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Inventory Site Record

Carlyle's House Garden (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

This is the small walled garden to the Queen Anne house where writer and historian Thomas Carlyle lived with his wife Jane from 1834-81. It was purchased by public subscription in 1895 and opened to the public. Their garden had flowers and vegetables, a cherry tree, grape vine and walnut tree, lilac bushes, hawthorn, ash, jessamine, wallflowers and much mint, including plants to remind Jane of her native Scotland. The Carlyle's House Memorial Trust was formed to administer it, and it opened to the public in 1896. It was transferred to the National Trust in 1936. The garden is being planted with plants mentioned in the Carlyles' writings.

Practical Information
Site location:
24 Cheyne Row, off Cheyne Walk, Chelsea
Postcode:
SW3 5HL
What 3 Words:
manage.bonds.saves
Type of site:
Private Garden
Borough:
Kensington & Chelsea
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
April/end March-October/early November, Wed - Sun, 11-5. Closed Good Friday.
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 14 times, most recently in 2019.
Special conditions:
Admission charge (free to NT members)
Facilities:
Museum, shop
Events:
Talks. Has opened for OGSW
Public transport:
Tube: South Kensington (Piccadilly, District, Circle), Sloane Square (District, Circle) then bus. Bus: 11, 19, 22, 49, 170.
Research updated:
01/10/2007
Last minor changes:
19/07/2023

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/carlyleshouse

Full Site Description

Nos. 16-34 Cheyne Row were built in 1708 on ground previously the site of the bowling green of The Three Tuns public house and Nos.16-24 backed onto the ground of Shrewsbury House, whose Tudor garden forms the boundary of the garden of Carlyle's House at No. 24. Writer and historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), nicknamed the Sage of Chelsea, and his wife Jane lived here from 1834 - 1881. The Queen Anne house was purchased by public subscription in 1895 and the Carlyle's House Memorial Trust was formed to administer it, opening to the public in 1896. It was transferred to the National Trust in 1936. It contains the Carlyles' furniture, pictures, books and other possessions, and behind the house is their Victorian walled garden. Carlyle often sat here, and in hot weather wrote in the garden, an awning occasionally erected for the purpose.

Both Carlyles tended the garden, which had flowers and vegetables. Among the plants were a cherry tree, grape vine and walnut tree, lilac bushes, hawthorn, ash, jessamine, wallflowers and much mint, including plants to remind Jane of her native Scotland. The walnut tree and a mulberry in the adjacent garden were probably part of a C17th orchard. A copper beech was in the north east corner. The old earth closet is still by the house, and there was once a very large water butt. In July 1847 Carlyle wrote of his purchase of three fruit trees, the old ones having died. In 1852 a dwarf wall and pillars was erected dividing the garden and flagstoned area by the house, and there were once two china garden seats taken out in summer. Mrs Carlyle's dog Nero was buried near the south east corner in February 1860, but the headstone is no longer there. In 1870 a Virginia Creeper was planted on the north wall.

The garden is now being planted with plants mentioned in the Carlyles' writings and there are plans to include walnut, figs, grape vine, nettles from the countryside where Jane had lived, ivy and box hedging.

Sources consulted:

Reginald Blunt ‘No 5 Cheyne Row, The Carlyles’ Chelsea Home’, George Bell and Sons, 1895; ’Carlyle’s House Catalogue’, National Trust 1995, facsimile of the original catalogue produced by Carlyle’s House Memorial Trust in 1895; Thea Holme, 'The Carlyles at Home', Persephone Books, 1965; 'Carlyle's House, London' National Trust, 1992; ‘The Collected Letters of Thomas Carlyle and Jane Welsh Carlyle’, Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, Gen Ed Charles Richard Sanders; ‘Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle’ ed James Anthony Froude, Longmans Green and Co 1883; ‘New Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle’ ed Alexander Carlyle, John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1893; Reginald Blunt 'The Wonderful Village', Mills and Boon Ltd, 1919; Sally Williams, ‘The Carlyles’ Chelsea Garden ‘in the noisiest Babylon that ever raged’, The London Gardener, vol.9, 2003/4. See www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ272777 (527180,177720)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
National Trust
Site management:
National Trust
Date(s):
1708; 1834-81
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
LBII*: 24 Cheyne Row
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

No
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Cheyne
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
No
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Archaeological Priority Area (Thames)
Other LA designation:
None
Photos

Carlyle's House Garden

Carlyle's House - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 11/06/11 13:59

Click a photo to enlarge.

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.