Back in 1861 Bradshaw’s Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs reported that visitors should
“go and see Eltham Church; not that it is architecturally remarkable, but in the churchyard will be found a tomb to Doggett the comedian, who bequeathed the coat and badge still rowed for every 1st of August by the ‘jolly young watermen of the Thames.”*
Sadly for anyone using that edition and happening on the church a decade and a bit later they would have been disappointed because it no longer existed having been replaced by the one we know today.
Work on the present church began in 1871 and was finished eight years later just 3 metres north of the old site and occupying a larger area.
At which point I do have to be careful because those with a much greater knowledge than I will point out that the unfinished building was consecrated in 1875.
So there you have it ................ three possible dates for the historian with an eye for detail to go for.
In the meantime I will go looking for a later edition to Bradshaw’s guide book to see if they updated the entry and leave you with this earlier photograph of the parish church from the 1860s.
Back then the clock ticked the hours away and it is nice to know that after some time the clock in Ryan's photograph is again offering up the correct time.
Pictures; Eltham Church, 2015 from the collection of Ryan Ginn and back in 1860, 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,
* Bradshaw’s Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs, 1861, republished in 2012 by Conway
**Eltham Parish Church, http://elthamchurch.org.uk/wp/?page_id=2