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					                 Chelsea Society Newsletter
                 Number 24                                                                      January 2005


CHAIRMAN’S LETTER
Reginald Blunt Bequest

When the Founder of The Chelsea
Society, Reginald Blunt, died in
1945, under the terms of his will
he left to Chelsea Library all of his
collection of paintings, letters,
books and other artifacts associated
with the history of Chelsea. He also
left £50 for the purchase of articles
of Chelsea interest to be added to
the collection.

The Metropolitan Borough of
Chelsea set up the Reginald Blunt
Bequest as a registered charity. It
would seem that neither it nor its
successor, the Royal Borough, have
ever used the Bequest to buy
anything; they seem to have simply
invested the £50 gift and allowed
the interest to accrue to £2,500
which is the rough value of the
                                        Drawing of Petyt House, Old Church Street by Nathaniel Sparks.
Bequest today.                          One of a set of seven of Chelsea scenes that, as here, no longer exist

An interesting comparison of this       that the Trust be wound-up and its     INSIDE
situation can be made with the          funds be spent on ‘Encyclopedia
                                                                               Lots Road – Update            2
action taken by the Society. When       Britannica On-Line’ and some           Environment Awards            3
Blunt died we raised the same           DVDs. The Society wrote to the         Vision for Chelsea            3
amount, £50, to purchase                Charity Commission objecting to        Mobile Phone Masts            4
something that would be a fitting a     this, for the reason that the money    New Infirmary for Chelsea     4
memorial of our founder. We             was not being spent in accordance      Sidcup Bypass to Chelsea      5
bought the large painting of the        with the terms of the Bequest.         Open Space                    6
Thomas More Family Group which                                                 Temporary Structures          7
now enhances the main hall of           I am glad to be able to give you the   Congestion Charging           7
Chelsea Town Hall, and was last         news that the Commission agreed        Sloane Square Consultation    8
valued at £140,000. The parable of      with the Society and has suggested     World’s End Distillery        9
the talents (Luke 19 vv 12-27)                                                 Landscape Notes              10
                                        to the Trustees that when
                                                                               Chelsea Festival             12
comes immediately to mind.              considering how the money should       Miscellaneous                13
                                        be spent they should consult with      Whistler Statue              15
Recently, the Trustees of the           the Society beforehand. Many           Visits                       16
Reginald Blunt Bequest proposed         thanks to all those who took the       Diary Dates                  16
                                         PLANING NEWS
time to write to the Commission in       LOTS ROAD INQUIRY                       authorities at the time that
support of the Society’s case; I am                                              planning consent had been
certain every letter helped.             This public inquiry into the            sought. Needless to say, they
                                         refurbishment of Lots Road              were considerably less
The Society does not object to the       Power Station and the                   generous and led all 3
winding-up of the Bequest as, in         construction of twin towers on          authorities (the Greater
today’s money, the capital sum is        either side of Chelsea Creek is         London Authority, the Royal
too small to justify its continuation.   scheduled to commence on 1st            Borough and the London
                                         February and is expected to             Borough of Hammersmith and
The £2,500 should however be             continue for the whole month. It        Fulham) to ask for an
spent, as Reginald Blunt intended,       will take place at Kensington           adjournment of the start date
on paintings, papers or other            Town Hall. Inquiries do not             and to say they ‘reserved their
artifacts associated with the history    usually sit on Mondays; we will         position’ in respect of their
of Chelsea.                              be posting an estimated schedule        whole approach to the inquiry.
                                         of appearances on the Society’s
We are often informed about such         web site.                             • The Greater London Authority
items that become available, either                                              stated that they understood the
                                         Since this is one of the most           developers were having
at auction or by private sale.
                                         important inquiries in the last 20      independent confidential
                                         years, members are encouraged to        discussions about aspects of
In recent years we were told of a
                                         attend to show to the Inspector the     the Section 106 Agreement
collection of 7 delightful pen & ink
                                         strength of local feeling about the     with each of the authorities
drawings of Chelsea subjects by
                                         proposals. A good day to attend         and they strongly objected to
Nathaniel Sparks (1880-1957) and
                                         is the first day when each party        this; all discussions should be
3 similar drawings by Dennis
                                         will be making a brief opening          open and transparent and there
Flanders (b.1915), some interesting
                                         statement of their case.                was no room for ‘private
Deeds relative to the land
ownership of the Lawrence family                                                 deals’. We agree.
                                         Pre-inquiry meeting
of Lawrence Street were for sale,                                              • The inspector expressed
as was a painting of Thomas              On 8 November the Inspector
                                                                                 surprise that none of the local
Carlyle by Walter Greaves and a          held a pre-inquiry meeting, which
                                                                                 authorities were putting
painting of Reginald Blunt himself,      was very well attended, not only
                                                                                 forward transport evidence to
also by Walter Greaves, was bought       by the main participants, but there
                                                                                 the inquiry. He had been to the
by the Society at auction a few years    was also a fairly full public
                                                                                 Lots Road area recently and
ago.                                     gallery.
                                                                                 observed how very congested
                                         The ‘shock revelations’ of this         it was.
All of these items were available        meeting were that:
for a few hundred pounds each –                                                The Society’s Case
easily within the scope of the           • The developers, Circadian,
proceeds of the Bequest.                   produced       new      draft       The Society’s team at the inquiry
                                           agreements for the proposed         will be David Le Lay, on urban
We would be grateful if members            contributions, both physical        design issues, and Terence
could let us know of any pictures          and financial, they would           Bendixson, on transport issues.
or other items of Chelsea interest         make towards local facilities       Nigel Stenhouse will also be
that are for sale and would be a           (known as the terms of a            helping us. The Society will
suitable use for the proceeds of the       Section 106 agreement) - these      concentrate on the damage that
Reginald Blunt Trust.                      had changed considerably            would be done to the riverside
                                           from those previously               and views along and across the
David Le Lay                               negotiated with the local           river by the proposed towers and
                                                         2
                                        VISION FOR CHELSEA
on the effects of concentrating so      What do you want Chelsea to be         Key Issues
much development into a corner          like 10 years from now? We
of Chelsea that is already densely      posed this question at our             The key issues raised at our
built up, poorly served by public       conferences in 1998 and 2000.          conferences were:
transport and ill-equipped with         We need to do so again.                •   preserve and enhance
local services.                                                                    Chelsea’s character and
                                        The Royal Borough has to
We are liasing closely with all the     produce a new development plan             appearance, especially to
other objectors, such as Lots           in the next 3 years. The first stage       develop a vision/strategy and
Road Action Group, Chelsea              is to draw up our vision for the           planning guidance for
Harbour Residents’ Association,         future of the Borough, followed            development along the
Cheyne Walk Trust, the West             by a strategy, key policies and a          Thames to prevent high
