Survey of London: Volume 4, Chelsea, Pt II. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1913.
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CXIV.—CHEYNE HOUSE, UPPER CHEYNE ROW.
Ground landlord, leaseholder, etc.
General description and date of structure.
Cheyne House, which is now in a derelict condition, consists of two or three different blocks of buildings, none of which appear to date from earlier than the 18th century. The original house, built about 1715 for the widowed Duchess of Hamilton (daughter of Digby, Lord Gerard) was perhaps set back from the road, within the garden, but the buildings in the rear of the present house have been altered from time to time. The eastern wall is covered with fleur-de-lys, but they have all probably been affixed by Dr. Phené, who used the house and garden as a museum. The principal part of the house fronts Upper Cheyne Row, and appears to date from about 1750. It is of two storeys with an attic lighted by dormer windows in the roof. The sash windows are arranged symmetrically and the entrance has a charming doorway with pediment and pilasters enclosing an arched opening. The front wall is of stock brick, finished with a parapet, and there is a deep bay window on the eastern side towards the garden.
Condition of repair.
The property of the Earls of Shrewsbury (fn. 1) extended from Cheyne Walk, northwards, to the glebe, which takes in part of the grounds of Cheyne House. It has been surmised (fn. 2) that there was a back way to Shrewsbury House from the King's Road, through Cook's Ground (Glebe Place), but it does not seem likely that the gates from Glebe Place into the grounds of Cheyne House were placed there before the latter was built. Nor can we find any evidence of a house having been built here before the way was opened up by the making of Cheyne Row (1708) and Upper Cheyne Row (1715).
Cheyne House, during the end of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th, was a school, and is marked on Thompson's map as "Cheyne House Academy." Faulkner says (fn. 3) it was carried on in 1829 by Dr. Felix, and formerly by Mr. Edwards. It comprised in 1800 two houses, having apparently absorbed the adjoining building, No. 4, which had just been built. The present part of the house which fronts the street appears to be of mid-18th century date, but this was either an extension or a rebuilding of the first house, which has a continuous tenancy from the Duchess of Hamilton in 1715.
Faulkner tells us that Elizabeth, Duchess of Hamilton, widow of James, Duke of Hamilton, who was killed in a duel with Lord Mohun, lived in Chelsea in 1714. From the same source we learn that the name of Mr. Alexander Desclousseaux appears in the parish register of burials for August 12th, 1747. Faulkner devotes a paragraph to John Collett, the painter, whose pictures had a popular vogue in his time, and were often engraved. He places him, with many more celebrities whose place of residence was uncertain, in Paradise Row, but in the case of Collett, he may have some foundation for his statement that he died there in 1780. According to Beaver, C. J. Lewis, the artist, lived here from 1858 to 1883.
The property has for some long time been in the hands of Dr. Phené, who died in the past year (1912). He converted the garden and house into a repository of architectural curios, and so much was the place neglected that part of the-roof and floors of Cheyne House have fallen in. It is at present being cleared of the accumulation of furniture, etc., which has been stored there for many years.
In the Council's ms. collection are:—
(fn. 4) View from south (photograph).
View from south-east (photograph).
Doorway, another view (photograph).
Doorway, another view (photograph).
Doorway (measured drawing).