Settlement and building: From 1680 to 1865, Chelsea Village or Great Chelsea

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 12, Chelsea. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2004.

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'Settlement and building: From 1680 to 1865, Chelsea Village or Great Chelsea', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 12, Chelsea, (London, 2004) pp. 31-40. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]

In this section


The area between the modern Flood Street in the east and Milman's Street in the west, and from King's Road to the river Thames, formed the main settlement of Chelsea in the Middle Ages, and for a long time was the heart of the parish. After the creation of Little Chelsea, the village was often called Great Chelsea.


Serious speculative building in Chelsea village began in the late 17th century on the 4-acre site of the old manor house, belonging to the Lawrence family. In 1687 Sir Thomas Lawrence leased to Cadogan Thomas of Southwark, merchant, for 62 years the manor house with its grounds and outbuildings, and adjoining close of 3 a., then let to a butcher: Thomas was to build four ranges comprising in all at least 30 substantial brick houses, with a total frontage of 850 ft; the houses were to be two storeys high plus cellars and garrets, each to have a depth of at least 2 rooms on each floor and to be at least 16 ft across; the agreement also specified in detail the measurements for the window openings. (fn. 1) It is not entirely clear what the four ranges referred to, but this could mean two ranges on the east side of Church Lane divided by a new side road called Johns Street (below), and two ranges on either side of the new Lawrence Street: the detail given in the agreement suggests that development of the manor house site had been planned as a whole before work began.

Thomas acted as a contractor, surrendering many sites back to Lawrence's trustees to lease to other builders or purchasers after building; by 1689, when Thomas died, individual houses had been built by John Collett, carpenter, Henry Margetts, plasterer, and Thomas Hearne, bricklayer, all of Westminster. (fn. 2) One lease to Collett in 1688 was of a house 20ft wide fronting Church Lane on a plot stretching back 116 ft to the garden wall of Sir Thomas Lawrence; it lay on the south side of a new street to be called Johns Street, presumably the later Justice Walk. (fn. 3) Houses in Lawrence Street and Church Lane had been built by 1689, and the gardens adjoining Lawrence's house had been divided and built on by 1691: (fn. 4) in 1705 there were c.33 newly-erected houses on the site of the ancient house and adjoining close. (fn. 5) The old manor house was probably demolished soon after 1687: John Bowack, who was living in Church Lane by 1704, did not mention it, (fn. 6) and though Sir Thomas Lawrence was assessed for an empty house in 1704 the middling rate given suggests it was not for the manor house itself. (fn. 7) Dr King referred in 1704 to the tithe paid by Sir Thomas 'before his house was pulled down and now built into many tenements'. (fn. 8) The new houses on the site also included a row of five facing the Thames, later known as Church Row or Prospect Place (nos 59-63 Cheyne Walk), which stretched between the churchyard and Lawrence Street and were all probably built by 1689 when the easternmost was leased; all were rated in 1695. (fn. 9) Three old houses on the north side of Lordship Yard belonging to the Lawrence estate were sold in 1706 to William Cheyne, Viscount Newhaven, who leased them for rebuilding. (fn. 10)

Figure 12:

Section of OS 1st edition map showing Chelsea village

In 1695 there were four houses rated on the western side of Lawrence Street, followed by two on the eastern side. In 1704 John Lawrence leased to Samuel Chase of St Giles-in-the-Fields, bricklayer, two pieces of land at the northern end of the Lawrence property adjoining the glebe, presumably the site of the four houses which closed off Lawrence Street on the north and were later collectively known as Monmouth House. Chase also leased some glebe land in 1704 on the north side to create gardens for the two central houses, which were larger than the rest and faced down Lawrence Street, with a passage between them to the garden, hidden behind a pair of doors with a pedimented doorcase. (fn. 11) They were first rated in 1705-6 as two houses at £28 each and two at £18. The centre house on the east was let from 1715 to Anne, duchess of Buccleuch (d. 1732), widow of James Scott, duke of Monmouth (d. 1685), and from 1718 she also took the adjoining house at right angles: (fn. 12) her residency there gave the house its popular name of Monmouth House, but that led later writers to assume that the block had originally been built as a single mansion. The duchess was in Chelsea from at least 1714, and entertained royalty there in 1716, but spent her later years in Scotland. (fn. 13) The house was rated to her daughter, Lady Isabella Scott, in 1735. (fn. 14) The westernmost house of the group, occupied by Alexander Reid in 1722 and empty in 1735, was rated to Nicholas Sprimont in 1751 when the next house, presumably the western central house, was rated to Tobias Smollett, and the Duchess of Buccleuch's former house to Sprimont as a house and outbuildings, which he used as a showroom for the Chelsea Porcelain works. (fn. 15) Smollett lived in Chelsea from 1750 to 1763, though he never identified his house in his letters. (fn. 16)

