Goodwin’s Field

Agricultural land in/near Chelsea, existed between 1530 and the 1850s

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Agricultural land · Chelsea · SW10 ·

Goodwins Field - a field with a story.

In 1715, Goodwin’s Field was a field owned by a Peter Lavigne, grocer or perfumier of Covent Garden. He bought it from two brothers, John and Thomas Morgan of Marlborough, Wiltshire in 1699. Goodwin’s Field had been inherited in 1699 by the Morgans under the provisions of the will of their brother Charles Morgan (d. 1682), also a grocer of Covent Garden, who had bequeathed his shop there directly to Lavigne, formerly his ’servant’.

Morgan had bought Goodwin’s Field in 1680 from a William Chare who in turn had inherited it, by the custom of the manor of Earl’s Court, as the youngest son of a John Chare.. The latter had bought it in 1641 from mortgagees of Samuel Arnold, one of a family widely propertied in the vicinity of Earl’s Court. Earlier, in the 1530s to 1550s, Goodwin’s Field had been owned by a family called Thatcher.

Goodwin’s Field passed on Lavigne’s death in 1717 to his widow and then in 1719 to their daughter, at that time also a widow, who promptly sold it to Edward Williams, described as of the Customs House, gentleman.

After Williams’s death in 1752 his son, also Edward Williams, of the Inner Temple, leased and then, in the following year, sold Goodwin’s Field to trustees for the banker George Campbell, head of the firm that was to become Courts. Campbell, like subsequent owners of Goodwin’s Field, lived in Coleherne House.

After Campbell’s death in 1760 his trustees, in 1761, sold Goodwin’s Field to the bearer of a name that became locally important — William Boulton, esquire, of Frith Street, Soho. Like the elder Williams he was a public official, being one of the Clerks of the Roads in the Post Office. This was at that time a lucrative situation (by reason of its perks rather than its salary), and Boulton’s nephew, the diarist William Hickey, calls him ’very rich’.

In 1796 William Boulton, the elder Boulton’s son, bought the area to the east of the field, and thus acquired, though only for a short time, the area that still commemorates his name.

Towards the south end of Goodwin’s Field a gravel pit is mentioned in 1753, and the right to excavate gravel was reserved by the ground landlord a few years later. In 1808 land in this vicinity was said to be on lease of recent date for the purpose of extracting gravel.

The field was arable in 1748, and rye grew there in 1808. Other nearby fields in 1746 were variously described as ’planted with Walnut Trees, Mulberry Trees, Apple Trees and other fruit Trees’. The walnut trees in particular were a landmark and presumably account for the name of Walnut Tree Walk, on the line of Redcliffe Gardens, which existed as a ’lane or drove’ in 1639, a ’warple’ in 1753, a ’footpath or bridle way’ in 1797, and a ’bridle or carriage way’ in 1805.

In 1843 the occupants of the land was reported as the market gardener John Poupart, with a name later well known at Covent Garden. He, too, lived here, in the small unpretentious farm-house west of Walnut Tree Walk. It stood near the present No. 2a Redcliffe Gardens and perhaps dated from the late 1780s. Apart from this house, the only buildings of any note in the field in the 1840s seem to have been a cottage at the south-west corner of the field near the present 49 Redcliffe Gardens.

Main source: The Boltons and Redcliffe Square area: Introduction | British Hi
Further citations and sources




Chelsea is an affluent area, bounded to the south by the River Thames.

Its eastern boundary was once defined by the River Westbourne, which is now in a pipe above Sloane Square tube station. The modern eastern boundary is Chelsea Bridge Road and the lower half of Sloane Street, including Sloane Square, along with parts of Belgravia. To the north and northwest, the area fades into Knightsbridge and South Kensington, but it is safe to say that the area north of King’s Road as far northwest as Fulham Road is part of Chelsea.

The word Chelsea originates from the Old English term for chalk and landing place on the river. The first record of the Manor of Chelsea precedes the Domesday Book and records the fact that Thurstan, governor of the King’s Palace during the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042–1066), gave the land to the Abbot and Convent of Westminster. Abbot Gervace subsequently assigned the manor to his mother, and it passed into private ownership. The modern-day Chelsea hosted the Synod of Chelsea in 787 AD.

Chelsea once had a reputation for the manufacture of Chelsea buns (made from a long strip of sweet dough tightly coiled, with currants trapped between the layers, and topped with sugar).

King Henry VIII acquired the manor of Chelsea from Lord Sandys in 1536; Chelsea Manor Street is still extant. Two of King Henry’s wives, Catherine Parr and Anne of Cleves, lived in the Manor House; Princess Elizabeth – the future Queen Elizabeth I – resided there; and Thomas More lived more or less next door at Beaufort House. In 1609 James I established a theological college on the site of the future Chelsea Royal Hospital, which Charles II founded in 1682.

By 1694, Chelsea – always a popular location for the wealthy, and once described as ’a village of palaces’ – had a population of 3000. Even so, Chelsea remained rural and served London to the east as a market garden, a trade that continued until the 19th-century development boom which caused the final absorption of the district into the metropolis.

Chelsea shone, brightly but briefly, in the 1960s Swinging London period and the early 1970s. The Swinging Sixties was defined on King’s Road, which runs the length of the area. The Western end of Chelsea featured boutiques Granny Takes a Trip and The Sweet Shop, the latter of which sold medieval silk velvet caftans, tabards and floor cushions, with many of the cultural cognoscenti of the time being customers, including Keith Richards, Twiggy and many others.

The exclusivity of Chelsea as a result of its high property prices has historically resulted in the term Sloane Ranger to be used to describe its residents. From 2011, Channel 4 broadcast a reality television show called Made in Chelsea, documenting the ’glitzy’ lives of several young people living in Chelsea. Moreover, Chelsea is home to one of the largest communities of Americans living outside of the United States, with 6.53% of Chelsea-residents being born in the United States.
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