Survey of London: Volume 2, Chelsea, Pt I. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1909.
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XLIV., XLV.—Nos. 62 and 63 CHEYNE WALK, formerly known as CHURCH ROW or PROSPECT PLACE.
Ground landlord, leaseholders, etc.
General description and date of structure.
Nos. 62 and 63 Cheyne Walk are the only remaining houses of a terrace of five which were at first called Church Row and afterwards Prospect Place. They immediately adjoin the churchyard, and figure in a great many old views of the church and of Cheyne Walk. The land on which they are built was part of the property sold to Thomas Lawrence in 1583 when he purchased the old Manor House, and overlooks the chapel which was part of the private property of the Lawrence family. It is probable that the row was built soon after 1686 when the then owner, Sir Thomas Lawrence, returned from Maryland, where he was Secretary to the Colony, as Mr. Randall Davies notes a lease of the end house (eastwards) to Edward Hatfield in 1689. The two houses that remain are therefore the oldest houses, still existing, which we have treated so far in this survey.
Having said that they do exist, we have said almost as much as we can of the original houses, for in the intervening period between their erection and the present time many alterations have been made. The last alteration, however (1908), has been very skilfully done, and their exterior, at least, preserves for us very much the appearance which is seen in old engravings. The chief change has been made in demolishing the ground floor of No. 63 to make an archway to the rear of the houses, but the front walls have not been otherwise disturbed. The plastered fronts, the early Victorian balcony of No. 63 and the graceful little doorway of No. 62 are still as they were, and the windows retain their old proportions, the dormer windows only having been rebuilt.
It is evident that the houses were decorated and somewhat remodelled about a century ago, and this is still more plain in the interior. The front room and hall on the ground floor of No. 62 have just been thrown into one. The room is panelled throughout; there is an old grate with a new chimneypiece, and in the panelling is a large square opening that led into the back room through folding doors. The architrave to this dates from about 1800; the doors, with their glass fronts and curved glazing bars, are fitted in the room above on the first floor, and open on to the adjoining hospital. The back room has a new chimney-piece, but it retains the fine cast grate, of which an illustration is given in Plate 94. The stair was put in about the year 1800, and on the first floor both rooms have good plain panelling and excellent grates. The second floor has two good grates and a panelled dado.
The interior of No. 63, which was the home of Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, has been quite altered and the back portions of both this and the neighbouring house have been rebuilt. The Hospital has, however, been very wise in the conservative character of the work, and its directors deserve the thanks of all lovers of Chelsea in that they have preserved so large a proportion of the old buildings.
Condition of repair.
We have already stated that the five houses constituting Church Row or Prospect Place were built a little before the year 1689 on land which belonged to Sir Thomas Lawrence. In the early rate-list (1695) there is a marginal note against the names of the residents here: "In ye new row by ye Church." The names for this year are (giving the modern numbers):—
|No. 59.||James Salter and Edward Hatfield.|
|No. 60.||Mrs. Ann Shadwell, widow.|
|No. 61.||Mrs. Colley, widow.|
|No. 62.||Mrs. Cary, widow.|
|No. 63.||Mr. Atterbury.|
At the first house we have already noticed (vide XXXI.—No. 18 Cheyne Walk) that James Salter had his famous coffee-house, which Faulkner tells us was opened in this very year, 1695. It was the corner house having a frontage to the road leading to the old Manor House, now Lawrence Street. Faulkner says that Salter was amerced £6 by the Court Leet in 1685 "for suffering the [river] wall opposite his dwelling to be ruinous," but the date should probably be 1695, as Dr. Atterbury and Mrs. Colley were amerced in the same way. Mr. Randall Davies quotes the following from the rate-book, which seems to refer to this matter:—" 1697, November 9. Memorandum that upon re-building that part of ye Thames wall that fronts ye five houses built on Sir Thomas Lawrence's ground the landlords of those houses did contribute a third part of the charge of re-building it not as being obliged to be at this or any part of the charge but making a free gift of so much to the Parish."
Regarding Salter's residence here and the reputation which his coffee-house had already acquired, we cannot forbear to quote from the quaint description of Chelsea by John Bowack in 1705. He says: "The place is noted for good conversation, and for many honorable worthy inhabitants, being not more remarkable for their titles and estates, employments and abilities, than for their civility and condescension, and their kind and facetious tempers, living in perfect amity among themselves, and having a general meeting every day at a coffee-house near the Church, well known for the pretty collection of varieties in nature and art, some of which are very curious." Salter stayed here till 1707, and in the following year moved his establishment to the corner of Danvers Street.
Of Mrs. Ann Shadwell Mr. Davies writes: "She was presumably the widow of Thomas Shadwell, the Laureate, whom Faulkner also places in Church Lane: and as we know that our row was in existence in 1689, it may be concluded that this was his house. He died in 1692, and was buried in the Church—or churchyard—adjoining, the funeral sermon being preached by Dr. Nicholas Brady. The only monument to him is in Westminster Abbey." His wife is said to have been on the stage before her marriage.
"Dr. Francis Atterbury," as he is generally called in the rate-books, lived in No. 63 until 1703, and in the following year he is to be found among the residents in Danvers Street. This is where Swift found him when he came to live "over against Dr. Atterbury's house." He held a variety of Church appointments, was made Bishop of Rochester in 1713, and finally died abroad after imprisonment in the Tower for furthering an attempt to restore the Stuarts. In the Dictionary of National Biography there is a good account of him, with references to some of his many distinguished friends.
Crew Offley (younger son of John Offley of Madeley in the county of Stafford, and of Anne, daughter and heiress of John Crewe of Crewe in the county of Chester) married Margaret, only daughter of Sir Thomas Lawrence, and through his wife acquired the Chelsea property of the Lawrences. His elder brother, John Crew Offley, dropped his surname, and from him is descended the present Lord Crewe. (fn. 1)
Nicholas Spriemont, or Sprimont, was the man under whose direction the Chelsea China Manufactory became famous. The works were situated on the west side of Lawrence Street, close by, and Sprimont became sole proprietor from 1758 to 1769, when he sold the business to James Cox, from whom it was purchased by William Duesbury and James Heath.
More recently Prospect Place has acquired interest from the residence in the corner house (No. 59) of Holman Hunt, who painted here his well-known picture, "The Light of the World." On Plate 92 the window of his studio is marked with an X. In the Hospital (built 1888), which occupies the site of Nos. 59 to 61, is an engraving of the picture given by the artist and the inscription by himself: "To the Watchmen's little children from the painter, who made this picture in this corner house, Lawrence Street, Cheyne Walk, in the year 1850–3." In Mrs. Allingham's biography of her husband, William Allingham, an interesting description is given of a visit he made with Rossetti to Holman Hunt's lodging in 1851, whither they went to spend an evening, but did not leave till 3.0 a.m., when "dawn was broad upon the river and its trailing barges."
Bibliographical references. (fn. 2)
Alfred Beaver, Memorials of Old Chelsea (1892).
Randall Davies, Chelsea Old Church (1904).
Dictionary of National Biography (Atterbury, Shadwell, Salter, Holman Hunt).
William Bemrose, Bow, Chelsea, and Derby Porcelain.
In the committee's ms. collection are—
|3289.||Nos. 62 and 63 Cheyne Walk, view from south (photograph).|
|3290.||(fn. 2) Nos. 62 and 63 Cheyne Walk, another view (photograph).|
|3291.||(fn. 2) No. 62 Cheyne Walk, fireplace, ground floor (photograph).|