The Fascination of Chelsea: The Royal Hospital

Written by G. E. MITTON in 1902. Edited by Sir Walter Besant.

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Article · Battersea · SW3 · Contributed by The Underground Map
Royal Hospital, Chelsea

Written by G. E. MITTON in 1902. Edited by Sir Walter Besant.

Chelsea College originally stood on the site of the present Royal Hospital - and was founded by Matthew Sutcliffe, Dean of Exeter in 161O, as a school for polemical discussion. It was nicknamed by Laud " Controversy College." King James I called it after himself, and gave all the timber required for building purposes from Windsor Forest free of charge - and - according to the manner of Princes in those days - issued royal letters inciting his subjects to contribute to his own scheme. Sutcliffe spent £3000 on the portion of the building which was completed. The original intention was to have two large quadrangles ornamented by towers and cloisters - but only one eighth of this was ever completed - one side only of the first quadrangle - " which/’ remarks Fuller, " made not of free stone, though of free timber, cost - oh the deamess of church and college work ! - full three thousand pounds !"

An Act of Parliament - secured by the King as an endowment for the college - empowered the authorities to raise water from the Hackney Marshes to supply the City of London ; but this was rendered useless by the success of Sir Hugh Middleton’s scheme for supplying London with water in the same year. The constitution of the college included a Provost and twenty Fellows, of whom eighteen were to be in Holy Orders. Dean Matthew Sutcliffe himself was the first Provost. In 1616 the building stopped altogether for want of funds.

The King issued a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury exhorting him to stir up the clergy to incite the people to contribute. This had little effect. Probably collections then going on for repairs at St. Paul’s militated against it. Sutcliffe died in 1628, leaving to the College four farms in Devonshire, the benefit of an extent on Sir Lewis Stukeley’s estate, valued at between three and four thousand pounds, a share in the Great Neptune (a ship at Whitby), a tenement at Stoke Rivers, his books and goods in the College, and part of his library at Exeter, all subject to the proviso *’ that the work of the college be not hindered."

In 1669 the King presented the buildings to the newly-incorporated Royal Society, but they were in such a ruinous condition that the society could make no use of them, and after thirteen years resold the site to Sir Stephen Fox, for the use of the King. The buildings were then destroyed to make way for the present Royal Hospital.


The solid and yet harmonious building designed by Sir Christopher Wren is the nucleus of Chelsea. Indeed, the inhabitants locally call the hospital itself " Chelsea." In all prints later than the end of the seventeenth century the central cupola rising above the two great wings forms a conspicuous landmark. In the days of William and Mary the gardens sloping down to the Thames were laid out in the stiff, formal Dutch style Canals, in the shape of a capital L, with the foot reaching to the river, intersected prim gardens, and rows of little limes, pollarded like willows, edged the banks. It was only in 1852 that these canals were finally filled in, and the limes transplanted in the avenue bordering Ranelagh Gardens, where they still flourish. The Court favourite of Charles II., Nell Gwynne, whose name is strongly associated with Chelsea, is said to have suggested the idea of this home for aged and infirm soldiers. Evelyn evidently considers the merit to belong to Sir Stephen Fox, who certainly was a great benefactor. It has been suggested that the latter persuaded the favourite to use her influence with the King - which seems probable. The idea, at all events - commended itself to Charles - who accordingly set about getting his subjects’ money to carry it out He gave £6,787 odd from unsupplied secret service money. To this, Tobias Rustat, an under-keeper of the Royal Palace of Hampton Court, and yeoman of the robes to Charles H., described by Evelyn as " page of the back stairs, a very simple, ignorailt, but honest and loyal creature," contributed £1,000. However simple this man was, his simplicity manifested itself in a commendable direction. He is said to have given away his whole fortune in charity. It is to him we owe the statue of Charles H. in Roman dress which stands in the centre of the Hospital court. This statue is made of bronze, and there is a companion one of James H., a gift from the same benefactor, in Whitehall. Walpole attributes one of these to Grinling Gibbons, but which one is uncertain.

Sir Stephen Fox had been faithful to King Charles II. during his exile, and at the Restoration he received the reward of his services. He sat in the House of Commons from then until his death, twice representing Westminster. He was made Paymaster-General of the Forces and one of the Lords of the Treasury. He seems to have been an active-minded man, with considerable business propensity. He devised a scheme for paying the troops out of his private purse - and leaving a certain percentage on them for the convenience. As the pay of the army was much in arrears - and at all times irregular - this arrangement was thankfully accepted. The King saw in it the germ of an idea by which he might raise money for the Hospital. Accordingly, in 1683 he directed by letters of Privy Seal that one third of the money raised by imposing a poundage on the troops should go to the Hospital. He also added a clause to the effect that this was to be retrospective, to take effect from 1681. Hence the first haul amounted to over £20,000. Emboldened by success, Charles in the following year added to his demands one day’s pay from every man in the army.

But the building of the Hospital was more expensive than he had anticipated. It cost altogether £150,000, and when finished it would need an endowment. Charles had, therefore, recourse to the Stuart device of stirring up the people to give, by means of letters to the clergy, but without result, and in 1686 he directed that two-thirds of the army poundage should go to the continuance of the building, and finally that the whole should be devoted to this purpose after deductions for necessary expenses.

James II. carried on the design of his predecessor during his short reign - but the buildmg was not completed until 1694, under William and Mary. Sir Stephen Fox became chairman of the first Board of Commissioners, an office which has been ever since attached to the Paymaster-Generalship.

Some legacies have been bequeathed to the Hospital since the foundation, and various sums of unclaimed prize-money were also applied to this object, amounting in the aggregate to nearly £600,000. The income at present drawn from the above sources is a mere trifle in comparison with the expenditure, only amounting to little over £3,000 yearly.

