Chelsea: (part 3 of 3)

The Environs of London: Volume 2, County of Middlesex. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1795.

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Daniel Lysons, 'Chelsea: (part 3 of 3)', in The Environs of London: Volume 2, County of Middlesex, (London, 1795) pp. 162-184. British History Online [accessed 27 May 2024].

Daniel Lysons. "Chelsea: (part 3 of 3)", in The Environs of London: Volume 2, County of Middlesex, (London, 1795) 162-184. British History Online, accessed May 27, 2024,

Lysons, Daniel. "Chelsea: (part 3 of 3)", The Environs of London: Volume 2, County of Middlesex, (London, 1795). 162-184. British History Online. Web. 27 May 2024,


Extracts from the Register.

"Charles Hickman, D. D. and Bishop of Londonderry elect, and Anne Burgoyne of the county of Warwick, were married Apl 15, 1703."

"Honble James Brydges, Esq. and the Hon. Cassandra Willoughby, married Aug. 4, 1713." James Bridges, the first Duke of Chandos, married to his second wife Cassandra, sister of Thomas Willoughby, Lord Middleton.

"John Berkley, Esq. of the parish of Stoke, Glocestershire, and the R' Honble Elizabeth Vice-countess Hereford, married Feb. 21, 1716-7."

"Revd Augustine Frazer, the first chaplain upon the establishment of this royal hospital, was buried Sept. 29, 1722."

"Sir Th. Parkyns, Bart. of Bunny, and Jane Parkyns, married April 7, 1747."

"The Hon. John Grey, brother of the right honourable the Earl of Stamford, and Miss Lucy Danvers, daughter of the honourable Sir John Danvers, of Swithland in the county of Leicester, Bart. were married May 26, 1748."

William Cheselden.

"Apl 19, 1752. Mr. Chesleden buried." This eminent man contributed in a very great degree to the improvement of surgery, by simplifying its practice. His celebrated work on anatomy has gone through eleven editions. He published also a splendid volume with plates, on the structure of the bones; and a treatise on the new method of cutting for the stone, an operation in which he was singularly successful. It was Cheselden who first procured the separation of the Company of Barber-Surgeons. He was appointed to the place of surgeon to the royal hospital in 1737, after the death of Inglis. He died in the month of April 1752, (as mentioned above,) and in the 64th year of his age (fn. 1).

"William Young, a clergyman, Sept. 3, 1757." This is the person of whom Murphy speaks, in his Life of Fielding: "Mr. Young, "(says he,) a learned and much-esteemed friend of Mr. Fielding, sat for Parson Adams. Mr. Young was remarkable for his intimate acquaintance with Greek authors, and had as passionate a veneration for Æschylus as Parson Adams. The overflowings of his benevolence were as strong; and his fits of reverie were as frequent, and occurred too upon the most interesting occasions." As a proof of this, Mr. Murphy adds an anecdote of his wandering, during an absent fit, into the enemy's camp, when he was chaplain to a regiment in Flanders; he was not sensible of his mistake till he was made prisoner; the commanding officer, struck with the simplicity of his behaviour, immediately permitted him to return to his friends. Mr. Young published an edition of Hederic's Lexicon, and an English and Latin Dictionary.

"Lord Lindores, major-general, buried Sept. 3, 1765." Alexander Lord Lindores, of the kingdom of Scotland, was promoted to the rank of major-general, Feb. 24, 1761.

Lord Tyrawley.

"The Right Honble James Ohara, Lord Baron of Tyrawley and Baron Kilmain, buried July 24, 1773."Having passed through all the subordinate gradations, Lord Tyrawley was promoted to the high rank of field-marshal, June 30, 1763. He died at Twickenham at a very advanced age (fn. 2). It was his particular request, that as his life had bee spent in active military service, he might be buried among the brave veterans with whom he had shared the dangers of the field. His tombstone has no inscription.

John Ranby.

"John Ranby, Esq. surgeon, burried Sept. 4, 1773." Mr. Ranby, who was surgeon to the Royal Hospital, was very eminent in his professon. He particularly distinguished himself by a treatise on Gunshot Wounds, and by introducing the use of bark in chirurgical cases. He published also a Narrative of the last Illness of the Earl of Orford, and other professional tracts.

Alexander Reid.

"Alexander Reid, surgeon, buried May 5, 1789." Mr. Reid was many years assistant-surgeon at the college. He published an edition of Mihles's Elements of Surgery; and was engaged in a long controversy with an anonymous correspondent in the Gentleman's Magazine (fn. 3), on a new method of performing certain chirurgical operations.

Dr. Messenger Monsey.

It would be in vain to seek for any mention in this register of the late physician Dr. Messenger Monsey, who in his will, dictated by the same eccentricity which had marked his conduct through life, declared his contempt of all funeral rites, and bequeathed his body for dissection to an eminent surgeon. Dr. Monsey's company was much fought after, for a peculiar fort of humour with which his conversation abounded. He died at Chelsea in the year 1788, at the advanced age of 95, having resided many years in the college.

Christian Davies, alias Mother Ross.

Hannah Snell.

