Monday, 22 July 2013

A CHELSEA HOUSEBOAT

Wanted. Serious lottery win to buy
Chelsea Houseboat. Please.
 
I've had a lifelong love affair with the river Thames. A map of it adorns our hall wall. I read about it and dreamed of it for years before being overjoyed to dip a toe into it.  It has never disappointed me and I fully understand how that the Pre-Raphaelites fell in love with it and why they chose to live beside it on Cheyne Walk and later at Kelmscott Manor the Cotswold jewel that William Morris found and at Kelmscott House in Hammersmith. One who was perhaps the most romanced by The Thames was John Atkinson Grimshaw who moved to London in the 1880s and began to paint the river often.  For me he captured it better than anyone, even Turner or Whistler.



John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836–1893­)
Reflections on the Thames: Westminster

In my youth I toyed with the idea of living on a houseboat on The Thames. We lived in a small terraced house in Twickenham, across from the river with only an old ice rink and an alleyway to walk before being right on the river front. We could watch Richmond Bridge from an upstairs window, but plans were afoot to convert the whole sight to a housing estate and block all of our views. We looked at some boats for sale in idyllic spots along The Thames, but never really settled on one. Would our 4 cats take to living on water? Would the Parrots fly off? Did the pipes freeze in winter? And how would we ever afford a mooring on a desirable part of the river? It is amazing to think that back then I was probably far more sensible than I am now.

Instead we moved to a 4 story artisan made Italian style villa in Isleworth, again just 5 minutes from the river Thames. And now I live a very long way from The Thames indeed, but I am quite neat the Kennet Avon. I miss The Thames and the idea of living on it haunts me still. I often wish that I had just done it.

Who could not fall in love with this bohemian abode just by the Cheyne Walk in Chelsea?






And the boat even has it's own story too, besides being in the middle of a Pre-Raphaelite and 60s rock star paradise for history, art and architecture lovers. Not to mention the King's Road being a mere 10 minute walk with stunning views all the way.

The estate agent said:

"A wonderful opportunity to purchase this historic vessel located on the coveted Cheyne Walk Moorings, Chelsea enjoying views towards Albert Bridge and Battersea Bridge.

A bonafide war hero, having seen active service in WWII, 'mtb 219' has been converted into an atmospheric home exuding shabby chic and is comprised of 1013 square of accommodation including 3 bedrooms and a large deck area.

All houseboats at Cheyne Walk have the benefit of a night watchman, full maintenance team and CCTV for added security and are eligible for a Kensington & Chelsea parking permit."



Alas, as you can see from the photographs, it is now under offer. Good thing too, as it was totally out of my budget and though the family cats of old are long gone I doubt very much if Mrs Black and her Kitten would want to live with no garden even if the shops are nearby and it is bigger than our country cottage.

I hope that the lucky buyer appreciates that view and the gentle sounds of the lapping river as much as I would have.
 
Footnote:  You can read more about John Atkinson Grimshaw and his paintings of The Thames on:

The Public Catalogue Foundation  website here

20 comments:

  1. Yes I have often fancied a houseboat and I love the Thames too.

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    1. Cait, The Thames, like many rivers, is so inspiring isn't it? I can see you living on a houseboat. If we found one upriver towards the Cotswolds we could fasten a side awning for our garden and afternoon teas. x

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  2. How lovely the interior is, but I'd love it for about a week, and then the space would start to make me feel a little claustrophobic! Beautiful though! Thanks for the tour Minerva! Hugs Sharon x

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    1. Sadly small spaces are claustrophic once you have lived in larger ones. I remember being thrilled with my first bedsit .... living out of my one suitcase. How soon you accumulate in life. x

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  3. As a little girl I lived near the canal and (unlike these days where parents would be in a near panic at the mere thought of letting their child do so) I rambled on all by myself and jumped from one barge to another. Most of them held fonctional living quarters (one even had a grand piano) and it was a joy to visit and chat (biscuits and barley water always available to us kiddies!)
    This post brought much souvenirs, many thanks!

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  4. Wow! Those interiors are incredible! They are a very popular choice of home round here as apparently we have more canals than Venice! x

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  5. Oh my - look at your new look blog! It's lovely!!!

    As for that gorgeous houseboat! Oh my!!! It's massive!! My only boating experience comes from narrowboats - and they were never as grand as this. They were cosy though!

    Take care
    x

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    1. Thank you my dear!

      Narrow boats are such fun! And so romantic I think. x

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  6. I think I could live there, IF I gave up all my hobbies! What a place.

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  7. I find the idea of living on a houseboat very tempting, even though I love to garden. The houseboats in Sausalito (near San Francisco) are full of gardens and sculptures. My dh and I discovered the PreRaphaelites when visiting the Tate Gallery decades ago and ever since I remain a big admirer of the group.

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    1. I know Sausalito well and miss it greatly. It was a favourite place to sit and dream in my youth and I have so many memories from there. I loved the houseboats. I am so glad that you visited the Tate! x

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  8. What unusual life it could be to live on the river! But it is not for me. I can't live on moving surface! : D

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    1. I know what you mean, I suffer sea sickness, but not river sickness. x

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  9. Dear Minerva,
    The river Thames has such a magic, and I fell in love with it long go at first sight (and really, when I wrote I walked over Albert Bridge a hundred times in my fever dreams, I did!). Cities with rivers: in my eyes more beautiful than others (I except Edinburgh, which has a special place in my heart). In Hamburg we lived at the Elbchaussee, meaning a few steps to the Elbe; in Hildesheim we lived on a sort of island, included by the Innerste, coming down from the Harz. And in Mainz we had the old Father Rhine, who once in a year drank too much and left his bed :-)In Berlin there is the Spree (giving not such a beautiful display amid the town). But when I went to Treptow Park to visit the Russian Memorial, I passed some houseboats and dreamed. Asked husband whether he could imagine...? Well, with 1.98m you answer those questions quite practical.
    Your photos of the interior are stunning - and well: I would work quite hard for that mixture of ideal place + (seemingly) ideal way to live!

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    1. As lovely as your typography is: the fullstops are barely too see, so: just a hint that husband is one meter and ninety eight cm - above it looks as if he can join the giants in the fairy ground Harz :-)

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  10. Dear Britta, Ha ha! Yes, sadly we cannot control these font sizes and boldness very well on blogger - alas! I am certain that your husband is the perfect height, outside of a low ceiling! I agree cities on the river seem more magical. But Edinburgh is the exception, such a jewel. x

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  11. What a wonderful post. I could very well see myself on one of those houseboats, it looks like the perfect existence. When I was younger I used to fantastize about living on a barge. The whole deck would be a playground! Ann

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  12. I know what you mean, but I have always felt that living on a houseboat is the sort of thing that's nicer to dream about than actually to do, unless you're very handy and don't mind doing a lot of maintenance. Which is NOT me. !

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