Chelsea Walk, between Albert and Battersea Bridges on Chelsea
Embankment, is the early-18th
century terraced house of 24 Cheyne Row which was the home
of the historian and philosopher Thomas Carlyle and his wife
The couple lived here for 30
years after moving from Scotland to London in 1834, in this
unpretentious Queen Ann house, which they rented for £35 per
year. The house has three storeys and a basement, furnished
with Victorian pieces and filled with the Carlyle's books,
pictures and possessions.
The house, in the care of the
National Trust, has been preserved much as it looked at his
death, and still conveys a feeling for the lives of the couple.
The basement kitchen, with its
cast-iron range, is little changed, the dresser revealing
the shelf that served as the maid's bed. Carlyle would
retire to the kitchen to smoke so as not to offend his wife.
The piano in the ground-floor
parlour was once played by Chopin, and in the book-lined drawing
room Carlyle wrote 'The French Revolution', the work that
made his reputation.
Jane Carlyle's bedroom on the
first floor still has the Red Bed that the couple had transported
from Scotland. Jane was born on this bed and she was
laid out on it after her sudden death driving in Hyde Park
The attic, which was converted
into a study for Carlyle in 1853, contains the writer's most
precious possession, his writing table, with its pewter inkstand
and reading lamp. It was here that Carlyle wrote the
epic biography of Frederick the Great.
Outside is a restored walled
While Thomas Carlyle was known
as a historian and philosopher, his wife is remembered for
her observant correspondence with her family and friends.
She also received a wide circle of eminent figures at Cheyne
Row including Darwin, Dickens, Emerson, Tennyson, Browning,
Thackeray, Ruskin, Chopin and George Elliot.
Thomas Carlyle remained at the
house after his wife's death in 1866. In 1874 he declined
an honour and pension offered by the then Prime Minister,
Benjamin Disraeli. Thomas Carlyle died in 1881.
Such was the fame of the 'Sage of Chelsea' that fourteen years
after his death the house was bought by public subscription.
The Carlyle's furniture and possessions
were returned to the house and in 1936 the property was transferred
to the National Trust.