At its western end, Cheyne Walk meets Cremorne Road end-on at the junction with Lots Road. The Walk runs alongside the River Thames until Battersea Bridge where, for a short distance, it is replaced by Chelsea Embankment with part of its former alignment being occupied by Ropers Gardens. East of Old Church Street and Chelsea Old Church, the Walk runs along the north side of Albert Bridge Gardens and Chelsea Embankment Gardens parallel with Chelsea Embankment. At the north end of Albert Bridge, the Walk merges with Chelsea Embankment. The Walk ends at Royal Hospital Road.
Cheyne Walk before and after construction of Chelsea Embankment
At the western end between Lots Road and Battersea Bridge is a collection of residential houseboats that have been in situ since the 1930s. At the eastern end is the Chelsea Physic Garden with its cedars. It marks the boundary of the, now withdrawn, extended London Congestion Charge Zone. The section west of Battersea Bridge forms part of the A3220 road.
Cheyne Walk circa 1800.
Cheyne Walk takes its name from William Cheyne, Viscount Newhaven who owned the manor of Chelsea until 1712. Most of the houses were built in the early 18th century. Before the construction in the 19th century of the busy Chelsea Embankment, which now runs in front of it, the houses fronted the River Thames. The most prominent building is Carlyle Mansions. Chelsea Old Church dates from 1157 and Crosby Hall is a reconstructed medieval merchant's house relocated from the City of London in 1910.
In 1951, the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea planned to construct a new river wall straightening the river bank west of Battersea Bridge. On the reclaimed land behind the wall a new arterial road and public gardens was to be constructed. Cheyne Walk was to remain unchanged to the north of the new public gardens. The works would have reduced the foreshore and required the removal of the house boat births. The works did not take place. In the 1960s, plans for the Greater London Council's London Motorway Box project would have seen the West Cross Route, a motorway standard elevated road, constructed from Battersea to Harlesden through Earl's Court. A spur road would have been constructed from the motorway to the junction of Cheyne Walk and Lots Road. The plans were abandoned because of the cost and opposition from local communities.
In 1972, number 96 Cheyne Walk, the then home of Philip Woodfield, a British civil servant, was the site of a top secret meeting between the British government and the leadership of the Provisional IRA aimed at ending the violence in Northern Ireland. The talks were inconclusive and the violence soon started again.
Many famous people have lived (and continue to live) in the Walk:
4 Cheyne Walk, shown here in 1881, was briefly the home of George Eliot
Samuel Prout Newcombe (b. 1824) entrepreneur, leased the property from the ground landlord, the Earl Cadogan, in 1891 shortly after it had been rebuilt. Newcombe had made his money in the 1850s from 'The London School of Photography', a photographic portrait studio that soon had branches across London and beyond, exploiting the public's appetite for carte de visite portraits. His daughter Bertha Newcombe (1857-1947) , who lived in the house until her father's death in 1912, was an artist, illustrator and suffragist. She had a relationship with George Bernard Shaw, who sat for a portrait in her studio within the house.
John Barrymore American actor, lived for a short time at No.2, on the corner with Flood Street.
Thomas Attwood (composer) (1765-1838) lived at No 17 for some years up to his death in 1838. He was organist at St Paul's Cathedral from 1796, and of the Chapel Royal from 1836. He was a pupil of Mozart. Thomas Attwood is buried in the crypt of St Paul's underneath the organ.
Number 18 was renowned for being the home of the curious museum (knackatory) and tavern known as Don Saltero's Coffee House. The proprietor was James Salter, who was for many years the servant of Sir Hans Sloane.
Sir Hans Sloane's manor house, demolished in 1760, stood at numbers 19-26.
No 19 was site of the horrific 1973 killing of elderly widow Isabella Griffith, by the serial killer Patrick Mackay.
James McNeill Whistler lived at numbers 21 (1890–92), 72 (? to his death there in 1903), 96 (1866-1878) and 101 (1863) at different times.
Architect C. R. Ashbee lived at number 37 until 1917. He also designed 38 and 39.
Nicolaus Ludwig, Imperial Count von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf, and the Brethren of the Moravian Church renovated Lindsey House at numbers 99-100 in Cheyne Walk in the mid-18th century; it was for a number of years the headquarters of their worldwide missionary activity. Moravian Close nearby is still the London God's Acre, where many famous Moravians are buried.
James Clerk Maxwell lived at number 41 while lecturing at King's College London in the early 1860s. He used the iron railings outside his home in two experiments on electro-magnetic fields, much to the dismay of friends and foreigners.
Charles Edward Mudie, English publisher and founder of Mudie's Lending Library, was born 1818 in Cheyne Walk; where his father owned a Circulating library, stationery and book binding business at No. 89.
In July 1972, during a short-lived ceasefire, an IRA delegation that included Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness held talks in a house in Cheyne Walk with a British government team led by Northern Ireland Secretary William Whitelaw.
The Old Cheyneans - former pupils of Sloane Grammar School, Hortensia Road, Chelsea - take their name from the association with Cheyne Walk and Sir Hans Sloane who lived there.
Colin Colahan, Australian painter and sculptor, lived in Cheyne Walk.
Susan Fleetwood, British actress, lived on Cheyne Walk. Her brother is Mick Fleetwood, a member of British rock group Fleetwood Mac. He was part of an earlier short lived band, the Cheynes, named after the street.