London River Group and                  set of proposals. We are now at            buildings; a streetscape
residents’ associations in Chelsea      the first stage and the Council            initiative, especially clearing
and Fulham, but as our views do         wants to know what our vision is           the clutter in King’s Road;
not necessarily exactly coincide        for what Chelsea will be like in           and a redesign of Sloane
with those of all these                 2015.                                      Square to create a more
organisations, we have reserved                                                    attractive         pedestrian
the right to be entirely                                                           environment;
                                        The Vision
independent.                                                                   •   maintain a socially-mixed
                                        Many people might opt for a                community, with more
David Le Lay                            “minimal change” vision, but one           affordable housing, a new
                                        thing is certain - there could be          secondary school and ease of
ENVIRONMENT AWARDS                      more change than in the last 50            access to facilities that meet
                                        years.                                     day-to-day needs
This awards scheme is run by the
Royal Borough and is designed to        The Lots Road area will change         •   maintain          successful
recognize relatively small              greatly – not just the Lots Road           shopping centres, both
improvements to buildings or open       Power Station, but the whole               major centres (King’s Road
spaces which nonetheless have an        south side of Lots Road along the          and Fulham Road) and local
impact on the quality of the physical   river, and a new secondary                 centres/parades – there needs
environment. It has been going for      school. Then there are the                 to be a vision for their future,
many years now and the awards,          hospitals between King’s Road              a       programme            of
which are made annually, have           and Fulham Road – what do you              improvements and they need
played a part in making all involved    want to happen here? The Duke              to be managed;
with architecture and planning to       of York’s HQ development has
be more conscious of these              barely started and Chelsea             •   make greater provision for
important aspects of our                Barracks may be redeveloped.               arts,       culture      and
environment.                                                                       entertainment, including
                                         And then there is the potential           venues for the performing and
Making a nomination is easy and         redevelopment of South                     visual arts and a museum for
anyone can do it. All you have to       Kensington station. In addition            Chelsea.
do is send details of the               we may have congestion
improvement, to the Executive           charging; there will be a new          The Mayor’s London Plan
Director of Planning and                station at Chelsea Harbour and
Conservation at the Town Hall,          hopefully better north/south bus       The Borough’s new plan,
giving at least the address of the      services.                              however, has to conform with the
improvement, and anything else                                                 Mayor’s London Plan.
you may know about it.
                                                          3
The key issues which concern the       MOBILE PHONE                        Whether or not these masts are a
Council are:                           MASTS                               danger to health is something that
                                                                           The Chelsea Society is happy to
•   high buildings – the Mayor         On 20 October 2004 Councillor       leave to others, but we are most
    seems to favour high               Tony Holt, Chairman of the          concerned at the visual intrusion
    buildings – he supports the        Royal Borough’s Overview and        that these masts can cause. A
    twin towers in the Lots Road       Scrutiny Committee with regard      ‘good’ example is Bristol House
    scheme. The Council needs to       to Planning, invited experts to     in Lower Sloane Street where the
    undertake a new analysis of        address the Committee on the        roof of this building is a complete
    the Borough to avoid high          important subject of mobile         clutter of masts; and a couple of
    buildings in sensitive areas, as   phone masts.                        masts have now appeared on the
    Westminster has done, to                                               top of the student hostel building
    justify resisting them along                                           on the corner of King’s Road and
    the Thames and in                                                      Manresa Road, formerly owned
    conservation areas;                                                    by King’s College.
•   higher densities – the                                                 Of course, everyone who uses a
    Mayor’s Plan advocates                                                 mobile phone depends on these
    higher densities in areas with                                         masts and there is no reason why
    high accessibility to public                                           they could not be provided
    transport. Most of the                                                 without visual detriment to the
    Borough, except those areas        Bristol House, LowerSloane          environment. Church towers and
    poorly served by public            Street. Not an attractive build-    similar architectural features on
    transport, have higher             ing; but it is made much worse      other buildings which are usually
    densities than the Mayor           by the clutter of phone masts       empty and have openings for
    advocates. The challenge is to     fixed to it                         ventilation are ideal for housing
    revise our existing density                                            these masts. Furthermore,
                                       There is an increasing number of
    policy so it relates to the                                            churches in particular generally
                                       applications for these and there
    existing levels and controls                                           welcome the additional income
                                       are likely to be even more in the
    the densities in areas of low                                          that these masts provide. The
                                       future.
    public transport accessibility,                                        towers and steeples of many
    such as Lots Road;                                                     churches all over the country have
                                                                           already been pressed into service
•   affordable housing – the                                               to provide homes for phone
    Mayor advocates a higher                                               masts. There is no visual pollution
    proportion of affordable                                               and most people are totally
    housing in housing schemes,                                            unaware of their existence.
    with a significant element of
    rented, shared ownership and                                           David Le Lay
    key worker housing.
Next steps                                                                 A NEW INFIRMARY
                                                                           FOR CHELSEA
The Council will be consulting
residents in the next few months                                           PENSIONERS
to find out how we see the future                                          The Royal Hospital has
of the Borough. We will be asking                                          announced plans to build a new
you to tell us your vision so we       A new phone mast on the roof        infirmary for its famous, scarlet-
can represent your views.              of the student hostel on the cor-   coated pensioners. The original,
Michael Bach                           ner of King’s Road and Manresa      designed by Sir John Soane in
                                       Road                                1808, was bombed in the war and
                                                      4
the present one, which dates from      the Society said and went on to      hard to minimise the damage
the 1960s, is becoming obsolete.       ask: ‘Should not the Royal           done by Tesco to the corner of
                                       Hospital have an infirmary as        Tite Street and Royal Hospital
Finding a satisfactory design for      representative of our time as the    Road. Their convenience shop
a new building in Chelsea’s finest     work of Wren and Soane was of        there is the last in a row of
set piece of architecture and park     the 17th and 19th centuries? Did     distinctive and well-mannered
landscape has not proved easy.         not resorting to pastiche            shop fronts in a group of
After earlier schemes were             demonstrate a lack of courage?’      Edwardian buildings. The
rejected as inadequate by bodies                                            Lieutenant Governor of the
such as English Heritage, the          The Society expressed concern,
                                                                            hospital wrote to Sir Terry Leahy,
Borough Council and the Society,       above all, at the bulk of the
                                                                            chief executive of Tesco, to
