Cheyne Walk: No. 1

Pages 31-33

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, leaseholder, etc.

The ground landlord is the Earl Cadogan, the present leaseholder being S. P. Newcombe, Esq.

General description, etc.

We now begin at the east end of Cheyne Walk. No. 1 is a modern house, but it contains a sufficiently large amount of early work, taken from the district and elsewhere, to justify its inclusion here. It was built in 1887–1888 on the site of an early 18th century house, (fn. 1) from the designs of Mr. F. Hemmings. The house stands at the corner of Flood Street, originally called Pound Lane, then Robinson's Row, and later Queen Street. The village pound used to stand opposite the end of the lane at the waterside.

The portions of old work incorporated in the house are from the following buildings:—No. 12 Cheyne Walk contributed the columns and carved entablature of the front doorway and some finely-carved mahogany doors and architraves, which have been used in the library and dining-room. A mahogany bookcase in the library on the ground floor stood formerly in the dining-room of No. 12. Radnor House, which stood at the end of Paradise Row, at the corner of Flood Street, opposite to No. 1 Cheyne Walk, gave the beautiful chimney-piece, with a frieze of carved foliage and birds, placed in the front bedroom (second floor). No. 8 Cheyne Walk produced the balusters of the staircase, which have the same design as those of Nos. 2 and 3; and the charming Queen Anne panelling in the drawing-room came from an old house in Austin Friars. Leading out of the dining-room is a small ante-room, which seems to have been built to receive the panelling of one of the 18th century "powderrooms," and preserves an early chimney-piece of pleasing design.

Condition of repair.

The house is in excellent repair.

Historical notes on the Houses from which the various features have been taken.

Radnor House was the last house in Paradise Row, on the right-hand side as the visitor approached Chelsea from London, and was finally destroyed in 1888. It was probably built at the same time as the western end of Paradise Row and obtained its name from Lætitia Isabella, Countess of Radnor, who was, perhaps, its first occupant. Until the publication of Mr. Randall Davies' exhaustive work on Chelsea Old Church it was supposed that this was the residence of the Earl of Radnor, but Mr. Davies has shown that the Earl lived at Danvers House from 1660 to 1685, the year of his death, and that it was Danvers House, not Radnor House, at which he entertained Charles II., and which was described by Pepys as "the prettiest contrived house that I ever saw in my life." (fn. 2) After the Ear of Radnor's death Lady Radnor married Charles, Lord Cheyne, who was then a widower. She lived with him till he died in 1698, and it was after his decease that she resided at Radnor House, till in 1714 she was buried beside her second husband. The date of the surviving chimney-piece is not earlier than 1698.

No. 8 Cheyne Walk was one of six houses pulled down when Manor Street was widened. Of its residents the rate-books give us the name of Sir John Brown, 1723–1734; Edward le Novo, 1738–1739; William Latton, 1740–1741. Mrs. Mary Norman occupied the house during the period between 1748 and 1775, the missing books before this time making it uncertain if she resided here longer than these 28 years. Her name must not be confused with that of the "Mrs." Norman who is the subject of Faulkner's graceful little encomium, and who died in 1827, leaving £112 4s., the interest of which was to be distributed annually to the poor. In 1782 we find Michael Duffield living at No. 8, and he occupied both No. 7 and 8 from 1790 to 1800.

No. 12, formerly No. 13 Cheyne Walk, was the most considerable of the six houses pulled down in 1887. Mr. William Ascroft, to whom we owe the details of the features preserved in No. 1, thus describes the building:—This was a noble Georgian mansion, formerly extending half way across old Manor Street, the doorway at No. 1 being in the centre. There was a bay at the back. Originally there were seven windows in the first and second floor front. An additional storey with "curb" roof was added by Sir John Scott Lillie, who at one time lived here. The drawing-room ceiling was in the Adams' style, having oval ornamentation and decorative vases, at one time tinted with French white, the plain part or field being of delicate lilac. The mahogany doors are now at No. 1, also other fittings. There were some beautiful chimney-pieces, that in the dining-room being of oak. It had a beautifully carved lion on the centre plaque, and fruit and flowers with ribbons along the top and down the sides, with curved "tabernacle" moulding.

The first occupant of the house was the Earl of Sutherland, who took up his residence here, according to the rate-books, in 1723 and continued until 1736. The house remains in his name, although marked "empty," until the break in the lists in 1742. From 1748 to 1751 we find Thomas Pigot, and in 1754 Jane Stedwell. It was occupied in the four following years by Matthew Thompson, succeeded in 1760 by Viscount Kilmorey, (fn. 3) who lived here until 1768. Its next occupant, a solicitor, Mr. John Fraine, suffered from a curious paralytic disease which mystified the great Dr. Messenger Monsey, and is the subject of a long letter by the doctor describing his symptoms, printed by Faulkner. He died in 1785, aged 70. Faulkner gives us also the curious but painful circumstances in which Mr. Fraine's son and daughter committed suicide, the latter in the year of her father's death. From 1790 to 1800 the house was occupied by Col. Philip Skene. Mr. William Ascroft tells us that Justice Gregory, who lived here in the early half of last century, used to give the watermen who plied at the Bishop stairs opposite a guinea a year to protect the rooks, for there was then a rookery in the great elms which stood on either side, some few remaining for a short time after the Embankment was made.

Bibliographical references.

Thomas Faulkner, Chelsea and its Environs (2nd edition, 1829).
Alfred Beaver, Memorials of Old Chelsea (1892).
Reginald Blunt, Paradise Row (1906).
Harper's Magazine (1881).
Building News (26th September 1879).

In the committee's ms. collection are—

3168. (fn. 4) Nos. 1 to 5 Cheyne Walk (photograph).
3169. (fn. 4) Front door from No. 12 Cheyne Walk (photograph).
3170. (fn. 4) Front door from No. 12 Cheyne Walk (photograph).
3171. (fn. 4) Chimney-piece from Radnor House (photograph).
3172. Drawing-room.
3173. Dining-room.


  • 1. See sketch in Harper's Magazine, 1881; also a drawing of the new front of No. 2 Cheyne Walk in The Building News, Sept. 26, 1879, which indicates a portion of No. 1 with its doorway, &c.
  • 2. We are fortunate in possessing plans of Danvers House in the John Thorpe Collection (Soane Museum) and a plan of the elaborate garden in the Aubrey MSS. (The Bodleian Library).
  • 3. John Offley, the owner of the Lawrence House property, who died in 1784, bequeathed all his property to Francis Needham, younger son of Robert, seventh Viscount Kilmorey and Mary [Offley].
  • 4. Reproduced here.