I find no mention in the register of Christian Davies, alias Mother Ross, who was interred in the college burial-ground in the month of July 1739, with military honours. This eccentric woman served in several campaigns under King William and the Duke of Marlborough, and behaved with signal bravery, if we may believe her own narrative (fn. 4). During the latter part of her life she resided at Chelsea, where her third husband was a pensioner in the college: at this time she subsisted, as she tells us, principally on the benevolence of the quality at court, whither she went twice a week in an hackney-coach, old age and infirmities having rendered her unable to walk. I should not omit here, that the famous Hannah Snell, whose history is recorded in various publications of the year 1750 (fn. 5), was actually at that time put upon the out-pensioners' list at Chelsea, on account of the wounds which she received at the siege of Pondicherry. Her singular story excited a considerable share of the public attention; and she was engaged to sing, and perform the military exercises, at various places of public entertainment. Soon afterwards she married —Eyles, a carpenter at Newbury in Berkshire. A lady of fortune, who admired the heroism and eccentricity of her conduct, having honoured her with particular notice, became godmother to her son, and contributed liberally to his education. Mrs. Eyles, to the day of her death, continued to receive her pension, which, in the year 1786, was augmented by a special grant to a shilling a day. About three years ago, she discovered symptoms of insanity, and was admitted as a patient into Bethlem-hospital, where she died Feb. 8, 1792, aged 69 years.

Instances of longevity.

As the ages of the deceased pensioners have not been specified in the register of burials, I have had little opportunity of ascertaining such instances of longevity as may be supposed to have occurred within the course of a century among such an assemblage of veterans. One remarkable instance is to be found among the epitaphs (fn. 6) : Thomas Azbey, of Chelsea-college, is said to have died Jan. 8, 1737, at the age of 112 (fn. 7); Captain Laurence, in Chelsea-hospital, Sept. 3, 1765, aged 95 (fn. 8); Robert Cumming, in the royal hospital at Chelsea, aged 116, May 9, 1767 (fn. 9); Peter Dowling, an old soldier at Chelsea, May 1768, aged 102 (fn. 10); a soldier who had fought at the battle of the Boyne—1772, aged 111 (fn. 11); Peter Bennet, of Tinmouth, who had been a Chelsea pensioner since the year 1706, April 18, 1773, aged 107; and Mary Warder, wife of one of the pensioners, Feb. 14, 1788 (fn. 12). Of these, Capt. John Laurence and Robert Cummins only are to be found in the register.

Sir George Howard (to whom, as well as the other gentlemen belonging to the establishment, I should express my thanks for their liberal communications) informed me, that two men, whose respective ages were said to be 99 and 101, applied to him the same morning for admittance into the college: finding upon due inquiry, that they had given a just account of their ages, they were admitted on the first vacancies, and lived two years in the house. John Knowles, aged 104 years, was admitted into the college in the month of June 1793, before which time he got his livelihood by travelling the country as a pedlar. Upon inquiring after him in the latter end of December, I was informed, that he was about to quit the college at his own request, with a view, as it was supposed, of exercising the trade of begging. The story of Donald Macleod, who was lately a pensioner in the college, was found to be a deception: he asserted that he was 103 years of age; and under that pretence imposed upon the benevolence of the public. His life and adventures were published in one volume octavo, with his portrait prefixed.


In the year 1673, the Company of Apothecaries of London took a piece of ground at Chelsea by the water-side, and prepared it as a botanical garden (fn. 13). Sir Hans Sloane, who had studied his favourite science there about the time of its first establishment, when he became possessed of the manor, (viz.A.D. 1721,) granted the freehold of the premises to the Company of Apothecaries, upon condition that they should present annually to the Royal Society fifty new plants, till the number should amount to two thousand (fn. 14). The conditions were punctually complied with, and the specimens preserved in the archives of the society. Sir Hans Sloane contributed amply also towards the buildings and improvements of the garden. To testify their gratitude, the Company of Apothecaries employed Rysbrack to make a marble statue of their benefactor, which they placed in the centre of the garden: he is represented in a doctor's gown, with a full-bottom peruke, and a roll in his hand; the likeness has been esteemed very good. On the pedestal beneath is the following inscription: "Hanso Sloane, Baro Archiatro, insignissimo Botanices fautori; hoc honoris causâ monumentum inque perpetuam ejus memoriam sacrum voluit Societas Pharmacopæor. Londinens. 1733."

Figure 5:

The Physick-Garden at Chelsea

On the north side of the garden is a spacious green-house, (built about the year 1732, after a design of Mr. Edward Oakley,) 110 feet in length, over which is a library containing a large collection of botanical works, and numerous specimens of dried plants; adjoining to the library are apartments for the gardener and his family.

Fine cedars.

On the south side of the garden are two cedars, of large growth and very singular form. Miller says they were planted in the year 1683, being then about three feet high (fn. 15). Sir Hans Sloane, writing in the year 1685, says, that Mr. Watts had been very successful in the management of his plants; and expresses some wonder that the cedrus montis Libani, an inhabitant of a very different climate, should thrive so well in the open air as to propagate itself by layers, and that seed sown the last autumn had succeeded very well (fn. 16). Miller says, that in 1750, these trees were upwards of eleven feet in girth. Having been accurately measured by Sir Joseph Banks in the month of August this year, (1793,) the girth of the larger, at three feet from the ground, was found to be 12 feet 11½ inches; that of the smaller, 12 feet and ¼ of an inch.