The building - which is wonderfully well adapted for its object, being, in fact, a barracks, and yet a permanent home - was, when completed, just as it is at present, without the range of outbuildings in which are the Secretary’s offices, etc., and one or two outbuildings which were added in the beginning of the present century. The out-pensioners were not included in the original scheme, but when the building was ready for occupation, it was round that nearly one hundred applicants must be disappointed owing to want of room. These men received, accordingly, a small pension while waiting for vacancies. From this small beginning has sprung an immense army of out-pensioners in all parts of the world, including natives who have served with the British flag, and the roll contains 84,500 names. The allowances vary from 5s. to l -d. a day, the latter being paid to natives. The usual rate is about 1s. for a private, and 2s. 6d. for a sergeant. The in-pensioners, of whom 540 are at Chelsea and 150 at the sister hospital of Kilmainham in Ireland, receive sums varying from one shilling to a penny a day for tobacco money, and are " victualled, lodged, and clothed " in addition. They have rations of cocoa and bread-and-butter for breakfast ; tea and bread-and-butter in the evening ; mutton for dinner five days in the week, beef one day, and beef or bacon the remaining one. The allowance of meat is thirteen ounces, and the bread one pound, per diem. Besides this they have potatoes and pudding. They are clothed in dark blue in the winter, the coats being replaced by scarlet ones in the summer. Peaked caps are worn
usually, and cocked hats with full dress. H. Herkomer’s picture " The Last Muster " is too well known to need more than a passing comment. The scene it represents is enacted every Sunday in the Hospital at Chelsea. Twenty thousand men have ended their days peacefully in the semi-military life which in their long service has become second nature to them, and 500,000 have passed through the list of out-pensioners.

The establishment is now kept up by annual Parliamentary grants - of which the first vote, for £550, was passed in 1703. Up to 1873 sums varying from £50,000 to £100,000 were voted annually, but these were embodied with the army votes. Since that year the Hospital grants have been recorded separately. They amount to three and three-quarter millions, but part of this is repaid by the Indian Government in consideration of the men who have served in the Indian Army. In 1833 the levies from the poundage of the army ceased.

The annual expenditure of the Hospital now equals £1,800,000, and 98 per cent, of this goes to the out-pensioners. In 1894 the question was raised as to whether the money now supplied to the in-pensioners could not be better used in increasing the amount of the out-pensions. A committee was appointed to ’’inquire into the origin and circumstances attending the formation of Chelsea and Kilmainham, and whether their revenues could not be more advantageously used for the benefit of the army." Numbers of the old soldiers themselves, as well as the Governor and all the Hospital officials, were examined. One or two of the old men seemed to imagine that they would prefer a few pence a day to spend as they pleased instead of shelter and food, but the majority were decisive in their opinion that on no attainable pension could they be so comfortable as they were at present Consequently the committee embodied their resolution in the following words : " That no amount of increased pension that it would be practicable to give would enable the men to be cared for outside the Hospital as they are cared for at present."

The life led by the old men is peculiar - partaking as it does somewhat of a military character. The side-wings of the Hospital, built of red brick faced with stone, and darkened by age, are 360 feet in length and four stories in height. Each story contains one ward, which runs the whole length of the wing. The wide, shallow old staircase, the high doors, the wainscot, are all of oak coloured by age. The younger men and the least infirm occupy the highest wards, which look out upon the quadrangles by means of windows on the roof. Each ward contains about five-and-twenty men, including two sergeants, who have rather larger apartments than the rest, one at each end. An open space, like the between-decks of a ship, occupies half the longitudinal space, and the other half is partitioned off into separate cubicles containing a bed and a box, and these are open at the top and into the room. There is a large stove and one or two high-backed settles in each ward. Here the old fellows sit and smoke and warm up any food they have reserved from the last meal. One or two have attempted to furnish their cubicles with pictures cut from the illustrated papers, but they do not seem to care much, as a rule, for anything but warmth and a pipe.

All the Waterloo veterans have died out, but Crimea and Indian Mutiny men there are in plenty. At each end of the wings are the staircases, which lead into passage halls. At the extreme end of the eastern wing is the Governor’s house, built in exactly the same style as the rest of the wing, and looking like part of it.

In the Governor’s house there is a magnificent state-room, 37 feet in length and 27 in width. It has the immense height of 27 feet, occupying two complete stories. The effect of height within the room is, however, diminished by a cornice which projects quite a foot all round, about two-thirds of the way up. The ceiling, which has been frequently alluded to by writers on Chelsea, but never fully described, has an immense oval in the centre, surrounding a circle of acorns and oak-leaves, from the middle of which the chandelier is suspended. On either side of this are two smaller circles, containing the letters G.R. and C.R. intertwined. The oval does not quite touch the walls of the room, and at either end there are the letters J.R., surrounded by a semicircular device of leaves, surmounted by a crown. At each side of the oval are the national arms. In every one of the four comers is a wreath of roses, passion-flowers, and fruit in very heavy relief, and the interstices are filled by guns, arms, and accoutrements. The proportions of the room may be best understood by the statement that there are three windows at the end and four at the sides. The walls are all panelled and disfigured by hideous light pink paint, done, probably, in the same period of taste when an attempt was made to whitewash the statue of bronze in the court to make it look like marble ! This disfigurement extends even to the magnificent trophy of arms and accoutrements carved round the great mirror over the mantelpiece, and, of course, supposed to be the work of the great Gibbons. The fireplace and mantelpiece are of white marble, with an inner setting of veined marble. The edges of many of the panels on the walls are also carved. The magnificent series of pictures give character and dignity to the room. Occupying almost two-thirds of the north end is an oil-painting of King Charles I. and his family, by Vandyck, in l632. There is a mournful expression on all the faces, even those of the two small children in the front. On the east wall, on one side of the fireplace, are large oil-paintings of George III. and his consort, Caroline, by Allan Ramsay ; and on the other a copy of Winterhalter’s picture of Queen Victoria as Empress of India - by Hanson Walker, R.A.