Nos 23 and 24 Lawrence Street, facing Justice Walk and still standing in 2003, had twin doorways in a single doorcase, similar to the arrangement shown on Monmouth House c. 1833, (fn. 17) and probably date from the development of c. 1690, which has otherwise left no trace, except for the stuccoed remains of Church Row at nos 62 and 63 Cheyne Walk. (fn. 18) Perhaps because of lack of demand, not all the site was built over in the late 17th century. A factory was built for the Chelsea Porcelain works in 1750 on the west side of Lawrence Street on an empty site between the house at the corner of Justice Walk and Chase's houses at the top of the street, (fn. 19) while a plot of land opposite at the top of Lawrence Street on the east side was still not built on by 1836. In 1714 Richard Culliford bought the lease of the house on the east side near the top, on a site 32 ft to Lawrence Street and 145 ft back to Cheyne Row, built by Thomas Hearne in 1688, and in 1720 he obtained a 20-ft wide strip of the vacant land which lay between him and the wall of the Duchess of Buccleuch's house at the northern end. (fn. 20) The illustration of 'Monmouth House' in 1833 shows the ground still unbuilt, although with a high wall around it. (fn. 21)

Figure 13:

The 4 houses at the top of Lawrence Street, known as Monmouth House

About nine houses of the estate fronted Church Lane between Justice Walk and the parish church and about seven north of Justice Walk, all of which John Offley sold in 1750 in ones and twos, mainly to the occupiers. (fn. 22) Offley's successor Francis Needham sold off further property, including the site of Justice Walk to a builder in 1788: the vestry then had to act to prevent it being built over, despite having been a public highway for over 70 years. (fn. 23) Part of the block of Monmouth House was demolished in 1835 to allow Lawrence Street to be extended. (fn. 24)


In the 1690s new building also increased on parts of the manorial estate in the village. In 1695 Charles Cheyne, Viscount Newhaven, granted to John Clarkson of Chelsea, carpenter, a 41-year lease of the Magpie inn with stable and coachhouse, and Magpie Yard with buildings fronting south onto the road by the Thames; Clarkson paid a fine of £152 and £5 a year rent. He demolished the old buildings, built two new houses, and converted the coachhouse to a dwelling, spending £600. In 1701 he negotiated with Newhaven to buy the freehold for which he paid £203, but in 1705 his son William, also a carpenter, had to bring a case against Charles Munden and his son-in-law John Goodwin, who claimed the property under a previous lease: Munden claimed he was seized of five messuages, three of which had been laid into one and called the Magpie, with the other two on the west side. (fn. 25)

Improvements to existing properties were made in 1706 when William, Lord Cheyne, granted a 99-year lease to John Clarkson of three cottages and gardens, 49 ft by 86 ft, on the north side of Lordship Yard, which adjoined Cheyne's land and had recently been bought from the Lawrence family: Clarkson was to demolish them and use the materials to build three new brick cottages the same size as the old ones. (fn. 26) John Clarkson benefited from his association with Cheyne and from the growth of building in Chelsea: in 1763 his heirs divided free and leasehold property including four houses, gardens, and wharves at Swan Walk, let to a timber merchant; the Magpie and a house and buildings adjoining it in Cheyne Walk; a house in Cheyne Row; a house and buildings at the corner of Little Cheyne Row; and a row of 5 houses and gardens near Cheyne Walk; the total rental was £247 a year. (fn. 27)

New speculative building on the manorial estate began with the 11 houses of Cheyne Row, nos 16-36 (even), built halfway up the modern street on land leased from Lord Cheyne in 1708, the date being marked on a tablet on no. 16. The terrace of three-storeyed houses with basements was originally quite plain, only doorcases and eaves cornice being enriched. It was also regular despite having apparently been built by several different lessees, including John Clarkson, Francis Cook, who held adjoining glebe land, Francis Taylor, carpenter, Francis Parker, plasterer, and Oliver Maddox, bricklayer. (fn. 28) The site was the former bowling green at the rear of the Three Tuns: nos 16-26 backed eastwards onto the old Tudor brick wall of Shrewsbury House, and the remainder onto part of the glebe. No. 14, Cheyne Cottage, was added 50 years later. (fn. 29) Land on the west side of the bowling green was retained for a 30-foot way from the houses to the highway by the Thames, and also gave access to Lordship Yard. (fn. 30) Cheyne bought back the lease of former garden ground on the west side of the Feathers in 1707, which allowed him to create the road from Cheyne Row to the riverside. (fn. 31) The block facing the river between Cheyne Row and Lawrence Street was quickly filled with many small houses, taverns, and commercial premises, such as the malthouse leased to Thomas Harris in 1725 which included granaries, a kiln for drying malt, and the use of an oven and common yard adjoining the malthouse. (fn. 32) The Three Tuns tavern, which adjoined the western wall of Shrewsbury House, and a little house next to it were demolished shortly before March 1711, (fn. 33) and rebuilt as three houses, nos 46-8 Cheyne Walk, by William or John Clarkson; no. 48 was remodelled c. 1750. The Feathers, no. 49 Cheyne Walk, on the corner of Cheyne Row, was later renamed the Princes' Arms. (fn. 34) Nos 8-12 Cheyne Row, near the southern end, were apparently built in the later 18th century on part of the garden of the former Three Tuns. (fn. 35)