the Hospital has now appointed         proposed building. In its present
                                                                            remind him of the special
Quinlan Terry to execute the           form it seems to be too high and
                                                                            qualities of Chelsea and, at the
facades of a building designed         assertive and, being only a metre
                                                                            Town Hall, Michael French and
otherwise by Steffian Bradley,         or so lower, promises to compete
                                                                            his staff persuaded the company’s
care home architects of Boston,        with the main hospital building.
                                                                            architects to depart from the ugly
Massachusetts.                         Soane’s original infirmary spread
                                                                            precedent established by Europa
                                       more widely and was on only two
Quinlan Terry is, perhaps best                                              Stores and design the windows
                                       floors. Various difficulties stand
known for his mock 18th century                                             not as one but as two distinct
                                       in the way of following that
office buildings next to the                                                bays. So far so good, but the
                                       precedent but, in the Society’s
Thames towpath downstream                                                   garish lighting and blinding
                                       view, it is essential for the
from Richmond Bridge. He is                                                 colours remain.
                                       infirmary to be subordinate to the
also architect of a series of large    principal hospital buildings         Tesco as a company is, of course,
villas across the road from the US     designed so splendidly by Sir        all about keeping prices as low as
ambassador’s house in Regent’s         Christopher Wren.                    possible and this aim is applied
Park. In style they are variously                                           to every aspect of the business.
gothic, Georgian and Victorian.        Terence Bendixson                    Shop fittings are therefore
His design for the infirmary is                                             standardised and mass produced,
different again. It is late 17th                                            based on utilitarian specifications
century in overall style but           HOW THE SIDCUP
                                                                            and designed for high-speed
enriched on the Royal Hospital         BYPASS WAS BROUGHT                   assembly. The upshot is plastic
Road elevation by a portico of         TO CHELSEA                           decals stuck on windows and
giant Tuscan Doric columns,                                                 fluorescent tubes in light boxes.
based on Inigo Jones’ St Paul’s        No one can have failed to notice
                                       how numerous premises in the         Inside is the searing neon
Covent Garden, and by a baroque                                             anonymity of an operating
cupola.                                shopping streets of Chelsea and
                                       Kensington are now decked out        theatre.
The Society deliberated long and       in Tesco’s blinding white, red and   Tesco’s bold, brash standard
hard before responding to an           blue house style. Huge               design is, no doubt, aimed at
invitation from the Lieutenant         corporations are, of course,         road-side locations (my mind’s
Governor to comment on this            inclined to do this sort of thing.   eye sees the Sidcup bypass) and
design. After much heart-              They love uniformity. Esso’s         at attracting the attention of
searching it was decided to            petrol station opposite the gates    drivers passing at 40 or 50 mph.
support the Hospital’s intention to    of the Brompton Cemetery in          These are not streets for living in
create a new, state-of-the-art care    Fulham Road or McDonald’s on         but linear, automotive spaces. As
home        but      to    express     the corner of the King’s Road and    Gertrude Stein said, I think, of
disappointment at the decision to      Royal Avenue are other local         Oakland, California, ‘There is no
resort to classical pastiche. Surely   examples of house styles that        there, when you get there.’
it would be better to commission       make no concessions to locality.     Chelsea, by contrast, is a
a distinguished modern building,       The Society fought particularly
                                                        5
patchwork quilt of distinct places.    The cases revolved around legal       The Cadogan Estate has recently
One way or another we need to          issues about what uses the land       applied for and received planning
get firms like Tesco to                had been put to and, in particular,   consent for the use the running
acknowledge this reality and to        whether any rights had been           track for sports events and for the
start adapting their house style to    established for the use of the        holding of the British Antique
the genius of such places. Getting     playing field and the running         Dealers’ Association event.
rid of their blinding white fascia     track for sports events and
in the Royal Hospital Road would       exhibitions. The proposals were       Royal Hospital South Grounds
be a good start.                       contested by the Council and by
                                       the Duke of York’s Residents’         The South Grounds of the Royal
Terence Bendixson                      Action Group.                         Hospital is the only significant
                                                                             public open space and sports
                                       In September, the Inspector           facility in Chelsea. The Council
                                       dismissed both applications for       leases it from the Royal Hospital,
                                       the continued use of the running      but other temporary events reduce
OPEN SPACES
                                       track for sports events and fetes     the amount of time they are
Chelsea has almost the least open      and for trade fairs, shows and        available for public use.
space per 1000 inhabitants of any      exhibitions and ancillary
part of London and our exhibition      purposes.                             The biggest event is the Chelsea
for the 2004 Chelsea Festival                                                Flower Show which has been
                                       The decision, however, contained      held here since 1912. Originally
highlighted both the loss of past
                                       some interesting conclusions.         the show was for 3 days only,
sporting facilities and the value
                                       Firstly, he concluded that any        increased to 5 days in 1925 but
of those that remain, both as open
                                       non-military use of the running       later reduced to 4 days, which it
spaces and as potential sports
                                       track, whether for training or        is today. But the combined time
facilities.
                                       occasional use for sports days,       for setting up, the show itself and
The use of the remaining spaces        was not a lawful separate use         the breaking down has been
– particularly the “chain” of open     (although the Inspector said that     growing steadily, due to the
spaces which stretch from the          he attached considerable weight       complicated engineering work
King’s Road to the Thames – has        on the evidence in the last           and structures, and now takes
come under increasing scrutiny,        Chelsea Society Newsletter            well over a month, which puts the
both because they could provide        which had described its use since     South Grounds out of bounds for
much-needed sports facilities and      the early 1970s).                     public recreation.
because they are under increasing
                                       Secondly, he concluded that the       The Royal Hospital has sought
pressure for commercial use.
                                       exhibitions – the British Antique     permission for more events. This
                                       Dealers’ Association and London       has brought into focus the impact
Duke of York’s HQ                      Fashion Week – occupied the           of these events, as both the length
The value of the playing field and     track and playing field for more      of time and the nature of the
the former running track have          than 28 days per year and, most       building operations bring into
been the subject of considerable       importantly, the structures erected   question whether all this activity
debate. The Cadogan Estate have        for each of these exhibitions         and engineering work can be
sought to establish whether some       involved a fresh building             regarded as merely a continuation
of the uses that this space was put    operation            constituting     of an activity that has existed
to by the Ministry of Defence in       development which required            before the start of the planning
the last 20 years have established     planning permission. This would       system in 1948.
that these uses can continue. After    appear to mean that in future the
the Council refused a series of        erection of structures for each
                                       exhibition would require              Michael Bach
applications, these cases were
heard at a public inquiry last June.   planning consent.

