Friday 29 January 2010

Entrance hall of 29 Albury Street c.1911.

I can only remember this hallway with the woodwork painted in a light green/blue with the panel being wallpapered. To see it in the wood so to speak is amazing. The interiors were made of oak panelling with the bannister and rails expertly hand crafted. I can remember back in the late 1950's an american gentlemen visiting my grandmother and asking if he could purchase the whole staircase!! The door on the right was the entrance to the Front Room and was only used Saturday nights and all day Sunday's. Most of the living was done down the stairs and into the scullery/kitchen. The door on the left was the entrance to my grandmothers bedroom which also led to another bedroom annex to it. Gas mantles were still being used in the 50's. You can still see the mantle on the left upper of the front room door and the gas pipe connecting it.

Source: My thanks to the Lewisham Local Studies and Archives

Sunday 24 January 2010

A haunting at 34 Albury Street ...........Aunt Jeanies House.

Then (1935) and now (2010), end house, middle right

It wasn't until we left London in 1960 that my Mother told me of some unnerving events that took place during her courting days with my Father to be. My Mum would stay at our aunt Jeanies house, No. 34 Albury Street, on the condition, She slept with Jeanie in the attic bedroom. My Mum being from a very large family in Kent at the time thought nothing of it. That is until some strange events took place that truly terrified her! On her first night as she lay there half awake she heard a gentle but very solid "click" as she looked in the direction of the attic door that connected the two terraced houses, she saw it slowly start to open!  Terrified she nudged Jeanie who said " I know I see it as well...... it happens frequently" This would happen on a number of occasions to the point that my Mum avoided staying there when ever she could. The unwritten history of the house is that Lord Nelson stayed there on a number of occasions whilst waiting for a ship and also, I presume, for his assignations with Lady Emma Hamilton who it is said, stayed next door.  Whether this is who still haunts the place I cant say. I can also vaguely remember something else quite strange about the house and that was a grave stone embedded in the wall in the garden. Even back in the fifties the stone was illegible then. My brother carrying out more research on the house has found it was not just my Mum and Jeanie who have been terrified by the goings but also from subsequent people who have occupied the premises since.

Ghostly Goings On in Albury Street. Report in the Deptford Mercury dated March 1977

Incidentally the secret connecting doorways in the house, were  originally found by my father and uncle who, back in the late 1940's, were decorating the bedroom. My uncle said "Jim, can you hear voices". They removed layers of old wallpaper and found a door in the party wall. They opened it and found another door and a walkway which led to the house next door only a few feet in. On pushing it quite hard I might add, they found themselves in next doors bedroom/living room where two ladies, were drinking tea, looked at the pair of them .....totally aghast!!! 

Watch this space more stories to come.

Saturday 23 January 2010

Signed Indenture by William John Evelyn

Whilst researching Deptford I purchased an old indeture relating to the lease of numbers 26 & 27 Edwards Street, Deptford. It was only on closer examination that the owner of the properties was none other than William John Evelyn of Wotton, Surrey, a direct decendant of the famous diarist John Evelyn! The Lessee was Henry Wilson, Publican of the Prince of Wales Public House, 31 Blackfriars Road, Southwark. The lease was set to run for a term of 80 years from the 9th July 1864. Wonderful.

William John Evelyn

William John Evelyn from a portrait by Havell (1884)

William John Evelyn (27 July 1822 - 1908), a descendant of the diarist John Evelyn eldest son of George Evelyn and Mary Jane Massy Dawson. He had inherited the large Wotton estate in Surrey, and was often referred to locally as "the Squire" Went to Cheam School from 1835 until 1837 when he went to Rugby, and from there to Balliol College, Oxford where he obtained his Masters degree in 1844. He was elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament for Western Surrey at a by-election in 1849, and re-elected in 1852. He stood down at the next (1857) general election. He later returned to the House of Commons as Member for Deptford in 1885, resigning in 1888 by becoming Steward of the Manor of Northstead after falling out with his party as a result of events in Mitchelstown, Ireland where police shot on protestors and killed three people. Subsequently Lord Salisbury's government accepted the police version of events and refused to condemn their actions; Evelyn was horrified by this and resigned from parliament.[1] The by-election which followed would be contested by his good friend Wilfred Scawen Blunt from an Irish prison. Evelyn thoroughly disapproved of the Boer War, he considered it had been made in the interest of capitalists and that it was unjust and cruel. At the time this could have been thought unpatriotic of him. In 1869, on the closing of the Deptford Dockyard, he purchased back from the Government as much of the site of Sayes Court as was available and by 1876 was turning some of this into a recreation ground for his Deptford tenants In 1886 he dedicated an acre and a half of the Sayes Court recreation ground that he had created, in perpetuity to the public and a permanent provision was made for the Evelyn estate to cover the expense of maintenance and caretaking. In 1884 he sold land then being used as market gardens in Deptford, to the London County Council for less than it's market value, as well as paying £2000 towards the cost of its purchase. This was officially opened to the public as Deptford Park on 7th June 1897.