Between the southern windows are portraits of King James II. and King Charles II., by Sir Godfrey Kneller and Sir Peter Lely respectively. As the windows are set very deeply in the walls, the light is bad, and these magnificent pictures are not seen to advantage. Occupying similar positions on the west are life-size portraits of George I., by Sir Godfrey Kneller ; George II. and his consort, Caroline, by Enoch Seeman. Thus the fair, placid Caroline smiles down from the wall not many hundred yards from the house where she so often came to consult with the potent Sir Robert Walpole on the affairs of the nation and the liaisons of the King.

All the pictures in the room are the official property of successive Governors. The last three mentioned were bequeathed by William Evans in 1739. We can pass from this room through the vestibule, and along the wards, and thus reach the central wing, and pass under the colonnade into the hall beneath the cupola, without once going into the outer air. From this central hall open off the chapel and great hall on the east and west sides respectively. In this central hall it is possible to look right up into the hollow interior of the cupola at an immense height Both hall and chapel are considerably raised above the ground-level - and are reached by a flight of steps. They are of the same dimensions - 108 feet by 37 feet - but, as the roof of the hall is flat, and that of the chapel hollowed out, the former looks much larger.

In the ’ History of the Diocese of London ’ Newcourt gives the following quotation from the Bishop of London’s Registry : ’ The chappel of this Hospital (which is a very large and stately one, as is also the hall, which is of the same dimensions) is 108 feet long, and 37 feet and 9 inches wide . . . consecrated by the Right Reverend Father in God, Henry, Lord Bishop of London, on Sunday, August 30, 1691.* The prelate here referred to was Bishop Compton.

The chapel is paved with black and white marble, and all the fittings and wainscoting are of oak. The altar-rails and the side of the wainscot compartments are carved by Grinling Gibbons. Over the altar is an immense painting, made to fit the apse-like end. It represents the Resurrection, and was executed by Sebastian Ricci. The altar itself is heavy and ugly - a great oak canopy supported by Corinthian columns in oak. The feature of the chapel is, however, the number of standards which are suspended from either wall all down the nave. The greater number were transferred here from the Chapel Royal, Whitehall, and India House, by order of King William IV., in 1835. Captain J. Ford - to whose laborious and painstaking work is due the record of the tombstones in the old burial-ground - made also a list of these flags - and drawings of those recognisable. This collection was purchased by Queen Victoria, who caused it to be made into a book - and presented it to the Hospital, adding an autograph inscription. The flags are chiefly American and French. There are also several French eagles and some native Indian flags. On the latter the mark of a hand, supposed by the natives to be the impress of their chiefs hand, recorded by supernatural agency, can be clearly seen. Every Sunday all the veterans who are not disabled by ill-health or infirmity take their places in the body of the chapel, almost filling it. Visitors and the Hospital officials sit in transverse pews of an old-fashioned shape, which run down the sides of the walls. The organ, presented by Major Ingram in 1691- 92, is in a gallery at the west end, and immediately beneath the gallery on the right-hand side is the Governor’s pew.

The Chaplain is the Rev. J. H. S. Moxley. The service is short and simple, and at its conclusion the old men all march out together before the visitors leave. The service of plate presented by James II. is valued at £500. It includes three flagons, four chalices, six salvers, and a pair of candlesticks, all of silver-gilt After service dinner is the order of the day - and a visit to the kitchens - fitted with all the latest modem improvemeuts - is necessary. It does not seem as if the regimen were very strictly adhered to. Great savoury
pies of mutton and kidney - roast sirloin - and roast pork, with baked potatoes, are allotted to the various messes, to be followed by steaming plum-puddings.

The men do not dine in hall, as they used to do, but those who are on orderly duty wait there to receive the rations, and then carry them up to their comrades in the wards to be divided. The messes vary in number; some contain eight, some ten, some even fourteen. On either side of the central gangway in the hall are tables where the old men can sit and smoke, and play dominoes, cards, and bagatelle. There is a raised daifs at the western end, in the centre of which, facing the door, is a bust of Queen Victoria, and right across the end of the room, and continuing for the width of the dais, on the sides is an immense allegorical painting of Charles II., with the Hospital in the background. This was executed by Antonio Verrio and Henry Cooke. All round the panels of the hall hang portraits of military commanders, with the dates and names of the battles in which they have taken prominent parts. These were collected by a former Governor of the Hospital, General Sir J. L. Pennefather, G.C.B. Above them are other standards tattered beyond recognition and hanging mournfully over the heads of the men below. At the east end is a large painting of the Duke of Wellington in allegorical style. The court-martial on the conduct of General Whitelock was held in this hall ; here the Duke of Wellington lay in state for seven days from the 10th to the 17th of November, 1852; and several courts of inquiry have been held. For some years it was used as a place of examination for military candidates, but this was rightly considered to be an abuse, and was discontinued in 1869* Formerly a dining-room, the hall is now a recreation-room, and must be a great boon to those whose wards lie up four flights of stairs.

