Thursday, 10 May 2018

Outside the Rising Sun with a bit of old Eltham circa 1890

The old Rising Sun Inn circa 1890
Now I am drawn to this picture of the old Rising Sun.

I have fond memories of spending evenings in the place when I was much younger and it was also a favourite of my late brother in law.

But of course this was the old Rising Sun which stood on the site of the present library and is the start of that little series which aims to reflect on what Eltham was like at the beginning of the 20th century just before the great changes transformed it from rural outpost to a suburb.

It dated back something like two hundred years and went with the development of the area by the Borough Council shortly after the turn of the last century.

The Smithy with the Rising Sun and Sun Yard, 1858-73
Along with the pub went Sun Yard, a coach building workshop, the smithy and “a number of quaint wooden buildings, including the coffee shop at the corner.”*

Of all of these I have become intrigued by Sun Yard which housed a collection of wooden cottages which were situated behind the inn and were approached by an archway formed by part of the inn buildings.

There were twenty of them in 1841 and perhaps another five a decade later.  We know who lived there what they did and the degree to which they were overcrowded and by the turn of the last century they were judged unfit and were demolished I guess at the same time as the Rising Sun.

And like the occupants of Sun Yard we can track the publicans from John Davison in 1841 to the widow Elizabeth Robinson ten years later and through the rest of that century.

Outside the Rising Sun
All of which will make a fascinating study in revealing just how often the occupants of Sun Yard like that of the inn keepers moved on or stayed put.  But that is for another time.

So we shall return briefly to our picture with the landlord standing outside, along with assorted carts whose drivers may well have been inside and the two boys drawn no doubt by the camera.

I don’t know the name of the landlord but I shall endeavour to find out, but I do know that the last blacksmith was a Mr Metcalfe and the smithy was in a dilapidated condition.

*Gregory, R.R.C., The Story of Royal Eltham, 1909

Picture; from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, and detail from the OS map of Kent 1858-73

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