John Evelyn (31 October 162027 February 1706) was an English writer, gardener and diarist. Evelyn's diaries or memoirs are largely contemporaneous with those of the other noted diarist of the time, Samuel Pepys, and cast considerable light on the art, culture and politics of the time (he witnessed the deaths of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, the last Great Plague of London, and the Great Fire of London in 1666). Over the years, Evelyn’s Diary has been over-shadowed by Pepys's chronicles of 17th-century life.Evelyn and Pepys corresponded frequently and much of this correspondence has been preserved.

Details from Wikipedia

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Peter Hahn,.... WW1 Spy caught at 201 Deptford High Streeet.

Quite early in the year it was discovered that some foreigner who could write fluent English was sending regular communications to one of these ad- dresses in a simple secret ink, and it was evident that he was the sort of person who would find out something which might at any time be of great use to the enemy. The letters were posted at various places in London, and there was no clue at all to the sender's address. Like all spies, he was continually demanding money, and it was hoped for some time that a remittance from Holland would disclose his identity, but in the end the denouement came about in quite another way. A letter was intercepted in the Censorship which disclosed secret writing. It was not in the usual hand, and the incriminatory words said that * C ' had gone to Newcastle, and that the writer was sending the communication ' from 20 1 ' instead. I remember very well the morning when this sentence was shown to me. The postmark was Deptford. ‘201 ' might or might not be the number of a house. We rang up Deptford Police Station and asked for a list of the streets in their area which ran to 201 houses. There was only one Deptford High Street and the occupant of that house had a German name, ' Peter Hahn, Baker and Confectioner No one was more surprised than the stout little baker when a taxi deposited a number of police officers at his door. He proved to be a British subject, and to have been resident in Deptford for some years. While he was being put into the cab a search was made of his premises, and in a back room the police found a complete outfit for secret writing neatly stowed away in a cardboard box. When seated in my armchair Hahn was not at all communicative. He professed to know nothing of * C,' and when further pressed he refused to answer any questions, but patient inquiry among his neighbours produced a witness who remembered that a tall Russian gentleman had been visiting Hahn at frequent intervals. His name was believed to be Muller, and his address a boarding-house in Bloomsbury. This limited the field of search. The register of every boarding-house was scrutinised, and within a few hours the police found the name of Muller; the landlady of the boarding-house confirmed the suggestion that he was a Russian, and said that he had lately gone to New-castle to see some friends. The search was then transferred to Newcastle, and within a few hours Muller was found, arrested, and brought to London. He was a tall, spare, worried-looking person, anxious only to have an opportunity of clearing himself. He had never seen Hahn; had never been in Germany, and could not even speak the language. For some time he adhered to the story that he was a Russian. An inquiry into his past showed that he was one of those cosmopolitan, roving Germans who are hotel-keepers in one place, commercial travellers in another. At some time they have all been motor-car agents and touts. He spoke English with scarcely any trace of a foreign accent. With his glib tongue he had gone through the usual spy routine of making love to impressionable young women, and winning acquaintance by the promise of partnership in profitable speculations. He had some claim for registering himself as a Russian, for he had been born in Libau and spoke Russian as well as Flemish, Dutch, French, German, and English. Hahn, on the other hand, was merely a tool. He had been born in Battersea, and was therefore a British subject. In 1913 he was a bankrupt with assets of 3 to meet liabilities of 1800. His object, no doubt, was purely mercenary. As a British subject he had the right to be tried by civil court, and therefore, as it was not desirable to have two trials, both he and Muller were indicted at the Old Bailey in May 1915. Both were found guilty of espionage. Muller was sentenced to death and Hahn to seven years' penal servitude on the ground that he had been acting under Miiller's influence. Muller appealed unsuccessfully against his sentence. On 22nd June 1915 in Upper Thames Street it was the luncheon hour, and a crowd formed immediately. A foreigner seated between two military policemen and going up the street towards the Tower was not lost on the crowd, which raised a cry of ' German spy! The cab broke down and ‘another taxi was quickly found, and the journey was resumed without further accident. The condemned man was highly strung, and he broke down on the night before his execution. On the following morning he pulled himself together, and insisted on passing gravely down the firing-party and shaking hands with each man. He was executed on June 23, 1915. The Germans did not hear of his death for some time, for letters containing remittances continued to be received.

