Kensington Palace Gardens

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Template:Coord Kensington Palace Gardens is a street in west central London with some of the most expensive property in the world. It was the location of the London Cage, the British government MI19 centre used during the Second World War and the Cold War.

A tree-lined avenue half a mile long in the heart of embassy land, Kensington Palace Gardens is often cited as the "most exclusive address" in London, according to real estate agency Knight Frank. It is one of the most expensive residential streets in the world, and has long been known as "Billionaires Row", due to the extreme wealth of its private residents, although in fact the majority of its current occupants are either national embassies or ambassadorial residences. As of mid-2012, current market prices for a property on the street average over £122 million.

It is immediately to the west of Kensington Gardens and connects Notting Hill Gate with Kensington High Street. The southern section of Kensington Palace Gardens is called Palace Green.

Background

The road was originally called The Queen's Road and was renamed Kensington Palace Gardens around 1870 when plane trees were planted in the avenue. It was built from the 1840s onwards, on part of the grounds of Kensington Palace and the freehold still belongs to the Crown Estate. The palace, which is the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Duke and Duchess of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, fronts the southern part of the street on the eastern side. The houses at the northern end are mostly Italianate, while those at the southern end are mostly in the Queen Anne style. For much of the 20th century a large proportion of the houses were occupied by embassies and ambassadors' residences. Some still are, but others have been renovated by the Crown Estate and sold to private buyers on long leases. One of these was bought in 2004 by the Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, who in 2008 was listed by Forbes Magazine as the fourth richest man in the world. The sale was widely misreported at £70 million, before accurate figures were available from HM Land Registry, where records state that on 30 June 2004, 18-19 Kensington Palace Gardens, along with three mews houses at the rear of the property, sold for £57,145,967.

The mansion at 18 Kensington Palace Gardens, historically belonging to the Rothschild family, was sold in 2001.

Formerly, this house was owned by Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One racing boss. On October 8, 2001, he purchased the house from Iranian property developer David Khalili for £50 million. This was substantially less than the asking price of £85 million when it was placed on the market by Savills in spring 2001. However, it was reported that Ecclestone's wife, Slavica, never liked the Template:Convert, 18-bedroom mansion so they never moved in.

Khalili spent three years and more than £20 million turning the two houses into one, building a swimming pool and indulging in his taste for marble floors and pillars (with marble from the same quarry as that used for the Taj Mahal).

Paul Reuter, the founder of the Reuters news agency, was also a former resident.

No 8 was used as an interrogation centre for German POWs during and after World War II and was known as the London Cage. The house was demolished in 1961 and replaced by a glass-and-steel block of four apartments designed by Richard Seifert and completed in 1964. Flat 3 was on the market in 2006 as a three-bedroom apartment designed by international architect David Chipperfield, valued at a minimum of £13.25 million through Knight Frank, which sold in March 2007 for £10.29m.

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Due to the presence of likely terrorist targets — embassies etc., including those of Russia and Israel — both ends of the street have armed police checkpoints (Diplomatic Protection Group officers) with crash barriers as well as the original wrought-iron gates. This has the side effect of extremely low traffic for a central London street. Some of the buildings also have barriers to keep vehicles at a distance.

The street is lit by very dim Victorian gaslight-style streetlights.

Current occupants

Current occupiers and residents include:

East side of Kensington Palace Gardens:

  • 1–3 — Demolished. Now a coach park on Bayswater Road.
  • 4–5 — Embassy of Russia — consular department
  • 6–7 — Embassy of Russia — chancery Template:Coord
  • 8 — Block of 4 private apartments built in 1961–4, each on two floors. Past residents include Carole and Neville Conrad (Flat 3, 1996–2007) and reportedly Michael Grade as a child.
  • 9 — Official residence of the High Commissioner from India
  • 10 — Jonathan Hunt, founder of Foxtons, bought in 2005 for £14m, with plans for an underground extension under the back garden.
  • 11 — Official residence of the Ambassador of France
  • 12 — Saudi royal family - possibly Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, who may also own 5 Palace Green.
  • 12a — Embassy of Nepal. Built in 1863–5 by architect James Murray and gifted to the Nepalese in 1937 in appreciation of the Gurkhas. Rumoured in April 2013 as being considered for sale for £100m to £180m.

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  • 13 — Official residence of the Ambassador of Russia
  • 14 — Official residence of the Ambassador of Finland
  • 15 — Leonard Blavatnik (Double plot) Building completed in 1855 and first occupied by the Victorian merchant and philanthropist George Moore who moved in with his first wife Eliza Moore née Ray in 1856.
  • 15b — Leonard Blavatnik

West side of Kensington Palace Gardens:

Previous occupants: Baron de Reuter, founder of the news agency in the 1850s; John Leech, Punch artist; The de Rothschild family (early 1900s); The Free Poles (1939–45); David Khalili, dealer in Islamic art (1995–2001); Bernie Ecclestone, Formula 1 chief (2001–2004).<ref>18–19 Kensington Palace Gardens, Khalili Foundation website.
Christian Metcalfe, Savills wins £1m commission on Kensington Palace Gardens sale, Estates Gazette, 21 December 2010</ref>

  • 20 — Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei. The number eight can be seen on the roof, symbolizing the phrase Ba Shi Fa Cai" ("the number eight brings prosperity"). Template:Coord
  • 21 — Embassy of Lebanon
  • 22 — Official residence of the Ambassador of Kuwait
  • 22a — Official residence of the Ambassador of Japan
  • 23 - Un-named Indian billionaire
  • 24 — Official residence of the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia

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  • 25 —Embassy of Slovakia
  • 26–30 — Embassy of the Czech Republic

Palace Green

See also

  • List of most expensive streets by city
  • The Bishops Avenue

References

Template:Reflist

External links