Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Uncovering the secrets of Ivy Court on Eltham High Street

Now I am intrigued by this picture which dates from 1909.

The caption just says, “site of the London and South-Western Bank (High Street), House formerly the residence of the late Miss Fry, now of Mr Coulson).”

Not much to go on I grant you but a start.

The bank had been formed in 1862 and merged with Barclays in 1918, all of which would seem to put our picture on the site of the modern Barclays Bank in the High Street.

But this was built in 1932 which seems a long time between our picture and the current building dispensing its cash.

And so to Miss Fry who was one of two sisters who lived on the High Street at Ivy Court.

They were the daughters of John Fry, who owned Jubilee Buildings as well as other properties and was one of those self made men.*

The family home was on the north side of the High Street behind a long garden which fronted the main road and commanded a fine view up across fields to the woods beyond.

The house had ten rooms and this was where Harriet and Lydia saw out their days.

Harriet died in 1895, and Lydia in 1907 and thanks to their father they lived on “income from interest” and both left effects worth over £1200.

Their house is still there behind the bank.  “An ornamental iron gate alongside [the bank] frames a path leading to a house of the mid 1820s in a secluded location {which] is now offices.”**

Mr Frederick Colson and his wife Lucy and three children were still in Ivy Court in the April of 1911.

He was a solicitor and the family had moved from Westmount Road where they had been a decade earlier.

Their new address was listed as 29B, which helps  solve the mystery of when the bank was built.

Back when the Fry sisters lived at Ivy Court it was numbered 29, but by 1911 number 29 has the postal address of the London and South Western Bank, and was also home to Harry Wallis the bank manager and his wife and daughter.

So sometime after our two chaps posed infront of Ivy Court part of the garden became a bank and in the fullness of time Barclays chose to demolish their old premises and build the one we see today.

All of which now just requires a picture of Ivy Court as it is now, down that path from the High Street, beside the bank.

And as you would expect my friend Jean is already on to it which will make for another story.

* With John Fry, builder, sawyer, land agent and appraiser in Eltham circa 1837,

**Spurgeon, Darrell, Discover Eltham, 2000

Picture; Ivy Court, from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers,

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