The bank now rises slightly, and we arrive at Chelsea, a small village clustering near a church and along the bank, with one or two large houses interspersed.
This village has always been considered very healthy, and is much resorted to. Sir Thomas More built a large house here with a gatehouse, and, although the Chancellor addresses a letter "from my pore house at Chelcith," it must have been a good-sized mansion, and he often entertained Henry the Eighth here.
After he had met the usual fate of Henry's Chancellors, the King seems to have used the house for a royal nursery, as Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth were sent here for the sake of the good air.
Queen Catherine Parr, who, to her own astonishment, outlived her much-married consort, lived in the house after she had wedded her third husband, Thomas Seymour, the Lord Admiral, and had with her the young Princess Elizabeth, who was then about thirteen.
Seymour went the same way as Sir Thomas More. Anne of Cleves lived and died here, and the house is then described as "the King and Queen's Majesty's Palace of Chelsey"
Some of the old redbrick garden walls were in existence quite lately. Sir Thomas More was a great benefactor to the old Chelsea Church; it was whispered that, although Lord Chancellor, he had been seen wearing a surplice and serving in the choir!
In James the First's reign there was a plan to build a college here, to train learned men to answer all attacks against religion. One portion was actually built, but the college came to nothing, and on the site of it Chelsea Hospital was afterwards built, a foundation of which something shall be said later on.Next page: Somerset House