On the south side of the River Thames, within walking distance of the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, lies Kennington. Primarily a residential area (and there are some very large, very expensive houses in this area – a five bed-roomed house could easily set you back over £2 million), the area has more to offer than you might think at first sight.
Just off of Kennington Lane is one of my favourite places, Cleaver Square, a Victorian Square with fabulous houses with equally fabulous price tags. In one corner of the square is a public house, The Prince of Wales, often frequented by a well known American actor/producer who has made his home in London. In the centre of the square is an area that was probably once grassed, but is now more pebbles, etc. – the pub will rent you Petanque sets and sell drinks in plastic tumblers so that on a sunny day, you can play a game or two and drink outside.
Kennington is well served by public transport into the centre of London – Kennington and Oval tube stations, Vauxhall and Lambeth North. There are also Vauxhall and Elephant and Castle mainline stations, as well a lot of buses to take you around
A Bit of History
Kennington has been here since at least the Eleventh Century, some of the properties here now are owned by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales – much of the area has been owned by royalty since the Fourteenth Century. A manor house was built in Kennington, which was a royal palace until the days of Henry VIII, when it was demolished. In 1768, the Massacre of St George’s Fields took place on what is now the site of the Imperial War Museum. (A riot started because someone called George Wilkes had written something unpleasant about the King, which didn’t go down too well in those days. As a result, seven people were killed.)
Kennington is the home of the famous Oval Cricket Ground (officially now called the “Kia Oval”), home of the Surrey County Cricket Club. Although officially a cricket ground, it hosted the first ever international football match.
Kennington Park was the first public park in South London. Although religious and other gatherings took place there, including anti-slave rallies in the late eighteenth century, it was also used for public executions. The Romans built a road, Stane Street, which ran from London Bridge to Chichester, in Sussex, and which runs through Kennington.
Places to Eat
Although the area might seem somewhat unlikely, there are some very good restaurants in the area. One of my favourites is Rebato’s in the South Lambeth Road, a Spanish Restaurant that has been there for about 25 years. If you aren’t fond of meat, they usually have a good selection of fresh fish. There are plenty of others in the area, read the reviews online to find something that suits you. As with elsewhere in London, there are a number of public houses, most of which serve food.