led him to be memorialized at Kensington Garden. People memorialized King Albert by sitting around the base of his statue smoking (a commercial endeavor indeed!). Mostly middle class people were around the statue and on the street; that is, those who had time to spend on a Thursday afternoon lounging around a statue and park. Tourists were around the more famous locations in the garden but as you ventured further away from statues and palaces, the local people used the gardens for their function as a recreational park.

As we were on Kensington Street, we thought the best way to return to the Arran House would be to either take the Tube or a bus. Confused by which side of the street we had to be on to take the bus, we opted for the former. Taking a different route this time, we took the Circle District line to Glouchester where we transferred onto the Piccadilly Line and went up to Leicester Square. From there we went up the North Line to Nottingham Court Road where we proceeded by foot to the Arran House. We might mention, we were a might bit late. The Central Line proved to have top marks in efficiency that day.

Tube stop

Tube stop

the happy accident

the happy accident

Albert Memorial

Categories: Andrew R · Audrey · Churches and Cathedrals
Tagged: , , ,

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below..

You must log in to post a comment.