Now when R.R.C, Gregory wrote this description of the place in 1909 it may well already have clocked its second century.
For there is a tantalizing reference to an inn at Eltham from a directory of taverns in the counties around London, but sadly we do not have a name. Mr Gregory rather thought it might have been the Castle on the strength of the date of two metal tokens found on the site which carried the legend, THE CASTELL. TAVERNE – A Castle, and ELTHAM. 1649 – N.T.M.
Tokens circulated widely in the 17th and early 18th century and were a direct response to the lack of low denomination currency which led to businessmen and traders creating large issues which could be redeemed at the shop, warehouse or inn of the owner.
And along with the 1649 token were ones from other merchants dating back slightly earlier and in to the 1660s.
All of which lies wide open the question of which was the oldest pub and for that I guess I will have to wait.
And we can then track him through tax records, local directories and the census all the way up to 1871, by which time he was 80 and living with his two sons, a married daughter a grandson and two lodgers.
Across the way behind him at the Crown was John Martin who had started his pub career just a little later but was also still going strong in the April of 1871.
Now I like the etail in these pictures so I was drawn to the Dartford Brewery sign which dates our photograoh from sometimetime between 1897 and 1909.
According to AIM25, 'the Dartford Brewery was founded as "Miller and Aldworth", and from 1887 "Miller and Aldworth Limited".
It was incorporated in July 1897 as "Dartford Brewery Company Limited". The Brewery was situated at Lowfield Street, Dartford, Kent.
The brewery was acquired jointly by Style and Winch Limited and the Royal Brewery Brentford Limited in 1924; and was therefore acquired by Barclay Perkins and Company Limited in 1929 when it purchased Style and Winch Limited and the Royal Brewery Brentford Limited.
The Brewery went into voluntary liquidation in 1970'.**
*R.R.C.Gregory, the Story of Royal Eltham, 1909
**Aim25, AIM25 is a major project to provide electronic access to collection level descriptions of the archives of over one hundred higher education institutions, learned societies, cultural organisations and livery companies within the greater London area http://www.aim25.ac.uk/
Pictures; The Kings Arms and the old fireplace from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/