                                                      6
THE IMPACT OF TEMPORARY STRUCTURES
ON LISTED BUILDINGS
                                                                        his 5-year Transport Strategy for
                                                                        London.
                                                                        Whilst the Mayor has decided in
                                                                        principle to proceed with the
                                                                        westward extension of the Central
                                                                        Congestion Charging Zone, he
                                                                        has indicated that he is prepared
                                                                        to consider including residents in
                                                                        the areas between the Earl’s Court
                                                                        One-Way System and the West
                                                                        London Line and north of
                                                                        Westway within the zone. This
                                                                        means that if they want to use
                                                                        roads within the Borough they
                                                                        can get an annual permit at the
                                                                        same discounted rate (£130 a
                                                                        year) as other residents, rather
Duke of York’s                                                          than pay £1,300 a year. This
                                                                        would overcome one of the key
                                                                        objections raised by the Council
                                                                        and many residents.
                                                                        The Council strongly disputes the
                                                                        level of congestion that TfL
                                                                        (Transport for London) suggests
                                                                        currently occurs on the main
                                                                        roads in the Borough. Many of the
                                                                        main east/west roads, especially
                                                                        Cromwell Road, have much
                                                                        lower levels of congestion due to
                                                                        the current scheme. It is unlikely
                                                                        that any additional benefits will
                                                                        come from extending the zone,
                                                                        indeed Borough residents may
                                                                        resume commuting to the Central
                                                                        Area, with the opposite effect.
Royal Hospital South Grounds: The listed gates and gate piers are
badly damaged practically every time an event takes place here.         A major concern, however, is that
                                                                        traffic seeking to avoid the
CONGESTION CHARGING COMING?                                             extended zone by using the
The Mayor of London, Ken            on the proposals which residents    proposed new “boundary route”
Livingstone, has decided that his   of this Borough fiercely opposed.   – the Earl’s Court One-Way
proposal to extend the current                                          System, including the Cheyne
Central Congestion Charging         The initial decision came out in    Walk/Embankment. Since this
Zone to include most of             August, but has since been          system is very prone to
Kensington and Chelsea will go      confirmed in the Mayor ’s           congestion, even a slight increase
ahead. This follows consultation    announcement on 12 October of       in traffic can result in traffic jams,
                                                    7
                                      SLOANE SQUARE CONSULTATION
both on the route itself and at the   The Royal Borough’s latest designs for Sloane Square are out to
junctions with the east/west          consultation. Copies of the designs are being sent out to councillors,
roads, such as Fulham Road and        residents’ associations and other interested parties, and will be handed
the King’s Road.                      out in Sloane Square.
                                      An exhibition will be held on Friday 14, Saturday 15, Monday 17 and
Next Steps                            Tuesday 18 January in the gallery at the Duke of York’s.
The Mayor will consult the            If you don’t get a copy or cannot make the exhibition, you can find it
Borough again after Christmas on      on the RBKC website: www.rbkc.gov.uk/sloanesq and can fill in a
the details of his proposals, with    questionnaire.
public consultation next Spring,
with a final decision in Summer
2005 at the earliest and
implementation, if he decides to
proceed, in Summer 2006.

