Recently, on a trip to the capital to see the fascinating Vermeer and Music exhibition at the National, we took the opportunity to seek out the Betjeman’s house in Chelsea, where the family moved to from No. 31, West Hill (covered in our ‘Metro-land and beyond – on the Betjeman Trail ‘ back in March), whilst John was away at the Dragon School. In Summond by Bells, John gives the address as ‘Church Street’ but we could only find Old Church Street, which runs between Fulham Road and the Thames. Assuming this to be the same street, there is a small house at number 53, potentially fitting his description of ‘poky, dark and cramped’ and which is within a short walk, via Lawrence Street and Upper Cheyne Row, from Cheyne Gardens and the house of his school boy chum, Ronnie Wright. The house is empty and rather unloved at present and we were surprised not to find a ‘blue plaque’, marking the spot. If anyone reading this blog knows better the location of the Chelsea house, please do leave a comment at the end.
“53, Church Street. Yes, the slummy end”
“I’d slam behind me our green garden door….
And hare to Cheyne Gardens… by Lawrence Street
…and Upper Cheyne Row’ ( the same sign that John must have often past )…
…Safe to the tall red house of Ronnie Wright”
But don’t think that this trip was all art and literature, not a bit of it – we had to have lunch in St James’s Park to make sure Jane could add Ring-necked Parakeet to her Year List!