The Garden Guide

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

Crosby Hall

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To the west of Danvers St., behind an ugly hoarding, is Crosby Hall, brought from Bishopsgate in 1910 and re-erected so far as possible with the careful retention of its most beautiful features, viz. the mullioned windows and handsome oriel and the magnificent 16th century oaken roof. The doorways and fireplace likewise belonged to the original structure. Crosby Hall was the great hall of Crosby Place, a mansion built in Bishopsgate in 1466 by Sir John Crosby, a London grocer and alderman, and occupied by the Duke of Gloucester (1483), later Richard III. Sir Thomas More, whose Chelsea garden once included the site on which the hall now stands, seems to have bought the house in 1523 for his friend Antonio Bonvisi but probably never occupied it, though William Roper, his son-in-law and biographer, did. In the 16th century the mansion was considered sumptuous enough to be the abode of various ambassadors. Sir John Spencer purchased it in 1594, and here the Countess of Pembroke, 'Sydney's sister, Pembroke's mother,' resided in 1609. Crosby Place was almost entirely destroyed by fire before the end of the 17th century, but the hall escaped to meet a chequered fate, finally becoming a restaurant. In 1908, when its site was required for a bank, the building was bought by the University and City Association of London. It may be visited on application at More's Garden, the large block of flats beside the bridge (visitors ring; gratuity). The British Federation of University Women proposes to use Crosby Hall as a clubhouse for women graduates of all nations, and to add a residential wing for forty students. BATTERSEA BRIDGE, an iron structure opened in 1890, with a central span 163 feet wide, crosses the river at the end of Beaufort Street. It replaces the picturesque old wooden bridge of 1771-72, which was a favourite subject with Whistler and other artists. Beaufort St. traverses the site of Sir Thomas More's famous house and grounds. The house later received the name of Beaufort House after the Dukes of Beaufort, who sold it to Sir Hans Sloane, by whom it was demolished in 1740. To the west of the bridge are several interesting old houses in Cheyne Walk, formerly Lindsey Row. Mrs. Gaskell (1810-65) was born at No. 93. Lindsey House, named after the Earl of Lindsey, the only 17th century mansion in Chelsea, is divided into Nos. 96-100. Joseph Bramah (died 1814), inventor of the Bramah lock, and the Brunels (died 1849 and 1859), engineers, lived here. Whistler lived at No. 96 for twelve years, during which the portraits of his mother and Carlyle were painted. No. 101 was his first abode in Chelsea (1863-67). At No. 118 (tablet by Walter Crane) J. M. W. Turner lived in anonymous retirement for about four years; he died in 1851 in the upper room the window of which is immediately below the wrought-iron railing placed by him on the roof. At No. 7 Hobury Street, a small street a little to the north, George Meredith wrote 'The Ordeal of Richard Feverel' (published in 1859). Near the top of Milman St., at 381 King's Road, is the old Moravian Cemetery, with the grave of Count Zinzendorf (died 1760). Beyond Cheyne Walk once lay Cremorne Gardens, opened in 1845 and closed in 1877, an inferior and less reputable copy of Ranelagh. Farther west, within the Imperial Gas Works, is the now dismantled Sandford Manor House, the residence at different periods of Nell Gwynn and Joseph Addison. Chelsea and Fulham Station lies between King's Road and Fulham Road. Fulham Road and hence to Fulham, see Walk 47.