Sunday, 6 December 2015

Kingsdene that house on the corner of Sherrad Road and other stories

Kingsdene in 1909
This is Kingsdene which stood on the corner of what is now Sherrard Road and Eltham Hill.

I can’t say it appeals to me but a succession of the good and worthy of Eltham lived there during the 19th century.

These included Dr David King who was there from the 1870s, a Mrs Grummitt and Mr and Mrs Haywood who had been taken up residence by the April of 1911.

It had thirteen rooms and something of its earlier elegance is there in this photograph from 1909, but then the even grander Globe House next door and been converted into apartments, and beyond that were Firth’s Buildings a row of four and three roomed cottages while a similar terrace of meaner properties stood the right of Kingsdene which ran the length of what had been Well Hall Lane stopping at the large pond.

And a little further west had been the gasworks.

The area in 1874
Nor could it be said that the house commanded fine views from any of its three sides.

To the rear were the gardens of those cottages which ran down what is now Sherrard Road.

These were seven and 9 roomed properties but many had long ago been sub let.

Number 5 was typical. Here lived seven people in four rooms with another three each occupying just a room a piece.

Theirs were modest occupations, three were labourers, one was a bar man, another a window cleaner and a sixth “a motor driver.”

Nor is this all for Albert Bertie Annett aged 30, born in Eltham working as a farm labourer was illiterate and left his mark as witness to the truth of what he had declared on the census return.

Now we will never know what twist of fortune dealt Albert that bad card.  He was born a full ten years after the 1870 Education Act which established the principle of elementary schooling for children between 5 and 12 and a year after attendance became compulsory.

Looking out from where Kingsdene was in 1976
That said there were always exemptions especially in rural areas and especially at busy times like harvest.

Nor was such schooling to be free until 1891 so I suppose it is just possible to see how Albert slipped through the net.

I rather think his will be a story to follow as will those of Frith's Buildings to the west of Kingsdene and those on Sherrard Road.

I don’t know when our house was demolished but I suspect it will have been for the swimming baths that stood on this spot until relatively recently.

But that like Albert is another research project and one that will also involve the story of the missing cheque of Dr King's.

So that is it and it only perhaps leaves me to reflect that what ever the view from Kingsdene was like in 1911 it hadn't improved much a fill sixty years later.

Picture; of Kingsdene in 1909, and Eltham Hill in 1976, courtesy of Jean Gammons and map of the area from the OS for Kent 1858-74

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