Lord Cheyne also allowed land for a 22-foot way near the north end of the bowling green, which marked the end of Cheyne Row, and in 1709 Oliver Maddox and John Clarkson took a building lease from Cheyne of ground between the 22-ft way, later called Upper Cheyne Row, and part of the glebe on the north side. (fn. 36) This road ran eastwards to the boundary between land of the manor and of the glebe. The land, 40 feet deep, on the north side of Upper Cheyne Row was originally intended for stables and a coachhouse, but instead the lessees built houses, renting some glebe on the north side to provide gardens. (fn. 37) The land was apparently still unbuilt in 1715 when John Clarkson drew up his will, (fn. 38) but a continuous row of five individual houses, more modest than those in Cheyne Row but with front courts, was built c. 1716 eastwards from the junction with Cheyne Row as nos 8-16 (later nos 20-8). Nos 4 and 6 (later 16 and 18) were added later, appearing in rate books from the end of the 18th century. (fn. 39) Thomas Hill, mason, and Francis Cook were also lessees of property there, and may have built some of the houses. (fn. 40)

After acquiring Chelsea manor in 1713 Sir Hans Sloane leased out the whole of the great garden west of the manor house for building: Manor Street was laid out through the middle from the riverside northwards as far as the northern wall of the garden, and leases for most of the houses built on the garden were granted 1717-18, many to John Witt. Eighteen houses faced the Thames in a continuous row, broken by Manor Street, to form Cheyne Walk, screened from the road by handsome wrought-iron gates and railings enclosing small entrance courts in French taste. Those on the west side of Manor Street had very long gardens stretching to the northern wall of the great garden, while the gardens on the east side were cut off by plots fronting Robinson's Lane and Manor Street; no. 6, however, had a garden which incorporated one of those plots, giving it access to Robinson's Lane behind the gardens of nos 1-5. (fn. 41) To different degrees all the houses relied on their expertly cut and moulded brickwork and their enriched doorcases for effect. Some of them, such as nos 1-3, were built as speculations, usually 3 or 4 bays wide and with two rooms on each floor, but a few were built to the requirements of the ultimate tenants, such as the five-bayed no. 6, built in 1718 for Joseph Danvers, and no. 16, called Tudor House and later renamed Queen's House. No. 16 was the second largest of the houses, built in 1717 by John Witt for Richard Chapman of St Clement Danes, apothecary, and distinguished by a pediment and projecting rear wings. (fn. 42) Immediately west of Manor Street nos 13 and 14 were built on a plot 40 feet wide leased in 1717 to John Witt and Jeremiah Gray; it was formerly one four-bayed house called the Yorkshire Grey tavern, but was later rebuilt as two. (fn. 43) No. 18, built 1717, was occupied until his death in 1728 by James Salter, who ran his coffee house and museum of curiosities there, popularly known as Don Saltero's Coffee House. It continued in that form until 1799, when the museum was dispersed, but continued as a tavern until 1867. (fn. 44)

It was not until the late 1750s that the Tudor manor house itself was demolished and Cheyne Walk continued westward, with nos 19-26 built 1759-65 in a standard London row on the site: some Tudor brickwork surviving at the base of the façades, and vaults at no. 24, suggest that the foundations of the old house were used. (fn. 45) Two of the houses, nos 21 and 26, had extended gardens which included between them the former manor gardens that lay on the north side of the house, preserving a Tudor wall. (fn. 46) No. 24 incorporated an archway leading to stables, later Cheyne Mews, behind the houses. (fn. 47) By 1769 a row of small cottages had been built in Manor Street behind no. 14 Cheyne Walk and a row of ten houses with good-sized gardens on the opposite side of Manor Street at it furthest extent with other building on the corresponding part of Robinson's Lane to the east. (fn. 48)

