Who’s who: Kensington and Chelsea’s most famous residents


Any visit to the Kensington and Chelsea area simply isn’t complete without a stroll around the elegant streets, lined as they are by terraces of expensive homes – many of them owned and lived in by the rich and famous. But just whose pad might you be passing on a walk around this most esteemed of London areas (perhaps after enjoying an Indian afternoon tea London at one of the Lancaster Gate restaurants)…?

Eric Clapton

The guitarist supreme – and, at-different-times, member of the bands Traffic, Cream and Derek and the Dominoes – calls a pad in Chelsea his home (or at least, it’s one of his homes, no doubt). He’s been inducted into the United States’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame multiple times and has had more hit tunes than hot dinners.

Rowan Atkinson

Known today to millions of TV and film fans around the world as Mr Bean and Johnny English he may be, but the versatile comic thesp that’s Rowan Atkinson cut his teeth in the current and historical satires that were Not Were the Nine O’Clock News and Blackadder, respectively, and he chose the elegance of – and not a little historically resonant – district of Kensington to settle in.

James Dyson

For some reason, Dyson – the inventor of the vacuum cleaner that not only is a bagless device but has also gone on to become an utter style icon around the world, prefers not to have carpets in his Chelsea home. Go figure, huh? (Don’t worry, we can definitely assure you you’ll find there are carpets at the Park Grand Lancaster Gate, should you wish to stay with us!)

Sir Richard Branson

Although the owner of the Virgin brand (and all its subsidiary companies; airlines, trains, mobile phones and, yes, still the iconic record label) is famous nowadays for owning the entirety of Necker Island – located in the British Virgin Islands – the legendary entrepreneur who started his empire by opening an independent London record shop way back when still owns an impressive abode in Kensington.

Sir Evelyn de Rothschild

The big cheese of the now 190-year-old N M Rothschild and Sons banking firm and patriarch of the British branch of the Rothschild family, Sir Evelyn may well have homes in both the United States and France – as you’d expect from such an old-school moneyed and cosmopolitan aristo – but his Kensington home is where he lays his hat when he’s in Blighty.

John Fredriksen

Recorded to worth a rather staggering £860 million, the oil and shipping magnate who owes his fortune to not least what’s beneath – and still being uncovered from beneath – the North Sea, may hail from Norway but, at one point, apparently spent £40 million to renovate his Chelsea home. He also owns a private jet, helicopter and yacht and likes to dabble is racehorse ownership. Like you do.

Charles Saatchi

The renowned advertising executive and founder of the contemporary art gallery in Chelsea that bears his name, Charles Saatchi’s own art collection – in part, to be found and discovered in said gallery – includes works by the iconic Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin. Of course, given he lives locally, should he ever want to check out the art he owns that’s on public display it wouldn’t exactly be a great effort – he could just take a short-ish stroll to the Saatchi Gallery.

Paul Smith

This hugely revered fashion designer may have started out in the rag trade via a small outlet in 1970s Nottingham, but nowadays the trendsetter – whose company owns and runs 250 shops globally – calls a Kensington mansion home.

Finally, some very famous names have played a hand in the establishment of the area of Kensington, historically speaking and – as they’ve done so – lived here as well. The area gets its name from the original Medieval manor of Kensington, one of many hundred granted by King William the Conqueror to his advisor, the Norman bishop, Geoffrey de Montbray.

He, in turn, granted the manor’s tenancy to one Aubrey de Vere I, whose ancestors inherited the manor (and its surrounding land) as the years past, and owing the de Veres becoming Earls of Oxford, the manor itself became colloquially referred to as ‘Earl’s Court’, from which, of course, the small district adjacent to Kensington (famed for its exhibition venue) took its name.