Hidden behind high walls on the left side of Old Church Street is The Rectory, built in 1752 and reputedly the most expensive property in London. It is rumoured that even offers by Russian multi-millionaires have been rejected. Among its many delights is the extensive garden, the second largest private garden in London after Buckingham Palace.
Originally it was the home of the Rectors of Chelsea Parish Church, including George Wellesley, brother of the Duke of Wellington; Charles Kingsley, father of Charles Kingsley who wrote the Water Babies; and Gerald Blunt, father of Chelsea historian Reginald Blunt.
Outside numbers 34-44 reminders of earlier days can be seen. Two cows' heads and decorated tiles showing milk maids and farm yard scenes mark the site of Wright's Dairy (numbers 44-46). Fifty cows once grazed on Cook's Ground at the rear of the dairy. The old tobacconist's shop window and sign have been retained at number 34.
The Black Lion, now a gastro pub called the Pig's Ear, stands on the corner of Paulton Street. The original pub shown here had a beer garden and bowling green and its loss was much lamented. The present building was put up in 1892 and retains many of its original features, including elaborate lights and bar fittings. The bar is decorated with pictures from the 1960s and 70s, including photographs of George Best, the Rolling Stones, as well as Punk memorabilia.
Just before turning into Justice Walk, a few words on the church. Sir Thomas More built his own chapel, decorated by Holbein and his statue now stands outside the church. On the night of 16 April 1941 it was virtually destroyed by incendiary bombs but the church was faithfully reconstructed and today is once again one of the most fashionable churches to be married in.
Walking along Justice Walk you are transported back in time. Tales of courtrooms and cells abound but it is more likely named after Sir Henry Fielding, the blind magistrate who lived nearby.
The large house on the right was a Wesleyan Chapel with a schoolroom beneath. Queen Victoria once attended a service there. Peter Jones, founder of the famous Sloane Square store and Thomas Carlyle were more frequent attendees.
Directions: Turn left and walk down Justice Walk to Lawrence Street.
The Black Lion in 1820, oil by E Carswell
Justice Walk by William Walter Burgess c.1890