Drawing of a house in Anderson Street, Chelsea

Ben and Paul comment on the work involved in a typical commission…

“Living in London and being a Londoner all my life the area around the Kings Road in Chelsea is one I know well. I must have walked or driven down Anderson Street hundreds of times, as it is a very useful little cut-through from the shops on the Kings Road to my favourite museums in South Kensington.

When the owner of one of the beautiful white stucco fronted terraced houses in Anderson Street contacted me and said that she was looking for a surprise gift for her husband and had heard about Archistory, I was personally very interested to find out more about the houses I knew so well.

We arranged a meeting and I met the owner on the doorstep. The house was filled with builders working frantically to finish the massive refurbishment project which was now almost complete, but had been on the go since the present owners took possession in 2010. I was shown around the interior and I could immediately see the results of two years’ work. The house was immaculate, modern and beautifully designed. What was in the back of my mind as I was admiring the modern joinery and decoration was how I was to glean something of the past life of the house; the owner explained that when they bought the house there was only a small section of handrail on the staircase which dated back to when the property was built. Everything else had been replaced and re-built by previous generations. The owner confessed that she had absolutely no information about the history of the house. I told her that this was quite usual for us, and we would be able to find a great deal of information from sources like the local and national archives. As our research began we soon learned the reason for the lack of internal period features.

I was relieved to see that the exterior of the house was complete in every detail and had remained un-altered since its construction. I spent three hours making drawings and taking measurements and photos of the house. I was able to measure the widows on the upper floors from the inside, giving me the dimensions of areas impossible to reach from the ground. During our meeting we also discussed how the picture was to look when finished. My client gave me an idea of the size she wanted the finished picture to be, and she chose a plain black frame and a grey mount for the drawing. We also agreed a delivery date for the finished picture”.

“Soon into my research I was lucky to be inundated with fascinating information about the site of the property before it had been developed. It had, I discovered, been one of England’s foremost market gardens. I slowly began the painstaking job of editing and forming the facts into an interesting and readable narrative. I found that Anderson Street was not always the handy short-cut to South Kensington it is today. The street had initially been closed to traffic at the north end. I also found that the house, which would today be considered as a three bedroom property, was shared in 1881 between three different families and two separate lodgers, comprising at least eleven individuals. Most of the occupants were either in domestic service or were tradesmen of one sort or another. Quite a different demographic to the occupants of these compact Chelsea homes today!”

“When Paul had finished writing up the research, we sent our client a copy of the text by email for her to proof read. She had a few comments and we made a couple of small changes before beginning the job of typesetting the history around the architectural drawing. I added a map and also a small drawing of the entire terrace of houses to which the house belonged. After carefully arranging all of these elements on my page I sent the client a PDF copy of the drawing to make sure that she was happy with the final layout. The drawing was then printed on a heavy cartridge paper and sent to be framed. The whole process took about six weeks from start to finish, and the drawing now hangs on the wall in Anderson Street”.

7 Anderson Street
Anderson Street, Chelsea