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The history of Carlyle’s House

A painting from c1900 depicting a typical late Victorian interior of a parlour or front room with highly decorated carpet, wallpaper and furnishings
A Chelsea Interior by Robert Tait in the Parlour at Carlyle's House, 24 Cheyne Row, London | © Carlyle's House, Chelsea (The National Trust) ©National Trust Images/Matthew Hollow

Thomas Carlyle was a famous author and his wife Jane a witty letter writer. They lived in a typical Victorian terraced house in Chelsea, London. Some of Carlyle’s most famous works were written in his attic study during the many years he lived at this house on Cheyne Row.

Life at Carlyle’s House

Thomas and Jane Carlyle moved from rural Scotland to London to seek their fortunes in 1834. At the time Chelsea was an unfashionable area to live in, but their home soon became central to Victorian intellectual life, with the company of both sought by the literary great of Victorian society. Dickens, Ruskin and Tennyson all visited the couple here.

An author remembered

After Carlyle’s death in 1881 the house returned to its landlord. A group of Carlyle’s admirers raised money through public subscription and in 1895 they opened the house to the public as a shrine to the writer. The National Trust took over the running of the house in 1936 with the support of founder Octavia Hill, who herself was a fan of Carlyle’s work.

An image of a metal-effect plaque of Thomas Carlyle's head in profile. It is a copy of medallion affixed to the front of the house.
A plaque of Thomas Carlyle's head at Carlyle's House in London | © National Trust/Geff Skippings

Who was Thomas Carlyle?

Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881) was a writer, historian and a leading literary giant of the 1840s and 50s. Carlyle may not be a well-known figure today, but at the time he was a very influential social commentator. He helped shape the way the Victorians thought about themselves.

Carlyle was brought up in a Calvinist household, and his parents hoped he would become a minister. He soon became disenchanted with organised religion, instead putting his trust in work. Thanks to his talent, networking and self-belief he became very successful. Sartor Resartus (1833-34) and The French Revolution: A History (1837) are two of his most famous works.

An image of letters and writing equipment laid out on Carlyle's desk at Carlyle's House, London
Letter and writing equipment on Thomas Carlyle's desk at Carlyle's House, London | © National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Who was Jane Carlyle?

Jane Baillie Welsh (1801- 1866) met Thomas Carlyle in 1821 and they were married in 1826. Jane was an accomplished letter writer with literary merit of her own. She was witty, insightful and a wonderful hostess; her company was sought after just as much as Thomas’.

It is thought that Jane had a romantic friendship with writer Geraldine Jewsbury, whose novels she helped to edit. Their letters reveal the depth of their affection, but also their tensions. Although Jane and Thomas were literary companions, letters found after her death show that Jane had been very unhappy in their marriage at times.

An image of the front of the red bricked Carlyle's House in London with a wooden door and a grand stepped doorway surrounded by wide, detailed stone architrave

Discover more at Carlyle’s House

Find out when Carlyle’s House is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

An image of the parlour at Carlyle's House in London showing the interior of a room with an ornate grey marble fireplace surround with a gold gilt framed mirror above, circular wooden table and richly patterned red tablecloth and floor coverings

Things to see and do in Carlyle’s House 

Find out what to see at Carlyle’s House on Cheyne Row in London. Explore the original Victorian fixtures and fittings of Thomas and Jane Carlyle's home for over 40 years.

Octavia Hill (1838 - 1912) (after John Singer Sargent) by Reginald Grenville Eves, RA (London 1876 ¿ Middleton in Teesdale 1941)


From landscape gardeners to LGBTQ+ campaigners and suffragettes to famous writers, many people have had their impact on the places we care for. Discover their stories and the lasting legacies they’ve left behind.

A close-up view of the bodice of Lady Mary Curzon's peacock dress


Learn about people from the past, discover remarkable works of art and brush up on your knowledge of architecture and gardens.

An image of a torn piece of paper against a black background with old-fashioned looped handwriting showing an extract from Thomas Carlyle's manuscript of The French Revolution at Carlyle's House, London

Carlyle's House's collections 

Explore the objects and works of art we care for at Carlyle's House on the National Trust Collections website.