Friday, 13 May 2016

Walking along the High Street in the spring of 1851

Sherard House in 1909 from the garden
This is one of those walks I wish I could have made in the spring of 1851.

It would have started at the church and finished up just past the smithy by Eagle House and along the way we would have seen some fine old houses including Sherard House, Merewood House and Cliefden House, poked our noses into Sun Yard behind the pub of that name at the collection of wooden cottages and perhaps passed the time of day with some of the residents of Jubilee Cottages which were also tucked away behind the High Street.

Now Jubilee Cottages have quite caught my imagination.  They had five rooms with three up and two down looked east across the fields and had longish gardens at the rear.

The High Street, 1858-73
I often wonder how John Fry who owned them felt about the fact that despite being known on maps as Fry’s Buildings they were by common consent called Jubilee Cottages a name which had stuck from when they were built in 1833 and continued in usage on the census returns.

I have to confess that I am drawn to these along with the cottages of Sun Yard and those of Ram Alley, more perhaps because the big houses are well known as are their occupants.

And so starting tomorrow I rather think I will dig deep into their stories, while not ignoring those fine houses.  After all more than one of them while they may have looked to the casual passerby as an 18th century property were really much older.

Pictures; detail of Eltham High Street from the OS map of Kent, 1858-73 First Edition, and Sherard House from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers,

Tomorrow, walking the walk from the church up past Sherard House and beyond and some of the people we might have met

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