Paradise Row, south side: Nos. 67-69 Royal Hospital Road and No. 1 Swan Walk

Pages 11-12

Survey of London: Volume 2, Chelsea, Pt I. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1909.

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In this section


Ground landlord.

This property belongs to W. Brindley, Esq.

General description and date of structure.

Continuing westward we come upon a block of earlier houses than the last-named: Nos. 69, 68 and 67, which brings us to the corner of Swan Walk. The first house in this street is also part of the same block of buildings.

No. 1 Swan Walk, which stands in a nice overgrown garden, has indications of having been first built in the early part of the 18th century. On the first floor the two rooms are panelled throughout, the one to the north having moulded panels and a fine cornice quite of the best period. The cornice is continued round the staircase. The southern room has large panels of plainer design. Both rooms have fireplaces, with the original marble slips; the great depth of the chimney stack, allowing for very large cupboards each side of the fireplaces, points to an early date.

A very good lead cistern remains from the original house, having two panels of interlacing lines each enclosing the following initials with the date (fn. 1) :—
W/IM 1719 W/IM

To whom these initials refer we have not yet been able to discover.

In the 18th century, towards its close, Nos. 67, 68 and 69 Royal Hospital Road were built, and about the same time No. 1 Swan Walk was remodelled, and this may have been the occasion of cementing over the brickwork. Latterly this house has been used in conjunction with No. 67 Royal Hospital Road, but the connecting doorway is now stopped up. It seems probable that No. 67 was built as an addition to the house, as it has only two rooms on each floor. The staircase, with its newels 4 inches square, originally surmounted by half-spheres (of which one remains on the second floor), turned pendents, square moulded handrail and 2¼-inch turned balusters, belongs to the latter half of the 18th century. The rather elaborate doorway and iron grille in the fanlight are of pleasing design.

No. 67 Royal Hospital Road depends for its interest more on its external features. It possesses a charming window with cornice and a semi-circular head, which, however, is not glazed as it pretends to be. The room with this window has a moulded dado rail with a running guilloche ornament—otherwise the interior appears entirely early Victorian, having lost any other old features which it may have possessed.

Nos. 68 and 69 are evidently of the same date as No. 67. The colour and appearance of the brickwork are identical. The face of these two houses is not in a line with No. 67, nor at the same inclination to the road, and they have evidently always been separate dwellings. The windows are similar, though there is no repetition of the elaborate window above described. The buildings are quite unpretentious, but pleasing on account of the colour and texture of the brickwork.

Condition of repair.

These houses were carefully repaired and painted in 1908 and are in excellent condition.

Historical notes.

There have been so many changes in this part of the ancient Paradise Row, and the rate-books are so far from explicit regarding the order in which the entries are set down, that it is difficult to identify any names with these houses with any certainty. It may be noticed, however, in John Haynes' plan of the Physic Garden, dated 1751 (see Plate 13), that there is an entrance into the garden near the top of Swan Walk, and exactly opposite to it is a gateway which should lead into the garden of No. 1. It seems probable that this gate was used by the Curator of the Botanic Garden, Philip Miller, whom the rate-books place in Swan Walk at this period, and if this is so we may fairly claim the house as his residence. Philip Miller seems to have lived in another house in Swan Walk, assessed at £6 less in value, from 1733 to 1740. He was Curator from 1722 to 1771, the year of his death. The residents in this house would then be as follows:—

1711–1731. William Ambrose.
1733–1740. Thomas Abbott.
1741–1762. Philip Miller.
1763–1793. Christopher Kempster, junior.
1793–1800. Mary Kempster.

In the committee's ms. collection are—

3136. General view (photograph).
3137. (fn. 2) General view (line drawing).
3138. Nos. 67, 68 and 69 Royal Hospital Road, general view (photograph).
3139. Nos. 67, 68 and 69 Royal Hospital Road, another view (photograph).
3140. No. 1 Swan Walk, front view (photograph).
3141. (fn. 2) No. 1 Swan Walk, Doorway (photograph).


  • 1. Removed by Mr. Brindley to his house, Eastercourt, Boscombe, Hants (1908).
  • 2. Reproduced here.