It is a pleasure to record, in this, the eighth publication of the London Survey, so interesting a place as Sandford Manor, on the borders
of Fulham and Chelsea, and thus appropriately to revive the Committee's work, dormant now for three years owing to the long illness
and subsequent death of its secretary, Mr. Ernest Godman.
In Sandford Manor House we have, still spared to us, a quiet and well–proportioned building of the 17th century, which, both from its architectural merit, and the picturesque mingling of history and tradition
connected with it, is well worthy of a monograph. With regard to it
Mr. Webb has, we feel sure, examined all available sources of information. We can hardly say that he has been able to find new evidence relating to the supposed association of the house with two noteworthy personages otherwise as far as the poles asunder, namely, Nell Gwyn and
Joseph Addison. On the other hand he has not disproved the statements
connecting them with it that have passed almost unchallenged for several
generations. In the neighbourhood of what was once the "village of
palaces," which is so steeped in memories of the past, there is perhaps
more justification than elsewhere for giving ear to the statements that
have been locally handed down by oral tradition. Those of us who dwell
in Chelsea or Fulham are strongly affected by tradition. Our regard
for the Spectator and our affection for "pretty witty Nelly," tell as
weightily on us as similar feelings told on our predecessors. In short,
we will not give her up if we can possibly help it, and we insist on the
fact that the poet and essayist, if never actually domiciled in the dwelling to which this paper is devoted, at least dwelt hard by and knew it
There is some satisfaction in being able to tell our readers that Sandford
Manor House is apparently in no immediate danger of demolition, but
we fear that it is only respited, and the rapid changes that are transforming all the district in which it stands, bring home to us the sad necessity
of such a work as ours.
The last remains of Paradise Row, with its charming associations, have
been destroyed during the present year, and in the quite recent past we
have had to lament the transformation of Beaufort Street, the sites of its
quiet houses and gardens covered now by rows of jerry-built structures.
Box Farm is gone, the Vale (last relic of Chelsea Park) is now threatened.
The Duke of York's School will shortly be removed. There is even a disquieting rumour about Chelsea Hospital, though we cannot but think
that the public would vehemently resist an attack on this unique foundation. A few short years ago we saw haymaking in progress at the back
of Peterborough House, Parson's Green, which had acres of rural ground
attached to it, and is now totally obliterated. The buildings of minor im
portance but none the less charming which have been "improved" away
during the last decade are too many to enumerate.
If for every old landmark destroyed, and every open space built over, we
could give in exchange something of architectural merit we should not
feel, as we do now, that those who come after us are being robbed of their
just inheritance. But alas! as the drawings and photographs of destroyed
houses, by our Survey Committee, too plainly show, the modern closely–packed flats and other cheap buildings, with their poor design, poor colour
and machine-like construction, will not for a moment compare with
what they have replaced, which bore the marks of a more sincere and a
The London Survey is to be congratulated on having secured the services of its new secretary. If sufficient financial aid be forthcoming there
is every prospect of a series of records being issued which will supply
much interesting and original information on various districts included
in the area of greater London.