Little more new building took place on the manorial estate in the old village until into the 19th century. By 1808 a strip of land on the east side of Dairyhouse field and adjoining Robinson's Lane north of existing building had been leased by the owners of the manor to Lancelot Wood on a building lease, (fn. 49) and by 1813 the existing building had been extended northwards with a row of 16 small houses. Further building had also taken place near the northern end of Robinson's Lane and along the south side of King's Road, where pairs of houses called Manor Row and Manor Terrace spread westwards from the junction with Robinson's Lane. (fn. 50)

In 1813 Manor Street still only extended across the former Great Garden, but by 1836 it had been extended to King's Road, and the northern half was lined with houses on both sides and in some side streets: Wellington and Collingwood streets, and Manor Gardens, a cul-de-sac of small houses with the gardens in front. The west side of Robinson's Lane, now called Queen Street, was also filled, mainly with terraces but with a few pairs of villas near the northern end. (fn. 51)

Along the riverside, one of Chelsea's old mansions, Winchester House, was dilapidated and out of fashion by 1821, when the bishop obtained an Act enabling him to sell it, (fn. 52) and the house and the grounds of 2½ a. were sold to the Cadogan Estate trustees. In 1825 the trustees obtained an Act to enable them to pull down the House, sell the materials, and grant building leases of the site. (fn. 53) The house had been cleared by 1836, (fn. 54) and the site was apparently still vacant in 1847, (fn. 55) but Oakley Street was laid across the site and adjoining glebe from Cheyne Walk to King's Road c. 1850, and by 1850 ten houses at the northern end were occupied, and four at the southern end by 1851. Oakley Street was linked to existing streets such as Upper Cheyne Row, and gave access to Margaretta Terrace on the glebe, where similar terraced houses were being built by 1851. (fn. 56) The land on the west side of Manor Street had been filled by the creation of Grove Cottages and Oakley Crescent, the latter enclosed by smaller Italianate houses in brick and stucco, linked to Oakley Street by Phené Street. By 1865 the southern end of Oakley Street and adjoining parts of Cheyne Walk on the former Winchester site had been built up with terraces of large stuccoed Italianate houses, including a public house which became the Pier Hotel, as was part of the east side from the northern end, though land in the centre belonging to the glebe and the former Shrewsbury House was still unbuilt. (fn. 57)


West of Church Lane the house and land belonging to Danvers House also saw new building in the 1690s. Danvers House with its gardens, orchards, and stables, two houses nearby held by Francis Gilford and Thomas Gilbanck, and Dovehouse Close of 5 acres north of the house, used as an orchard or garden, all belonged to Thomas Wharton, Lord Wharton. (fn. 58) In 1696 Wharton leased part or all of the house and gardens to Benjamin Stallwood, bricklayer, who sub-let sites to the builders of individual houses, such as Nathaniel Hillyard, as well as to the purchasers of houses he had built, with Wharton issuing individual building leases: in 1696-9 leases were granted for three or four houses on each side of the southern end of Danvers Street, and houses either side facing towards the river including that on the site of the Goat. (fn. 59) It is likely that Stallwood put up the plaque once attached to no. 77 Cheyne Walk which recorded that Danvers Street had been started in 1696 by Benjamin Stallwood. (fn. 60) Danvers House was probably demolished at this time, though the street never extended beyond the first seven houses or so on each side until the 19th century. Dovehouse Close, with stables, coachhouse and land which had formed a coachway from the mansion to the stables, ground where the house had stood, and garden ground on the north side surrounded by a brick wall, were all leased by Wharton to Matthew Hutchins, gardener, in 1697. The leases were assigned to another gardener in 1729. (fn. 61)

Of the first houses to be built on the Danvers estate, only no. 7 Danvers Street near the south-west corner still survived when that part of Danvers Street was demolished in 1909, but even then it had been refronted and was undatable. The four houses adjoining it to the north, nos 9-15, were apparently built some years later, most probably by 1722. (fn. 62) In 1717, when the estate was sold to Sir Hans Sloane, (fn. 63) it included 11 new brick houses built by Stallwood, in Danvers Street or facing the river, where one called the Black Boy was occupied by Valentine Arnold and had the Goat's grazing rights in 1719. Another of the houses, in Danvers Street, was occupied by James Salter, owner of the coffee house. (fn. 64) West of the houses in Danvers Street was the White Hart and its small alley, which ran north from the street facing the river. It may have been part of the Danvers estate, but could be part of the buildings belonging to Beaufort House.