The garden at Chelsea is under the management of the Court of Assistants of the Apothecaries Company. There is also a person belonging to the establishment, called the Botanical Demonstrator, whose office is to explain to his pupils (the apprentices of the Company) the names, classes, and medicinal uses of the plants, according to the order in which they are placed in the garden: he is also to make monthly herborizing excursions in the neighbourhood of London during the summer season (fn. 17). The present demonstrator is Mr. Thomas Wheeler, who succeeded Mr. William Curtis, author of the Flora Londinensis, &c. and proprietor of the botanic garden at Brompton. A catalogue of the medicinal plants growing in the garden at Chelsea was published in the year 1730, by Isaac Rand, then botanical demonstrator; and a general catalogue the same year, by Philip Miller, the gardener. A second and enlarged edition of the former was published in the year 1739. The present gardener is Mr. Fairbairn, who has shewn much skill and attention in his department. He succeeded Mr. Forsyth, now gardener at Kensington, well known for his ingenious method of treating decayed trees.


An act of parliament having passed in the year 1663, to empower George Morley, Bishop of Winchester, to lease out Winchesterhouse in Southwark, and the demesnes at Bishop's Waltham; he was by the same act obliged to expend the sum of 7000l. for the benefit of the see; 4000l. of which, at the least, was to be appropriated to the purchase of a convenient house within three miles of London, for the residence of himself and his successors, to be called by the name of Winchester-house, and to be deemed within the diocese of Winchester. The remainder was to be laid out in repairs at Farnham. The ensuing year, according to the tenor of this act, the Bishop purchased a new brick house at Chelsea, then lately built by James Duke of Hamilton, and adjoining to the manor-house; the purchase-money was 42501. (fn. 18) The Bishops of Winchester have generally resided at this house during the sitting of parliament. Bishop Willis died there in 1736; Bishop Hoadly in 1761; and the late Bishop Thomas in 1781.

Society of Moravians or Unitas Fratrum.

In the year 1751, the society of the Unitas Fratrum, commonly known by the name of Moravians, (from their being first settled on the mountains between Bohemia and Moravia, and consisting partly of the natives of the latter country,) formed an intention of establishing a settlement at Chelsea: for this purpose Count Zinzendorf, being then bishop or ordinary of the society, during his last residence in England, purchased the Duke of Ancaster's old mansion called Lindsey-house. The society at the same time took a long lease of the site of Beaufort-house for a burial-ground; and sitted up the stables which belonged to that mansion as a temporary chapel, till the new settlement, which was to be called Sharon, was established. This project never took place; Lindsey-house nevertheless was fitted up, and inhabited by the brethren for many years: Count Zinzendorf lived there himself, and presided over the community as long as he remained in England. The society consisted mostly of foreigners and missionaries, for whose use indeed the Count principally intended the house, that they might-make it a caravansera, or resting-place, when they came to England, which they generally did previously to their proceeding on their missions. The staircase at Lindsey-house was decorated with pannels painted. by Haidt, a German artist. Among these were some portraits, but the subjects related principally to the history of the society, and the legends of their missionaries. These pannels are now in the house in which Mr. La Trobe resides, in Nevillecourt, Fetter-lane. Lindsey-house was sold by the society about the year 1770: it is now divided into tenements, and belongs to several proprietors. Some of the Moravians still reside at Chelsea. Divine service was performed in the chapel till within a few years; and the burial-ground is still used for the interment of such of the brethren as die either in London or its vicinity.

Burialground of the Moravians.

This cemetery is kept extremely neat; divided into four distinct compartments, one of which is appropriated to male infants and single brothers; a second, to female infants and single sisters; a third, to married brothers or widowers; and the fourth, to married sisters and widows. The tomb-stones, which are all flat, and placed upon a raised turf, are of two sizes; a smaller for children, and a larger for grown persons. The inscriptions record only the name of the persons interred, with the date of their birth and decease: sometimes the letters M. S. S. S., (married sister, single sister) are added: the tomb of Peter Bœhler must be excepted, whose office (that of a bishop in the Unitas Fratrum) is mentioned. There are also the tombs of John Cennick (fn. 19), who died in 1755; Jacob Rogers, (1779); William Hammond, (1783); Benjamin La Trobe, (1786); Charles Henry Conrad de Larish (fn. 20), (1754); Catherine Moss, aged 97, (1778); Elizabeth King, aged 93, (1786); and John Gotthold Wollin (fn. 21), who died in 1792. In this ground also lies buried, an Esquimeaux Indian, called Nunak.

A register of the baptisms and burials is kept in London. Having been favoured with a sight of it by Mr. La Trobe, the present minister of this society, I shall subjoin a few extracts:

Average of burials in the cemetery at Chelsea.
1780–1789 8
1790–1792 12

It may be observed, that most of the persons here interred have been brought from London.

Zinzendors, jun.

"Christian Renatus de Zinzendorf, departed May 17, 1752; was buried May 20th." This was the only son of the celebrated Count Zinzendorf: he studied at the university of Jena (fn. 22), and was sent for to England by his father in 1751, to be his assistant in superintending the spiritual affairs of the society. He died at one of the prebendal houses in the Cloisters at Westminster, where his father at that time resided till Lindsey-house could be prepared for his reception. His poetical soliloquies and meditations were published after his death (fn. 23).

John Cennick.

"John Cennick, M. departed July 4, 1755; was buried the 8th in Sharon." He was author of numerous sermons and hymns.

Peter Bœhler.

"Petrus Bœhler, married brother, departed April 27; buried May 1, 1775." Bœhler was a very active minister among the Moravians, and one of their bishops. He was of the university of Jena; came first to England in 1738; was very intimate with Wesley and Whitfield, whom he visited at Oxford, and who were in the same ship with him when he went to America as minister of the colony in Georgia (fn. 24).