Charge to go up to £8?
Meanwhile the Mayor announced
at the end of November that he
proposes to consult on an increase
in the congestion charge from £5
to £8 for cars. TfL will undertake
a full public consultation, but the
earliest that the proposed charge
increase could be introduced          Option One – creating pubic open spaces.
would be July 2005.                   The re-introduction of a crossroads would replace congested pavements
                                      with two spacious paved areas at the east and west sides of the Square
There are some minor
                                      connected to the frontages of Peter Jones and the Royal Court Theatre.
concessions proposed, such as a
15% discount for monthly
payments (3 charge-free days a
month) and 40 charge-free days
for annual payment– but only for
commuters into the zone, not for
residents of the zone.
TfL expect that the increased
charge would reduce congestion
by a further 5-13% within the
Central Area Charging Zone,
which could benefit the east/west
routes across the Borough.
Michael Bach
                                      Option Two – keeping the gyratory
                                      Although in the last public consultation the majority of the respondents
                                      favoured a more radical change to Sloane Square, there was some support
                                      for retaining the existing gyratory.
                                                     8
                                                                       KEY DECISIONS
                                                                       Key decisions in the next 3
                                                                       months include:
                                                                       • Chelsea Conservation Area
                                                                         extension
                                                                       • Cremorne Riverside Centre
                                                                         Development
                                                                       • Hans Crescent: Review of Traffic
                                                                       • Proposed Pedestrian/Cycle
                                                                         Bridge Link under Chelsea
                                                                         Bridge
                                                                       • Brompton Hospital Planning
             A view of Option One, from Peter Jones                      Brief

