Destinations Magazine

Chelsea Bunbury

By Lwblog @londonwalks
Chelsea BunburyUnlike Elvis Costello, David DOES want to go to Chelsea…

“Sometimes I just throw a dart at the map of London and see where it hits.

Well sort of.

Was listening to a fine Radio 4 programme, "The House I Grew Up In." They had Baroness Shirley Williams on and she went back down memory lane to her childhood home in Glebe Place in Chelsea. The which "visit" was amped up by an actual visit to the house today, with the Radio 4 team, microphones at the ready, along for the ride.

Being naturally nosy it bugged me - and piqued my interest - that the BBC carefully avoided pinpointing the house by telling us what number Glebe Place it was.

Didn't take me long to crack that one.

And then I was away.

Away on a London hunt.

Wanted to know more about the street itself, about Glebe Place. We do a daytime walk in Chelsea and a pub walk but neither of them goes to Glebe Place - so it was virgin territory to me.

What I found out fascinated me - and was just so London.

There are, by my reckoning, 16 "notables" connected with Glebe Place. Virtually all of them - 13 out of the 16 - were artists. The three non artsys were Baroness Williams (her mother was the writer Vera Brittain but that's another post), the politician James Salter and the author (and founder of the International Lyceum Clubs) Annie Smedley. Though for the record Annie Smedley had "artist in her veins" - she excelled at art school, indeed, published her first illustration, in Pall Mall Magazine, when she was all of 16 years old.

Those three - well, two-and-a-half - were the exceptions that prove the rule. The rest of the Glebe Place "notables" - every last one of the 13 of them - was an artist of one sort or another (or in one case, a gallery owner).

Here's the lineup: watercolour painter, cartoonist and printmaker, gallery owner, painter and collector, architect and decorative artist, watercolour painter and designer, sculptor, artist, painter, sculptor and draughtsman, architect, sculptor.

Count 'em up. Thirteen. In one short street in Chelsea.

But that's London.

Talent and genius and birds of a feather.

Another dart in the map. Just by way of clinching the point. Was in Hoxton Square earlier this week. Twenty one "notables". Fifteen of them - over 70 percent - religios. Most of them prominent dissenters.

Think about it. You move into a London Square only to find out you've come to ground in the radical Protestant Vatican.

Even the non-dissenters were pretty radical. Hoxton Square's one Church of England minister was also a slave trader.

And as for some of the other neighbours, well, meet the mystic. And over the way there, the swindler.

It bears repeating: this city is endlessly fascinating. Not least because of its nodes - the way a street or neighbourhood will attract and get known for a certain trade or activity or type of person. Birds of a feather.

Stay tuned. Next time the Street of Knives gets the treatment.”

To follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Bebo or MySpace, to watch London Walks Films on YouTube, to send us an email or simply to catch up on the latest news from, click on the appropriate icon below…


Email me

Bookmark and Share

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog