The district of Kennington is south of the River Thames in the borough of Lambeth. It is Historic Kennington owing to its royal connections reaching back to Saxon and medieval times (its name means the ‘Kings Town’).
Kennington was the location of the palace of the Black Prince, eldest son of King Edward III, in the fourteenth century. The Black Prince also took the title the ‘Prince of Wales’. He was a national hero for leading decisive victories over the French at the battles of Crecy (1346) and Poitiers (1356). The Black Prince died, at the Palace of Westminster, before inheriting the Crown due to an infection possibly contracted whilst on a military campaign in Spain. Today, Prince Charles (as the reigning Prince of Wales) still possesses a number of streets and squares in Kennington that were part of the Black Prince’s estate and are now part of the Duchy of Cornwall*.
Start the walk at the Oval tube station. Across the road is St Marks Church, built in 1824. The church stands at the junction of two former Roman roads (each heading to the south coast) and on the site of a public gallows; infamously used to execute 21 Jacobite supporters taken there from Culloden in 1746.
Cross over into nearby Kennington Park (formerly Kennington Common); the location of a number of social reform rallies in the 1840’s. The so called ‘Chartists’ called for a new charter of social and voting reforms. They were eventually successful – in most of their demands – but not until 1918. The major rally of April 1848, was attended by more than 25,000 people and was heavily policed. It was peaceful but resulted in the Common being enclosed and taken over by (what is today) local government. As a result cricket, that had been played on the common, moved to a nearby market garden and the ‘Oval Cricket Club’ was established.
Kennington took off as a residential area with the building of Westminster Bridge (1750) and Blackfriars Bridge (1770). The area offered country style living in close proximity to London and grand houses and squares were built along Kennington Park Road and Kennington Road. Cleaver Square, off Kennington Park Road, is a fine example of Georgian architecture built in 1789 and is the earliest residential square in south London.
Pass through Cleaver Square and you arrive at Kennington Cross. You are now at the centre of Historic Kennington and the former Black Prince’s estate. Also, at 287 Kennington Road is the childhood home of Charlie Chaplin and nearby is the Victorian (Gothic Revival) Durning Library.
Continue down Kennington Road and turn left into Black Prince Road, continue to the end, turn left and arrive at the Duchy Arms. Most of the property in this area belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall. It is rented to former employees of the Duchy of Cornwall and to former employees of the royal family.
*During the reign of King George III, all Crown land was exchanged for an annual allowance from the government. Today, this is called the Sovereign Grant (formerly the Civil List). Only two estates were retained by the monarch. These are the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall.
Another pub walk: