Survey of London: Volume 2, Chelsea, Pt I. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1909.
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General description and date of structure.
We have traversed the south side of Royal Hospital Road as far as its western termination at Cheyne Walk, but before proceeding along the present river front we must retrace our steps to the Royal Hospital itself to consider the row of old houses which stood upon the north side of the way, and which retained, until their destruction only three years ago, the ancient name of the road "Paradise Row." These houses formed a terrace—to use a much-abused word—opposite Walpole House and the stables of the Hospital, and were separated from Smith Street by the not unpicturesque group of buildings shown in Plate 17. From a copy of the lease of the site in the Middlesex Land Registry, Mr. Randall Davies has discovered that the name of their builder was George Norris, a contractor who erected them in 1691, the date of the completion of the Royal Hospital. The houses bore ample evidence of being of that period and had been very little altered since. Built of the warm-coloured brickwork which is so characteristic of the time of Wren, they possessed fine roomy panelled interiors, and the outside presented all the charm of a continuous tiled roof and beautiful wood cornice. They were two storeys high, with rooms in the roof lighted by dormer windows. No. 2a was in the same line with the others, but the dormer windows had been altered to a Mansard roof, and the old cornice had been replaced by one of plainer type. The sash windows were symmetrically placed, the frames being original, although many of the sashes had been removed and slighter glazing bars substituted. A moulded brick string course was carried along the front. The most notable features after the cornice were the beautiful doorways and the wrought-iron gates and railings which were placed between square brick piers surmounted by stone balls. The houses stood back from the road at a sufficient distance to allow of good front gardens, in which several trees remained, and the effect of the row, clad in its warm-coloured brickwork and standing orderly and dignified behind the gateways and trees, impressed the beholder with its immediate and surprising beauty. The backs of the houses showed much that was picturesque. Some portions had been built out in timber framing and weather-boarding and several of the original sashes with heavy glazing bars remained.
The first house at the east end, No. 2a, is shown on Plate 18. It is seen to adjoin on the east side a more modern building, which took the place of Ormonde House, (fn. 1) originally the first house of the row. Nos. 2a, 3a, and 4 were the three largest houses each having five windows on the bedroom floor. As mentioned above, No. 2a had been somewhat modernised, but retained its fine doorway with pilasters and carved brackets. The gate piers were intact, though cemented over, and had not lost their cornices or ball finials. The wrought ironwork of the gates had gone, save the arched lamp-bracket overhead.
No. 3a, also a large house, was the only one to keep its beautiful iron gate (Plate 20); the brick piers had been cemented to imitate rusticated stonework, but they looked well, and it is not impossible that this was the original treatment. The monogram over the gate appears to be F. W., and may well represent the initials of Sir Francis Windham, who lived here from 1695 to 1715. The doorway of this house was similar to that of No. 2a.
Nos. 5 and 6 were smaller houses, having on the bedroom floor only three windows each. The gates and doorways of the two buildings each adjoined one another, the former being quite plain and the latter having square hoods with well carved brackets. The door of No. 5 had plain pilasters in addition. The dormer windows of No. 5 alone retained the original tiled roofs, the others being flat and presumably covered with lead.
The last house, No. 7, of the same size as its neighbour, differed from the rest in having a doorway of later date, but an excellent example of its period. The carved brackets, which were probably original, surmounted a later type of pilaster and supported a pediment with a small dentil moulding. Over the door, which had six flush panels (contrasting with the earlier raised panels of the others), was a simple fanlight of cobweb design, and on the frieze was a small panel with curved angles (Plate 23).
During the demolition of the houses certain fittings, &c. were saved from entire destruction. Among these Mr. A. W. Clarke secured two of the beautiful carved brackets of the overdoors, which he has fixed above his doorway at No. 23 Cheyne Walk. Mr. Clarke also bought a fine moulded architrave of marble, forming the chimney-piece to one of the rooms. (fn. 2) The houses were panelled throughout in accordance with the custom of the period and possessed good staircases. Some of the carved consoles or brackets from these stairs have been preserved by Mr. E. Godwin at his studio in the King's Road.
The Rev. A. G. L'Estrange, writing in 1880, says: "The houses in this Row, now Queen's Road, are covered with creeping plants, have pretty parterres, and with their handsome entrance gates in front and large gardens at the back might have seemed Paradisaical. They are low, but have generally five windows at the first floor and contain good rooms wainscoted to the ceilings. Altogether they have an air of old-fashioned gentility, and the sides of the hall doors are ornamented with wood carving." He refers also to the marble chimney-pieces which he compares with some which are still at Lindsey House, Chelsea, and those designed by Sir Christopher Wren at Hampton Court.
