London Stories and Tips

Chelsea in the Morning

Crosby Hall, Chelsea Photo, London, England

Glitch #5: It appears that the phone charger may not be working. The phone charged all night but the battery still shows low. Will try again tonight.

The plan for today includes the Sir John Soane museum and a walk around Chelsea. The sun seems to be begging to break through so maybe Chelsea this morning would be the better option. Even so, I stop and buy a cheap umbrella at one of the many souvenir shops on Queensway before I get the tube to Sloane Square.

Sloane Square isn't what I expected. It's a very small green space surrounded by shops and banks. I had thought it would be more ..I don't know.. residential. There's a nice old theatre along side of the tube station exit but most of the buildings are newish. It's at the head of Kings Road which in the 1960's was the place to go for cutting edge fashion. It's still lined with good quality clothing and accessory shops, antique shops as well as pubs and restaurants and has a bit of history to it as well.

I walked along Kings Road, window shopping and passed by the large Duke of York's barracks outside of which is a sport field that looked to be setting up for a school sporting match. There was a very elegant little square (Wellington Square) just off the main road lined with white terraced houses around a green area, looking very exclusive and graceful.

The sky was not as bright as it was and I did end up using my brolly a couple of times. I have a book on London walks and was more or less following it and headed towards the Chelsea Royal Hospital (see review). The gardens were closed due to winds and impending rain but they did let me in the gates onto the grounds when it was determined that I only wanted to gape at the architecture anyway and have a look in the gift shop and little museum there. I saw quite a bit of it as it turned out.

After leaving the main buildings I had a look in the two room museum that detailed the history of the hospital and displayed hundreds of medals donated by residents over the years. The pensioner on duty there was friendly and answered any questions I had. Into the gift shop for a couple of postcards and a fridge magnet and I was given a plastic key chain by the shop attendant for free! There is the National Army Museum just beside the Royal Hospital but I wasn't interested to go in there.

I left there and walked towards the Thames and the Chelsea embankment where the original Chelsea Village was centred. Originally a fishing village, Chelsea came into fame in the 16th century when the rich and famous built country homes here. Henry VIII had a manor house, though all that's left are some gardens and another famous resident was Sir Thomas More who was fated to lose his head as well. More modern residents include Oscar Wilde, JMW Turner and George Eliot. Chelsea was long a favourite for the arts and literary community. The neighbourhoods are still a treat to walk, especially the exclusive Cheyne Walk (pronounced Chay-nee) where there are expensive gated and walled mansions surrounded by trees and covered in ivy.

Chelsea Old Church is on the embankment fronted by a modern statue of Sir Thomas More and just on the next block is Crosby hall which was moved from the City of London to this spot which originally was the location of the gardens of More's mansion. Quite appropriate too, because More actually lived in Crosby Hall as his city residence for awhile. Crosby Hall is actually an old medieval wool merchant house.

I walked a bit further, sitting on a park bench watching the traffic. I hadn't had lunch yet either but the pubs in the area seemed very expensive. I did stop into one for a rest and a drink for about a half hour. Back up on Kings Road, after ducking into an art supply store to get out of a sudden shower, I found myself in a pub called the Pig's Ear and had a very satisfying lunch of steak and mushroom pie and salad.

I shopped in Lush, one of my favourite body and bath stores and staggered back to the tube stop late afternoon. It was too late to go to the Soane Museum and I was too tired of walking anyway so it will have to wait until tomorrow. The tube back to Queensway had me walking past a cyber café and I thought, what a good way to rest my aching feet and let family know I was arrived in one piece. I wanted to let a few people know about the mobile phone number as well so I bought 70 minutes' worth of "airtime" on the computer and caught up before picking up a few snacks for supper and heading back to the hotel.

Another quiet evening in, soaking my aching feet in a Lush bubble bath, updating my diary, texting Graham and contacting another friend where I'd be staying on the weekend. The phone charger still didn't seem to be working but I left it plugged in for the evening anyway.

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