XXX.—No. 17 CHEYNE WALK.
XXXI.—No. 18 CHEYNE WALK, DON SALTERO'S.
Ground landlord, leaseholders, etc.
Ground landlord, Earl Cadogan. Leaseholders, No. 17, Richard le B.
Rathbone, Esq.; No. 18, L. K. Hall, Esq., F.R.I.B.A.
General description and date of structure.
Both these houses were built in 1717, and occupied the two first plots
of the Great Garden, eastward from the Manor House. Indeed, No. 18 actually
adjoined the great house itself, and it may be seen that the frontage line of the
existing buildings changes at this point. The two houses have been completely
altered since; it has even been stated that they have been rebuilt, but on the
authority of Mr. William Ascroft, who was an eye witness of the alterations in
1867, we are able to modify that statement. Sufficient of the structural work
of the old houses remains to allow us to disregard their renovation, and to feel
that they are not quite lost to us. The house were raised a storey, their fittings
and appointments were changed, and the canopied balcony added. No features
of any antiquity are left to detain our interest. The importance of the houses
lies solely in their history.
Condition of repair.
Both buildings are in very good repair.
Of the two houses, the one which has played an amusing and not unimportant part
in Chelsea's history is No. 18, still called Don Saltero's after the first tenant, the enterprising
and versatile James Salter. We will, however, first give the list of residents in No. 17
during the 18th century as displayed in the parish books.
Occupants of No. 17 Cheyne Walk:—
|1718–1740.||Thomas Middleton, the apothecary.|
|1754–1755.||G. F. Guidott.|
Mr. Ascroft says Thomas Attwood (1765–1838), pupil of Mozart, organist of St.
Paul's 1796, and of the Chapel Royal 1836, lived here. Sir John Goss (see p. 37) was a
pupil of Dr. Attwood.
No. 18 Cheyne Walk was for the greater part of a century the home of the curious
museum and tavern known as Don Saltero's Coffee House. The proprietor of this establishment, James Salter, was at one time a servant of Sir Hans Sloane, whom he accompanied
on his travels, and to this may be due his acquisition in 1718 of so fine a site as that
adjoining the Manor House, when Sloane bought his Chelsea property. However that
may be, Salter was in Chelsea long before this and his coffee-house had already acquired
great reputation. The interest of the subject is sufficient apology for the following brief
résumé of its history, and at the outset we must confess ourselves as once more indebted
to the researches of Mr. Randall Davies for our main facts. Faulkner tells us that the
name "Don Saltero" (fn. 1) first appeared in the newspapers on June 22, 1723, in the form
of some verses over that signature written from The Chelsea Knackatory. The lines begin
"Sir, fifty years since to Chelsea great,
From Rodman on the Irish main
I strolled …"
which would date Salter's first appearance in Chelsea to the year 1673. This has been
accepted by the writer in the Dictionary of National Biography. In 1682 occurs the record
of his daughter May's baptism, and in 1687 that of his son John. In 1684–5 his name
appears in the rate-lists as the occupant of a small house in Lombard Street, the southern
portion of which was destroyed at the time of making the Embankment. From 1695 to
1707 Salter appears in conjunction with Edward Hatfield as living in the row by the
Church, a circumstance to which we shall refer later on in dealing with Prospect Place.
In 1708 he had moved again, and was in occupation of the corner house in Danvers
Street (the eastern corner, rebuilt, and now a baker's shop). Here he stayed until 1717,
and the next year we find him at No 18 Cheyne Walk.
The first reference to the coffee-house is in a letter of Anthony Cope's, who lived
at Church Place, in Church Lane, to Moses Goodyear, dated 1697, from Venice, in which
he says: "Forget me not at Salter's in the next bowl." This proves that Salter was carrying on business at the corner house in Church Row or Prospect Place, where Lawrence
Street meets Cheyne Walk, and where the Cheyne Hospital now stands. In 1715, too,
during his residence in Danvers Street, our proprietor is described as "James Salter, the
coffeeman." In 1708 Salter entertained Richard Steele, who wrote the well-known
description of the tavern in The Tatler, No. 34.
