Carlyle’s House is off 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 Jane.
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.Â 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 in 1866.
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 Victorian garden.
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.
Preserved in 1895 as London’s first literary shrine, Thomas Carlyle’s house was once a favourite gathering place for writers, including Browning, Dickens and Tennyson.
Historian Thomas Carlyle and his wife Jane – described by Henry James as ‘a most original and entrancing pair’ – were a celebrity couple who lived here from 1834 to 1881. Discover the period kitchen, dining room, bedroom and soundproofed attic study, all filled with their original contents, and visit the reconstructed garden.
24 Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London, Greater London, SW3 5HL
020 7352 7087
7 Mar – 1 Nov 2020 Wed – Sun, 11am – 4.30pm Bank Holiday Mondays, 11am – 4.30pm