                                                                       WORLD’S END
                                                                       DISTILLERY
                                                                       In response to proposals which
                                                                       might result in major alterations
                                                                       to this well-known Chelsea
                                                                       landmark, the Society has written
                                                                       to English Heritage to get it listed.
                                                                       Most books on the buildings of
                                                                       Chelsea, such as the Survey of
                                                                       London, focus on the oldest
                                                                       buildings and have neglected our
                                                                       Victorian heritage, especially
                                                                       pubs.

              Detail of ironwork and polished granite                  However, the recent volume of
                                                                       the Victorian County History of
                                                                       Middlesex on Chelsea has an
                                                                       illustration showing the World’s
                                                                       End, and Nicholas Pevsner
                                                                       (Buildings of England – North
                                                                       West London) describes it as
                                                                       “effervescent... rebuilt in 1897,
                                                                       has happily survived the road-
                                                                       widening schemes, and steps out
                                                                       with florid bows and corner
                                                                       turret.”




General view of The World’s End    Detail of curved etched glass and
Distillery                         joinery

                                                        9
                                     LANDSCAPE NOTES
WEST CHELSEA                         Front Gardens                          exemplified by the work of,
INITIATIVE                                                                  amongst others, Quinlan Terry
                                     It is a feature of many houses in      and John Simpson. One of the
The second meeting, like the first   Chelsea that they have front           first classical gardens of recent
one, was overshadowed by a           gardens; one only has to think of      times was designed by John
murder – this time that of John      Cheyne Walk or Margaretta              Fowler, the famous interior
Monckton.                            Terrace to realise that front          decorator, for his own country
                                     gardens are an important element       house at Odiham in Hampshire,
This time the format was             of the special charm of such           followed by Sir Roy Strong’s
different, with short speeches by    streets.                               complex and elaborate formal
the Leader, Councillor Merrick
                                                                            garden in Herefordshire and the
Cockell, higlighting the key         Unlike garden squares, the design
                                                                            garden of that arch member of the
issues:                              and appearance of front gardens
                                                                            establishment, the Prince of
                                     are the responsibility of
•   community safety, including                                             Wales.
                                     individual house owners and they
    the new police community         therefore offer an opportunity for     There are probably those who
    support officer;                 owners to express their                have created formal front gardens
•   traffic and congestion,          personality in the way that they       for much more prosaic reasons.
    including        congestion      treat their front garden.              As these gardens generally rely
    charging, parking and the new                                           upon evergreen plants such as box
                                     An interesting trend over the past
    station;                                                                and yew, they look good, if the
                                     20 years has been what one might
                                                                            same, throughout the year and
•   local amenities, including the   call the ‘formalisation’ of
                                                                            they are relatively maintenance
    new secondary school             London’s front gardens. One can
                                                                            free. It would be wrong to assume
                                     safely say that not since
•   planning, including the Lots                                            that no weeding is needed but
                                     Capability Brown swept away
    Road inquiry                                                            probably less than with a
                                     England’s formal gardens has
                                                                            traditional English garden.
•   streetscape/open space           there been such a mass display of
                                     topiary, clipped bushes, dwarf         In fact, good ‘traditional English’
The next meeting will be held in     hedging and parterre.                  front gardens are now hard to find
mid 2005.                                                                   in Chelsea. Such gardens are
                                     For 250 years the British have
                                                                            informal, with flowers and shrubs
                                     decried their French neighbours
                                                                            providing seasonal colour, rock
                                     for their attitude to gardens;
                                                                            plants growing amongst paving,
                                     believing there was something
                                                                            as advocated by Gertrude Jekyll
                                     suspect about ordering plants into
                                                                            and, compared to the smartness
                                     straight lines and clipping them
                                                                            of the formal garden, they seem
                                     into shapes that nature never
                                                                            random and overgrown.
                                     intended; but Chelsea’s front
                                     gardens show how the urge to           As the inevitable pendulum of
                                     tame nature is now alive and well      taste swings on its merry way,
                                     on this side of the Channel.           perhaps the charm of such
                                                                            gardens might again become chic.
                                     This enthusiasm for formality can
                                     be seen as part of a wider interest,   David Le Lay
                                     particularly amongst what one
                                     might call the ‘traditional-minded
                                     cultural establishment’, for
                                     classical architecture; as
                                                    10
                                     An example of a formal front garden