Passing down the steps, through the vestibule, and under the colonnade on the south front, we see two monuments to the men of the Birkenhead and the Europa, The loss of the former in 1852 has often been quoted as an heroic instance of self-command ; when the ship struck, the men went dovm standing shoulder to shoulder as if on parade. Their names are al inscribed here. The Europa was burnt at sea, and the twelve private soldiers who lost their lives with it are here also commemorated. There are other memorials, brasses, and a marble slab, to the memory of various officers. But the most striking monument, in the centre of the grounds, near the Embankment gate, is that of the Battle of Chillianwallah - at which nearly 30 officers and more than 700 privates were killed. The monument takes the form of a great obelisk - with the names inscribed on the sides. Two of the guns which stand beside it were captured on the same occasion. A little higher up, between the bronze Charles and the Chillianwallah obelisk, is a cross to commemorate 243 officers and privates who were killed in suppressing the Sepoy Mutiny. The veterans are thus surrounded by a halo of gallant deeds ; on every hand the memory of their comrades in arms greets them.

Further on down the colonnade we pass west-ward, through the west wing, to a continuation of the main building, in which is the library. This faces the next court, which, like the east, is filled in the centre with evergreen shrubs. The library contains 4,000 volumes, including Captain Ford’s Manuscripts. There are two rooms, and here the men can see the daily papers, which are afterwards passed on into the great hall. In the west court is the Chaplain’s house, and immediately across the road is the infirmary. In 1808 it was suggested
that an infirmary for the pensioners should be established, and for this purpose the Commissioners fixed upon Sir Robert Walpole’s old house, which was conveniently near. The land on which this stands was leased to William Jephson in l687 for sixty-one years. Some years later the lease was passed on to Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford, who lived here in 1707. Apparently he assigned it to Sir Richard Gough, who paid the rent from 1714 to 1719. In 1723 Sir Robert Walpole, the great statesman who virtually ruled England for more than twenty years, became the lessee. He had had some connection with the Hospital since 1714, when he had been made Paymaster-General, and had held a seat on the Board of Commissioners by virtue of his office. His influence in the reign of George II. still continued, and while the King was absent on the Continent, Walpole House was the seat of power in the kingdom. Here came office-seekers and busy flatterers. L’Estrange says " it was thought remarkably convenient that state documents should only have to travel from Chelsea to Kensington Palace."

The grottos, which, according to the fashion of the time, were built in the garden, and richly decorated, must have seen some interesting sights. One in which Queen Caroline was royally entertained in 1729 was taken down in 1795. The entertainment was extremely sumptuous. The last of these grottos disappeared only when the Embankment was being made. In 1741 the Minister retired with the title of Earl of Orford, which afterwards descended to his well-known son, Horace, and a pension of £4,000 a year.

The house afterwards passed through the hands of John, Earl of Dunmore, and George Aufrere, and we find it in 1796 assigned to Charles, Lord Yarborough, who was living here in 1808. The building being then required by the Hospital, he consented to give up the remainder of his lease, a period of seventeen years, upon compensation being paid to the amount of £4,775 15s. Sir John Soane, the architect, who had all through been strongly in favour of adding on to Walpole House instead of purchasing new ground, designed the necessary additions. The building, like the Hospital itself, consists of two wings, east and west, abutting out from a connecting flank, with a vestibule in the front. The eastern wing is Walpole House. The room which was originally the dining-room is now one of the wards, and contains eight beds. It is strange to see the worn, homely faces of the infirm pensioners, in contrast with the magnificent white marble mantelpiece and the finely moulded ceiling. The connecting wing holds the Matron s room in addition to the wards. The patients suffer from the complaints of old age, rheumatism, blindness, paralysis ; few of them are permanently in the infirmary, and with the season of the year the numbers vary. In the summer it is found possible to close one ward entirely. There is a staff of nurses, and the old men are well looked after. Besides Walpole House, it was considered advisable to have a supplementary infirmary. So when the lease of Gordon House fell in, it was adapted for the purpose. It stands in the south-west corner of the grounds, about 150 yards from the infirmary, and will be familiar to those who visited the Military and Naval Exhibitions, at which period it was used as a refreshment-house. The first recorded lease of the land on which it was built was in 1690.

The charity is directed by Royal Commissioners, who include representatives of the War Office, Horse Guards, Treasury, and the Hospital itself, through its Governor and Lieutenant-Governor.

The Governor is Sir Henry Norman. The officers who reside at the Hospital, under the authority of the Governor, are : Mayor and Lieutenant-Governor ; six Captains of Invalids ; Adjutant ; Quartermaster ; Chaplain ; Physician and Surgeon ; Deputy Surgeon.

Besides these there is a large staff, including Matron, Dispenser, Organist, etc. The pensioners themselves are formed into six companies, and their pension varies according to their rank, from the colour-sergeants at a shilling a day to privates of the third rank at a penny. The grounds of the Hospital were originally only twenty- eight acres, but have been added to by purchase from time to time ; they now amount to between sixty and seventy. A portion in the south-western corner was let on building leases not long ago.

The large open space exactly opposite to the Hospital - on the north side of the Queen’s Road - is known as Burton’s Court. How it came by the name is a matter of doubt. In Hamilton’s Survey it is called College Court. Lysons refers to it as follows : " To the north of the college is an enclosure of about thirteen acres, planted with avenues of limes and horse-chestnuts." Its dimensions have since been reduced by the land given up to the parish for road-making. In 1888 it was decided to allow the soldiers quartered at the adjacent barracks to use it as a recreation-ground. Through the centre of it runs an avenue of trees in direct continuation from the Hospital gates. This opens on to St. Leonard’s Terrace in two fine iron gates with stone pillars, surmounted by military arms in stone. Beyond these gates, still in the same straight line, runs the Royal Avenue, formerly known as White Stiles. It is mentioned very early in the Hospital records, payments for masonry and carpentry work being noted in 1692 Faulkner repeats a tradition to the effect that Queen Anne intended to have extended this avenue right through to the gates of the palace at Kensington, and was only prevented from carrying it out by her death. At present the avenue intersected by Queen’s Road and St. Leonard’s Terrace is disjointed and purposeless.

