By Mental Gentle
In the heart of the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, famous for Chelsea buns, Chelsea Football Club and more recently a certain reality TV show, Chelsea is one of London’s most affluent areas. The area began life as a fishing village, then during the Tudor period, it was home to one of Henry VIII’s riverside residences. It gained a colourful notoriety during Victorian times, being frequented by Bohemian residents such as Whistler and Oscar Wilde, whilst it was also home to ‘Dracula’ author Bram Stoker.
Running through Chelsea is Kings Road, which acquired international fame in the 1960s after the opening of Mary Quant’s shop, ‘Bazaar,’ in 1955 and the accumulation of boutiques and restaurants; by the mid ‘60s it was the haunt of ‘the beautiful people,’ and symbolised the Swinging Sixties. In the 1970s the punks arrived, led by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren and their famous SEX boutique. These days it has coffee shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants, as well as the grandeur of the Saatchi Gallery.
The area is also home to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, a Grade I listed building founded by Charles II in 1682 for war veterans to come to recuperate and is now home to the Chelsea Pensioners, instantly recognisable in their red jackets and black three-corner hats.
There are so many different aspects and intriguing history to Chelsea once you scratch its well-manicured surface, so go explore!