Sir Hans Sloane's nephew William bought up the leases of the houses and sites from Stallwood's heirs and other assignees in 1718 and 1722, (fn. 65) and leased ground to William Clarkson in 1724 for 61 years; by 1725 Clarkson had built four new brick houses on a plot 75 ft square west of the White Hart. (fn. 66) The Danvers estate remained largely unchanged from the early 18th century until the 1840s, (fn. 67) when building began again in Danvers Street with about 12 houses built in the street and at the rear in 1846-8, mainly by W. Winks. (fn. 68) Dovehouse Close was laid out with the elongated Paultons Square, already partially inhabited by 1851, and Danvers Street was extended northwards to meet it. (fn. 69) In 1865 Paultons Square and Street and Danvers Street were complete with long terraces of stucco-trimmed white brick houses of moderate size. (fn. 70)


Apart from the west side owned by the Lawrence family and the part belonging to the rectory, Church Lane was held by several freeholders and subject to piecemeal rebuilding rather than large-scale development. Nos 29 and 31 on the west side of Church Street were built or rebuilt c. 1700, as possibly was no. 53. No. 17 was built or rebuilt in the second half of the 18th century, and on the east side nos 24, 26, 38 received new doorcases in the late 18th century. In 1707 the building for Petyt School was erected just north of the church. (fn. 71)

The rector continued to let glebe for gardens to the six houses in Church Lane, which in 1694 belonged to Mr Nichols, as well as five similar gardens let to Sir Thomas Lawrence, and a small garden by King's Road to John Gitto. (fn. 72) He also let some glebe for commercial gardens, and two of the lessees, the Frenchmen Francis Duneau, gardener, and John Narbonne, merchant, each built a house and walled additional land as gardens. By 1704 the rector was able to let his glebe with increased rents for commercial gardens and for building. (fn. 73)

On the glebe on the north side of Upper Cheyne Row the earliest part of Cheyne House was built in 1715 for the duchess of Hamilton, probably set back from the road within the large grounds, which extended east for rest of the row and north to Glebe Place. An additional block of 2 storeys, with dormers in the attic and a deep bay facing east onto the garden, was built on the south side of the house fronting Upper Cheyne Row c. 1750, and became the principal part; gates were added from Glebe Place into the grounds. The house was not, however, shown on maps of 1745 and 1769. (fn. 74)

In 1716 the rector let to Francis Cook of St Martin-in-the-Fields, gardener, 6 acres on the west side of Great Conduit Field, stretching from King's Road to the wall of the Shrewsbury House estate, for 3 lives at £20 16s. (fn. 75) Cook also leased adjoining land called the Pindle south of Upper Cheyne Row from Lord Cheyne. He may have already started building on the glebe, as a house on his leasehold, The Cottage (no. 1 Upper Cheyne Row), built freestanding on the part of the glebe that lay at the east end of Upper Cheyne Row on its south side, was occupied by 1715. It had an unusual two-storey, simple-pile plan with a brick vaulted cellar and 4 rooms on each floor above it. What may have been stabling, demolished by 1912, was attached in line with the house. (fn. 76) In 1724 Cook was making leases of the sites of individual houses on the glebe, between 15 and 16 ft wide and 85 ft long, fronting King's Road, and the houses were built there within 10 months. (fn. 77)

In 1719 the rector let to John Narbonne 2½ a. of glebe in Great Conduit Field fronting King's Road and adjoining the land let to Cook. In 1722 Narbonne sublet a piece 50 ft wide by the road and 130 ft deep to John Peirene (or Pierene) of Westminster. (fn. 78) For Peirene, Giacomo Leoni, a Venetian architect, designed Argyll House in 1723, one of a small group of early 18thcentury houses that survive on the King's Road between the later Oakley Street and Glebe Place, and are comparable in their size and quality with the superior houses that had been built along Cheyne Walk. Described by Leoni as a little country house, the two-storeyed no. 211 is of grey stock brick, the only enrichment being the linked Doric doorcase and pedimented window above. The kitchen and offices were in the basement, and at the far end of the garden behind the house were the stable and coachhouse with lodgings for servants. The small courtyard towards the road was surrounded with an iron palisade. It was named after the duke of Argyll, occupant 1769-70. (fn. 79) On its west side, probably also on Narbonne's land, a pair of identical 3-storeyed houses had already been built in 1720, of warm-coloured stock brick with red brick dressings. (fn. 80) No. 217 at the corner of the later Glebe Place was built c. 1750, of 2 storeys with attic rooms within a mansard roof, and back buildings beside Glebe Place. (fn. 81)

