Friday, 2 July 2010

Chelsea Thursday - The original Sloane

The problem with taking the night bus into London is that it arrives in at six o'clock in the morning and London doesn't open until ten, except that is for the wee cafe round the corner from Victoria Bus Station. So it's a few hours of wandering around the street admiring the brickwork and looking in shop windows.

Today it's Chelsea's turn for a visit from me. I was in all honesty just going for a look at the Royal Hospital with the intention of a quick left turn towards Battersea power station, but no, there's always something interesting on the map to tempt you just a couple of streets further away from the river. Sloane Square is a must see location for anyone that remembers the '80s and as a square it is completely unremarkable - fountain, trees and a down and out waking up - obviously a better class of down and out but still unlikely to be allowed into any of the rather classy shops around the square - mind you, I think it's unlikely that I would get into them either.

I wandered down the Kings Road where I found a baker who was unable to sell me a chelsea bun. So I had to make do with a pain au chocolat as I wandered down a side street having spotted a delightful Italianesque (excuse my rather basic and probably wrong architectural vocabulary) building covered in ivy at the far end of it. It was the home of the Chelsea Open Air Nursery School. A bloke coming out of the gate informed me that the older building attached to supposed to have been stabling for Henry VIII and that to get in I would probably need about £15 000 000, guv'ner (alright he didn't say "guv'ner" but it wouldn't have sounded out of place if he had)

The chap above looks like he's made of tin of fibreglass or something. He was shot through the bars of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea and was too far away to give a rattle to see exactly what he was made of. To my satisfaction there were quite a few real chelsea pensioners out and about in Chelsea with their little brown day to day caps and red stripes down their trousers but I left them in peace to wander about on their business. They must be fed up to the back teeth with people going, "Oh look! A chelsea pensioner", SNAP!. (In case anyone is passing from my last blog - the same rule does not apply to Boris Johnson)

By the time I arrived out side the Saatchi gallery there was still quarter of an hour to opening time. Actually I was quite glad of the rest, so I sat down to admire the statue of the rather dapper Sir Hans Sloane. It wasn't a bad guess to make at the time that he was the person for who Sloane Square was named after and thus gave name to those 1980s super starlettes of champagne and frilly collars, ok yah. I discovered today on a wee surf that the man is indeed worthy of a larger than life statue, indeed the local council should consider popping round and gold plating it - though perhaps after the credit crunch has worn off. Sir Hans was the physician to Queen Anne, George I and George II and while he was in Jamaica he discovered the locals drinking a rather horrible drink made out of cocoa. He managed to make it more palatable by mixing it with milk and brought the recipe back to Blighty. It was originally sold as a medicine but by the middle of the 19th century Cadbury's were selling tins of Sloane's drinking chocolate.
Not content with inventing chocolate, he followed Issac Newton as president of the Royal Society and it is his collection of books,
flora, fauna and other odds and ends that went on to be the foundation of the British Museum after his death.


Anonymous said...

bestest of luckiness with the new site here....thought i'd note a passing resemblance to bruce forsyth in the figure...hmmm

Sandy's witterings said...

Oh dear Miss B. Fancy missing this! xx