Chelsea From Thomas More to the Swinging 60s Saturday Night Pub Tour

Chelsea From Thomas More to the Swinging 60s
Saturday Night Pub Tour

September 28 7.15 Sloane Square Underground

The walk will look at the history of Chelsea from its origins in the Saxon period with the Palace of King Offa to the present day.

Chelsea may be best known as the spiritual home of the ‘Swinging Sixties’ but it has many other claims to fame, and its pleasures are attested by the unrivaled quality of its architecture, its famous residents and its local history.

It was home to: Thomas More, Henry VIII, Turner, Bram Stoker, George Elliot, Rossetti, Whistler, Oscar Wilde, Lawrence Olivier, Mike Jagger, James Bond, George Smiley, Richard Rogers and many many more!.

It was known as a Village of Palaces in the 16th and 17th Centuries but it changed profoundly in the 18th Century when the palaces were torn down and the gardens turned into streets of Town Houses. By the 19th Century it had gone ‘downhill’ to become a centre of bohemian London, but enriched by a colony of writers and artists. The recovery from urban decline began in the 1950’s when Chelsea became the centre of a new vibrant youth culture that rescued London from mediocrity. Sadly, fame contains the seeds of its own destruction, and as it became more fashionable it became less affordable so although the creative ‘buzz’ has moved somewhere cheaper, Chelsea remains a beautiful place to stroll around in company with its illustrious natives.

The BL on Jane Austen’s manuscript

This talk by Prof. Sutherland gives a short insight into Jane Austen’s writing process making the point that she is a conversational writer.

 

https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/videos/jane-austens-manuscripts

Jane Austen’s London Walk

!8th Century Bonnets cartoon

Last one: 7.15 15th June 2019 Green Park Underground

(by the fountain in the Park)

This was a London Walks Walk

Also Given on 4 May 2019

The walk takes in the area of the London section of Sense and Sensibility. This is where Jane Austen frequented when visiting her banking brother, Henry. He  lived here during his ‘successful’ period, after resigning as a Captain in the Militia and setting up a bank to help soldiers pay for their commissions.  He then did what all good bankers do – went bankrupt and ruined himself, family and friends.   His uncle lost 10,000 pounds; his rich brother, Edward Knight lost £20,000. (that is 2/5ths of the fortune of Willoughby’s wife, and equal  to the income of Darcy,  100 times the annual income of Mrs Austen after her husband died)  i.e. a heck of a lot of money.   Jane lost £13.

But this area was also the centre of the Ton – the wealthy elite of Regency London. It was here that the French Royal family, in exile, hung out, and the haunt of Beau Brummel and Prinny, the Prince Regent, loungers in chief who were so well satirised in the figure of Sir Walter Elliot.   This is where the Dandies lounged, leered and shopped.  Here the rich could get their guns, swords, cigars, snuff, hats, shoes, tailored clothes, uniforms, wine, prostitutes, lovers.   They came to visit art galleries, see panoramas of European Cities, to ‘see’ the invisible women living in her glass jar, to choose their Wedgwood pottery.

And what is astonishing is that this is still where the megarich do exactly the same things: hang out and shop.  All the top brands are here, and instead of people like John Willoughy are to be found Russian Oligarchs, and the rich of the Emirates, and every other country in the world.  And most marvellously many of the shops survive into the present day. The same shops and shop fronts still in use.  They catered to the stupidly wealthy of the 18th Century are now catering for the stupidly wealthy of the 21st Century.  This is where you can buy luxury yachts.

 

So we follow Jane and Henry, and see the ghost traces left by immoral Willoughby,  sensible Elinor,  overwrought Marianne,  dull but nice Edward Ferrars,  dull and horrible Robert Ferrars, stolid Colonel Brandon, vulgar but kind  Mrs Jennings and her unforgivably vulgar daughter Mrs Palmer with her despairing husband; the Middletons, the Steeles gals ruthlessly working their assets.   Plus we have a little look at the relationship between Prinny and Beau Brummel, and the terrible childbed of Princess Charlotte.

It is a pub tour. and on the last tour we went to the King’s Head on Albermarle Street.  Nice early 19th Century pub with  an interesting basement bar.   We finished the Golden Lion which is a delightful little wainscotted pub up an ally near St James Palace.