A Chelsea Walk, followed by lunch at the Chelsea Arts Club
Saturday 22nd April 2017
A cheerful group of 26 members and guests gathered outside Sloane Square tube on Saturday 22nd of April. The day was a little overcast, but that was soon forgotten.
We were shepherded into three groups: two led by Past Masters Ron Wood and Jan Yerbury and the other by Sally Gill, our current Master, of course.
For the first part of the walk we assembled in the centre of Sloane Sq on what can best be described as a large rectangular roundabout. (Originally it was a normal cross roads.) For most of us, Sloane Sq would be reasonably familiar territory but some may not know about Holy Trinity Church – at the bottom of Sloane St. According to the experts it is the apotheosis of the Arts and Crafts movement. And a fine example it is too. Nearby is Peter Jones, of course, where I (or rather my parents) bought my senior school uniform – 54 years ago.
We then headed south down Lower Sloane St and then into the exotically named Turks Row and straightaway we felt we had entered ‘hidden’ Chelsea. Soon we encountered Burton Court – a large park area, next to the Chelsea Royal Hospital, where the Chelsea Flower Show is staged each year. Then past the Army Museum.
Then into further streets (Tite and Dilke) and the Bohemian nature of Chelsea became more evident. Houses with large windows – ideal for artists’ studios. Near there was the London Sketch Club whose members included artists associated with magazines and newspapers. One past member was H M Bateman who was famous for "The Man Who..." series of cartoons, featuring comically exaggerated reactions to minor social gaffes, such as "The Man Who Lit His Cigar Before the Royal Toast".
We were reminded throughout the walk of the influence of Sir Hans Sloane. As well as being a physician, he was a collector and became President of the Royal Society. But more importantly he bought the Manor of Chelsea in 1712. His daughter married Lord Cadogan who also had substantial property interests. Street names in Chelsea such as Oakley and Elystan derive from branches of the Cadogan family. I imagine that the family did not play Monopoly at Christmas as it was too much like real life.
We trotted past the Chelsea Physic Garden and then into Cheyne Walk. Virtually every house has or has had a famous resident including George Eliot, Sir Arthur Sullivan, Mick Jagger, Jane Asher & Gerald Scarfe. Dante Gabriel Rosetti had a house there and kept a small zoo with a large number of peacocks. The neighbours complained so bitterly that the landlord (Cadogan Estates) stipulated in all future Cadogan leases to this day that peacocks be banned.
At the bottom of Cheyne walk is a statue to St (Sir) Thomas More. Rather unusual as it is painted. Finally we ended up at the Chelsea Arts Club for lunch thanks to the kind sponsor of Nicola Braban, an Arts Club Member. There is a largish bar area which is somewhat dominated by a full size snooker table. On a previous occasion I saw a cat sleeping on the table which would pose difficulties for the match referee at the World championships.
We then repaired to have a splendid lunch – lots of tasty food and wine and polite and cheery service. This was followed by a brief visit to the club’s charming garden.
We left the Arts Club into bright sunshine and with good cheer, singing the praises of our Master and her able assistants.
Shown right is the leaflet that accompanied the walk which contained details on the route and a few famous names from Cheyne Walk.
See below for a few photos from a very happy day out (click the image to enlarge and scroll through).