William Hammond.

"William Hammond, born at Battle in Sussex, April 18, 1718; departed in New-street, Aug. 19, 1783; buried Aug. 22, by John Swertner." He was of St. John's-college in Cambridge; had been a clergyman of the church of England; and was author of a book called " The Marrow of the Gospel," being the substance of some sermons preached before the University of Cambridge. Mr. Hammond was a man of considerable learning, and particularly skilled in the Greek language, in which he wrote his own life: the MS. is in the possession of Mr. La Trobe.

Benjamin La Trobe.

"Benjamin La Trobe, born in Dublin, April 8, 1728; departed in Fetter-lane, Nov. 29, 1786; buried Dec. 6, by John Swertner, minister." Benjamin La Trobe, (father of the present minister,) was a man much esteemed and respected, not only by his own society, but by all to whom he was known. His own sect are particularly indebted to him for clearing their religion of many absurdities which had been introduced by certain wild and visionary enthusiasts, and which had subjected the whole community to much ridicule and calumny: with this view he published a translation of Crantz's History of the Brethren, Spangenberg's Exposition of Doctrine, and several pamphlets.

Earl of Ranelagh.

In the year 1690, Richard Earl of Ranelagh, Paymaster-general of the Forces, having obtained from the crown a long lease of some land belonging to, and adjoining the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, subject to a certain annual rent to be paid to the treasurer (fn. 25), built a house there after a design of his own, and made it his principal residence (fn. 26). A few years afterwards, he procured leases of other lands upon the same terms (fn. 27), and extended his gardens, which were then esteemed some of the finest in the kingdom (fn. 28). In the year 1698, he procured a grant of all these premises (consisting of more than twenty acres) in fee, subject to a yearly rent of only 51. per annum, to the hospital (fn. 29). After Lord Ranelagh's death, which happened in 1712, the house and premises at Chelsea continued for some time in the possession of his daughter, Lady Catherine Jones.


In the year 1730, an act of parliament passed for vesting the estates of the late Earl of Ranelagh in trustees: the premises at Chelsea were sold three years afterwards, in ten lots, to various persons; the greater part became the property of two persons, whose names were Swift and Timbrell (fn. 30). About this time it seems to have been much the fashion, among all ranks of people, to resort to the various breakfasting and tea-drinking places, which abounded in the villages near London. Lacey, the patentee of Drury-lane theatre, is said to have first projected (fn. 31) the plan of establishing a place of entertainment of this sort, upon so large a scale, and with such superior splendor, elegance, and accommodations, as should engross a very considerable share of the public attention, and promise great gain to the proprietors. The site of Beaufort-house in Chelsea, was first thought of for this purpose, about 1738; but Sir Hans Sloane being in treaty for those premises, James Lacey, in conjunction with one Solomon Rietti, took a lease of Ranelagh-house and gardens, under Swift and Timbrell (fn. 32) : it appears, however, that they soon gave up the undertaking; William Crispe and James Myonnet being lessees, anno 1741, when the Rotunda at Ranelagh was built (fn. 33). To enable them to carry on so great a work, they proposed to take in subscriptions to the amount of 50001. in shares of twenty-five guineas each. It was proposed, that the subscribers should receive interest for 201.; that at the end of seven years they should be repaid 251. each; and that in the mean time they should be entitled to free admission (fn. 34). Crispe soon afterwards became sole lessee, and in 1744 was declared a bankrupt: the property was then divided into thirtysix shares, as it still continues. In consequence of purchases made at various times, the freehold of the whole, or nearly of the whole, of Lord Ranelagh's estate, is now vested in Tompkins Dew and Albany Wallis, Esqrs. as surviving trustees for the proprietors at large. The property is for the most part divided into single shares; Sir J. B. Davis holds three; Mr. Ashley, the manager, three; and Mr. T. L. Bennet, two. Sir Thomas Robinson, who built, and resided at Prospect-place, adjoining to Ranelagh-gardens, was a great promoter of the undertaking, and held a considerable number of shares; his house, with the adjoining premises, were purchased after his death by the proprietors.

Ranelagh-house is still standing; over the front door are the Earl's arms (fn. 35); and in a room which leads to the Rotunda, is a good portrait of him. In Wilderness-row, which was formerly part of Lord Ranelagh's gardens, is a building called King William's Diningroom and Green-house; adjoining to this is now the private stand for coaches.


The Rotunda was begun in the year 1741, and opened for public breakfasts April 5, 1742. This singular building is, as its name imports, of a circular form: its diameter being 185 feet; the boxes for tea-drinking, which surround the room, form an interior circle of 150 feet diameter; over the boxes is a gallery. The roof of the building rests upon thirty massy beams, which meet, and are supported in the centre, where there is a chimney with four faces. When the Rotunda is well illuminated, and full of company, it presents to a person entering the room, a most brilliant spectacle, and seldom fails to affect a stranger with momentary surprise.

At the first opening of Ranelagh the concerts were in the morning, and consisted principally of oratorio chorusses (fn. 36). Michael Festing had the management of them, and led the band: the orchestra was then in the centre of the room. It does not appear that the morning concerts were long continued, though the Rotunda was open every day for public breakfasts, till the act of parliament passed (anno 1752) which prohibited all places of public entertainment from being open before a certain hour in the afternoon. During the first season there were evening concerts also, which were advertised to begin at half past five, and which ended about nine. It seems to have been the fashion then, as it is now, not to go to the Rotunda till the concert was nearly over (fn. 37); the company retired at eleven (fn. 38). The concert now ends about twelve o'clock, which is the most fashionable hour for entering the Rotunda; and it is near three in the morning before all the company has retired.

