Thursday, 14 April 2016

In Jubilee Cottages behind the High Street in the spring of 1851

The High Street, with Fry's Buildings 1858-73
Jubilee Cottages were one of those places I wish I had been able to visit but I missed them by just seven years.

They were built in 1833 and demolished in 1957 to make way for an extension to Hinds and the playground of the old village school.*

In the 1830s they were owned by John Fry and appear on official maps as Fry’s Buildings but have always been known as Jubilee Cottages because they were built in the year that the Reverend Shaw Brooke celebrated his fiftieth year as vicar of Eltham.

Now I have haven’t seen a picture of them but they were five roomed cottages with “three up and two down”** and were occupied by a mix of families most of whom earned their living as tradesmen or labourers, including a butcher, dressmaker, two cordwainers, a baker, three carpenters and eight labourers.

Ram Alley, 1909
As such they were typical of the inhabitants of smaller properties tucked away off the High Street, and like those of Ram Alley and Sun Yard disappeared in the early years of the 20th century.

Those in Sun Yard were a row of cottages lying at the rear of the Sun Inn and approached by an archway formed by the inn’s buildings.

They were condemned as unfit and demolished by the time that the historian R.R.C, Gregory came to write about them.

Of course what makes all of them fascinating is that through the census returns, the tithe schedule and rate books we know who lived in them.

Like Thomas and Caroline Evans who are listed as living in one of the middle houses of Jubilee Cottages in 1844 and were still there in the spring of 1851.

He described himself as a gardener and in that spring of 1851 they had three children, all born in the property.

Thomas himself was born in Eltham and baptized in St John’s in 1813, and in 1891 he and carline are still in Eltham in one of the alms houses.


Baptismal record of Thomas Evans, 1813, St John's
And more about both of them and the other residents of Jubilee Cottages, Sun Yard, and Ram Alley another time.

*Hinds was the departmental store built in 1934, and the village school was the new National School opened in 1868 and now called Eltham Church of England School on Roper Street.


**1911 census

Location; Eltham, London


Pictures, detail of Eltham High Street from the OS map of Kent, 1858-73 First Edition, and Ram Alley, from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm,



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