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More’s House in Chelsea

Thomas More and his family moved into his ‘Great House’ in Chelsea in 1518. L.W. Cowie describes their life there, until More's arrest in 1534.

‘And seeing you have at Chelsea a right fair house, your library, your books, your gallery, your garden, your orchard and all other necessaries about you, where you might in the company of your wife, your children and household, be merry, I muse what a God’s name you mean here still thus fondly to tarry.’

This was the way, according to his son-in-law, William Roper, in which Sir Thomas More was ‘bluntly saluted’ by his wife, Dame Alice, when she visited him in 1534 during his imprisonment in the Tower of London.

More seems to have gone to Chelsea about 1518 when he was some forty years old, a Master of Requests, a favourite of Henry VIII, a friend of scholars and the author of Utopia, which he had written some three years earlier. Born in Milk Street, educated at St. Anthony’s School in Threadneedle Street and trained in law at the Inns of Court, he had, except for his years at Oxford, lived most of his time in the City. He was one of the first Londoners to seek a rural retreat in middle-age.

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