Source: The Fascination of Chelsea

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Ann Fraser
Ann Fraser   
Added: 19 Apr 2018 13:26 GMT   
Post by Ann Fraser: Broughton Street, SW8

I have been doing some family research and have found 4 plus addresses family lived in from 1901 onwards, 43 Broughton Street 1901 census, Edward P Pritchard, Wife Harriet and children Helen, Frederick, Alice & Albert. Also in 1920 Edward & Harriet Pritchard also registered Alfred & Alice Mantell. 60 Broughton St 1920 Helen Harriet and Alfred De La Porte (Helen Pritchard). Also Alice Pritchard shown born 1888 in Montifore Street and later at No. 40 Broughton Street. Plus 1A Emu Road Emily & Frederick Pritchard and daughter Peggy (Margaret Helen Pritchard). Emily was there until 1977 when she died. The area was known as Park Town. I used to live in North Street, SW4 in the 1980s, now over in Wandsworth.

Gerry m lee
Gerry m lee   
Added: 10 Feb 2018 17:39 GMT   
Post by Gerry m lee: Stormont Road, SW4

I lived iin 6 Stormont Road Lavender Hill Battersea from 1939 to 1964. My mother was a widow. I have one brother. The rent in 1939 would have been ten shillings a week. If ant one reads this, I now live in Vancouver Canada and my e-mail address is and I went on line to try and find out what 6 Stormont sold for when it was built. The houses Nos. 6 4 8 12 etc to the corner where Marney Road starts were in my opinion protected during the war years, by a very large spiral church next door but one to number 4 and I am no religious. I went to school from five years old to Wix?s Lane. If this is read, please send a reply, and thank you.

KC Alexander
KC Alexander   
Added: 23 Jan 2018 15:07 GMT   
Post by KC Alexander: Priory Grove, SW8

Lived in a two up two down until the age of 13.
Played on the bombsites (no health and safety then)
A Coal man Mr Bells lived in the road and kept his horse in a stable across the road from where he lived.
Fibre glass factory which made large figures etc for fairgrounds was down a mews which no longer exists.
Prefabs on the bend where Doreen, a friend of my mums lived with her two daughters.
Alan and Alex who?s mum and dad were also friends of my parents lived near the priory pub. the pub is now residential flats.
Alex was another boy who lived just a couple of doors along from me as was Colin.
The house was knocked down in 1964 and the site is now an adventure playground.
The only thing left I recognise is my old sycamore tree which grew in my garden which I could often be found climbing.

Never fell out of it !

Pauline jones
Pauline jones   
Added: 16 Oct 2017 19:04 GMT   
Post by Pauline jones: Bessborough Place, SW1V

I grew up in bessborough place at the back of our house and Grosvenor road and bessborough gardens was a fantastic playground called trinity mews it had a paddling pool sandpit football area and various things to climb on, such as a train , slide also as Wendy house. There were plants surrounding this wonderful play area, two playground attendants ,also a shelter for when it rained. The children were constantly told off by the playground keepers for touching the plants or kicking the ball out of the permitted area, there was hopscotch as well, all these play items were brick apart from the slide. Pollock was the centre of my universe and I felt sorry and still do for anyone not being born there. To this day I miss it and constantly look for images of the streets around there, my sister and me often go back to take a clumped of our beloved L

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Alec donaldson
Alec donaldson   
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Was there a Wellington street there

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The 1750 Rocque map is bounded by Sudbury (NW), Snaresbrook (NE), Eltham (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1750 map does not display.

The 1800 mapping is bounded by Stanmore (NW), Woodford (NE), Bromley (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1800 map does not display.

The 1830 mapping is bounded by West Hampstead (NW), Hackney (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Chelsea (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1830 map does not display.

The 1860 mapping is bounded by Brent Cross (NW), Stratford (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Hammermith (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1860 map does not display.

The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.


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The Fascination of Chelsea

The Fascination of Chelsea was a book published in 1902.

It was written by Geraldine E. Mitton. It was part of the "Fascination of London" series edited by Walter Besant and published posthumously in 1902 following his death the previous year.

The original publishers were Adam & Charles Black (London).

The Spectator published the following contemporary review: "The Fascination of London : Chelsea. By G. E. Mitten. Edited by Sir W. Besant. (A. and C. Black. ls. 6d. net.)—This volitme, one of four on the same scale and with substantially the same author; ship, Mr. Mitten collaborating with Sir W. Besant, or having his work supervised by him, is an earnest of the great work on the Metropolis which Sir W. Besant contemplated. Each parish was to be perambulated and made the subject of a small book, Chelsea being chosen as a specimen, with . Hampstead, Westminster, and the Strand district. This is a very pleasant little book, the work of.a competent observer, who knows what to look for and how to deal with what be finds. Of course there are omissions. Perhaps one might say that the Chelsea of this little book is too exclusively genteel. There is a riverside population of whom much that is curious might be told. Possibly we are to have a special volume dealing with the Thames. There is a useful map."



The name Chelsea, according to Faulkner and Lysons, only began to be used in the early part of the eighteenth century. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the place was known as Chelsey, and before that time as Chelceth or Chelchith. The very earliest record is in a charter of King Edward the Confessor, where it is spelt Cealchyth. In Doomsday Book it is noted as Cercehede and Chelched. The word is derived variously. Newcourt ascribes it to the Saxon word ceald, or cele, signifying cold, combined with the Saxon hyth, or hyd, a port or haven. Norden believes it to be due to the word "chesel" (ceosol, or cesol), a bank "which the sea casteth up of sand or pebble-stones, thereof called Cheselsey, briefly Chelsey, as is Chelsey (Winchelsea?) in Sussex." Skinner agrees with him substantially, deriving the principal part of the word from banks of sand, and the ea or ey from land situated near the water; yet he admits it is written in ancient records Cealchyth—"chalky haven." Lysons asserts that if local circumstances allowed it he would have derived it from "hills of chalk." Yet, as there is neither hill nor chalk in the parish, this derivation cannot be regarded as satisfactory. The difficulty of the more generally received interpretation—viz., shelves of gravel near the water—is that the ancient spelling of the name did undoubtedly end in hith or heth, and not in ea or ey.


