Bruno – Alsatian
The King’s Arms, Sloane Square, S.W.1
To the dictionary, the word “busker” indicates a
wandering actor. There is, therefore, no alternative but to call
our one-year old Alsatian, “Bruno the Busker”. –
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Bruno – one-year old Alsatian
This lovely young dog can put on an act with the best of them.
Take a stroll round Sloane Square, where The King’: Armstis situated,
and the chances are you will see a crowd. You’ll probably ﬁnd
it diﬁicult to decide whether the crowd gathered round are waiting
their turn for the telephone booth or are actually enthralled by
the comic antics of our versatile dog of an actor.
His antics are a joy to behold, but alas, they defy the limitations
of the English language to describe. Danny Kaye has no need
to worry, though. There will never be any serious competition
from Bruno. He refuses to turn professional.
Yes, Bruno is a magnet in this attractively designed house.
After all, it’s not every house that has its name featured in mosaic
on the pavement; still less is it usual for the public bar to receive
this same treatment. But what you have to remember is that
Bruno has made his name here. Only the best is ﬁt for a dog of
The King’s Arms
When The King’s Arms was rebuilt in I897 it was still in Chelsea
proper; and, as becomes a centre of art, the architect emphasized
the artistic element by adding windows of beautifully worked
Next to this house stands the Court Theatre. Although the
Shaw plays were ﬁrst produced on the non-commercial stage, no
one can take from this grand stage the honour of being the ﬁrst
theatre proper to produce the Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant. It did
much, too, for John Galsworthy’s plays, and the name of the
“Court” is written large in the history of the Edwardian and Georgian
It was hit in the blitz, but it is hoped that one day it will re-open
to give life to a square which has never been quite the same
Next door to the theatre is that handmaiden of City workers
Sloane Square station.
Sloane Square Station
Trains seem to arrive and depart just as they did before it was blitzed,but it is certainly now one of the
least inspiring examples of London Underground architecture,
rivalling its near neighbour, Notting Hill station, in dullness.
Fortunately you are not forced to gaze too long at the shanty that
goes by the name of Sloane Square Station, since you can actually
get a glass of beer on the platform. Depressing though the station
is, take a look around as you wait for your train.
You will see a
huge pipe overhead, crossing from north to south. In that huge
pipe is the ignominious channel of a rivulet, older than all of us,
known as the West Bourne; it bubbles up from the springs and ponds
of Hampstead Heath. The rivulet makes its way southwards to
the Thames, via St. John’s Wood, Paddington, Hyde Park and
the Serpentine, under Knightsbridge and so by the eastern side
of Sloane Square, where it apparently gets lost.
I should think it unlikely that many passengers at Sloane
Square know that overhead is a river!
Chelsea, as we have already seen in our travels, is very old,
dating back to the eighth century when it is said to have been the
centre of King Oﬁa’s “Goverment”. Important councils were held
there between 787 and 824.
In the eleventh century Edward the Confessor granted a manor
in Chelsea to the Abbey of Westminster. Later history is perhaps
too well known even to be lightly touched on here.
But it would not be proper in a book dealing with pups not
to recount the story of Dog Jennings, as told in a book called The
Lure of Chelsea.
The man who will be for ever known as Dog Jennings was born
in 1731 and for several years occupied a house which is now known
as No. 96 Cheyne Walk. In his younger days Jennings went to
Italy.In a dark corner of a shop in a narrow street in Rome he noticed,
concealed behind a pile of rubbish, a piece of sculpture which was,
at his request, disinterred and brought out into the light of day.
The ﬁnd proved to be “a large marble ﬁgure of a crouching dog,
the limbs ﬁnely proportioned, the ﬁgure noble, the sculpture worthy
of the best age in Athens, but for some slight damage
to the muzzle, which he had repaired for a trice. Alcibiades’ famous
tailless dog, he christened it, and (‘said Jennings) “a ﬁne dog it
was and a lucky dog was I to purchase it”. It cost him £80, including
its carriage to England, where it became a celebrated feature of
The acquisition brought Mr. Jennings a measure of fame.
Horace Walpole, for example, adjudged it one of the ﬁve best
representations of animals in classic art. No wonder that Mr.
Jennings is known for all time as Dog Jennings.
Chelsea, of course, has always had its famous characters, but
probably none were more famous than that highly individual
couple, Thomas and Jane Carlyle. Thomas, as is well known,
spent half a long lifetime grumbling about the state of England
in general and about the state of his health in particular.
His wife, Jane Welsh Carlyle, grumbled too, and it was in their Chelsea
home that she indited a biting letter to her spouse on the subject
of her inadequate house-keeping money.
But let’s get back to dogs and to Bruno in particular. And as
we sink a pint we can watch him do his act. It’s well worth watching,
I can tell you.