In the year 1754, the evening amusements at Ranelagh were advertised under the name of Comus's Court (fn. 39). The room is sometimes hired of the proprietors for masquerades and other fetes. The admission to the evening promenade is 2s. 6d., tea and coffee included. Fire-works are exhibited occasionally during the season, when the price is raised to five shillings. In the year 1792, was shown, for the first time, a beautiful representation of Mount Ætna, with the flowing of the lava. The height of the boarded work, which represents the mountain, is about eighty feet; and the whole exhibits a very curious specimen of machinery and pyrotechnics. It has been exhibited several times during the two last seasons.

The greatest number of persons which were ever known to be admitted at Ranelagh in one night, were 4622, exclusive of free admissions. This was on the 7th of June 1790, at an exhibition of fire-works, when the price of admission was 3s. 6d. (fn. 40) It should not be omitted, that on the 26th of June 1793, the celebrated Chevaliere D'Eon fenced publicly at this place with a French professor of that art.

Chelsea ferry.

The ferry at Chelsea belonged formerly to Thomas Earl of Lincoln, who, in the year 1618, sold it to William Blake (fn. 41). In 1710, it was the property of Bartholomew Nutt, and was rated in the parish books at 8l. per annum. It afterwards came into the possession of Sir Walter St. John (fn. 42), and passed with the Bolingbroke estate to Lord Spencer, under whom it was held at the time that Batterseabridge was built.

Chelsea water-works.

The Chelsea water-works were constructed about the year 1724; a charter of incorporation was granted on the 8th of March that year to the persons concerned in this undertaking. A canal was then dug from the Thames near Ranelagh to Pimlico, where there is a steam-engine for the purpose of raising the water into pipes, which convey it in various directions to the village of Chelsea, to Westminster, and various parts of the west end of the town (fn. 43). The proprietors of the works have an office in Abingdon-street, Westminster, where all business relating to the rent of the water is transacted. In a calculation of the quantity of water supplied daily by the waterworks in the neighbourhood of London, anno 1767, those at Chelsea are said to yield 1740 tons.

Little Chelsea.

Lord Shaftsbury.

That part of the hamlet of Little Chelsea, which is on the south side of the highway, is in this parish. Here the learned Earl of Shaftsbury, author of the Characteristics, built a house, in which he generally resided during the sitting of parliament. Tradition says, that Locke was a frequent visitor at Little Chelsea, and they show a summer-house in which he wrote some of his works; but like many others, this tradition seems but ill supported by facts; for it is certain that Lord Shaftsbury did not purchase these premises till about the year 1700 (fn. 44), just before Locke's death, and many years after his intimacy with that family had ceased. Lord Shaftsbury's house was some years ago the residence of the late Serjeant Wynne, and afterwards of his son Edward Wynne, Esq. author of Eunomus, or a Treatise upon the Laws of England, and other Tracts. After having been aliened by Luttrell Wynne, LL. D. to William Virtue, it was purchased in the year 1787 by the parish of St. George, Hanover-square, as an additional work-house for their poor. An act of parliament passed that year, declares it to be in St. George's parish, so long as it shall continue to be appropriated to its present use. The same act exempts it from alldues and rates demandable by the rector and parish of Chelsea, on condition of paying to the former 3l. 3s. per annum, and to the latter 6l. 13s. 4d.

Park Chapel.

At Little Chelsea is a small chapel, called Park-chapel, built by Sir Richard Manningham in the year 1718, within the precincts of the Duke of Wharton's park; it is now for a term of years the private property of the Rev. James Ward, A. M. who officiates there.


A considerable part of Knightsbridge being in the parish of Chelsea, I shall here treat of that hamlet, which is divided also between the parishes of St. George, Hanover-square, and St. Margaret's, Westminster; the parish of Chelsea extends from the corner of Sloane-street to the stream which runs under the road and passes by Kelly's Medicinal Baths.

St. George's Hospital.


Near Hyde-park-corner, on the south side of the road, stands St. George's Hospital for the reception of sick and lame; a noble foundation, supported by voluntary contributions. It was formerly the seat of James Lane, Viscount Lanesborough (fn. 45), who died there in the year 1724. His Lordship is recorded by Pope as persevering in his favourite amusement of dancing in spite of the infirmities of old age. "—Sober Lanesborough dancing with the gout (fn. 46)." The gallery over the cupola at St. Paul's, called now the Golden-gallery, was gilt at his expence a few days before his death (fn. 47).

Knights-bridge Chapel.

Ancient lazar-house.

