Definitions

Knightsbridge

Knightsbridge

Knightsbridge is a road which gives its name to an exclusive district lying to the west of Central London. The road runs along the south side of Hyde Park, west from Hyde Park Corner, spanning the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Up to Brompton Road, it is a part of the A4 arterial road, while the remainder is part of the A315.

The eponymous district comprises the areas immediately surrounding Knightsbridge (the road) on the north, Sloane Street to its junction with Pont Street, and Brompton Road to its junction with Beauchamp Place. The district is notable as an expensive residential area, and for the density of its upmarket retail outlets, famously Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

For strategic planning the area is identified as one of two international centres in the London Plan.

History

Knightsbridge was originally a small hamlet or locality outside the City of London, between the villages of Chelsea (Chelsey), Kensington (Kensing town) and Charing. In the time of Edward I, the manor of Knightsbridge appertained to the abbey of Westminster . It was named after a crossing of the River Westbourne, which is now an underground river. It is recorded that the citizens of London met Queen Matilda at the Knight's Bridge in 1141.

Culture

Cadogan Hall presents concerts of classical and popular music in Sloane Street. The Royal Albert Hall is a large venue for music and sports events. The are a number of fine art auctioneers located in Knightsbridge including Bonhams, together with many smaller boutiques.

To the north of the district, in Hyde Park, is the Serpentine Gallery, and at Hyde Park Corner is Number One, London (Apsley House), former London residence of the Duke of Wellington. Nearby are the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square, and in South Kensington, the Ismaili Centre built by British architect Sir Hugh Casson, together with the Victoria and Albert Museum, Natural History Museum and Science Museum.

Prince's Club was a sports club based in two separate locations in Knightsbridge between 1853 and 1940, and was home to the sports of rackets, squash and badminton. They have subsequently moved down the road to Queen's Club in Kensington.

Economy

Knightsbridge is home to many expensive shops, including the department stores Harrods — the largest in Europe and owned by Egyptian businessman Mohammed Al Fayed, Peter Jones — the traditional haunt of Sloane Rangers, and Harvey Nichols — made famous by the antics of Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone in BBC satire Absolutely Fabulous. Knightsbridge is noted as the home of flagship stores for many British and international fashion houses. The renowned London-based shoe designers Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik are based here. There are two Chanel stores in the area, alongside banks for high net worth individuals, including Coutts — bankers to the Queen, rumoured to reject any potential clients worth less than £5 million. Some of London's most renowned restaurants are here, as are many exclusive hair and beauty salons, antiques and antiquities dealers, and a clutch of chic bars and clubs.

Property

Knightsbridge is home to many of the world's richest people. It has some of the highest property prices in the world. Fourteen out of the top 200 most expensive streets in Britain are in Knightsbridge (Source: The Times, 2007). The district is leafy, especially so considering its location at the heart of London, with houses and apartment buildings, some with private gardens. It is also adjacent to Inner London's largest public park, Hyde Park. In 2006, a four bedroomed apartment in Knightsbridge sold for over £25,000,000, and on street car parking spaces sell for £300,000 on a 94 year lease. In February 2007, the world's most expensive apartment at One Hyde Park, sold off plan for £100,000,000, and has been bought by a Qatari Prince. The development is valued in excess of £4,000 per square foot (£43,000 per square metre).

Knightsbridge is mostly made up of strictly controlled Conservation Areas and development land is difficult to find. Most properties offered by developers are refurbished flats and houses. Many of these now have huge basement extensions, accommodating an eclectic range of facilities from swimming pools to private nightclubs.

The principal landowners in the area are the Duke of Westminster and Earl Cadogan. The two areas of aristocratic landholdings can be distinguished visually, as the red brick Queen Anne Revival buildings are mostly to be found on the Cadogan Estates, whereas white stucco fronted houses are mostly found on the Grosvenor Estate, built by Thomas Cubitt.

The most sought-after prime addresses are the garden squares closest to Harrods, which serves as corner shop to many of the world's billionaires and celebrities. The store's famous liveried footmen can be seen delivering purchases to the area's local residents, as can the paparazzi, hunting for residents and visiting celebrities. Popular addresses are Belgrave Square, Egerton Place, Cadogan Square, Lennox Gardens and Hans Place, which is located next to Harrods.

Derek Quinlan's private equity fund, Quinlan Private purchased of prime retail commercial property from the BP Pension Fund in 2005. This estate stretches along Knightsbridge from Harrods to Harvey Nichols. It is understood that this part of Knightsbridge, which includes some of the world's most expensive retail properties, will shortly be subject to substantial re-development.

Education

There are a number of independent Pre-Preparatory and Preparatory Schools in Knightsbridge, including three with Royal connections - Hill House School in Hans Place, where both the Prince of Wales and the singer Lily Allen received their first education, Francis Holland School which Diana, Princess of Wales attended for a time after the divorce of her parents, and Knightsbridge School in Lennox Gardens, where the headmaster was formerly Equerry to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Lycee Francais Charles de Gaulle caters for the educational needs of London's sizeable French community, many based in the local area. Some of Britain's leading degree courses for science-related subjects can be found at Imperial College which borders the district.

Residents

Knightsbridge has many notable residents. This includes many British and European socialites and aristocrats, Roman Abramovich, oligarchs from Russia, international businessman from China and India, Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge, Saudi and several other Middle Eastern Royal Dynasties, investment bankers and hedge fund managers such as John Duffield of New Star Asset Management. There are also trend-setters like Charles Saatchi and his television presenter wife, Nigella Lawson. The famed fashion designers Valentino and Tom Ford formerly of Gucci also live in the area.

Residents from the world of entertainment include Sir David Frost, Neil Simon, Anne Robinson, Laetitia Casta, and film stars such as Hugh Grant, Sean Connery, and Joan Collins, along with many other presenters, musicians, writers, and models.

A number of high profile people were raised in the area including Princess Diana, Sienna Miller, Amanda de Cadenet, and Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond.

Crime

For centuries the area was renowned as the haunt of highwaymen, robbers and cut throats targeting travellers on the western route out of London. The fortunes of Knightsbridge were transformed in the 19th century. The area has often been a target for high-profile crime. In 1980, the Iranian Embassy siege took place in Knightsbridge, lasting several days. It ended when the Special Air Service stormed the building on live television. In 1983, three Christmas shoppers and three Metropolitan Police officers, evacuating the store, were killed by an IRA car-bomb placed outside Harrods. In 1987, the Knightsbridge Security Deposit centre was the target of a robbery and the thieves left with a hoard worth £60 million. In 2005, 22-year-old beautician Clare Bernal was gunned down by her stalker and ex-boyfriend Michal Pech on the shopfloor of Harvey Nichols in front of colleagues and shoppers, before Pech fatally turned the gun on himself. Many residential buildings are heavily covered by CCTV and are staffed by security guards, while railings or bars on lower floor windows are commonplace.

Buildings

To the north of the area, is the Hyde Park Barracks of the Household Cavalry, with a distinctive 33 storey tower by Sir Basil Spence. The Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Department is based in Walton Street. At the centre of London, and under a major flight path into Heathrow Airport, Knightsbridge suffers from congestion, noise and pollution.

Transport and locale

Nearest places

Nearest tube stations

All of the above stations serve the Piccadilly line.

Others

References

External links

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