Culture Corner

St Mary Abbots Church

‘St Mary Abbots Church, Kensington’ (c) 2009 Christopher Bulle. Used under a Creative Commons license (

One of the perks of working in one of the most popular Kensington hotels – and one I have mentioned in the past – is getting to interact with people of all different nationalities and cultures. However, this privilege also comes with a caveat: one must be very, very careful not to unknowingly cause offence to any of the guests! Evidently, one of the easiest ways to do so is to presume about someone’s religion, and as such, I try to keep churches and religious buildings off of my recommendations when drawing up a list of things to do for people staying at my hotel.

Still, as much as I tiptoe around most of these types of buildings, there is one I always make sure to include: the St. Mary Abbots Church. To be honest, this building transcends faiths and credes; it is just a magnificent piece of architecture, and one which demonstrates all that our wonderful borough has to offer in terms of history and sights!

Located relatively close to most Kensington hotels, including my own, St. Mary Abbots Church was designed in the 19th century by renowned architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, who also designed the Albert Memorial, in nearby Kensington Palace. As such, it is no surprise that this church represents a stunning example of Victorian architecture, dominating the Kensington landscape with its imposing spire, which is officially the tallest in London – just another reason for me to be proud of the area I live and work in!

But quite aside from its admittedly magnificent visual side, this church is also noteworthy for its historical associations. Over the years, prominent figures such as Isaac Newton (yes, ‘that’ Isaac Newton), beloved Peter Rabbit author Beatrix Potter and anti-slave campaigner William Wilberforce have all been known to worship at this site, giving it an historical aura which I certainly do feel every time I walk by – and so, probably, will guests visiting from nearby Kensington hotels!

One last point of interest for visitors to the church can be found in the nearby charity school of the same name. There, two statues of children – a boy and a girl – capture the attention of all who walk by, with their pride of place over the old school doors and their slightly shocked demeanours. These statues have been landmarks of the school and the neighbourhood since 1712, and no visit to the church should be complete without a peek at them!

Hopefully, this post will have made you understand why, unlike with other religious establishments, I am not afraid to recommend St. Mary Abbots Church as a sight to see when visiting Kensington!