Cheyne Walk forms part of the A3212 and A3220 trunk roads; it extends eastwards from the southern end of Finborough Road past the Battersea and Albert Bridges, after which the A3212 becomes the Chelsea Embankment. It marks the boundary of the, now withdrawn, extended London Congestion Charge Zone.
East of the Walk is the Chelsea Physic Garden with its cedars. To the West is a collection of residential houseboats which have been in situ since the 1930s.
Cheyne Walk takes its name from William Lord Cheyne who owned the manor of Chelsea until 1712. Most of the houses were built in the early 18th century. Before the construction in the 19th century of the busy Embankment, which now runs in front of it, the houses fronted the River Thames. The most prominent building is Carlyle Mansions.
In 1972, number 96 Cheyne Walk, the then home of Philip Woodfield, a British civil servant, was the site of a top secret meeting between the British government and the leadership of the Provisional IRA aimed at ending the violence in Northern Ireland. The talks were inconclusive and the violence soon started again.
Many famous people have lived (and continue to live) in the Walk:
- Admiral William Henry Smyth, and later Keith Richards, lived at number 3, which in 1945 became a National Trust property housing the Benton Fletcher collection of keyboard instruments.
- George Eliot spent the last three weeks of her life at number 4. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, acquired it in 2015.
- Vera Brittain, novelist and pacifist, and her husband, George Catlin, lived at number 2 before and during the Second World War.
- The miser John Camden Neild lived at number 5.
- David Lloyd George lived at number 10. Gerald Scarfe now lives there. The house has a plaque to commemorate Margaret Damer Dawson who was an early head of the women's Police service.
- Ralph Vaughan Williams lived at number 13 from 1905 to 1928. There he wrote works including his first three symphonies, the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, The Lark Ascending, and Hugh the Drover.
- The landscape painter Cecil Gordon Lawson lived at number 15 (a number of his works still hang there) …
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti lived at number 16 (where he was banned from keeping peacocks due to the noise) from 1862 to 1882 …
- and so did Algernon Charles Swinburne.
- Thomas Attwood (composer) (1765–1838) lived at No 17 for some years up to his death in 1838. He was organist at St Paul's Cathedral from 1796, and of the Chapel Royal from 1836. He was a pupil of Mozart. Thomas Attwood is buried in the crypt of St Paul's underneath the organ.
- No 18 was renowned for being the home of the curious museum (knackatory) and tavern known as Don Saltero's Coffee House. The proprietor was James Salter, who was for many years the servant of Sir Hans Sloane.
- Sir Hans Sloane’s manor house, demolished in 1760, stood at numbers 19–26.
- James Clerk Maxwell lived at 41 while lecturing at King's College London in the early 1860s. He used the iron railings outside his home in two experiments on electro-magnetic fields, much to the dismay of friends and foreigners.
- James Abbott McNeill Whistler lived at numbers 21 (1890–92), 72 (? to his death there in 1903), 96 (1866–78) and 101 (1863) at different times.
- Edward Arthur Walton lived at number 21.
- Erskine Childers lived at 20 Carlyle Mansions with his family, and wrote his novel The Riddle of the Sands there as well. He also lived at 16 Cheyne Gardens for several years.
- Nicolaus Ludwig, Imperial Count von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf, and the Brethren of the Moravian Church renovated Lindsey House at numbers 99–100 in Cheyne Walk in the mid-18th century; it was for a number of years the headquarters of their worldwide missionary activity. Moravian Close nearby is still the London God's Acre, where many famous Moravians are buried.
- Mortimer Menpes, the watercolourist and etcher, shared a flat with Whistler.
- Henry James spent his last years at number 21.
- Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull lived at number 48 in 1968.
- Artist Charles Conder lived at 91 Cheyne Walk, 1904 - 1906
- The chemist Charles Hatchett, the poet William Bell Scott, and the anatomist John Marshall lived at Belle Vue House, number 92.
- Elizabeth Gaskell was born at number 93.
- Diana Mitford lived at number 96 with her first husband Bryan Guinness in 1932.
- Sir Marc Brunel, who designed the Thames Tunnel, lived at number 98 …
- as did his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
- Hugh Lane, art dealer, collector and founder of the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art lived at number 100 (Lindsey House) from 1909 until his death on the RMS Lusitania in 1915.
- John Sainsbury, multimillionaire part Sainsbury founder, lived at number 103
- Hilaire Belloc lived at number 104, as did the artist Walter Greaves
- John Tweed, sculptor and friend of Auguste Rodin, lived at number 108.
