Chelsea in London

Wednesday, 7 March 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, London
Reading Time:  8 minutes

Clabon Mews © flickr:com - Cristian Bortes/cc-by-2.0

Clabon Mews © flickr:com – Cristian Bortes/cc-by-2.0

Chelsea is an affluent area in West London, bounded to the south by the River Thames. Its frontage runs from Chelsea Bridge along the Chelsea Embankment, Cheyne Walk, Lots Road and Chelsea Harbour. Its eastern boundary was once defined by the River Westbourne, which is now in a pipe above Sloane Square tube station. The modern eastern boundary is Chelsea Bridge Road and the lower half of Sloane Street, including Sloane Square. To the north and northwest, the area fades into Knightsbridge and Brompton, but it is considered that the area north of King’s Road as far northwest as Fulham Road is part of Chelsea. The football club Chelsea F.C. is based at Stamford Bridge in neighbouring Fulham.

The district is entirely within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, although Chelsea gives its name to nearby locations, such as Chelsea Harbour located within the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and Chelsea Barracks in the City of Westminster. From 1900, and until the creation of Greater London in 1965, it formed the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea in the County of London. The exclusivity of Chelsea as a result of its high property prices has historically resulted in the term Sloane Ranger being used to describe its residents. Since 2011, Channel 4 has broadcast a reality television show called Made in Chelsea, documenting the lives of affluent young people living there. Moreover, Chelsea is home to one of the largest communities of Americans living outside the United States, with 6.53% of Chelsea residents being born in the U.S.

Clabon Mews © flickr:com - Cristian Bortes/cc-by-2.0 Christmas lights in Sloane Square © flickr com - Wolfiewolf/cc-by-2.0 Church of Holy Trinity in Sloane Street © Paul the Archivist/cc-by-sa-4.0 Fulham Road © panoramio.com - IIya Kuzhekin/cc-by-3.0 Fulham Road - Goat in Boots © flickr.com - Ewan Munro/cc-by-sa-2.0 King's Road © Mark Ahsmann/cc-by-sa-3.0 King's Road © geograph.org.uk - Colin Smith/cc-by-sa-2.0 King's Road - Eight Over Eight © flickr.com - Ewan Munro/cc-by-sa-2.0 RHS Chelsea Flower Show - Winner of the 'Diamond Jubilee Award' 2014 © flickr.com - Horticulture Week/cc-by-2.0
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RHS Chelsea Flower Show - Winner of the 'Diamond Jubilee Award' 2014 © flickr.com - Horticulture Week/cc-by-2.0
Chelsea once had a reputation as London’s bohemian quarter, the haunt of artists, radicals, painters and poets. Little of this seems to survive now – the comfortable squares off King’s Road are homes to, amongst others, investment bankers and film stars. The Chelsea Arts Club continues in situ; however, the Chelsea College of Art and Design, founded in 1895 as the Chelsea School of Art, moved from Manresa Road to Pimlico in 2005. Its reputation stems from a period in the 19th century when it became a sort of Victorian artists’ colony: painters such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, J. M. W. Turner, James McNeill Whistler, William Holman Hunt, and John Singer Sargent all lived and worked here. There was a particularly large concentration of artists in the area around Cheyne Walk and Cheyne Row, where the Pre-Raphaelite movement had its heart. The artist Prunella Clough was born in Chelsea in 1919. Chelsea was also home to writers such as George Meredith, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Leigh Hunt and Thomas Carlyle. Jonathan Swift lived in Church Lane, Richard Steele and Tobias Smollett in Monmouth House. Carlyle lived for 47 years at No. 5 (now 24) Cheyne Row. After his death, the house was bought and turned into a shrine and literary museum by the Carlyle Memorial Trust, a group formed by Leslie Stephen, father of Virginia Woolf. Virginia Woolf set her 1919 novel Night and Day in Chelsea, where Mrs. Hilbery has a Cheyne Walk home. In a book, Bohemia in London by Arthur Ransome which is a partly fictional account of his early years in London, published in 1907 when he was 23, there are some fascinating, rather over-romanticised accounts of bohemian goings-on in the quarter. The American artist Pamela Colman Smith, the designer of A. E. Waite‘s Tarot card pack and a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, features as “Gypsy” in the chapter “A Chelsea Evening”. A central part of Chelsea’s artistic and cultural life was Chelsea Public Library, originally situated in Manresa Road. Its longest serving member of staff was Armitage Denton, who joined in 1896 at the age of 22, and he remained there until his retirement in 1939; he was appointed Chief Librarian in 1929. In 1980, the building was purchased by Chelsea College of Art and Design. The Chelsea Collection is a priceless anthology of prints and pictures of old Chelsea. Begun in 1887, it contains works by artists as notable and diverse as Rossetti and Whistler. During his time at the Library, Armitage Denton built the Collection assiduously, so that by the time of his death in July 1949 it numbered more than 1,000 items. At the end of the 20th century, the Collection totalled more than 5,000 works, and it continues to grow. The Chelsea Society, formed in 1927, remains an active amenity society concerned with preserving and advising on changes in Chelsea’s built environment. Chelsea Village and Chelsea Harbour are new developments outside of Chelsea itself.

Chelsea shone again, brightly but briefly, in the 1960s Swinging London period and the early 1970s. The Swinging Sixties was defined on King’s Road, which runs the length of the area. The Western end of Chelsea featured boutiques Granny Takes a Trip and The Sweet Shop, the latter of which sold medieval silk velvet caftans, tabards and floor cushions, with many of the cultural cognoscenti of the time being customers, including Keith Richards, Twiggy, and many others. The “Chelsea girl” was symbol of, John Crosby wrote, what “men [found] utterly captivating”, with a “‘life is fabulous’ philosophy”. Chelsea at this time was home to The Beatles and to The Rolling Stones members Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards. In the 1970s, the World’s End area of King’s Road was home to Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood‘s boutique “SEX“, and saw the birth of the British punk movement. By the late 1970s, the growing bohemian and punk population moved from Chelsea into nearby Notting Hill and further north to Camden Town, with the rapid gentrification of the two areas, both of which remain places with a significant population of artists, musicians and those who work in other creative industries, particularly Camden Town. King’s Road remains the major artery through Chelsea and a busy road, and despite its continuing reputation as a shopping mecca, is now home to many of the same shops found on other British high streets, such as Gap, and McDonald’s. Sloane Street is quickly catching up with Bond Street as one of London’s premier shopping destinations, housing a variety of high-end fashion or jewellery boutiques such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Gucci, Harrods, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Valentino, Bvlgari, Gianni Versace and Graff.

Read more on VisitLondon.com – Top 15 things to do in Chelsea, RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Wikivoyage South Kensington-Chelsea and Wikipedia Chelsea (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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