Worlds End

This time in Chelsea

Two weeks ago I started writing about my long and interesting walk in Chelsea, down the Kings Road, back to the stamping ground of my teenagerdom. I had a wonderful day, marred only for a while by the need to go to the loo. But that is the story for many females of a certain age, so I won’t dwell on it again.

Anyway I was wandering round the very inaptly named area of Worlds End when suddenly I saw an open doorlike gate with a lot of green space on the other side of it. It was drizzling a bit, but when I saw the magic words Moravian Chapel just outside I hoped it might be open so I could sit down and take some shelter. I climbed over the rather high lintel, saw there was nobody about, and began to look for the chapel. I felt a little strange as I was not at all sure this was not private property, at least for the first few minutes. All I could see was a square expanse of green, surrounded by three very old walls, in front of which were some ancient plane trees. I had to take my glasses off, so I did not at first notice the square stones laid out in a very orderly fashion, covering the whole of what I supposed was a lawn. There were four very ancient trees in the middle – which I later discovered to be fig trees – you can just about see the figs in the photo above, hanging on for dear life!

But at first I just wanted to find the chapel. I walked a few yards and noticed that the paved lane was made up of very old stones – obviously moved from elsewhere. But where?

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The little building you can see on the right is in fact the chapel, though some of it seems to have been converted to an artists’ studio. Everything was closed, of course, so I walked all the way round the square, enjoying the solitude and the greenness and the age of everything.

This wall is just so full of history. I know that is a trite statement, but how else to put it? When I turned the corner, however, this time line struck me full in the face.

This colourful time line took over most of the wall opposite the chapel buildings.

This rather interesting composition was in the corner. Somehow it looked to me like a possible installation of Joseph Beuys, in its bleakness yet artificiality.

Some very old London planes.

And now you can see most of the cemetery. In the middle are the four ancient fig trees and rows and rows of gravestones, with very little information on them. Men and women separated. Lots of children, sadly.

Yet I found this to be a most comforting and peaceful place. I am looking forward to coming back here in more clement weather. I expect there will be more people then, but I had never noticed this place before, so maybe not many other people will know of it either. Shshsh – keep my secret.

The history of the place is very interesting too. If you click on this link it tells you quite a bit.

https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol4/pt2/pp46-47#s1

Which hidden places do you like?

8 comments on “Worlds End

  1. I live in a suburb called Ealing in the west of London. It used to be known as the Queen of the suburbs because it was big with many parks and gardens. As a child I hated it. I went to school here but my mother lived in central London which I absolutely loved. And still do. Hence my excitement when I find myself in my childhood haunts. There is always more to see in London. I always think I know it quite well yet I am constantly astounded by new and hitherto undiscovered , by me , things.
    Come. It would be lovely to show you around Or possibly you would show me new things. This often happens with visitors. They know more about a place than the indigenous population

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  2. I must have driven, cycled and walked past here a number of times over the years, but never stopped to check it out, next time I will.

    I wonder what secrets the wall at the end of our garden holds. It’s much older than our house and borders onto Church Walk – a long established path to St Nicolas Church. The church was probably originally built in the Saxon period, and subsequently rebuilt in stone in the Norman period, sometime in the twelfth century, I can only assume Church Walk and therefore our wall has seen many events over so many years.

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  3. What a wonderful ‘hiddedn’ place, and that time-line, fascinating.
    In my first job, late 70’s early 80’s, I was often called upon to take gold to the London Assay Office in Goldsmith’s Hall, to be hallmarked and then go and collect it a few days later. Arriving at Euston I was under strict instructions to go via the Tube – Northern Line then Central Line – to St. Pauls Station, the closest station to Goldsmith’s Hall but I always used to walk to the Met Line at Kings Cross St. Pancras and get the train to Farringdon and then walk through Smithfield and Little Britain. It was a fascinating place back then full of little nooks and crannies and I paid the occasional visit to the church of St Bartholomew the Great which seemed tucked away and out of sight. I’d be walking through Smithfield Market after the early busy period so it wasn’t crowded but then turning into Little Britain it seemed as if you’d fallen on the London A-Z; the whole place had a run-down aspect and there was hardly anyone about.
    I’ve just been looking again at the route I used to take, on Google maps. Hardly recognisable now.

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  4. London is full of surprises, even when you think you know it well.
    My husband used to be on the London Stock Exchange – way back before the banks were allowed to trade there, and used to explore the area in his lunchtimes…double doors which led into narrow alleys, tiny gardens and little caffs up the stairs in Leadenhall Market run by old dears and holding only a couple of tables. I wonder if anything remains now those appalling towers have taken over…

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