Before the Chelsea Embankment was constructed in 1874 Cheyne (pronounced ‘chain-ee’) Walk was a pleasant riverside promenade, now it overlooks a busy road.
However, Cheyne Walk is notable for its 18th century houses that display a great number of ‘Blue Plaques’. These testify to the extraordinary concentration of literary and artistic talent that was drawn to this area of Chelsea in the 19th century.
Amongst the distinguished residents was the writer George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), who lived the last few weeks of her life at No. 4 Cheyne Walk.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Algernon Charles Swinburne and George Meredith moved into No. 16 (Queen’s House) in 1862. Rossetti (a founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood) annoyed the neighbours by keeping a small but noisy circle of friends.
Henry James lived and died at Carlyle Mansions, whilst Mrs Gaskell lived at No. 93, James McNeill Whistler at No. 96 and Hilaire Belloc at No. 104 Cheyne Walk. The artist J M W Turner lived incognito at No. 119.
In the 20th century the writers T S Eliot and Ian Fleming were residents of Carlyle Mansions.