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Kensal Green

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Brent/Kensington & Chelsea

A diverse residential district situated immediately north of the western part of Harrow Road. The green itself was enclosed in 1823 and around this time the first suburban cottages and villas were built along Harrow Road. Many survive today. Surprisingly, it was the opening of the cemetery in 1832 that made Kensal Green a fashionable residential area. Laid out on 56 acres of land between Harrow Road and Grand Union Canal, Kensal Green was the first of many suburban cemeteries that were created by joint-stock companies in response to the difficulties of finding burial space in central London churchyards. Brunel, Thackeray and Trollope are among those buried here. The Mancunian novelist William Harrison Ainsworth lived at Kensal Manor House and is also buried in the cemetery. Brent’s Kensal Green ward is ethnically mixed, although just over half the population is white. The most significant minorities are of black Caribbean, Indian, white Irish and black African descent. Some of the newer bars and eateries bear witness to Kensal Green’s increasing gentrification.

GK Chesterton’s poem The Rolling English Road makes reference to the cemetery in its famous couplet, “For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen / Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.”

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Kensal Green cemetery

Postal district: NW10
Population: 10,668 (Brent’s Kensal Green ward)
Station: Bakerloo Line and Silverlink Metro (Zone 2)
Further reading: James Stevens Curl et al, Kensal Green Cemetery, Phillimore, 2002
Websites: The cemetery; the community (The Kensal Green Directory)

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

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