London: the step-by-step guide Michael Leapman takes a stroll through Chelsea and Battersea
Friday 13 January 1995
Turn left out of Sloane Square station and fork left down Holbein Place, then turn right to cross the lights into Royal Hospital Road. Go into the hospital grounds through the gates on your left (open 10am-3.30pm), passing the museum which relates the history of the Chelsea Pensioners. If you want to visit this, and the great hall and chapel of Wren's splendid building, they are open Mon-Sat fron 10am-noon and 2pm-4pm.
Past the museum go through the gate on your left (closed between 1pm and 2pm) into Ranelagh Gardens. A small pavilion contains a potted history of the gardens, a popular pleasure ground in the 18th century, when it had a large rotunda for indoor entertainments. Take time to walk round the garden and leave it the way you came in.
From the garden gate turn left and right to walk along the back of the hospital: look out for Grinling Gibbons's bronze statue of Charles II, in whose reign it was built. Turn left here to pass the obelisk (the centre of the marquee at the annual ChelseaFlower Show), go out of the south gate and turn left on the embankment to Chelsea Bridge.
As you cross the bridge look up to admire the gilded galleons on the pillars at each end. Turn right into Battersea Park, then immediately right to join the river walkway, passing the car park (where drivers begin the walk) to turn left at the Buddhist Peace Pagoda. Turn left again at the bandstand and take the first path to the right to pass a pavilion by the lake.
Turn left to go between the lake and the old pump house (now an art gallery), then turn sharp right, keeping the pump house on your right. At a T-junction turn right and follow the path until you reach Henry Moore's Three Standing Figures.
From here, turn right on to a diagonal path that passes to the right of football pitches. Cross the central avenue and head north, following an iron fence beside another football field. Turn left and right to enter the gate of the English garden, beneatha wooden pergola, and wander round it before leaving by the gate on the opposite side. Turn left and then right to leave the park at its north-west corner.
Cross Albert Bridge ("All troops must break step when marching") and turn left to pass in front of the stately houses of Cheyne Walk, past statues of Thomas Carlyle, the historian, and the Tudor statesman and cleric Sir Thomas More, both Chelsea residents. Turn right at Chelsea Old Church, which has good Tudor monuments inside.
Turn right again down Justice Walk, a narrow alley, then left, right and left again to join Glebe Place, with its quaint houses: look at the fancy terracotta on No 50. Where Glebe Place meets King's Road turn right to pass some fine early 18th-century houses whose former residents included Ellen Terry, the actress, and the film director Sir Carol Reed.
Cross King's Road and go diagonally across Dovehouse Green to pass through Chelsea Farmers' Market, with its variety of cafes and a good garden shop. Turn left on Sydney Street. A few yards past the Wellesley Arms go through the gate into St Luke's chuchyard, crossing it diagonally to round the church at its east end.
Head north to leave the churchyard and turn right, passing the Blenheim pub on your right and Jane Asher's fancy cake shop on your left. At the junction keep ahead down Elystan Place, admiring the lush container garden in front of No 45. Press on until turning right on Blacklands Terrace past (or into) John Sandoe's wonderful bookshop.
Turn left on King's Road and cross Sloane Square to get back to the station. Car drivers still have the first section to complete.
This walk is based on a route Michael Leapman devised for the `Eyewitness Guide to London' (Dorling Kindersley, £14.99)
Distance: Four miles Time: Two hours plus visits Underground: Sloane Square (District and Circle lines)
Buses: 11, 19, 22, 137, 349
Parking: Large car park at north end of Battersea Park (drivers adjust route to start and end there).
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