By 1745 more buildings had appeared on the south side of Upper Cheyne Row, and a right-angled road called Cook's Ground, later renamed Glebe Place, had been laid out: (fn. 82) by 1769 it linked into Cheyne Row and had a smattering of buildings around it, including cottages at the south-east angle, one of brick with a tiled mansard roof, standing by gates into Cheyne House grounds, with another building of the same date on the west side of the gates. (fn. 83) Away from King's Road, however, little building took place until the 1820s. Under the Chelsea Rectory Act, 1825, the rector obtained powers to grant 99-year building leases on all the glebe except the rectory house and its grounds. From 1826 the rector issued leases for various houses and land, especially in Cook's Ground, Upper Cheyne Row, and Glebe Place. (fn. 84) In 1836 Cook's Ground still had only a few buildings, and a variety of small terraces, pairs of villas, and individual houses were dotted along King's Road. On the south side of Upper Cheyne Row, the owner of Oakley Lodge (no. 9) leased land adjoining it in 1854 to a builder who had built Dudley Lodge or Villa (no. 7) adjoining. (fn. 85)


The mansion that had belonged to the duke of Buckingham in the mid 17th century was in 1681 bought by Henry Somerset, 1st duke of Beaufort, as his London residence. He and his wife Mary spent much time and money improving the house and the gardens: the Kip view of c. 1700, though it distorts the width, gives an idea of the gracious and fashionable lay-out of the grounds. The duke died in 1699, and the duchess spent her final years at Beaufort House after a quarrel with her grandson, the 2nd duke, but after her death there in 1715 the house remained largely empty, and having been purchased by Sir Hans Sloane in 1737, was demolished in 1740. (fn. 86)

Count Zinzendorf, who bought Lindsey House as a residence 1750-1, also leased the site and grounds of Beaufort House, with a view to building a large Moravian settlement. The stableyard of Beaufort House was turned into a burial ground for the Moravian Church in 1751, with a chapel and minister's house designed by Sigismund von Gersdorf, completed in 1753 and retaining the 16th-century walls on the east and south. A pathway connected the burial ground with Lindsey House. (fn. 87) The Moravian settlement, however, never materialized, and Beaufort grounds were let as garden ground for several years. The narrow street of small houses and commercial premises which lay by the riverside to the east of the Beaufort House forecourt was known as Beaufort Street in 1745, and later renamed Duke Street. (fn. 88) In 1751 it was rated with 30 people, all at less than £10 with some listed as poor and rated at £4; one man was rated for the ferry and two men for part of Beaufort Gardens. (fn. 89)

Beaufort Row, lying approximately in the middle of the line of the later Beaufort Street, was begun in the 1760s, and a short row existed in 1769. (fn. 90) It may have been built in anticipation of the opening of Battersea Bridge, planned in 1766 and opened in 1771; (fn. 91) Beaufort Street was presumably laid out to King's Road in connection with the bridge. Houses facing the river were built at the southern end of Beaufort grounds from c. 1771. Some survived in 2003: no. 91 Cheyne Walk on the west corner of Beaufort Street, with its principal front onto the latter, was first occupied in 1771 and called Belle Vue Lodge or Cottage in the 19th century; (fn. 92) adjoining it on the west no. 92, Belle Vue House, was built in 1771 of stock brick with central bay windows front and back; (fn. 93) and nos 93 and 94 were both built in 1777. (fn. 94) In 1781 the estate, referred to as Beaufort Garden or Street, consisted of c.7 a. on which a row of ten houses had been built, all uninhabited; three houses adjoining the row were leased to Edward Anderson, who also occupied several parcels of ground used as wharves, and five other houses were all occupied, mainly by tenants at will. The house and garden in the north-west corner of the Beaufort estate by King's Road was occupied by Edmund Howard. (fn. 95) The open ground by the river was known as Beaufort green in 1788. (fn. 96)

In 1836 Beaufort Street was largely filled on the west side, with a variety of terraced rows of houses. The east side was still partially open ground, with a few pairs of villas at the northern end and scattered buildings at the southern end. The long period of building the street affected its overall appearance, and in 1865 the street had a mixture of types including some detached houses with large gardens, pairs of large semi-detached houses, and, especially on the west side towards the southern end, a terrace of large houses. (fn. 97)

Figure 14:

Backs of houses by the Thames between the Old Church and Battersea Bridge, before the embankment was built


