Survey of London: Volume 2, Chelsea, Pt I. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1909.
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XXIII.—No. 2 CHEYNE WALK.
Ground landlord, leaseholder, etc.
General description and date of structure.
Early 18th century. The house was refronted in 1879 from the designs of S. B. Clark, architect. (fn. 1) The plan shows the arrangement common to most of the small 18th century houses in Chelsea and elsewhere, having a front and back room, with a narrow entrance hall and staircase, which completes the width. The back room has a small ante-room leading out of it and projecting into the garden, which is repeated on the three principal floors, and forms one of the most characteristic features of the houses of the period. These rooms, although they possess fireplaces, are almost too small for bedrooms, and seem to be designed for some kind of retiring rooms. They are traditionally called powdering-closets, a reminiscence, no doubt, of the elaborate toilet of the 18th century, which may well have made necessary these adjuncts to the drawing-room and bedrooms. On the first floor the "powder-room" with its old panelling remains intact; the front and back rooms have been thrown into one drawing-room, and the old cornice and chimney-pieces remain. Below, on the ground floor, the front room has suffered somewhat from the alterations to the main wall. The back room is used as a pantry. On the second floor the bedrooms retain their old character, though the front room has lost its panelling. The balcony or loggia on this floor is modern. The most interesting early feature is perhaps the staircase, which is of tasteful design, with two prettily turned balusters to each stair. The first flight (only as far as the half landing), has its stair-ends carved with the characteristic "console" or bracket of foliage and flower, but above this the carving gives place to the less elaborate moulded string—a device which suggests the "speculating builder," who existed even as far back as two centuries, although his methods had not reached the sad lengths of the present day.
Condition of repair.
When Sir Hans Sloane purchased the Manor House from William, Lord Cheyne, in 1712, the Great Garden stretched from Flood Street as far as the western wall of the present No. 18 Cheyne Walk, and there were pleasure gardens behind the Manor House as far as Winchester House, which stood on the site of Oakley Crescent. The picturesque way from Paradise Row proceeded thus between the low river wall on one side and the wall of the garden on the other as it led westwards to the village and its church. It was not till 30 years later that Sir Hans Sloane actually resided at the Manor House, and when he did so he looked upon a very different scene from that of the day of his purchase. In 1717 he began to dispose of the whole o. the garden frontage towards the river, in plots for building, and in a short space of time the whole place was occupied with a new row of houses. Although several of these were built for special tenants who had their own requirements, the majority seem to have been speculations on the part either of Sir Hans Sloane himself or of the builders to whom he leased the land. Copies of the leases are still to be seen in the Middlesex Land Registry. There is little doubt that Nos. 1, 2, and 3 Cheyne Walk were such speculations, being modelled on one plan and having practically the same details throughout.
In connection with the above names we may note that Faulkner writes of a number of pictures of Chelsea by an artist named De Cost, which were included in the Catalogue of Lord Cremorne's pictures. The same author records the death of William Joscelyn in 1782, and under the same date the will of William Jousselin, Esq., who bequeathed £15 to each of the Charity Schools. He also tells us of the bequest by Stephen Fox in 1772 of the sum of £100 to each of the same schools.