On the north side of the road, about a quarter of a mile from the turnpike, and in the parish of St. George Hanover-square, stands a chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity, which belonged formerly to an ancient lazar-house or hospital, held, as it appears, under the church of Westminster, at the rent of four shillings per annum, by the family of Glassington. Among the records belonging to the dean and chapter of Westminster, is a state of the lazar-house at Knightsbridge, as drawn up in the year 1595 by John Glassington, who was governor of the house, and by profession a surgeon. He states, that there were no lands belonging to this hospital, nor a groat of endowment; that there had been a certain piece of land, which was then inclosed within Hyde-park, to the great detriment of the charity; that the building, when he became governor, was ready to fall, and that he had expended above 100l. on it; that there were commonly thirty-six or thirty-seven persons in the house, who were supported wholly by voluntary contributions; that the charge of the last year, in provisions only, exclusive of candles, linen, woollen, salves, medicines, burials, &c. had been 161l. 19s. 4d. Mr. Glassington adds a list of fifty-five persons who had been cured by him, some of whom had been dismissed as incurable from other hospitals. An account of the regulations of the house is also subjoined, by which it appears that the patients attended prayers every morning and evening; and that on Sundays there was morning and evening service for the neighbours; that those who were able were obliged to work; that they dined every day on "warm meat and porrege;" and that every man had his own "dish, platter, and tankerd, to kepe the broken from the whole." Among the same records is a petition also from John Glassington, surgeon, dated 1654, praying to be admitted to the government of the lazar-house, which his ancestors always had rented of the church of Westminster; the petition is accompanied by a certificate from Sir John Thorowgood. In the year 1629, upon a petition from the inhabitants of Knightsbridge, licence was given by the Bishop of London, with the consent of the vicar and church-wardens of St. Martin's, (in which parish this house was situated before the new parish of St. George was constituted,) that they might rebuild the chapel, then grown very old and ruinous, and attend divine service there, the rights of the mother church being duly reserved. The chapel was accordingly re-built, and consecrated to the use of the poor of the hospital; but there being no endowment for the maintenance of a chaplain, it was ordered by the chancellor of the diocese, with the assent of the governor of the hospital, the chaplain, and some of the principal inhabitants of the hamlet, that they, or the major part of them, should let the pews in such manner as would best contribute to the maintenance of the chaplain, the repair of the chapel, and the relief of the poor in the hospital (fn. 48). The commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of ecclesiastical benesices in 1650, reported, that Knightsbridge chapel, in the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, belonged formerly to a lazar-house there; that twenty years before the time of the inquiry, it was re-edified and enlarged by public contributions; and that Henry Walker, the minister placed there on probation by the order of parliament, received 101. per annum from the inhabitants (fn. 49). He was afterwards allowed by the committee 40l. per annum (fn. 50); and in the year 1655, I find, that he was presented by Cornelius Holland and George Prime, joint-governors of the chapel (fn. 51). In 1699, the chapel was again re-built at the charge of Nicholas Birkhead, citizen and goldsmith of London; and, as I suppose, at that time lessee under the church of Westminster: the front was a third time re-built, and the whole chapel repaired in 1789. The present lessee is Dixon Gamble, Esq.; the present chaplain, John Gamble, M. A. appointed by the dean and chapter of Westminster, who appear for many years past to have possessed the patronage of the chapel.


Adjoining to Knightsbridge chapel is a charity-school for boys and girls, instituted about ten years ago, and supported by voluntary contributions; the present number of children educated there is fiftyfive.

Smith's manufacture of floor-cloths, and portable houses.

On the south side of the western road, at the distance of near half a mile from Hyde-park-corner, is a large floor-cloth manufacture, belonging to Smith and Co. who carry on a considerable trade also in making portable houses of canvas with wooden frames, and large rooms of the same materials for temporary occasions (fn. 52). On the same side of the road a range of detached houses continues almost to Kensington, being generally described as part of Knightsbridge, and situated in the parish of St. Margaret, Westminster. Among these are principally to be noticed the Duke of Rutland's (fn. 53), and that of the late celebrated Duchess of Kingston (now Sir George Warren's).

Bishop Ward.

Seth Ward, the learned Bishop of Salisbury, resided at Knightsbridge, and died at his house there Jan. 6, 1689 (fn. 54).

William Penn.

William Penn chose this place for his residence for some years, it being near the court at Kensington, where Queen Anne always honoured him with particular attention (fn. 55).

Manor of Knights-bridge.

The manor of Knightsbridge still belongs to the church at Westminster, who were in possession of it as early as the reign of Edward I. (fn. 56) During the temporary alienation of the church lands in the last century, it appears to have been the property of Sir George Stonehouse (fn. 57).

Manors of Neyte and Hyde.


Adjoining to Knightsbridge were two other ancient manors, called Neyte (fn. 58) and Hyde, both belonging to the church of Westminster till the reign of Henry VIII. when they became the property of the crown, having been given, together with the advowson of Chelsea, in exchange for the priory of Hurley in Berkshire (fn. 59). The site of the manor of Hyde constitutes, no doubt, Hyde-park, which adjoins to Knightsbridge on the north, lying between the two roads which lead to Hounslow and Uxbridge. Hyde-park was seized among the crown lands soon after the death of Charles I. and was excepted from sale, with some other of the royal demesnes, by an ordinance of parliament anno 1649. Three years afterwards, it was resolved that Hyde-park, with some other lands, should be sold for ready money (fn. 60). It appears, by an actual survey taken in 1652, previously to the sale, that the park then contained about 620 acres, valued at 8941. 13s. 8d. per annum; the timber growing thereupon was valued at the sum of 4779l. 19s. 6d.; the deer at 300l. the materials of a lodge at 120l. and those of a building designed for a banquetting-house, at 125l. 12s. The park was divided into lots, and being sold to several purchasers (fn. 61), produced the sum of 17,068l. 6s. 8d. including the timber and the deer. After the restoration, when the crown lands were resumed into the King's hands, this park was replenished with deer, and surrounded with a brick wall, having before that time been fenced with pales (fn. 62). The park has been considerably reduced in extent since the survey above-mentioned, partly by the building of dwelling-houses, (between Hyde-park-corner and Park-lane,) but principally by the making of Kensington-gardens (fn. 63). Its present extent, according to a survey taken in 1790, is 394 A. 2 R. 38 P. (fn. 64) In the upper part of the park, adjoining to Kensington-gardens, are some fine trees, and the scenery is very pleasing. The large canal called the Serpentine-river (which has so often proved fatal to adventurous skaiters and desponding suicides) was made about the year 1730, by order of Queen Caroline; the water is supplied by a small stream which rises at Bayswater, and falls into the Thames near Ranelagh, dividing the parish of Chelsea from that of St. George, Hanover-square (fn. 65).

