Kensington’s Old Workhouse is Bounding with History

Posted by Oliver, on 30 Jul 2013, in History
‘Old Kensington WorkHouse', © 2008 Lezan, used under a Creative Commons Attribution License

‘Old Kensington WorkHouse’, © 2008 Lezan, used under a Creative Commons Attribution License

One of the best parts of Kensington is its classic architecture. I am always awestruck by the beauty and detail of these old buildings that surround Kensington Hotels in London. A personal favourite of mine, the Kensington Workhouse also known as St. Mary Abbots Hospital, could house over 400 local workers. Workhouses were such an important part of the community because they supported poor people who couldn’t afford a place themselves, and sometimes even inmates.

Land was purchased by the St. Mary Abbot’s parish in 1846 to build a workhouse for the needy. An architect by the name of Thomas Allom designed this magnificent Jacobean style brick building complete with green space and an infirmary. Often when I suggest this spot to guests of
Kensington Hotels in London, they have this rather dreary image out of Oliver Twist, but this was so much more. The site was host to a number of people all with fascinating tales and lives I only wish I could have bared witness to.

In 1868 the Metropolitan Asylums Board set up new Sick Asylums Districts to provide hospital care for the poor on separate sites, including the Kensington workhouse. For some reason people are drawn to places like these, maybe it is just pure curiosity, but many guests from Kensington Hotels in London find the stories of these people fascinating. One of my guests even asked if they had

The building was also one of the many London sights which were affected by the German Blitz in World War II. The workhouse suffered damage to the south end of the 1847 main block which can be seen. For those interested in WWII I encourage you to visit this site to get an idea of just how much life was altered by the second war.

Now the building has been converted into a very exclusive gated cluster of apartments, but you can still go and appreciate the architecture of the Jacobean building and appreciate the wonderfully diverse history of our wonderful little village of Kensington.