Bowack (1705) says: "Near the Royal Hospital there runs a regular row of buildings towards the Thames called Paradise Row." The word "regular" here is no doubt used in its first sense of "straight," and, as mentioned above, a large part of this row (including the houses we have described) appears to have been built by George Norris in the last ten years of the 17th century. The ancient way from Westminster to Chelsea passed (as it still does) from Stone Bridge—the point at which the parish boundary crosses the Pimlico Road—along the Royal Hospital Road, and by Cheyne Walk to the Old Church. But at the time of the building of the Hospital the carriageway was diverted and made to pass round Burton Court, which still remains unbuilt upon. Burton Court thus lay across the roadway, as shown in Hamilton's Survey, and the road from this point to its junction with Cheyne Walk, bore the name of Paradise Row. The presence of the noble buildings of the Hospital no doubt drew attention to the fine building sites along this road, and while the river frontage became adorned with such large residences as Walpole House, Gough House, and the Turret House, the other side of the road was quickly built upon and received many notable residents. From Ormonde House at the extreme north-east it stretched to Radnor House, which stood at the north-west corner, where Flood Street (formerly Robinson's Lane and called still earlier Pound Lane) joins the river walk—the site of the village pound. More recently the roadway was again opened across the Hospital grounds, and the name has been successively changed to Queen's Road West and Royal Hospital Road.
The rate-books (fn. 3) of the parish assist us in recalling the names of those who lived in Paradise Row during the 18th century and a few of the preceding years. We must, however, confine ourselves to the six houses under consideration, the occupants of which did not a little to make the locality famous. We will give the list of names as found in the parish books and refer the reader to Mr. Reginald Blunt's delightful book on the subject, and to independent biographical works for further information concerning the people themselves.
The first house west of Ormonde House, No. 2a, was occupied by Madame Hunt, 1695–1699, and by John Newark from 1700–1707, the name of "Madame" Newark appearing under 1706. "Madame" Matthew was here in 1708, and Sir Jacob Banks from 1709 to 1712. John Putland appears from 1712 to 1723. There is a stone in the chancel floor of the Old Church recording the death of Thomas Putland, Esq., who died July 14th, 1723, aged 72. From 1725 to 1732 the house was occupied by Colonel John Hopkey. Then follows for two years the name of John Braithwaite, from 1735–1738 George Abbott, and 1738–1741 William Pawlett. After the break in the rate-books we find the following names:—Francis Storey, 1748–1755; Elizabeth Storey, 1756–1769; Frances Storey, 1770–1780; Mrs. Delafountain, 1781–1782; Martha Keightley, 1790–1793; John Turner, 1794–1796; Rev. Thomas Williamson, 1797–1798.
The next house, No. 3a, has already been mentioned as the home of Sir Francis Windham. Faulkner states that he came to Chelsea about the year 1700. Bowack, writing in 1705, mentions him as residing in Paradise Row, and the rate-books include his name from 1695–1715. The parish register records the burial of his first wife, Lady Hester Windham, at Chelsea Church on April 24th, 1708. His second wife survived him, and her name appears on the rate-lists for three years and is then replaced by that of the "Worshipful" William Lowfield, whom, Faulkner tells us, she married. She died at her house in Paradise Row on June 26th, 1739, and Lowfield's name continues till the break in the lists, which occurs in 1741. The monument on the south wall of the Old Church to "Mrs. Ann Lowfield, daughter of Thomas Lowfield, Esq., late of this parish" (died 1720), may, perhaps, refer to a sister. From 1748 the house was in the occupation of Susannah Eyre (fn. 4) until 1751, when she seems to have moved into the next house. In 1754 we find David Price, followed in 1758 by Dr. John Wilmer, in 1766 by Marian Milward, in 1769 by John Morris, and in 1776 by Charles Woodward, who stayed here till 1782. For a few years the house was shared by tenants till it was taken by Keith Shepherd in 1795, and in 1799 it was occupied by Colonel Daniel Shaw.
No. 4, the last of the three larger houses, seems to have been the celebrated home of Hortense, Duchess of Mazarin. At the time that she lived here the rate-lists almost invariably begin with the titled residents of Chelsea, thus giving us no clue to their topographical position among the other ratepayers. With the exception of the year 1695, the names of Sir Francis Windham and the Duchess of Mazarin do not therefore appear in Paradise Row, and in that year there is a little uncertainty about the order in which they are written. There is, however, no doubt, from the evidence of the later lists, that Sir Francis Windham occupied No. 3a, and since his house is assessed at the same value as that of the Duchess, it follows from the size of the houses that she lived in either No. 2a or No. 4. Mr. L'Estrange, writing in 1880, was told that her house was the first in the Row—namely, the former of these two—but we are inclined to think, after a careful comparison of the entries, that No. 2a was occupied by Madame Hunt (vide cute) and that No. 4 housed the Duchess of Mazarin. She had come to England in 1675, and Mr. L'Estrange tells us that she moved to Chelsea from the "petit palais" in St. James's in 1694. It is quite probable that she was the first tenant of the house. Her name appears in the rate-lists, generally as a defaulter in respect of payment, from 1695 to 1698–9. She died here in July 1699. The picturesque story of her life has often been told, and she is not the least among the many famous personalities that link Chelsea with the history of the 17th and 18th centuries.