- Sir Philip Steer lived at number 109.
- J.M.W. Turner died at number 119 in 1851.
- Sylvia Pankhurst lived at number 120 after leaving university.
- Edith Cheesman, watercolour artist, lived at number 127 in 1911.
- John Paul Getty II lived here from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.
- George Weidenfeld, publisher, now Lord Weidenfeld of Chelsea, has lived here since the 1960s.
- George Best once had a flat there.
- Shapur Kharegat, journalist, editor and former Asia Director of The Economist lived at 17 Carlyle Mansions from 1947 until 1964.
- Laurence Olivier and Jill Esmond lived there in the 1930s.
- Charles Edward Mudie, English publisher and founder of Mudie's Lending Library, was born 1818 in Cheyne Walk; where his father owned a Circulating library, stationery and book binding business at No. 89.
- Mary Sidney lived at Crosby Hall from 1609 to 1615
- In July 1972, during a short-lived ceasefire, an IRA delegation that included Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness held talks in a house in Cheyne Walk with a British government team led by NI Secretary William Whitelaw.
- Lionel Davidson lived at Carlyle Mansions from 1976 to 1984, where he wrote The Chelsea Murders, a CWA Gold Dagger winner.
- The Old Cheyneans – former pupils of Sloane Grammar School, Hortensia Road, Chelsea – take their name from the association with Cheyne Walk and Sir Hans Sloane who lived there.
- Sol Campbell has a six-storey, five bedroom house in Cheyne Walk
- The climax of The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles is set at number 16.
- In Stormbreaker, Alex Rider directs his cab to his home in Cheyne Walk, London.
- Thomas Carnacki lived in a flat at 472 Cheyne Walk.
- Sâr Dubnotal owned a house in Cheyne Walk.
- In the episode "The Constant" (Season 4, Episode 5) of Lost, Penelope Widmore lives in number 423.
- In Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley series, Simon and Deborah St James live and work on Cheyne Walk.
- In Timothy Findley's Pilgrim, the eponymous main character is a former resident of Cheyne Walk.
- In Iris Murdoch's A Word Child, Gunnar Jopling and his second wife, Lady Kitty, lived here.
- In Daniel Silva's The Defector, the Russian billionaire Viktor Orlov lives at number 43.
- Margaret Prior, the protagonist of Sarah Waters' Affinity lives on Cheyne Walk.
- Katherine Hilbery, the protagonist of Virginia Woolf's second novel, Night and Day lives on Cheyne Walk with her parents.
- Sean Dillon a recurring character from author Jack Higgins has a home in Cheyne Walk.
- Lady Celia Lytton and members of her family live in a house on Cheyne Walk for more than half a century in Penny Vincenzi's trilogy, The Spoils of Time.
- Richard Bolitho's mistress Lady Catherine Somervell kept a house on Cheyne Walk as mentioned in Alexander Kent's novel, The Darkening Sea.
- In Cassandra Clare's 'The Infernal Devices' series, werewolf Woolsey Scott lives at No.16.
References and sources
- "The Gentleman's Magazine". google.com.
- Thomas Burrows, Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg buys £17m seven-bed Thames-side mansion once owned by 'George Eliot', The Daily Mail, July 27, 2015
- Damer Dawson's plaque, LondonRemembers.com, retrieved 20 July 2014
- Pamela Todd, Pre-Raphaelites at Home, Watson-Giptill Publications, ISBN 0-8230-4285-5
- "No. 72, Cheyne Walk". british-history.ac.uk.
- Faithfull, Marianne (1995). Faithfull. Penguin. p. 223. ISBN 0-14-024653-3.
- "Charles Conder" by Ann Galbally and Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of NSW., 2003, p.200, ISBN 978-0-7347-6343-3
- Godfrey, Walter Hindes (1913). "Belle Vue House, No. 92, Cheyne Walk". Survey of London, vol. 4: Chelsea, pt II. British History Online. pp. 31–32. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- "Diana Mosley". google.com.
- O'Byrne, Robert Hugh Lane 1875–1915. Lilliput Press, 2000, p. 118.
- Obituary, The Independent, 14 June 2001
- London and Country Directory, 1811
- Article titled "Mudie's" in the 'London Echo'
- Riley-Smith, Ben (30 September 2014). "Sol Campbell attacks Labour's mansion tax in scathing series of tweets". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
- Stourton, James (2012). Great Houses of London (Hardback). London: Frances Lincoln. ISBN 978-0-7112-3366-9.