Sherry – Boxer Dog
The Cross Keys, Chelsea, S.W.3
THERE is a lovely dog known as a “boxer”; she is also (and
there will be a wide measure of agreement on this, I feel conﬁdent)
an excellent apéritif known as sherry.
And that brings me at once to think of The Cross Keys and of
its excellent canine, Sherry.
Sherry is aged two, and so doesn’t know the heavy trials her
home went through during the war years. Nor does she know the
great history which surrounds her home.
Take a good look at the portrait of Sherry, and I hope you will
agree that she is an engaging animal.
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The Cross Keys
The Cross Keys is yet another ﬁne specimen of the old coaching
inn. What strikes the senses so agreeably as one enters this ﬁne
house is the fact that here, in the very heart of London, is an old-
world garden where you can drink in peace and quiet to the
agreeable noises of the useful and industrious hen. . . .
The house can count itself fortunate that it is still standing,
for right behind it stood Chelsea Old Church which was razed to
the ground. Indeed, how the inn escaped is beyond the compre-
hension of all who sincerely mourn the loss of this famous church.
It was unquestionably one of the most interesting churches in the
capital, full as it was of monuments to past parishioners. –
The earliest mention known of the Ecclesia de Chelcluth is in
I291, although it is thought probable that a church existed here
in Saxon times. But of this there is no proof. In 1528, Sir Thomas
More is believed to have built the south-east chapel which bore
his name. During the ten most eventﬁil years of his life he and his
family worshipped in this church. Here, too, he built his tomb,
where his remains should still. be at rest.
“Fisher and More”
Certainly, we read that the bodies of the holy men”Fisher
and More”did not rest at the Tower after execution, but that when
the heat of the persecutions had temporarily receded, their remains
were reverently carried to the village of Chelsea and are there
kept to this day.
It was also in this church that one could view the Chained
Books, which were the only example of their kind in London.
The Chained Books included the Vinegar Bible (1717) so named
from the fact of “vinegar” being printed for “vineyard” in one of
the parables. .
Chained also were Common Prayer ( I 723), Homilies (1683)
and the Book of Martyrs (I684).
You can still see the monument to Sir Hans Sloane who gave
his name to two thoroughfares in this part of London. Sloane, as
is well known, was a great botanist and antiquarian, and was
styled “the father of natural history”.
Chelsea Old Church
If we retrace our steps from the ruins of Chelsea Old Church
we are in danger of passing The Cross Kqys, which would be a pity.
Here, we can have another look at the joyous Sherry while we have
a pleasant drink. Having refreshed and fortiﬁed a dryness of the
throat, we stroll along Cheyne Walk and Embankment Gardens
to Cheyne Row, made forever famous by reason of the long occu-
pation by Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle who left the Dumfries-
shire moors around Craigenputtock to Capture the capital with the
germ of the idea of the poetic prose history of the French Revolution.
The book is said to be more praised than read. This, if true, is a
There are those who think that the works of the Sage of Chelsea
will enjoy a revival as has happened to the works of other early
Victorians, once thought to have been forgotten for all time.
The house, marked with a stone mural tablet with bas relief
of Carlyle, is in the middle of a row of pleasant brick houses. The
house itself was purchased in 1895 by a committee which raised
£2,000 so that it could serve as a Carlyle museum.
It is difficult today to understand the reverence with which
Carlyle’s name was once regarded. You dropped your voice when
you mentioned the name; this was ﬁtting, it was felt. It is some-
times thought that this veneration for his opinions was ﬁrmly
shared by Carlyle himself. His life and works are going through a
bad time, mainly because he was such a fervent admirer of the
Prussians and of their virile and aggressive spirit in the sixties
and ’seventies. But taken all in all, the Garlyles were an astonishing
couple. We do not have their like today.
And no doubt the house (so long as it stands) will remain a
memorial to one of the most powerﬁil minds in the Victorian
Look at the worn steps leading to this famous house. One
recalls the feet that helped to wear them. John Stuart Mill, of
course. was an early favourite; perhaps the fact that his maid
managed to burn the manuscript of the ﬁrst volume.
Revolution made him a little less popular. The Sage merely groaned
and laboriously re-wrote the V0lume.
There was of course, Leigh Hunt, whose wife irritated Jane
Welsh by her habit of borrowing things. There was John Sterling,
to whom Carlyle was utterly devoted; there was Edward lrving,
the wayward divine whom Carlyle refused to desert even when
he had every reason to do so.
Lord Jeffrey, the Editor of the Edinburgh Review, who recognized
his genius almost as much as he feared his radical views, was a.
welcome guest. Froude, of all men, was the most highly favoured,
and the storm which arose over his biography has hardly settled
down even yet. For myself, I have always inclined to the view
that the portrait of the Sage (warts and all) is more likely to be
authentic than the adulation of writers who never even met him;
But that remains a matter of opinion. Charles Dickens was much
admired in this house, and was duly painted with Olympian
His was the cult of the hero”a point of view that has long
since been out of date; but it would be a bold man who would
say that it will never return.
For good or ill, it was in this house that Carlyle wrote. And
that is enough of Carlyle, and apparently more than enough for
So we may resume an ancient custom which has never shown
any sign of ,agging in this country-“the custom of drinking our
English beer. .