Tour 2 Royal Hospital Chelsea
Passengers arriving at Victoria by train cross the River Thames. In this second walk to Royal Hospital, Chelsea we visit that river crossing turning left out of the station and left again down Buckingham Palace Road passing Victoria Coach Station. The walk heads down Pimlico Road to the Mozart memorial on Orange Square then via Bourne Street to King’s Road and the Saatchi Gallery. After visiting the free Gallery we exit left and turn immediately down Cheltenham Terrace which ends at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Exiting the Hospital we turn right and right again down Chelsea Bridge Road viewing Battersea Power Station near the Thames railway crossing. We return initially along the river via Tate Britain Gallery then back north via Westminster Cathedral and Little Ben clock tower outside the renovated Victoria Station.
Turn left out of Victoria station, left again down Buckingham Palace Road passing Victoria Coach Station and head down Pimlico Road to the Mozart memorial on Orange Square in fashionable Belgravia. The statue of the violin-playing 8 year old Mozart (1759-1791) from Salzburg commemorates his stay with his family at 180 Ebury Street where he wrote his first symphony in 1764. A farmer’s market is held every Saturday morning in this square. Mozart’s music is used regularly at worship in the adjacent Anglo Catholic Church of St Mary, Bourne Street.
Walk down Bourne Street behind Mozart’s statue passing St Mary’s Church along to King’s Road then turn left past Duke of York Square to the Saatchi Gallery which has moved around London since its founding in 1985. The Duke of York HQ with its splendid facade is the current venue for the gallery which through a commercial partnership provides free exhibition of the work of contemporary artists. One of London’s most visited sites Saatchi is famous for its regularly changed controversial displays.
Royal Hospital, Chelsea
From Saatchi Gallery take a left turn at the exit and turn almost immediately down Cheltenham Terrace which ends at the Royal Hospital home of up to 300 Chelsea pensioners. Founded 1682 by King Charles II whose gilded statue stands tall in its grounds the Hospital was designed by Christopher Wren. It is home to military veterans seen around London in red outfits and tri-corner hats. The Chapel and Great Hall are a splendid sight. The grave of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher lies in the cemetery.
Battersea Power Station
On leaving the Royal Hospital turn right and right again down Chelsea Bridge Road then left at the bridge to follow the pavement with views of the Thames. You pass under Grosvenor Bridge which carries the railway into Victoria Station. Across the river the decommissioned former coal-powered Battersea Power Station is prominent, now site of extensive development, with its four chimneys. Dating back to the 1930s and one of the world’s largest brick buildings it is one of London’s most famous landmarks set to become Apple’s London HQ.
Tate Britain Gallery
Continue along the Thames embankment crossing Vauxhall Bridge proceeding a short distance to Tate Britain, a gallery founded in 1889 by Henry Tate who funded it from a fortune made in sugar refining, with a donation of his own collection of British nineteenth-century art to the nation. The Gallery specialises in British art from the 16th century to the present day and is linked to Tate Modern downstream across the river from St Paul’s as well as galleries in Liverpool and St Ives.
From Tate Britain head to Westminster Cathedral either by retracing your route to Vauxhall Bridge and walking or catching a bus to Victoria or by weaving north through the streets that pass Vincent Square. The Roman Catholic Cathedral (1885) is much younger than the Anglican Abbey (1042) down the road but like the Abbey has a world famous choir that sing daily usually in the evening. It is a prayerful building. The apse behind the high altar is an effective amplifier of the choristers’ singing.
Turn left out of the main door of Westminster Cathedral and head to the station along Victoria Street. Little Ben is prominent on the pedestrian island at the junction with Vauxhall Bridge Road in front of Victoria Station. It is a cast iron replica of Big Ben erected 1892, taken down 1964, re-erected 1981, removed 2012 during the Station’s renovation then re-erected 2016. In the spirit of Anglo-French friendship the clock bears a rhyming couplet called Apology for Summer Time: ‘My hands you may retard or may advance/ my heart beats true for England as for France’.