The dividing line which separated the old parish of Chelsea from the City of Westminster was determined by a brook called the Westbourne, which took its rise near West End in Hampstead. It flowed through Bayswater and into Hyde Park. It supplied the water of the Serpentine, which we owe to the fondness of Queen Caroline for landscape gardening. This well-known piece of water was afterwards supplied from the Chelsea waterworks. The Westbourne stream then crossed Knightsbridge, and from this point formed the eastern boundary of St. Luke’s parish, Chelsea. The only vestige of the rivulet now remaining is to be seen at its southern extremity, where, having become a mere sewer, it empties itself into the Thames about 300 yards above the bridge. The name survives in Westbourne Park and Westbourne Street. The boundary line of the present borough of Chelsea is slightly different; it follows the eastern side of Lowndes Square, and thence goes down Lowndes Street, Chesham Street, and zigzags through Eaton Place and Terrace, Cliveden Place, and Westbourne Street, breaking off from the last-named at Whitaker Street, thence down Holbein Place, a bit of Pimlico, and Bridge Road to the river.

In a map of Chelsea made in 1664 by James Hamilton, the course of the original rivulet is clearly shown. The northern boundary of Chelsea begins at Knightsbridge. The north-western, that between Chelsea and Kensington, runs down Basil and Walton Streets, and turns into the Fulham Road at its junction with the Marlborough Road. It follows the course of the Fulham Road to Stamford Bridge, near Chelsea Station. The western boundary, as well as the eastern, had its origin in a stream which rose to the north-west of Notting Hill. Its site is now occupied by the railway-line (West London extension); the boundary runs on the western side of this until it joins an arm of Chelsea Creek, from which point the Creek forms the dividing line to the river.

The parish of Chelsea, thus defined, is roughly triangular in shape, and is divided by the King’s Road into two nearly equal triangles.

An outlying piece of land at Kensal Town belonged to Chelsea parish, but is not included in the borough.

The population in 1801 was 12,079. In the year 1902 (the latest return) it is reckoned at 73,842.

Bowack, in an account of Chelsea in 1705, estimates the inhabited houses at 300; they are now computed at 8,641.


The first recorded instance of the mention of Chelsea is about 785, when Pope Adrian sent legates to England for the purpose of reforming the religion, and they held a synod at Cealchythe.

In the reign of Edward the Confessor Thurstan gave Chilchelle or Chilcheya, which he held of the King, to Westminster Abbey. This gift was confirmed by a charter which is in the Saxon language, and is still preserved in the British Museum. Gervace, Abbot of Westminster, natural son of King Stephen, aliened the Manor of Chelchithe; he bestowed it upon his mother, Dameta, to be held by her in fee, paying annually to the church at Westminster the sum of L4. In Edward III.’s reign one Robert de Heyle leased the Manor of Chelsith to the Abbot and Convent of Westminster during his own lifetime, for which they were to make certain payments: "L20 per annum, to provide him daily with two white loaves, two flagons of convent ale, and once a year a robe of Esquier’s silk." The manor at that time was valued at L25 16s. 6d. The Dean and Chapter of Westminster hold among their records several court rolls of the Manor of Chelsea during the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II. With the exception that one Simon Bayle seems to have been lessee of the Manor House in 1455, we know nothing definite of it until the reign of Henry VII., after which the records are tolerably clear. It was then held by Sir Reginald Bray, and from him it descended to his niece Margaret, who married Lord Sandys. Lord Sandys gave or sold it to Henry VIII., and it formed part of the jointure of Queen Catherine Parr, who resided there for some time with her fourth husband, Lord Seymour.

Afterwards it appears to have been granted to the Duke of Northumberland, who was beheaded in 1553 for his attempt to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne. The Duchess of Northumberland held it for her life, and at her death it was granted to John Caryl, who only held it for a few months before parting with it to John Bassett, "notwithstanding which," says Lysons, "Lady Anne of Cleves, in the account of her funeral, is said to have died at the King and Quene’s majestys’ Place of Chelsey beside London in the same year."

Queen Elizabeth gave it to the Earl of Somerset’s widow for life, and at her death it was granted to John Stanhope, afterwards first Lord Stanhope, subject to a yearly rent-charge. It is probable that he soon surrendered it, for we find it shortly after granted by Queen Elizabeth to Katherine, Lady Howard, wife of the Lord Admiral. Then it was held by the Howards for several generations, confirmed by successive grants, firstly to Margaret, Countess of Nottingham, and then to James Howard, son of the Earl of Nottingham, who had the right to hold it for forty years after the decease of his mother. She, however, survived him, and in 1639 James, Duke of Hamilton, purchased her interest in it, and entered into possession. He only held it until the time of the Commonwealth, when it was seized and sold; but it seems that the purchasers, Thomas Smithby and Robert Austin, only bought it to hold in trust for the heirs of Hamilton, for in 1657 Anne, daughter and coheiress of the Duke of Hamilton, and her husband, Lord Douglas, sold it to Charles Cheyne. He bought it with part of the large dower brought him by his wife, Lady Jane Cheyne, as is recorded on her tombstone in Chelsea Church. Sir Hans Sloane in 1712 purchased it from the then Lord Cheyne. He left two daughters, who married respectively Lord Cadogan and George Stanley. As the Stanleys died out in the second generation, their share reverted by will to the Cadogans, in whom it is still vested.

