The Rectory

Survey of London: Volume 4, Chelsea, Pt II. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1913.

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Walter H Godfrey, 'The Rectory', in Survey of London: Volume 4, Chelsea, Pt II( London, 1913), British History Online [accessed 19 July 2024].

Walter H Godfrey, 'The Rectory', in Survey of London: Volume 4, Chelsea, Pt II( London, 1913), British History Online, accessed July 19, 2024,

Walter H Godfrey. "The Rectory". Survey of London: Volume 4, Chelsea, Pt II. (London, 1913), , British History Online. Web. 19 July 2024.

In this section


Ground landlord, leaseholder, etc.

The Rectory is held by the Ven. Archdeacon Bevan.

General description and date of structure.

The present house, as far as can be judged from the existing features, includes the main part of a substantial early Georgian building, but so many alterations and additions have been made that it would be difficult to reconstruct the original plan. Two large rooms with a passage room between them on the ground floor, retain their doors and to a certain extent their chimney-pieces, which agree with the same features found elsewhere in Chelsea of a date about 1725. The bedrooms above also have their old fireplaces. Two large semi-circular bay windows in brickwork were added to the house on its eastern side later in the 18th century. Considerable additions have been made by Archdeacon Bevan—particularly the two western wings, which have been treated in a style that harmonises with the late 18th-century character which the house had acquired. In the outhouses to the north is a certain amount of brickwork of 17th-century appearance, but beyond this there is no trace of the earlier buildings.

The gardens, which comprise over two acres, are surrounded by a high wall, which contains 17th and 18th-century brickwork in places. A mulberry tree of great age is still to be seen.

Condition of repair.

The house is in excellent condition.

Historical notes.

From the MS. of Dr. King, the rector to whom Chelsea is so much indebted for much of its history, we learn that the present site of the Rectory was given by the Marquis of Winchester in 1566 in exchange for the ancient Parsonage House "west of the Duke of Beaufort's." Mr. Randall Davies says (fn. 1) "the description of the old glebe in the Royal Charter quoted by Faulkner clearly identifies it as the land now bounded by the King's Road on the north, Milman's Row on the east, the Thames on the south and Dartrey Street on the west."

The following is the list of Rectors since the Rectory has been on its present site:

1566. Robert Richardson
1569–70–1574. John Churchman.
1574–1585. Thos. Browne, S.T.B.
1585–1615. Richard Ward.
1615–1632. George Hambden, S.T.P.
1632–1669. Samuel Wilkinson, S.T.P.
1669/70–1694. Adam Littleton, D.D.
1694–1732. John King, D.D.
1732–1766. Sloane Elsmere.
1766–1770. Reginald Heber.
1770–1775. Thomas Drake, LL.D.
1775–1797. W. Bromley Cadogan.
1797–1805. Charles Sturgess.
1805–1832. Hon. G. V. Wellesley.
1832–1836. John William Lockwood, M.A.
1836–1860. Charles Kingsley, M.A.
1860– A. Gerald W. Blunt, M.A.
The Ven. Archdeacon Bevan.

The following biographical notes have been gleaned from Mr. Alfred Beaver (Memorials of Old Chelsea) and Mr. Randall Davies (Chelsea Old Church).

Robert Richardson had been Rector in 1554 when he succeeded John Larke, the friend and fellow sufferer of Sir Thomas More, for like him he was beheaded for denying the King's supremacy. Richardson, who had been reproved for "light behaviour in matters of religion,"was ejected by Queen Mary, but re-instated by Elizabeth.

Thomas Browne died at Chelsea, but was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey.

Richard Ward was buried at Chelsea in 1615. There are several entries in the parish registers alluding to his family. He it was who founded the school afterwards rebuilt by William Petyt (q.v.).

Samuel Wilkinson was the fourth and last provost of Chelsea (Theological) College, which stood on the site of the Royal Hospital. His rather questionable habit of collecting other people's books against their will are described by Beaver. He was buried at Chelsea in 1669.

Dr. Adam Littleton, the author of the Latin Dictionary (published first in 1673) is a name well known to scholars. He was chaplain to Charles II., who promised that he should succeed Dr. Busby as headmaster of Winchester, where he had held the second position. He published a volume of sixty-one sermons which he dedicated to his parishioners. He was buried at Chelsea in 1669.

Dr. John King, "the antiquarian Rector of Chelsea," is best known to students of the history of the parish by his MS. account of the district and particularly the glebe. This MS., with its valuable maps, is now preserved in the Public Library. Dr. King found the Rectory in very bad repair and resided for some time in another house in Church Street. He tells us he let "the parsonage" until 1703.

Dr. Sloane Elsmere. See pages 61 and 64

Reginald Heber was the father of the celebrated Bishop of Calcutta. His son was born after he had exchanged his living at Chelsea with the Rev. Thomas Drake for that at Malpas.

William Bromley Cadogan, second son of Charles, third Baron Cadogan of Oakley, took his duties as rector very seriously, and by his almost fanatical attempts to regenerate the parish incurred great opposition and was in no little peril of suffering personal harm. He spent a considerable sum of money in repairing the Rectory. He died in 1797 and was buried at Reading, where he held the Vicarage of St. Giles.

The Hon. G. V. Wellesley was a brother of the first Duke of Wellington. He became Prebendary of Durham and Chaplain to Queen Victoria and died in 1848.

Charles Kingsley was the father of the well-known author, Charles Kingsley, and his brothers George Henry Kingsley, the traveller and writer, and Henry Kingsley, the novelist and essayist. In Henry Kingsley's The Hillyars and the Burtons is a picture of the Chelsea of the period.

A. Gerald W. Blunt was the son of Henry Blunt, senior curate of Chelsea Parish (1824–1830) and later Rector of Holy Trinity, Chelsea (1832–1835). Several additions were made to the Rectory during Mr. Gerald Blunt's residence there.


  • 1. Chelsea Old Church, p. 183.