Here is an interesting story. The husband of a Queen feels neglected, comes up with a brilliant idea to increase his popularity, buys and sets up an entire region to set up his dream and indeed, tales of his accomplishments are recounted till today. Margaret, a Blue Badge guide from London Walks, led this walk on Sunday afternoon.
South Kensington is Albertopolis. What Queen Victoria was to most of the colonial world, Prince consort Albert was to SK. (One up for the feminists!). He built what was called the Crystal palace at Hyde Park which hosted a worldwide Science and Art exhibition to basically show off to the world (like always) what England could do. Where Soho was steamy, lively and sinful, SK is stately, elegant and well heeled. The Royal Albert Hall and Albert Memorial are both here. It also houses the Imperial college of London, Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, among others. There is also a Russian Cathedral – a lot of rich Russians immigrants live around the area. We were shouted at by one of their wives from her apartment balcony, “Stop talking about this apartment. Get away from here.” followed by our embarrassed laughter and quick beating of retreat.
SK is calm affluence, beautifully laid out and has loads of luxury apartments – almost a royal village. It’s the preferred abode of the newly rich. Look at the apartment above. This whole perpendicular structure is ONE apartment.
And London without architecture? This is SK special – the red and white. This is the Rector’s house next to the Imperial College.
Another story. Prince Albert died young, of Cholera from the palace drains (!). Queen Victoria commissioned the Albert memorial. Henry Cole, a close friend of Albert, suggested they build Albert hall, which was the Prince’s long time dream. But the Queen had already paid up for the memorial. So, Cole built the Hall himself and how did he raise the money for the hall? By selling seats for 30 pounds each. Queen Victoria purchased a few herself. This is the hall where the royal box is ACTUALLY royal.