The Best Of Chelsea
Sloane Square To South Kensington
Approximately 2. 5 miles / 4 Km
Fast Walk - around 1hr 20 minutes.
Start: Sloane Square - District & Circle Lines (Green & Yellow - On the tube map).
End: South Kensington - Piccadilly, District & Circle. (Blue, Green & Yellow)
Highlights Include: Kings Road, Saatchi Gallery (Modern Art), The Royal Hospital, The Wren Chapel, Physic Gardens (Botanic Garden), Albert Bridge, Boy With a Dolphin, Carlyle House, Onslow Square
A: Sloane Square Tube Station
Exit the Tube station and walk across Sloane Square and into Kings Road.
Is famous for its fashionable shops. It became a very popular hippy hang out in the 1960's and it has remained avant-garde ever since. It's a great place to window shop and people watch.
B: Saatchi Gallery (Modern Art) – Free Admission
If you like modern art this gallery is a must to visit. It presents the work of very talented newcomers and aims to give artists that vital first major exhibition that hopefully kick starts their careers. I love this place - its always challenging and thought provoking and it's free!
From the Saatchi Gallery return to the Kings Road. Turn left and turn left again into the gravelled, tree-lined Royal Avenue and walk to the end. Turn left onto St Leonards Terrace right on Franklin's Row and then Walk across Royal Hospital Road.
C: The Royal Hospital – Free admission
Christopher Wren built the Royal Hospital under the patronage of King Charles II more than three hundred years ago. Since then The Royal Hospital has been home to the famous Chelsea Pensioners.The Royal Hospital gives army veterans comradeship and the highest standards of care in recognition of their loyal service to the Nation. Any former soldier of the British Army over the age of 65, who is facing spending their advanced years alone, can apply for residence.
The Royal Hospital is well worth visiting for its architecture, The Great Hall and The Wren Chapel. It also has an excellent café. If you are visiting on a Sunday between April and November (10.40 am – 10.55am) try to catch the Governors Parade where some of the Pensioners parade in full ceremonial uniforms for inspection by the Duty Governor before attending church in The Wren Chapel.
The Wren Chapel – Free Admission
Wren built the chapel between 1681 and 1687. King Charles, recognising Wren's genius, allowed the architect total artistic freedom. Many experts believe that this simple structure is one of Wren' s most beautiful creations.
The Royal Hospital also offers guided tours - see the website for times and prices.
Just a short walk along Royal Hospital Road is The National Army Museum
The National Army Museum
See the website for opening information, exhibitions and events
From Royal Hospital road Turn Left into Tite Street and then right into Dilke Street and then Left into Swan Walk - the Chelsea Physic Garden is on your right
D: Chelsea Physic Garden
London's oldest botanic garden and was founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries so that apprentices could identify, grow and prepare medicines from plants. The Garden became one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world. This is a charming and beautiful place to visit with a fascinating history. Seeds and plants from this garden went on to help establish the cotton industry in the USA, the first rubber plantations in Malaya and the first teas grown in India. The tours of the garden are highly recommended and don't miss Britain's largest grapefruit tree. There is a good café. See the website for admission prices, events, tours and master classes.
Turn left onto Swan Walk and right onto Chelsea Embankment. Look to your left and you will see Albert Bridge.
Albert Bridge Opened in 1873, it's a wonderfully ornate Victorian structure and it's even more spectacular when it's illuminated at night by 4000 bulbs. For many Londoners it's their favourite bridge.
Carry on Cheney Walk
E: Boy With A Dolphin 1975
Sculptor Sir David Winn studied Zoology and created works of art that show humans interacting with animals. In an interview Sir David said, “the boy is being shown that if you trust the world, the thrills and great happiness are yours… if one meets a dolphin in the sea, he is the genial host, you the honoured guest.”
The model for the boy in the sculpture was Sir David's son, Roly who was 11 years old at the time. Tragically, in 1999 at the age of 35, Roly committed suicide. Today, the beautiful, graceful statue has been dedicated to him as a memorial.
There are three casts of this statue.The other two can be found in America: one is in Worcester, Massachusetts and the other is in Rochester Minnesota. See Tower Hill to London Bridge 1 Minute Walk for the statue's fraternal twin 'Girl With A Dolphin'.
Continue along Cheyne Walk and turn right into Cheyne Row Carlyle House is at no 24.
F: Carlyle House
Scottish writer and intellectual Thomas Carlyle and his wife Jane moved into this house in 1834. The house has been beautifully preserved with its original furnishings, carpets and wallpaper. It's like walking back in time. The house is owned and run by the National Trust and the staff are very helpful and knowledgeable.
See the website for admission charges and opening times.
On exiting Carlyle House turn right on Cheyne Row and then left onto Upper Cheyne and then Right on to Old Church Street. From here it's a short walk to The Kings Road. Here, if you prefer you can turn right to window shop in the Kings Road until you reach Sloane Square Tube Station. Or you can continue to walk up Old Church Street and then turn right into the Fulham Road to look at the typical Chelsea and Kensington Architecture, of which, Onslow Square is a classic example.
The end of our walk, South Kensington Tube Station, is at the end of Onslow Square. Here you will find many cafes, bars and independent shops.
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