This pair of houses in the heart of old Chelsea date from around 1690 and were at first occupied as a single dwelling, with neighbours such as the Duchess of Monmouth and Tobias Smollett.  But from the 1830s the house was sub-let to several households, culminating in its being combined with the property adjoining as a sixpence-a-night doss-house.  The number of lodgers frequently totalled 100 living in squalid conditions scarcely better than those at the workhouse.  Doss-houses often provided a three-relay system in which lodgers shared a bed in three eight-hour shifts.

Residents in the 1920s included an intrepid young actress who set off alone to British Guiana where she spent six months in the jungle living among the Mazaruni Indians digging for diamonds.  Later occupants of the house were the journalist and novelist Philip Jordan and Lady Galway.