A splendid piece of topiary in Elm     A basement area garden in park Walk, very much in the informal English
Park Road; a box tree clipped to                                     tradition
look like a giant Bonsai
                                                       11
2005 CHELSEA FESTIVAL
FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF                  Joanna appears on at least two        insight into the mysteries of the
THE FESTIVAL                          further occasions – with Andy         Steinway Piano.
                                      Sheppard (saxophonist) on 21
Chelsea’s own Arts Festival will be   June and with the BBC Big Band        There are at least two ‘rush- hour’
taking place again in 2005 from       on 22 June.                           concerts featuring the RPO on 21
Friday 17 to Sunday, 26 June.                                               and 24 June, at the Cadogan Hall
                                      The dazzling violinist, Chloe         and, of course, much more, with
This year we plan to increase the     Hanslip, will be performing in the    programmes of ‘Early Music’,
number of events we present so that   State Apartments at The Royal         special events for the children,
there will be even more choice for    Hospital on 18 June and regular       cabaret and, for the first time,
our multiplying number of             favourites of the Festival, namely    silent movies!
supporters.                           Corinna Harris, Artemis, Alba
                                      Ventura and Julian Lloyd Webber       So please make a note of the dates
The feature this year will be ‘The                                          of the Festival now. We are
Piano’ with Joanna MacGregor,         are also scheduled to take part.
                                                                            looking forward to seeing you.
one of the most innovative and        In the talks section, we have
wide-ranging pianists, opening        George Alagiah, James Taylor on       Ian Frazer
the Festival at the Cadogan Hall      Horatio Nelson, Tim Smit, the
with the Royal Philharmonic           visionary behind Cornwall’s
Orchestra, and a classical            Eden Project, and a talk by Uli
programme that includes               Gerhartz with a fascinating
Mozart’s 23rd Piano Concerto.




EDMUND HOWARD, CHELSEA CLOCKMAKER

                                      The hand-made turret clock,           iron frame were inscribed
                                      below, came under the hammer          Edmund Howard, Chelsea,
                                      in a specialist sale at Christie’s    1767.
                                      South Kensington on 16
                                      December.                             It would be intriguing to find out
                                                                            more about this 18th century
                                      It would once have been in either     Chelsea clockmaker. This is just
                                      a church tower of a stable yard       the sort of object that should be
                                      turret, with the small brass dial     in a Chelsea Museum – if we had
                                      being for the benefit of the          one. It might also have been a
                                      winder only and the main, large       suitable thing for the Reginald
                                      dial (not included in the sale)       Blunt Bequest to have purchased;
                                      being on the outside of the turret.   though at £4,182, somewhat
                                      Both the brass dial and the cast      beyond its means.




                                                    12
MISCELLANEOUS




                     Above - A new phenomenon in the
                     King’s Road – the human sign post,
                     and an old one – a delivery van
                     parked on a double yellow line.

                     Left - Of course, house owners are
                     entitled to carry out repairs of their
                     homes, the Society always welcomes
                     sympathetic refurbishment; but
                     traditionally this has involved no
                     more than the front of the building
                     being in scaffolding for a few
                     months. Why is a large and ugly
                     structure such as this required, just
                     to carry out repairs to a modest
                     terraced house in Redburn Street?

                     Left - Improvement road works by
                     Transport for London, including this
                     new planting bed, are nearing
                     completion at the junction of Cheyne
                     Walk and Oakley Street. The bed has
                     been planted out with wall flowers
                     and primroses; can they be serious?
                     This is ‘municipal’ planting of the
                     worst kind and wholly unsuitable
                     here; surely evergreen bushes that
                     would mitigate the awful road signs
                     and provide screening for the nearby
                     houses from the heavy traffic would
                     be more appropriate.




                13
MISCELLANEOUS
                                                                    Left - Extensive building work
                                                                    has been going on at 6 Cheyne
                                                                    Walk for the last 4 or 5 years and
                                                                    this temporary structure that goes
                                                                    right across the pavement is
                                                                    expected to remain in place for a
                                                                    further 3 years. This whole
                                                                    structure is very un-neighbourly
                                                                    to other residents of Cheyne Walk,
                                                                    it is a public eyesore on one of
                                                                    Chelsea’s most historic streets
                                                                    and it makes one wonder what on
                                                                    earth is being done to this grade
                                                                    II* listed property.




Below - Another listed building, in St. Leonard’s Terrace, with an ugly contractor’s encampment that
destroys the appearance of this fine terrace, formerly called Rayner Place.




