Posts Tagged ‘dacha’

Old Church St, Chelsea, 1988

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

Old Church St, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-21-positive_2400
Old Church St, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-21

Old Church St is, as its name suggests a rather old street in Chelsea, running north from Chelsea Old Church by the river up to the Fulham Road. It is thought to be the oldest street in Chelsea but it contains two of Chelsea’s most significant modern buildings. No 66 at the left was designed in 1935–1936 by Walter Gropius and Maxwell Fry for the scriptwriter Benn Levy and his actress wife Constance Cummings. They had bought a large site – perviously the garden of a large house – here together with publisher Denis Cohen, and shared it to build a house each, with a communal garden.

Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus, came to England in 1934 and was fortunate to get a flat in the Isokon building in Lawn Road, Belsize Park, where he met many leading left-wing intellectuals of the age including modernist architects, among them the designer of the flats, Jack Pritchard. Pritchard and Gropius worked on several projects together, few of which were ever built.

Gropius also worked with Maxwell Fry, and this house they designed together was his most significant domestic work during the 3 years before he left to take up a professorship in the USA. My photograph doesn’t show it well, as it was built to face the private garden to which I did not have access, but for those interested there are plenty of pictures on-line. It was offered for sale in 2013 for £45 million, but I couldn’t afford it. Surprisingly the house is only Grade II listed.

Old Church St, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-34-positive_2400
Old Church St, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-34

Cohen House on the other half of the site, also completed in 1936 was designed by Erich Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff for the publisher Denis Cohen and is more visible from the road. Like Gropius, Mendelsohn was also fleeing from Nazi Germany and went on the the USA; Chermayeff, born to a Jewish family in Russia had come here as a young boy, was educated here and became a British citizen in 1928 and emigrated to the USA in 1940 . This building is Grade II* listed. The partnership between Mendelsohn and Chermayeff only lasted a few years but produced some of the country’s outstanding modernist buildings.

Old Church St, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-24-positive_2400
Old Church St, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-24

153 Old Church St. The gate at right I think leads to 153a. THe house at the right which you cannot see much of has a blue plaque for John Francis Sartorius (fl. 1775-1831), an English painter of horses, horse-racing and hunting scenes. Accord to Mark Keble in Chelsea The Resident, 153 Old Church Street was built between 1956-57 on the former site of the studio of the renowned Welsh portrait painter Augustus John (1878-1961).

Old Church St, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-32-positive_2400
Old Church St, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-32

This house is on the corner of Carlyle Square and Old Church St and the gatepost gives its address as 26 Carlyle Square. The land here which contained a number of buildings was sold to Lord Cadogan in 1835, who quickly had the existing houses and cottages cleared and building of a new square, Oakley Square, began in 1836-7. But progress was slow and there were only a few houses completed by 1851. The square was renamed Carlyle Square in honour of the historian and writer Thomas Carlyle in 1872.

Old Church St, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-33-positive_2400
Old Church St, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-33

This house is on the corner of Old Church St and Elm Park Rd at 125-127. The plaque records the fact that William De Morgan Ceramic Artist And Novelist (1839-1917) And His Wife Evelyn De Morgan Artist (1855-1919) Lived & Died Here. The house was specially adapted for their work – and you can just see the bottom of a large studio window in this picture.

Queen's Elm Square, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-26-positive_2400
Queen’s Elm Square, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-26

Queen’s Elm Square is on the west side of Old Church St close to the Fulham Rd. It was built in 1904-6 for the Sloane Stanley Estate, just behind the Queen’s Elm pub on the corner of Fulham Rd and Old Church St. This famous pub closed in the 1990s and the ground floor is now shops. The site was earlier a field known as the Queen’s Elm Field and began to be developed – including an earlier pub – in 1792.

The Vale, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-42-positive_2400
The Vale, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-42

The Vale is a short street running parallel to Old Church St north from the King’s Rd about 200 yards to its west. The unusual Russian House, at 27 The Vale, was built in 1914 just before the start of the First World War by architect F.E. Williams and incorporates at in the frontage of the substantial property a Russian Dacha that had formed a part of an exhibition at the Crystal Palace in the 1890s. The house was occupied by the British Red Cross during the war and later became the home of members of the Sainsbury family. It was then converted into flats, but in the 1990s converted back into a single house. It sold in 2018 for 12.75m

Click on any of the above images to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos and to browse other pictures in the album.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.