Hidden away between a pair of stone archways, is one of the most beautiful 19th Century mews in central London, called Kynance Mews, SW7. This little alleyway is in the heart of Kensington New Town or presently known as Victoria Road Village, a fashionable district that is situated predominantly south of Kensington High Street, west of Palace Gate, north of Gloucester Road and Cornwall Gardens.
|The entrance to Kynance Mews from Launceston Place|
If you happen to be in London for a summer, I highly recommend an afternoon stroll in Kynance Mews and Victoria Road Village. Not only is it a quaint little street, full of characters and curios, right in the middle of the city, it is also rich in history.
|Garden Ornament and flowers along the mews|
The early Victorian pattern and character of this district derive from the history of two estates, which are known by the names of their original freehold owners at the time of their first developments. To the east is the compact Inderwick Estate of 6.5 acres, covering the area of Victoria Grove, Launceston Place, the west side of Gloucester Road between Kynance Place and Canning Place, and the south side of Canning Place. Built compactly and efficiently between 1837 and approximately 1843, this was the area originally denominated Kensington New Town, a name first given in 1841. Further west is the larger and more complex Vallotton Estate, developed chiefly from the 1840s onwards. It is centred upon two north-south roads, namely Victoria Road and Stanford Road.
|The neat cobbled street of Kynance Mews|
Although the area was extensively bombed and damaged during the World War Blitz by a high explosive munition which decimated the area south of Kynance Mews during the winter of 1940, the mews itself survived unscathed.
|A typical summer day at Kynance Mews|
The clean and quiet cobbled street now filled with leafy greens, flower pots, and old brick facades with beautiful Wisteria vines is a dramatic contrast to the nearby busy streets of Gloucester Road and Kensington High Street. It feels as if one is transported to a scene in a fairy tale of pretty rustic little country village when one walks down this mews.
|Beautiful flowers along the mews|
What I find most unique here compared to other urban areas in central London is that the residents of this mews and its nearby Victoria Road Village have a strong sense of community… living in the neighbourhood feels much more like living in a quiet little village rather than living in a city, even though it is in the centre of an international metropolis, that is London. It is one of the very few neighbourhood in London that the residents know each other well, and organise regular social activities to keep in touch with each other… something that is hard to come by in most large cities, let alone in this day and age where everyone seems to rely on smartphones and texting, instead of the traditional form of communication and human interaction.
|Daily life in the mew: Meet Floyd the puppy|
|Pretty flowers in front of one of the houses along the mews.|
|More colourful flowers along the mews.|
Adjacent to the mews is a lovely local church called Christ Church with a beautiful lavender garden, which has been my favourite picnic lunch spot this entire summer.
|Flowers in Christ Church Garden. My favourite picnic lunch spot|
For those who are not keen on picnics, there are two fantastic restaurants nearby, which I highly recommend:
The first is Launceston Place, a modern European cuisine restaurant which serves market menus and fresh local ingredients, perfect for Sunday Roast and nice dinners.
|Poached Duck Egg and Asparagus at Launceston Place|
|Pork Medallion at Launceston Place|
The second is the local pizzeria called Da Mario, a family run Italian restaurant with arguably the best
pizza in town, and at an extremely reasonable price. It was certainly the favourite pizza place of the late Princess Diana. My favourites here are definitely the pizzas, but also their Linguine Fraganza Di Mare (Seafood Liguine) and their Grigliata Mista Di Pesce, which is their grilled mixed fish platter.
|Pizza at Da Mario|
|King Prawn Pasta at Da Mario|
|Summer Strawberries with fresh cream and chocolate sauce at Da Mario|
For more information of the 2 restaurants above, they can be found at:
Launceston Place Restaurant
1A Launceston Place,
London W8 5RL
T: 0207 937 6912
Da Mario Restaurant
15 Gloucester Road
London SW7 4PP
T: 0207 584 9078