Battersea:   Battersea is an area of the London Borough of Wandsworth, England. It is an inner-city district on the south side of the River Thames.
Blandel Bridge:   The bridge over the Westbourne at Sloane Square was called Blandel Bridge and was later renamed Grosvenor Bridge.
Burton Court:   
Metropolitan Borough of Battersea:   Battersea was a civil parish and metropolitan borough in the County of London.
River Westbourne outflow:   The River Westbourne flowed into the Thames at this point.
Shaftesbury Park Estate:   The 42 and a half acre Shaftesbury Park Estate was promoted as the Workmen’s City - widely seen as demonstrating a credible solution to the urban housing problem.
Sloane Square:   Sloane Square station was opened on 24 December 1868 by the Metropolitan District Railway when the company opened the first section of its line.
The Fascination of Chelsea:   The Fascination of Chelsea was a book published in 1902.
The Fascination of Chelsea: Ranelagh Gardens:   By G. E. MITTON (1902). Edited by Sir Walter Besant.
William Blake House :   The former Surrey Lane School is a three storey former London Board School by architect E. R. Robson which was completed in March 1885.

Abercrombie Street, SW11 · Acanthus Road, SW11 · Afghan Road, SW11 · Albany Mansions, SW11 · Albion Riverside, SW11 · Alexander Studios, SW11 · Alexandra Avenue, SW11 · Alfreda Street, SW11 · Althorpe Mews, SW11 · Anderson Street, SW3 · Anerley Street, SW11 · Anhalt Road, SW11 · Atherton Street, SW11 · Austin Road, SW11 · Balfern Street, SW11 · Banbury Street, SW11 · Batten Street, SW11 · Battersea Arena, SW11 · Battersea Arts Centre Old Town Hall, SW11 · Battersea Bridge Road, SW11 · Battersea Church Road, SW11 · Battersea High Street, SW11 · Battersea Park Road, SW11 · Battersea Square Vicarage Cresent, SW11 · Battersea Square, SW11 · Beechmore Road, SW11 · Benham Close, SW11 · Blacklands Terrace, SW3 · Blomfield Court, SW11 · Blondel Street, SW11 · Bolingbroke Walk, SW11 · Bourne Street, SW1W · Bray Place, SW3 · Bridge Lane, SW11 · Bridgend Road, SW18 · Bridges Court, SW11 · Broughton Street, SW11 · Broughton Street, SW8 · Brynmaer Road, SW11 · Bullen Street, SW11 · Burns Road, SW11 · Bywater Street, SW3 · Cabul Road, SW11 · Cadogan Gardens, SW3 · Cadogan Street, SW3 · Calico Row, SW11 · Cambridge Mansions, SW11 · Cambridge Road, SW11 · Candahar Road, SW11 · Candlemakers Studios, SW11 · Cantate Centre Parkfield Industrial Estate, SW11 · Cavalry Square, SW1W · Cavalry Square, SW3 · Caversham Street, SW3 · Charles II Place, SW3 · Charlotte Despard Avenue, SW11 · Charterhouse Works, SW18 · Chatfield Road, SW11 · Chelsea Embankment, SW3 · Cheltenham Terrace, SW3 · Chesney Street, SW11 · Cheyne Court, SW3 · Cheyne Place, SW3 · Cheyne Walk, SW3 · Christchurch Street, SW3 · Christchurch Terrace, SW3 · Cinnamon Row, SW11 · Cliveden Place, SW1W · Clove Hitch Quay, SW11 · Clover Mews, SW3 · Colestown Street, SW11 · Condray Place, SW11 · Coppock Close, SW11 · Coral Row, SW11 · Cotswold Mews, SW11 · Cotton Row, SW11 · Coulson Street, SW3 · Cranleigh Mews, SW11 · Culford Gardens, SW3 · Culvert Place, SW11 · Culvert Road, SW11 · Cupar Road, SW11 · Dagnall Street, SW11 · Darien Road, SW11 · Dilke Street, SW3 · Dovedale Studios, SW11 · Draycott Place, SW3 · Draycott Terrace, SW3 · Drca Business Centre Charlotte Despard Avenue, SW11 · Duke of York Square, SW1W · Duke Of York Square, SW3 · East Road, SW3 · Eaton Close, SW1W · Eaton Gate, SW1W · Eaton House, SW11 · Eaton Terrace, SW1W · Edna Street, SW11 · Elcho Street, SW11 · Eltringham Street, SW18 · Embankment Gardens, SW3 · Este Road, SW11 · Ethelburga Street, SW11 · Fairchild Close, SW11 · Falcon Grove, SW11 · Fawcett Close, SW11 · Fowler Close, SW11 · Fownes Street, SW11 · Foxmore Street, SW11 · Francis Chichester Way, SW11 · Franklins Row, SW3 · Freedom Street, SW11 · Frere Street, SW11 · Ganley Road, SW11 · Gartons Way, SW11 · Graham Terrace, SW1W · Grant Road, SW11 · Great Chart Street, SW11 · Great Eastern Wharf, SW11 · Grosvenor Cottages, SW1W · Gwynne Road, SW11 · Halsey Street, SW3 · Harpsden Street, SW11 · Heaver Road, SW11 · Henning Street, SW11 · Hester Road, SW11 · Hibbert Street, SW11 · Hicks Close, SW11 · Holbein Mews, SW1W · Holbein Place, SW1W · Holgate Avenue, SW11 · Home Road, SW11 · Hope Street, SW11 · Howie Street, SW11 · Hyde Lane, SW11 · Ingrave Street, SW11 · Inworth Street, SW11 · Ivory Square, SW11 · Joubert Mansions, SW3 · Joubert Street, SW11 · Jubilee Place, SW3 · Juer Street, SW11 · Juniper Drive, SW11 · Juniper Drive, SW18 · Kennard Street, SW11 · Kennet Close, SW11 · Kersley Mews, SW11 · Kersley Street, SW11 · Khyber Road, SW11 · Kiloh Court, SW11 · Kings Road, SW1W · Kite Yard, SW11 · Knowsley Road, SW11 · Latchmere Road, SW11 · Latchmere Street, SW11 · Lavender Road, SW11 · Lincoln Street, SW3 · Livingstone Road, SW11 · Lombard Road, SW11 · London Stone Business Estate, SW8 · Longhedge Street, SW11 · Lothair Street, SW11 · Lower Sloane Street, SW1W · Lucas Court, SW11 · Lurline Gardens, SW11 · Macduff Road, SW11 · Mandeville Courtyard, SW11 · Mantua Street, SW11 · Markham Street, SW3 · Maskelyne Close, SW11 · Matthews Street, SW11 · Maysoule Road, SW11 · McDermott Close, SW11 · Mendip Court, SW11 · Mendip Road, SW11 · Meyrick Road, SW11 · Millgrove Street, SW11 · Molasses Row, SW11 · Moore Street, SW3 · Musjid Road, SW11 · Nantes Close, SW11 · Nantes Close, SW18 · Newcomen Road, SW11 · Newtown Court, SW11 · Octavia Street, SW11 · Orbel Street, SW11 · Ormonde Gate, SW3 · Orville Road, SW11 · Paradise Walk, SW3 · Park South, SW11 · Parkfield Industrial Estate, SW11 · Parkgate Road, SW11 · Parkham Street, SW11 · Parkside Street, SW11 · Passmore Street, SW1W · Patience Road, SW11 · Paveley Drive, SW11 · Petergate, SW11 · Petworth Street, SW11 · Pier Terrace, SW18 · Pimlico Road, SW1W · Plantation Wharf, SW11 · Plough Road, SW11 · Poyntz Road, SW11 · Prince Of Wales Drive, SW11 · Radnor Walk, SW3 · Radstock Street, SW11 · Railway Arches, SW11 · Rainsome Dock, SW11 · Ralston Street, SW3 · Randall Close, SW11 · Ransomes Dock, SW11 · Ransomes Mews Great Eastern Wharf, SW11 · Ravenet Street, SW8 · Rawlings Street, SW3 · Rawson Street, SW8 · Redburn Street, SW3 · Reform Street, SW11 · Riverside Albert Wharf, SW11 · Riverside Plaza, SW11 · Robinson Street, SW3 · Rosemoor Street, SW3 · Rosenau Road, SW11 · Rowditch Lane, SW11 · Rowena Crescent, SW11 · Rowena Cresent, SW11 · Royal Avenue, SW3 · Royal Hospital Road, SW3 · Searles Close, SW11 · Sedding Street, SW1W · Sedding Street, SW1X · Shawfield Street, SW3 · Sheepcote Lane, SW11 · Shellwood Road, SW11 · Sherwood Court, SW11 · Shuttleworth Road, SW11 · Simpson Street, SW11 · Sloane Court East, SW1W · Sloane Court East, SW3 · Sloane Court West, SW3 · Sloane Gardens, SW1W · Sloane Square House, SW1W · Sloane Square, SW1W · Sloane Terrace, SW1X · Smith Street, SW3 · Smith Terrace, SW3 · Soudan Road, SW11 · South Bank Business Centre, SW11 · Southbank Business Centre, SW11 · Spice Court, SW11 · Square Rigger Row, SW11 · St James Court, SW11 · St. Leonard’s Terrace, SW3 · Stanmer Street, SW11 · Strasburg Road, SW11 · Sullivan Close, SW11 · Sunbury Lane, SW11 · Surrey Lane, SW11 · Swan Walk, SW3 · Symons Street, SW3 · Takhar Mews, SW11 · Tedworth Gardens, SW3 · Tedworth Square, SW3 · Terrace Walk, SW3 · The Court Yard Alexander Studios, SW11 · The Old Laundry Alexander Studios, SW11 · The Parkgate Road, SW11 · The Raven, SW11 · Thomas Baines Road, SW11 · Thorney Crescent, SW11 · Tite Street, SW3 · Tours Passage, SW11 · Trott Street, SW11 · Tryon Street, SW3 · Ursula Street, SW11 · Usk Road, SW11 · Vicarage Crescent, SW11 · Vicarage Walk, SW11 · Walpole Street, SW3 · Wandsworth Bridge, SW18 · Wandsworth Bridge, SW6 · Warriner Gardens, SW11 · Watford Close, SW11 · Wellington Square, SW3 · West Road, SW3 · West Road, SW5 · Westbridge Road, SW11 · Whistlers Avenue, SW11 · Whittaker Street, SW1W · Wilbraham Place, SW1X · Winders Road, SW11 · Winstanley Estate, SW11 · Winstanley Road, SW11 · Wolftencroft Close, SW11 · Woodfall Street, SW3 · Worfield Street, SW11 · Wye Street, SW11 · Wynter Street, SW11 · Yelverton Road, SW11 · York Mansions, SW11 · York Place, SW11 · York Road, SW11 · York Road, SW18 ·

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Cary's map provides a detailed view of London. With print date of 1 January 1818, Cary's map has 27 panels arranged in 3 rows of 9 panels, each measuring approximately 6 1/2 by 10 5/8 inches. The complete map measures 32 1/8 by 59 1/2 inches. Digitising this map has involved aligning the panels into one contiguous map.
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