The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 13 Chelsea


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13. CHELSEA. STATIONS. Sloane Square, on the District Railway, is the nearest station to Chelsea Hospital. Chelsea and Fulham, on the West London Extension Railway (from Addison Road), is not near the interesting parts of Chelsea. OMNIBUSES. Nos. 11 and 39 (from Victoria Station), 19 and 22 (from Hyde Park Corner), 31 and 49, (from Kensington). - TRAMWAYS. Nos. 32 and 34. Chelsea is a district to be explored on foot, and the most interesting approach to it is from Chelsea Embankment. A pleasant residential suburb of London, with many interesting old mansions and many more or less picturesque modern houses of red brick, it extends for about 1+ miles along the north bank of the Thames, to the west of Pimlico. Its more interesting part is bounded (roughly) on the north by King's Road. From the 16th century onward it has been the residence of many eminent persons, and to this day it is the home of numerous artists and plumes itself upon its literary, artistic, and somewhat Bohemian atmosphere. The name Chelsea is very variously spelled in ancient documents and is variously explained as meaning 'chalk wharf,' 'gravel island,' or 'shelves of sand.' About 1524, or a little earlier, Sir Thomas More settled here with his large household in a mansion afterwards known as Beaufort House, and here he was visited by Erasmus and Holbein. More's example was followed by many noblemen, and in 1536 Henry VIII. himself acquired the manor of Chelsea and built a palatial new manor-house. In this new house Princess (afterwards Queen) Elizabeth seems to have spent the interval between her mother's death and her father's (1536-47), and here Anne of Cleves, Henry's fourth wife, died in 1557. Lord Howard of Effingham, conqueror of the Spanish Armada, was a later tenant of the house (circa 1585). After the Restoration, Chelsea became a gay and fashionable resort, much patronized by Charles II. and his court and all through the 18th century it had many distinguished residents. Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), the physician whose collections were the nucleus of the British Museum, bought the manor in 1712 and subsequently the greater part of the parish, though he did not take up his abode in Chelsea until about 1742. His name is commemorated in Sloane St., Sloane Square, Hans Place, etc. Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), the 'Sage of Chelsea,' lived in Cheyne Row from 1834 till his death. Turner (born 1775), the great landscape-painter, died in Chelsea in 1851, but its vogue as a painters' quarter is connected with names of a later date, such as D. G. Rosseiti (1828-82), J. McN. Whistler (1834-1903), J. S. Sargent (1856-1925), and Mr. Augustus John.