Chelsea was settled before the Domesday Book was compiled and already fashionable when two of Henry VIII's wives lived there. On the banks of the Thames are the vast grounds of the Royal Hospital, designed by Christopher Wren. A walk along the riverside embankment will take you to Cheyne Walk, a lovely street dating back to the 18th century. Several of its more notable residents—from J. M. W. Turner and Henry James to Laurence Olivier and Keith Richards—are commemorated by blue plaques on their former houses.
The Albert Bridge, a sherbet-color Victorian confection of a suspension bridge, provides one of London's great romantic views, especially at night. Leave time to explore the tiny Georgian lanes of pastel-color houses that veer off King's Road to the north—especially Jubilee Place and Burnsall Street, leading to the hidden "village square" of Chelsea Green. On Saturday there's an excellent farmers' market up from the Saatchi Gallery in Duke of York's Square selling artisanal cheese and chocolates, local oysters, and organic meats, plus stalls serving international food.
Residential Chelsea extends along the river from the Chelsea Bridge west to the Battersea Bridge and north as far as the Old Brompton Road.