IX., X., XI.—Nos. 2, 3 AND 4 SWAN WALK.
Ground landlord, etc.
Nos. 2 and 3 are the property of W. Brindley, Esq., and are tenanted
respectively by William Miller, Esq., and Nigel Playfair, Esq. No. 4 belongs
to Walter Robertson, Esq., and is occupied by Mrs. Bertie Roberts.
The general appearance of these three houses, linking them definitely with
old Chelsea, has been responsible for their inclusion in our Survey, although
they cannot lay claim to the possession of any features of particular beauty or
value. This portion of Swan Walk, with its old-fashioned houses in their ample
gardens on one side and the ancient wall of the Physic Garden on the other, is
sufficiently unchanged to be esteemed a precious relic of the neighbourhood of
Paradise Row. The name of this little street is derived from the Old Swan
Inn which stood at its south end on the river side, and which was converted
into a brewery in the 18th century. The inn is mentioned by Pepys (1666),
and became famous as the goal of the annual watermen's boat race (instituted by
Thomas Doggett in 1715), the scene of one of Rowlandson's sketches, now in
the British Museum. It was converted into a brewery later on, and another
inn was started, bearing the name "The Old Swan," on a site on the water
side, west of the Physic Garden.
Nos. 2 and 3 Swan Walk are plain unpretentious houses, apparently of
the middle Georgian period. The latter has been remodelled, but the former
preserves its square brick front and cornice, although it has been entirely altered
inside. No. 4 is more interesting. The house is set back some distance from
the road and has a wide porch with Doric columns. The interior is evidently
panelled throughout, but canvas has been stretched over the panelling to allow
of wallpapers. There are some fairly early fireplaces with bold architraves,
bolection-moulded. The main stair is of late design, but there are some early
balusters alternately twisted and plain-turned in another part. There is a pretty
fanlight over the back door. The house gives one the impression of having
been much altered; the original building may have dated from the reign of
Queen Anne. It would be interesting to know the character of the wainscot,
which is at present hidden beneath the wallpaper.
From a very careful examination of the rate-lists we think we are justified in assigning the
following names to these houses, although the evidence of the lists is not quite conclusive:—
No. 2.–1711–1712, Thomas March; 1714–1718, Sarah Taxsara; 1719–1735,
Joseph Windham; 1736–1749, William Whitfield; 1750, Mrs. Whitfield;
1751–1758, Mary Viscountess Fane; 1760–1770, Christopher Kempster, senior;
1771, Mrs. Kempster; 1773–1774, Rev. Richard Woodis; 1775–1782, Mr.
Lowe; 1791–1792, Mary Pinfold; 1793, Thomas Mitchell; 1794–1800,
No. 3 (built 1776).—1777–1794, Edward Read.
No. 4.—1711–1718, John Bickerstaffe; 1720–1721, Mr. Hamilton; 1722–1723,
Rachel Hamilton; 1724–1725, Sir Thomas and Lady Lolley; 1726–1733,
Charles Waller; 1734–1735, Mr. Rogers; 1736–1739, Alexander Blackwell;
1741–1751, Thomas Abbott; 1755–1770, John Randall; 1771–1800, Elizabeth Randall.
In the committee's ms. collection is—
|3142.||View of Swan Walk, showing No. 2 (photograph).|