The History of 5 Anderson Street, Chelsea
Russell Simpson has called 5 Anderson Street their home for 43 years. Celebrating the move of the growing family business to bigger premises at 151A Sydney Street, we were interested to learn about the rich history of the Anderson Street.
Chelsea passed through the hands of many owners, including John Bray of Chiswick and Sir John of Shoreditch. It was conveyed in 1536 to Henry VIII as part of a land exchange, giving the Crown absolute title to the Manor of Chelsea. The King later granted it to his last wife Catherine Parr in 1544. The Manor was subsequently leased by the Crown for the next two centuries to various aristocrats, among them James Hamilton, 2nd Marquess of Hamilton, who embarked upon substantial building in the area. By 1657 the estate was sold to Charles Cheyne, a Buckinghamshire gentleman. It then passed to Dr Hans Sloane, the Anglo-Irish physician, naturalist, and collector, who was created baronet in 1716. When he died the estate passed to Lord Cadogan and much of it remained with his family in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Chelsea during the 17th to 19th century
Small pockets of Chelsea were exchanged or sold off throughout this time. In 1650 Michael Warton, son of Sir Michael Warton the Royalist politician from Beverley in Yorkshire, bought 53 acres of arable land in the area, suitable for growing a rich variety of crops.
Chelsea participated in the great expansion of market gardening around London between the 17th and 19th centuries, stimulated by the new demand among the rich for a wide variety of vegetables in their diets.
Sir Michael Warton’s sons started to sell off his land towards the end of the 18th century, and a portion of it on the King’s Road passed to William Colvill, the celebrated florist. His King’s Road Nursery was built in 1793, and it was on this site that number 5 Anderson Street was later built. Stretching from Keppel Terrace to Blacklands Lane, Colvill’s Nursery became a household name. In 1795 the nursery was singled out for the first real display of chrysanthemums in Britain and also for the quality of its highly fashionable exotic plants.
Three generations of Russells (right) studying the history of 5 Anderson Street.
The Building of 5 Anderson Street
The architect and builder of number 5 Anderson Street was John Blore, the son of the C. H. Blore, ‘an experienced builder of many years’.
He received what he described as: ‘the basis of my practical education’ in his father’s workshops and buildings before being articled to the architect Robert Wallace in 1827. During this time he worked on some of Wallace’s best designs, including the Derby Athenaeum, which incorporated Derby’s Post Office and Royal Hotel. In 1845 John Blore was appointed surveyor of the Alexander Estate which occupied 370 acres in Kensington, Knightsbridge and Chelsea. Blore’s buildings in Kensington include Hereford Square, Drayton Terrace and Drayton Grove. On the Colvill Estate in Chelsea he was responsible for Anderson Street, Coulson Street and Lincoln Street, and also a prominent range of buildings on the King’s Road itself.
The owners of 5 Anderson Street
The map of 1891 shows that Anderson Street was originally accessed by steps at the north end, as was Lincoln Street.
The streets were all named after local trustees of the Colvill Estate: David Coulson, Stroud Lincoln and lastly John Anderson, who was listed in a lease of 1832 as a ‘Brewer’ and as a ‘Gent’ of Greens Row Chelsea’. The first recorded owner of number 5 Anderson Street, and also of numbers 1 to 9, was Richard Angell. Mary Coles was the first occupant of the house, along with Mr J. Lee, a picture dealer. From 1849 the philosopher Karl Marx was renting rooms next door at number 4. His fourth son, Henry, was born there on Guy Fawkes Night resulting in him being nicknamed ‘Guido’.
The second owner was the widow Mary Geary, described in the 1851 census as a ‘proprietor of houses’. On her passing in 1869 number 5 was sold at auction by Mr H. Oughton to James Clark of 152 Sloane Street for £360. According to the 1871 census Clark was ‘a painter and decorator employing eight men’. He first rented out the property to Robert Baker, a ‘wood carrier’, who occupied it with his wife Elizabeth and their children Mabel and Harold. The house then passed in 1898 to Clark’s thirty-five year old son, Thomas George Clark, a ‘home decorator’ who lived in it with his wife Fanny and their daughter Eveline, together with Fanny Welch, a house maid, until 1912.
Russell Simpson at 5 Anderson Street
The house then remained unoccupied until 1919 when William and Emma Bridge moved in with their sons Leonard and Samuel. The Bridges remained until 1938, when many of the Anderson Street properties were sold.
The Clark family continued ownership of number 5 and rented it to Basil Ridout in 1938. He sub-let the front of the house but converted the rear of the building into a workshop for his local upholstery company, Ridout and Rogers Ltd. Basil died in 1952 but the company carried on at the rear of number 5 until 1961. In 1962 the property was purchased by Dynevor Investments Ltd. This company was owned by the Clark family, retaining an unbroken provenance of family ownership from 1869 to the present day.
From the early 1960s the management of the building was entrusted to Edwin Evans and Sons, chartered surveyors based at 2 South Audley Street Mayfair. They rented out the property to Anthony Holmes, then to Ida Naf, and subsequently to staff from the Spanish Consulate. For the next ten years the house was occupied by foreign nationals. The building received its Grade II Listing in 1971. A few years later, the street was thrown into uproar when, on 26th August 1978, several shots were fired from automatic weapons, allegedly by Israeli security agents, towards flats in Anderson Street, one of the which was owned by an Iraqi diplomat.
Edwin Evans and Sons converted the house for commercial use in 1985, removing the original kitchen and providing extra bathroom facilities. In this year the estate agency Russell Simpson moved in and stayed until 2022. Alan Russell established his business in 1979, and the company’s full-page advertisement in the August 1989 edition of World of Interiors elegantly and proudly demonstrated that it had made its mark in the world of high-end property. The company remains, through its pro-active approach, very successful in the client focused services it offers.
The miniature model of 5 Anderson Street was commissioned by the talented Ben Taggart of Modelmaking & Design.
The Russell Simpson team