Chelsea is not only one of the smartest addresses in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, it is famous for all sorts of reasons. One of the most stirring sights in the whole of London is the wonderful scarlet coats and tricorne hats of the Chelsea Pensioners. These delightful elderly gentlemen who fought so bravely in two world wars inhabit the gracious grounds of the Royal Hospital and impress everyone who meets them with their dignity. Then of course there is Chelsea FC, famed for shirts of a different colour. Chelsea Bridge is one of the prettiest in the metropolis and Chelsea Physic Garden is an ancient and beautiful sanctuary. Chelsea College of Art and the Arts Club are world-class reminders of the artistic roots of the SW3 area. Chelsea buns did actually originate in Chelsea too.
What makes Chelsea really famous
Think of Chelsea though and most likely The King’s Road will spring to mind. Bordered at one end by Sloane Square and at the other by World’s End, this long, uber-fashionable street was the epicenter of the Swinging Sixties and has seen more famous faces pass along it than the Hollywood footpath has prints. Always a mecca for shoppers and for nightlife, it is as buzzy and trendy now as it ever was. Who can resist meeting friends for brunch in a place immortalised in the Joni Mitchell song : “Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning and the first thing that I knew, There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl or oranges too.” Just being there feels glamorous.
A certain TV programme
The success of Made in Chelsea has brought the bright young things of this sophisticated neighbourhood back into the limelight. On air since 2011, this reality show about a group of well-off trust-fund kids has sparked a loyal following and a new reason for fans to pay a pilgrimage. Girls will come from all over England to buy leather Chelsea boots here, all the better to emulate Cheska, Rosie et al. Or perhaps they are secretly hoping to bump into Spencer. Although ‘Sloane rangers’ are technically a thing of the Eighties, there are still plenty of their modern counterparts in the Kings Road. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is often seen popping in and out of her favourite stores.
Blue plaques galore
Chelsea has always appealed to bohemians, musicians, artists and writers and has been home to many notable people. Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, Henry James, Mark Twain, Whistler, Tolkein, Rossetti and Oscar Wilde are just a few former residents, while in more recent times, Sir Laurence Olivier, Bob Marley, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Michael Hutchence have all enjoyed living there. As they like to sing on the terraces, Chelsea is the pride of London.
About the author: Christa Tulley is a fashion graduate who started on her college paper and has been writing on the industry ever since. When she is not scouring vintage markets she likes to buy leather Chelsea boots here and there and has another long held collector’s mania for jewellery.