Before the creation of Chelsea Embankment, the riverside from the Royal Hospital to Battersea Bridge was crowded, mainly with commercial premises. In the 1840s, west of the terraces and gardens of the Royal Hospital and Gordon House, lay Druces' no. 2 wharf, with a shed and open ground, the public Paradise Walk, then Bull wharf, Swan wharf (also belonging to Druces), Swan brewery and a shed occupied by Messrs Lyall, boat-houses occupied by the Goldsmiths' and Skinners' companies, the Apothecaries' and their landing place; Old Swan Wharf, with a malthouse, garden, and causeway leased to the Old Swan public house. At the east end of Cheyne Walk was a public draw dock and a public causeway and stairs, and then the privatelyowned Cadogan Pier with stairs and landing place; the public stairs and causeway owned by the Watermen's Company; the buildings, stables, and wharf occupied by Henry Alldin called Arch House wharf. West of the latter the small cottages on the south side of Lombard Street, nos 19-16, backed onto the river, no. 16 being the Waterman's Arms beerhouse, and no. 15 had a passage from the street. Next to it stood a building and wharf occupied by Chaplain & Company; another wharf occupied by Gladdish; a causeway, the old Ferry wharf house and counting house occupied by John Davis, then the cottages of nos 1-23 Duke Street again backing onto the river with a piece of vacant ground in front of two cottages of Beaufort Place. (fn. 98) West of Battersea Bridge stood Lindsey House wharf, mentioned in 1777 and presumably the one listed as Davis's Place in 1795. (fn. 99) By 1829 there was a large trade in coals, particularly at the wharves at the east end of Cheyne Walk, where coal was transferred from barges to wagons; timber was also handled. (fn. 100)

There was some opposition to the riverside activity. An application was made c. 1842 to stop up the free dock (the Watermen's public stairs) at the end of Old Church Street, though unsuccessfully. (fn. 101) In 1845 residents near the draw dock at the east end of Cheyne Walk protested about the foul language of the carters, their brutality to horses, and the number of carts awaiting the tide, arguing that many users were not ratepayers. The dock was not closed, but a street-keeper was to regulate its use. (fn. 102) Use of the dock also brought great wear to the adjacent road. (fn. 103) In 1846 the improvement commission wished to terminate use of a wharf at the east end of Cremorne Road. (fn. 104) In the 1860s the artist Daniel Maclise protested about the noise and cruelty to horses at the draw dock. (fn. 105)

Figure 15:

Section of OS 1st edition map showing South-east Chelsea and the Royal Hospital

In 1836, despite much piecemeal building and the laying out of new streets, the old village centre was still largely open ground behind the houses lining the principal roads. Between Beaufort Street and Church Street and between the rectory and Manor Street the land that was not being used as the gardens to houses was used as market and nursery gardens, and the early 18th-century Danvers and Lawrence streets and Cheyne Row were largely unchanged apart from a few additional houses. (fn. 106) By 1865, however, the street pattern of the village had been completed by the creation of Oakley Street, linking Cadogan pier in Cheyne Walk to King's Road, the expanses of open ground had been covered by new streets, and unbuilt land was confined to small and erratic patches.