This was probably the house for which Baron Grimfield paid one quarter's rates in 1698–9, but he left in the following year, and was succeeded by Lady Musgrove, who left in 1702. In Bowack's time it was the home of John Crawford, Esq., "one of Her Majesty's Commissioners, son to Commissary David Crawford." (fn. 5) The rate-books place John Crawford here from 1702 to 1714, when he seems to have moved into Ormonde House, as it was to be soon called, for he immediately preceded the Duchess. He died December 19th, 1720, and was buried in the Old Church, where there is a stone to his memory near the Cheyne Monument. No. 4 was occupied by William Hepburn, 1715–1719, and by Viscount and Lady Townshend during 1720 and 1721. Lord Townshend married the sister of Sir Robert Walpole, and procured him the office of Paymaster-General. He may have been the means of bringing Walpole to Chelsea at this time. James Keith (?) was here for two years, and in 1725 John Palmer. In 1728 Mrs. Palmer's name appears, and continues to 1734. Capt. John Cole was here from 1735 to 1741, and then follow 1747–1751, Susannah Stiffkin; 1754–1762, Susannah Eyre; 1763–1764, Henry Basset; 1765–1792, William Thompson; 1793–1796, Elizabeth Thompson; '1797–1802, Moses le Vin.
Nos. 5 and 6. No. 5, the first of the smaller houses, was apparently in the occupation of Ambrose Upton from 1695 to 1697. Thence onwards until 1740, a period of 44 years, it was the home of a Mrs. Penelope Webster. In 1741 we find the name of the Rev. Rothery, who had kept a school at Turret House, Paradise Row. The following names then occur: Thomas Sharpe, 1747 to 1754; Mr., and afterwards Mrs., Connor, 1755–1759; and Augustine le Tellier from 1759 to 1767. Mrs. Lantware occupied the house from 1769 to 1772, and Captain John Osborne during 1773–1774; from 1776 to 1781, John Shelley (or Schenley); 1782–1783, James Dove; 1790–1792, Elizabeth Davenant; 1793–1794, Mary Cross; 1795, James Neale.
It is not easy to identify the tenants of No. 6 before 1701, when we find the house in the possession of Jermyn Wych. He lived here till he moved into Ormonde House in 1706 (see note, p. 24). Both Ormonde House and No. 6 had become the property of Robert Butler, who lived in the latter house himself from 1706 to the year of his death, 1712. Lysons mentions his tomb in the churchyard. He owned, besides his two houses in Paradise Row, the large mansion and gardens which had formerly belonged to the Earls of Shrewsbury (see Shrewsbury House). All this property is mentioned in his will, dated 26th July 1711, and proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 29th December 1712. His wife, Martha Butler, lived on at No. 6 Paradise Row till her death in 1739. The name of her son, Edward Butler, D.C.L. (sometime President of Magdalen College, Oxford) appears in 1740–1741. The names of later residents are 1748–1756, Mary Blow; 1757–1765, Mary Herbert; 1766, Benjamin Tate; 1766–1777, Catherine Hagar; 1777–1780, Sarah Orton; 1781–1782, George Aust; 1783, Bilby Darling; 1790–1800, Colonel James Chalmers.
No. 7 was occupied from 1695 to 1698 by Thomas Hill, the builder of Ormonde House. The house was then taken by a family named Clifford, who resided here from 1698 to 1736. The next name to appear is:—Mrs. Bushier (probably Bouchier, Sir Richard Gough's daughter, see p. 40), 1737–1741. From 1747–1751 Lady Mary Griffin lived here, and after her Thomas Abbott, 1754–1772, and Catherine Abbott, 1773–1783.
John Bowack, Antiquities of Middlesex (1705).
Rev. Daniel Lysons, Environs of London (1795).
Thos. Faulkner, Chelsea and its Environs (2nd edition, 1829).
Rev. A. G. L'Estrange, The Village of Palaces (1880).
Alfred Beaver, Memorials of Old Chelsea (1892).
Randall Davies, Chelsea Old Church (1904).
Reginald Blunt, Paradise Row (1906).
In the committee's ms. collection are—
|3146.||(fn. 6) General view from the east (photograph).|
|3147.||No. 2a Paradise Row with houses to Burton's Court (photograph).|
|3148.||No. 2a Paradise Row with two houses eastwards (photograph).|
|3149.||(fn. 6) Nos. 3A and 4 Paradise Row (photograph).|
|3150.||(fn. 6) Gateway, No. 3A Paradise Row (photograph).|
|3151.||Gateway, No. 3a Paradise Row (another photograph).|
|3152.||Nos. 5 and 6 Paradise Row (photograph).|
|3153.||Overdoors, Nos. 5 and 6 Paradise Row (photograph).|
|3154.||No. 7 Paradise Row (photograph).|
|3155.||No. 7 Paradise Row (another photograph).|
|3156.||Doorway, No. 7 Paradise Row (photograph).|
|3157.||(fn. 6) Doorway, No. 7 Paradise Row (another photograph).|
|3158.||(fn. 6) General view from the west (photograph).|
|3159.||(fn. 6) General view from the west (another photograph).|
|3160.||(fn. 6) Back view of Nos. 2a and 3a (photograph).|