Survey of London: Volume 7, Chelsea, Part III: the Old Church. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1921.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Preface', in Survey of London: Volume 7, Chelsea, Part III: the Old Church, (London, 1921) pp. xiv-xv. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]


The subject of the third volume of the Parish of Chelsea is a single building, but one that will never fail to arouse the deep interest, even the veneration of the student of London. The Old Church on Cheyne Walk is now within the Metropolitan area, but it still recalls a period when Chelsea was a riverside village, albeit a village of palaces. To these and to the men and women who dwelt therein, the Church owes much of its supreme interest as a human document in brick and stone. The story of the building and its past worshippers has been eloquently told by Mr. Randall Davies, son of the Rev. R. H. Davies, who, while incumbent, gained for the inhabitants the freeholds of the beautiful chapels that stand north and south of the chancel. Mr. Davies's book is generally recognized as authoritative. To it the present volume is, we hope, a worthy sequel, our object being to present as far as possible a full architectural account of the Church, its fittings and monuments, and thus to complete the record. The Committee have been engaged on work at Chelsea for a number of years, but a large part of our material has been collected during the past eighteen months. Certain of the earlier photographs, however, taken before the late restoration of the Church, have been included as being more valuable for reference than the views of to-day. The intention expressed in a former volume of including the inscriptions in the burial grounds of the Royal Hospital and the Moravians, and the other public burial places of the Parish, with those of the Churchyard in this volume has had to be laid aside because of the increased cost of printing and production. The inscriptions have, however, been all collected and they will be printed in the fourth and concluding part of the Survey.

The thanks of the Committee are due to the Rector of Chelsea, the Venerable Archdeacon H. E. J. Bevan, to the Rev. Weston Henry Stewart, incumbent of the Old Church, and to Mr. R. West, the verger and watchful custodian of the Church's treasures, for the kindly assistance they have given. Acknowledgment is also made to the Trustees of the Chelsea Public Library, and to Mr. J. H. Quinn in regard to the valuable MS. (fn. 1) and other records under their care and for permission to reproduce certain of the drawings; to Major Sir Edward F. Coates, Bt., M.P., for generously placing his famous collection at the Committee's disposal and allowing reproductions to be made; to Mr. Arthur S. Long, of 155 King's Road, for permission to use a number of his photographs; to Mr. Eric R. Jarrett, A.R.I.B.A., and the following students of the Architectural Association. Miss E. G. Cooke, Messrs E. R. Silver, Geoffrey Clark, Cecil Smith, J. H. White, A.R.I.B.A., Lifford Claydon, H. St. John Harrison, A.R.I.B.A., and C. W. Fowler, who have furnished several of the most interesting of the measured drawings; and to Mr. Randall Davies, to whose labours every student of Chelsea is indebted and to whom the Committee are obliged for his kindness in reading the proofs of the present book.

I may, perhaps, be permitted to add a personal expression of gratitude to our Editor, Mr. Philip Norman, and to those members of the Committee who have assisted in a somewhat arduous task and without whose labours this record could not have been undertaken or completed.


11 Carteret Street, Queen Anne's Gate, S.W. 1.


  • 1. This is the first time that any extensive use has been made of Robert Chambers' MS. account of the Church (1816) recently acquired by the Chelsea Library.