  • 1. PRO, C 10/511/74.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. MLR 1715/1/79.
  • 4. PRO, C 7/330/22.
  • 5. Guildhall MS 1809; CL, deed 2994.
  • 6. Bowack, Antiquities; DNB; BL, Sloane MS 2938, f. 5.
  • 7. BL, Sloane MS 2938, f. 9.
  • 8. Dr King's MS, pp. 3, 16.
  • 9. LMA, AC.79.55; Survey of London, II. 84-6.
  • 10. CL, deeds 2995, 3015, 3031; below.
  • 11. MLR 1715/6/131; Dr King's MS, pp. 13, 24-5; see Fig. 13.
  • 12. Survey of London, IV. 58-9; Poor rate bk, 1716-27, p. 360.
  • 13. Lysons, Environs, II. 92; Chwdns accts quoted in Faulkner, Chelsea, I. 266; Complete Peerage, II. 366.
  • 14. Poor rate bk, 1728-42, ff. 388 seqq.
  • 15. Ibid., 1748-51, rate 22 Feb. 1750/1; below, Econ., trade.
  • 16. The Letters of Tobias Smollett, ed. L.M. Knapp (1970), 14.
  • 17. See fig. 13.
  • 18. Survey of London, IV, 59.
  • 19. Below, Econ., trade.
  • 20. PRO, C 113/85.
  • 21. Survey of London, IV, plate 57. See fig. 13.
  • 22. MLR 1750/1/160-6, 201-2, 349, 532-3, 540.
  • 23. MLR 1788/6/392; Vestry orders, 1771-90, f. 164.
  • 24. Survey of London, IV. 58-9; Thompson, Map (1836).
  • 25. PRO, C 10/416/23;/64.
  • 26. CL, deeds 2995, 3015.
  • 27. CL, deed 19892; MLR 1732/3/111-13.
  • 28. MLR 1709/2/214; 1711/1/134; 1715/4/116, 118.
  • 29. Survey of London, IV. 60. See Plate 9.
  • 30. MLR 1715/4/116.
  • 31. Faulkner, Chelsea, I. 262n.
  • 32. CL, deed 3040.
  • 33. MLR 1711/5/8.
  • 34. Survey of London, II. 82.
  • 35. Survey of London, IV. 60.
  • 36. CL, deed 3034.
  • 37. CL, deed 19892.
  • 38. MLR 1732/3/111.
  • 39. Survey of London, IV. 73.
  • 40. MLR 1714/6/36; 1725/1/113.
  • 41. Survey of London, II. 31-64; MLR 1717/3/171-6; 1717/4/256; 1717/5/198-9; 1717/6/215; 1718/2/180, 216, 264-7; 1718/3/93, 165; 1718/4/60-3; 1718/5/68-9; Horwood, Plan (1792-5); see Plate 2.
  • 42. Survey of London, II. 54; MLR 1718/5/130; 1720/4/340.
  • 43. Survey of London, II. 50.
  • 44. Ibid., 61-3; below, Soc. Hist., social (inns).
  • 45. Survey of London, II. 65-7.
  • 46. Ibid., 69.
  • 47. Ibid., 70.
  • 48. Richardson's Map (1769).
  • 49. KL, deed 6408.
  • 50. Regency A to Z.
  • 51. Thompson, Map (1836).
  • 52. Below, Landownership, Chelsea man.
  • 53. Act 6 Geo. IV, c. 17 (Private).
  • 54. Thompson, Map (1836).
  • 55. CL, Tithe Map and Award.
  • 56. PO Dir. London (1848, 1850, 1858); PRO, HO 107/1472/2/1/6; /2/1/14.
  • 57. Old OS Map, London 87 (1865 edn).
  • 58. CL, deed 3030; below, Landownership, later ests (Sloane Stanley).
  • 59. CL, deeds 2991-3; MLR 1719/1/7-8; 1718/5/26-9.
  • 60. Survey of London, IV. 8.
  • 61. CL, Ar.4/76/11.
  • 62. Poor rate bk, 1716-27, pp. 357-8; Survey of London, IV. 8-10.
  • 63. Below, Landownership, later ests (Sloane Stanley).
  • 64. MLR 1717/4/130.
  • 65. MLR 1718/5/26-9; 1719/1/7-8; 1722/1/63.
  • 66. MLR 1725/1/383.
  • 67. Thompson, Map (1836).
  • 68. LMA, MR/B/SR/1846/132, no. 233-4; 1847/45, nos 46-7; 1847/113, nos 176-9; 1848/50, no. 39; 1848/307, nos 380-2.
  • 69. PRO, HO 107/1472/2/1/3.
  • 70. Old OS Map, London 87 (1865 edn); see plate 9.
  • 71. Survey of London, IV. 51-3.
  • 72. Dr King's MS, p. 8.
  • 73. Ibid., pp. 13, 24-5.
  • 74. Survey of London, IV. 71.
  • 75. MLR 1724/6/190.
  • 76. Survey of London, IV. 69-70.
  • 77. MLR 1724/1/425-6; 1724/6/162-4.
  • 78. CL, deed 3037.
  • 79. Survey of London, IV. 83-4; Pevsner, London NW. 576.
  • 80. Pevsner, London NW. 576.
  • 81. Survey of London, IV. 80.
  • 82. Rocque, Map of London (1741-5).
  • 83. Survey of London, IV. 76.
  • 84. Chelsea Rectory Act, 33 & 34 Vic. c. 1 (Private).
  • 85. CL, deed 20115.
  • 86. Below, Landownership, later ests (Beaufort).
  • 87. Survey of London, IV. 46; below, Rel. Hist., foreign chs (Moravians).
  • 88. Rocque, Map of London (1741-5).
  • 89. Poor rate bk, 1748-51, 22 Feb 1750/1.
  • 90. Richardson's Map (1769).
  • 91. Above, Intro., comms.
  • 92. Survey of London, IV. 29-30. Shown with neighbouring hos in Figs. 38 and 51.
  • 93. Survey of London, IV. 31-2.
  • 94. Ibid., 33-4.
  • 95. MLR 1835/4/726 (deed 5 July 1781).
  • 96. MLR 1788/6/30.
  • 97. Thompson, Map (1836); Old OS Map, London 87 (1865 edn).
  • 98. Embankment Act, 9 & 10 Vic. c. 39; Guildhall MS 21329, copy of schedule; see Fig. 14.
  • 99. CL, deeds 3156, 17552.
  • 100. Faulkner, Chelsea, II. 172-3, 189.
  • 101. Chelsea Misc. 846v.
  • 102. Improvement com. mins, 1845-6, pp. 58-9, 62, 74, 78, 82-3, 97, 112, 137-8, 146.
  • 103. Ibid., 1846-8, p. 16.
  • 104. Improvement com. mins, 1845-6, p. 144.
  • 105. Beaver, Memorials, 210.
  • 106. Thompson, Map (1836).