The following description of the diversions of Hyde-park, about that time, will perhaps not be unacceptable: "May 1, 1654. This day was more observed by people going a maying than for divers years past. Great resort to Hyde-park ; many hundreds of rich coaches, and gallants in attire, but most shameful powderd hair men, and painted spotted women: some men plaid with a silver ball, and some took other recreation; but his Highness the Lord Protector went not thither, nor any of the Lords of the Council (fn. 66)." It was about this time that Cromwell met with an accident in Hyde-park, which had nearly cost him his life. Taking the air there one day with Secretary Thurloe, in his own coach and six, he chose to turn charioteer; but the horses proving ungovernable, he was thrown from the box, and in his fall discharged one of his pocket pistols (fn. 67).

A foreigner, who visited England in 1659, (writing to his friend in France,) says, "I did frequently accompany my Lord N. into a field near the town, which they call Hyde-park; the place not unpleasant,—and which they use as our course, but with nothing that order, equipage, and splendor; being such an assembly of wretched jades and hackney-coaches, as, next to a regiment of carmen, there is nothing approacheth the resemblance. This parke was, it seems, used by the late king and nobility for the freshness of the air, and the goodly prospect; but it is that which now (besides all other exercises) they pay for here in England, though it be free for all the world besides; every coach and horse which enters buying his mouthful, and permission of the publican who has purchased it, for which the entrance is guarded with porters and long staves (fn. 68)." Hyde-park still continues to be the favourite place for taking the air, and exhibiting fine coaches, fine horses, and expert horsemanship (fn. 69). Here also the troops, which are quartered in and about the metropolis, are exercised and frequently reviewed.