                                               14
STATUE OF J. M. WHISTLER
                           Nicholas Dimbleby in his studio
                           in Devon with the clay model of
                           the statue of James McNeill
                           Whistler which is to be erected
                           on Cheyne Walk, near to
                           Battersea Bridge. He has been
                           working on the model for the past
                           9 months and it is now ready to
                           go to the foundry in Basingstoke.
                           The statue will be in bronze on a
                           circular granite plinth, quarried in
                           Scotland. It is hoped that the
                           unveiling will take place in July
                           of this year.
                           The costs have been met from
                           donations to the Whistler Statue
                           Appeal, a charity specially set up
                           for this purpose. The Appeal has
                           raised about £70,000 to date but
                           needs another £20,000 to see the
                           project completed. Any donations
                           will be gratefully received and
                           should be sent to the Whistler
                           Statue Appeal, 136 Kensington
                           Church Street, London W8 4BH.
                           Donors giving £10,000 or more
                           will receive a bronze statuette of
                           the statue on a hardwood plinth,
                           approx. total height : 350mm
                           (14”)




                     15
VISITS                                                                      CHELSEA’S PUBS
Visit to the Mansion House in         The Saloon occupies the space of      The theme for the Society’s 2005
October 2004                          the original open courtyard, now      exhibition is Chelsea’s Pubs, under
                                      with a new roof since 1992.           the title Last Orders for the Pubs
The Mansion House is one of the                                             of Chelsea?
grandest surviving Georgian town      The Long Parlour, used by the
palaces in London – the official      Lord Mayor for dining and             It will look at their development,
residence of the Lord Mayor of        receiving visitors, is relatively     change and disappearance,
London. Some members were             unchanged,       the     present      consider their role in Chelsea’s
lucky enough to see the Lord          furnishings and decoration            social life and look at whether they
Mayor in his full regalia. The        designed to recall the mid-18th       can withstand the commercial
guided tour was led by the            century character of the room.        pressures which have resulted in
Hallkeeper, John Davis.                                                     their loss to other uses, especially
                                      The Egyptian Hall was built for
                                                                            to housing, restaurants, bars and
The building of a mansion for the     banqueting and is still in use for
                                                                            shops.
Lord Mayor of London was first        entertainment. Its design was
considered after the Great Fire in    inspired by the description of        Any contributions of material about
1666, but it was not until almost     such a hall by the Roman architect    your favourite pub would be
a century later, in 1752, that the    Vitruvius, with a high central        welcome. We are looking for
building was completed. The City      section, lower aisles and two         evidence of how they have changed
chose a design in the fashionable     superimposed orders of columns.       - pictures, memorabilia and stories
Palladian style by George Dance       The Hall lost its distinctive attic   about your favourite Chelsea pubs.
the Elder, then Clerk of the City’s   and original gallery in 1795 when
works. It was built as a residence    the present coffered, barrel vault    Please contact Michael Bach, 3
for the Lord Mayor of London          was built. The room was enriched      Cambridge Place, London W8 5PB
during his year of office, where      in the 19 th century by adding        if you have any information.
he could live and work, sit as a      marble statues and stained glass      David Le Lay
Chief Magistrate of the City and      windows.
entertain on a grand scale.
                                      The Drawing Rooms were
The important collection of Dutch     created in the mid-19th century       DATES          FOR       YOUR
and      Flemish       paintings,     and contain among other things
bequeathed to the Corporation by      the Nile Suite of furniture in        DIARY:
Lord Samuel in 1987, is displayed     crimson and gold.
                                                                            •   14-17 January : Exhibition of
on the north-west staircase, in the                                             designs for Sloane Square;
                                      We concluded our visit in the
Saloon, the Long Parlour and the
                                      Gold and Silver Vaults, which
North and South Drawing                                                     •   1-25 February : Public Inquiry
                                      contain a collection of pieces
Rooms. These are stunning works                                                 on Lots Road Power Station
                                      acquired for the Mansion House
of art and it was such a delight to                                             scheme, Kensington Town
                                      or presented as gifts to Lord
see them in this setting.                                                       Hall
                                      Mayors. It includes the Fire Cup
We saw entrance halls containing      of 1662, which was saved from         •   April : Visit to the Royal
fine sculpture, 19 th century         the flames at the Guildhall during        Society
paintings and an 18 th century        the Great Fire of 1666, and the
                                      Lord Mayor’s famous gold collar       •   17-26 June: Chelsea Festival.
hooded porter’s chair, then
proceeded to the first floor to see   of about 1520.                        The views expressed in this
the Saloon, the Long Parlour, the                                           Newsletter are those of the
                                      I look forward to welcoming you
Egyptian Hall and the Drawing                                               individual contributors and are
                                      on our future visits in 2005.
Rooms.                                                                      not necessarily those of the
                                      Valerie Hamami-Thomas                 Society.
                                                     16

				
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