Like today, nineteenth-century Kensington also saw its share of high society gatherings in grandiose mansions. Built in 1605, Holland House (not to be confused with House of Holland, the fashion empire) even featured 500 acres of ground – Kensington was a bit more rural back then. It eventually became a hang-out of the progressive Whig party, plus other thinkers, drinkers, artists, authors and socialites. The house was bombed during WWII, in 1940, and all that remains of the original building are the east wing, walls and an arcade from the ground floor. These can all be seen when strolling through Holland Park – a fitting use for all those acres.
John Gay/Historic England/Mary Evans Picture Library