  • 1. Biograph. Brit.
  • 2. Said to be 91. Gent. Mag.
  • 3. Anno 1777 and 1778.
  • 4. Published in octavo soon after her death, with her portrait prefixed.
  • 5. See an account of her in the Gentleman's Magazine of that year.
  • 6. See p. 160.
  • 7. Gent. Mag. Jan. 1737.
  • 8. Gent. Mag. Jan. 1737.
  • 9. Ibid.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. St. James's Chronicle, Jan. 7, 1772.
  • 12. Gent. Mag.
  • 13. See Philosoph. Transact. vol. xxxii. p. 279. The garden was not inclosed in its present state till the year 1686, as the inscription on the wall imports.
  • 14. Biograph. Brit.
  • 15. Gardener's Dictionary.
  • 16. Biograph. Brit.
  • 17. These herborizations begin on the first Tuesday in April, and are continued till September. They are attended by the apprentices of the Company of Apothecaries; and at the end of the season a premium of a copy of Hudson's Flora Anglica is presented to the young man who has been most successful in discovering and investigating the greatest number of plants. In the month of July there is a general herborization, which is attended by the Court of Assistants, and other gentlemen fond of the same pursuits, who dine together after their excursion, at some village near London. Pulteney's Anecdotes of Botany, vol. ii. p. 100.
  • 18. See Cl. 16 Car. II. pt. 20. No. 13, 14, 15.
  • 19. John Cennick, and the three persons next named, were ministers.
  • 20. A foreign nobleman.
  • 21. A native of Livonia, a merchant and agent of the missions for the brethren.
  • 22. Crantz's History of the Brethren, translated by La Trobe, p. 217.
  • 23. Ibid. p. 397.
  • 24. History of the Brethren.
  • 25. Grant of 7½ acres for sixty-one years, paying 151. 7 s. 6d. per annum to the hospital. Pat. 2 Gul. & Mar. pt. 4. No. 13.
  • 26. Bowack's Antiquities of Middlesex, p.14.
  • 27. Grant of 15 acres for fifty-eight years, paying 301. 4 s. per annum to the hospital. Pat. 5 Gul. & Mar. pt.6. No. 1. Parcel of land for ninety-nine years, paying 5l. per annum. Pat. 8 Gul. pt. 3. No. 8.
  • 28. See Bowack as above.
  • 29. Pat. 10 Gul. pt. 1. No. 18.
  • 30. Title-deeds in the possession of the trustees of Ranelagh-gardens, obligingly communicated by Albany Wallis, Esq.
  • 31. Burney's History of Music, vol. iv. p.668.
  • 32. Papers belonging to the proprietors of Ranelagh.
  • 33. Ibid.
  • 34. Papers belonging to the proprietors of Ranelagh.
  • 35. Az. a cross between 4 pheons Or.
  • 36. Burney's History of Music, vol.iv. p.668.
  • 37. See in the Gentleman's Magazine, August 1742, a letter from a foreigner, giving an account of his visit to Ranelagh-gardens. It appears to have been the fashion to walk in the park till twilight, and then adjourn to the Rotunda at Ranelagh.
  • 38. Daily papers, 1744, &c. where there is frequent mention of the Prince and Princess of Wales, with other branches of the royal family, going to Ranelagh, whence they retired at ten, half past ten, or eleven o'clock at the farthest.
  • 39. "Last Friday evening Comus opened his court at Ranelagh, to a very numerous and polite audience. The court was conducted with the utmost decency and becoming humour. The procession was well received, and several of the pieces encored; and the mock Italian duet went off with the utmost spirit." Daily Adv. Sept. 2, 1754. Comus will again open his court to-morrow, being the 4th inst. at Ranelagh, with several alterations, and the addition of some new choice spirits. The comic ode will be "divided into three parts, to give relief to the audience. Every time of rest will be particularized by Comus drinking out of his bowl." Ibid. Sept. 3. "Comus intends to appear with several new dainties, at Ranelagh, every Wednesday and Friday till farther notice; and he intends to alter the exercises of his choice spirits nightly." Ibid. Sept. 9. "This day Comus will exhibit some new "declamations, according to choice spirit "custom, from the chair." Ibid. Sept. 18. "This evening Comus will take leave of his choice spirits at Ranelagh; and he will then relate the history of their assembling. As this is the last night, it is to be presumed that every choice spirit will exert themselves to support Comus in the chair." Ibid. Sept. 20.
  • 40. From the information of the manager.
  • 41. Pat. 16 Jac. pt. 29. Sept. 1.
  • 42. Dr. King's MS. account of Chelsea.
  • 43. The reservoirs in Hyde-park, and in the Green-park, are supplied by pipes from the Chelsea water-works.
  • 44. There had been a house upon the same site, which belonged to Sir James Smith, whose widow appears to have been resident there in 1695. Dr. King's MS. account of Chelsea. Lord Shaftsbury was first charged to the parish rates in 1700. A letter from him, dated Chelsea, anno 1708, is printed in the Supplement to the Biographia Britannica.
  • 45. Lanesborough-house occupied only the central part of the present building; the wings were added when it was converted into an hospital.
  • 46. Moral Essays, I. 1. 230.
  • 47. British Journal, Aug. 8, 1724.
  • 48. Newcourt's Repertorium, vol.i. p. 694.
  • 49. Parliamentary Surveys, Lambeth MS. Library.
  • 50. Minutes of the Proceedings of the Committees.—Lambeth Library, vol. xi. p. 232.
  • 51. Ibid. vol. xxxii. p. 429.
  • 52. Unfortunately destroyed by fire while this work was in the press.
  • 53. John Duke of Rutland died there May 29, 1779.
  • 54. Wood's Athen. Oxon. vol. ii.
  • 55. Biograph. Brit.
  • 56. Records of the Church of Westminster.
  • 57. Ibid.
  • 58. Edward VI. granted the house called the Neate, and all the site, circuit, ambit, and premises thereto belonging, late parcel of the possessions of Westminster-abbey, and situated in the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, to Sir Anthony Browne. Pat. I Ed. VI. pt. 9. June 28. There are some houses still called the Neate-houses, situated near the water-side, in that part of Chelsea which lies in the parish of St. George, Hanover-square, and was formerly part of St. Martin's.
  • 59. Ibid. Among these records are some court-rolls of the manor of Hyde, during the reign of Edward III.
  • 60. Perfect Passages, Novem. 26–Dec. 3, 1652.
  • 61. One lot, containing the Banquettinghouse and Old-lodge divisions thereof, with a piece of ground called Spittle-mead, a piece of ground used as a fortification, &c. &c. was sold to Anthony Deane. Particulars of sale, Augmentation-office.
  • 62. From the information of William Harrison, Esq. of the Land Revenue-office, to whom I am indebted for the particulars relating to the survey and sale above-mentioned. There is a plan of Hyde-park by Rhodes.
  • 63. James Hamilton, Esq. the ranger, and John Birch, anno 1665, had a grant of fifty acres in Hyde-park, to plant apple-trees for the purpose of supplying the King with fruit and cyder. They were to consist principally of golden pippins and redstreaks. Pat. 16 Car. II. pt. 18. No. 7.
  • 64. From the information of Mr. Harrison.
  • 65. Thomas Hawes had a grant, 15 Car. II. of all the springs in Hyde-park, for the term of 99 years, with liberty to convey the water to Westminster. Pat. 15 Car. II. pt. 19, No. 1.
  • 66. Several Proceedings of Parliament, April 27–May 4, 1654. Another diurnal says, that there was a great hurling-match between fifty Cornish gentlemen on one side, and fifty on the other; and that the Lord Protector was there, and several of the Privy Council. Moderate Intelligencer, April 26–May 3, 1654.
  • 67. Ludlow's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 508. It appears by the newspapers of that time, that Cromwell was confined to his house several days in consequence of this accident. The Weekly Post (Oct. 3, 1654) represents it to have been the postillion who was thrown from his seat, and that Cromwell was in the coach. The writer of a copy of verses (in the Faithful Scout, Oct. 13) on the Protector's miraculous escape, admits the fact of his being upon the box, and thinking, as it seems, that such a frolic required some excuse, justifies it by the example of the heroes of old.
  • 68. Character of England, in a Letter to a Nobleman in France. London, 1659, 12mo. p. 54.
  • 69. The fashion of frequenting Hyde-park seems to have prevailed, without intermission, for a long period. In 1709 a book was published, called "The Circus, or British "Olympicks; being a Satire on the Ring at Hyde-park."