The ampler quarters in Cheyne Walk saw the final establishment of "Don Saltero's"
reputation. His tavern was frequented by all the literati of the day, and his Chelsea friends
found a warm place for his shop in their affections. His reputation as a mixer of punch
was very high; he could also shave, bleed, draw teeth, and play a little on the fiddle, and
every year he added stranger oddities to his queer mimic museum, from which he probably
got as much amusement as his many visitors. People vied with one another in presenting
strange curios with the most impossible inscriptions to please their host who had not scrupled
to advertise himself as a "gimcrack whim collector." So he entertained Sir John Cope and
Narcissus Luttrell of Little Chelsea, the annalist, Vice-Admiral Munden and Benjamin
Franklin, and a multitude of other well-known men, till his death in 1728. He was buried
at Chelsea on September 11th of that year.
From the 38th edition of "A Catalogue of the Rarities to be seen at Don Saltero's
Coffee House in Chelsea" we extract the following "Complete list of Benefactors" to
his "Coffee Room of Varieties" as of interest since it contains many 18th century residents
|Mr. Richard Arnold.|
|Mr. Paul Archer.|
|Duke of Buccleugh.|
|Sir John Balchen.|
|Charles Bertie, Esq.|
|Miss Anne Bookey.|
|Sir John Cope, Bart.|
|Sir John Cope, jun., Bart.|
|Charles Cope, Esq.|
|Anthony Cope, Esq.|
|Mans. Cardonnel, Esq.|
|Sir Robert Cotton, Bart.|
|Mr. Robert Cheek.|
|Mr. R. S. Cotton, sen.|
|Mr. R. S. Cotton, jun.|
|Miss Harriet Cowper.|
|Sir Thomas de Veil.|
|Charles Delasaye, Esq.|
|Sir Francis Drake.|
|Peter Elders, Esq. [? Elers]|
|Martin Folkes, Esq., R.S.P.|
|Mr. Thomas Fawcet.|
|Mr. Moses Goodyear.|
|Thomas Haynes, Esq.|
|Mr. John Jones.|
|Mr. le Punch.|
|Mr. Lherondell, jun.|
|Sir Thomas Littleton.|
|Robert Mann, Esq.|
|Mr. Mason, jun.|
|Sir John Molesworth.|
|The Hon. Capt. William
|Dr. Starkey Myddleton.|
|Rev. Mr. Marshall.|
|Montague Merrick, LL.D.|
|Ralph Palmer, Esq.|
|Ralph Palmer, jun., Esq.|
|Robert Pearne, Esq.|
|Sir Yelverton Peyton, Bart.|
|George Putland, Esq.|
|Mr. Cuthbert Pilman.|
|Sir Hans Sloane, Bart., late
President of the Royal
|John Serecold, Esq.|
|T. Smollett, M.D.|
|Earl of Sutherland.|
|William Symons, Esq.|
|Hubert Tassel, Esq.|
|Mrs. A. M. Umfreville.|
|The Hon. Mrs. Verney.|
|Mr. Samuel Wilson.|
|Samuel Wilson, Esq.|
|Sir Francis Wyndham.|
Among the donors mentioned in this or previous catalogues occur the names of Sir
Robert Cotton, Sir John Cope, Martin Folkes, Lady Norcliffe, and the Earl of Sutherland.
From 1729 to 1758 the museum and coffee-house were carried on by Salter's son-inlaw, Christopher Hall. In 1759 the rate-books give the name of James Emblem, which
continues until 1781. In 1782–1783 occurs the name of James Jacob, and from 1790–1798
that of Mary Jacob. In 1799 the house changed hands, the collection was sold by auction,
and the coffee-house was converted into a public-house, where we are told a room was still
kept for the friendly conferences of "men of literature and science." The house was
closed, as we have already stated, in 1867 and converted into a private residence.
Sir Richard Steele, The Tatler (No. 34), Tuesday, 28th June 1709.
Weekly Journal, 22nd June 1723.
Gentleman's Magazine, 7th January 1799.
James Salter, Catalogue of Rarities.
Thomas Faulkner, Chelsea and its Environs (2nd edition, 1829).
Rev. A. G. L'Estrange, The Village of Palaces (1880).
Alfred Beaver, Memorials of Old Chelsea (1892).
Randall Davies, Pall Mall Gazette, 4th September 1906.
Reginald Blunt, Handbook to Chelsea (1900).
G. W. Niven, Selections from "The British Apollo" (1903).
Chelsea Miscellany, Chelsea Public Library.
In the committee's ms. collection are—
3276. (fn. 2) Nos. 17 and 18 Cheyne Walk (photograph).