Extract from the book "Queer People" by BASIL THOMSON

Sunday 10 January 2010

The Birds Nest, formerly, The Oxford Arms. Church Street.

I was researching this building recently . This pub use to be called the Oxford Arms back in the 1840,s and probably long before. The Theatre which stood to the right of the pub (See water colour below) has long been demolished but certain parts can still be matched up with my recent photo. The street which goes around to the left of the pub was known as Slaughter House Lane (SHL) which led into Creek Street now named Creekside. The Theatre stood on the end of Sun Coal Warf. When the aera along to the left and right of SHL and the warf were redeveloped I  was told builders contracted to carry out the work found all sorts of treasures including cannons and other ship parts. Observe the windmill in the background. I think this was to do with the area known as Tide Mill.? c1841
A picture painted from Church Street showing the old Tide Mill. You can see on the left the stone building that was attached to the theater. c1840

Friday 8 January 2010

35 Albury Street the premises of The Irish National League & Club 1911.

The Irish National League was established by Charles Stewart Parnell (pictured) in 1882 and became a major movement for Irish home rule, with branches not only across Ireland but in England - including in South London. In Deptford, support for Irish Home Rule pre-dated the formation of the League. On 2 October 1876 a public meeting in Deptford was attached by anti-Home Rulers, recalled in the T.D. Sullivan : 'They invaded a hall where a Home Rule meeting was being-held; they "stormed" the platform, and made a determined endeavour to capture the Home Rule banner which was there displayed. But the flag was bravely defended, and after some fierce fighting, the attacking party were ejected from the building'. In the 1880s, the Irish National League rallied at Sayes Court in Deptford and the Post Office Directory lists a United Irish National League and Club at 35 Albury Street, Deptford in 1911. The Irish National League (INL) was a nationalist political party in Ireland. It was founded in October 1882 by Charles Stewart Parnell as the successor to the Irish National Land League after this was suppressed. Whereas the Land League had agitated for land reform, the National League also campaigned for self-government or Irish Home Rule, further enfranchisement and economic reforms. The League was the main base of support for the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), and under Parnell's leadership, it grew quickly to over 1,000 branches throughout the island. In 1884, the League secured the support of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Its secretary was Timothy Harrington who organised the Plan of Campaign in 1886. In December 1890 both the INL and the IPP split on the issues of Parnell's long standing family relationship with Katharine O'Shea , the earlier separated wife of a fellow MP, Capt. O'Shea, and their subsequent divorce proceedings. The majority of the League, which opposed Parnell, broke away to form the "Anti-Parnellite" Irish National Federation (INF) under John Dillon. John Redmond assumed the leadership of the minority "Parnellite" group who remained faithful to Parnell. Despite the split, in the 1892 general election the combined factions still retained the Irish nationalist vote and their 81 seats. Early in 1900 the Irish National League (INL) finally merged with the United Irish League and the National Federation (INF) to form a reunited Irish Parliamentary Party under Redmond's leadership returning 77 seats in the September 1900 general election, together with 5 Independent Nationalists, or Healyites.
Information from

Phipson 1921 Water Colour of Albury Street, then and now (2010)

The north side of Albury Street, Deptford, by Evacustes A. Phipson, 1922

The artist Evacustes A. Phipson was born at King's Norton near Birmingham on 9th February 1854. He was christened Edward Arthur Phipson but changed his first name to Evacustes (a Greek word meaning 'ready listener').He lost a fortune on a scheme in Australia and returned to England in about 1889 when he made his living by selling his paintings. He lived in various parts of Britain and painted in many places. Shrewsbury Museums Service has 13 pictures that he painted in Shrewsbury and several of these are illustrated on the Darwin Country website. He died in 1931 at Rye in Sussex.

Monday 4 January 2010

The Royal George.

Original painting by John Cleveley the Elder

I was quite amazed this mural has not been mentioned in other blogs on Deptford. Its tucked away at the back of the shops on the edge of the public parking bay halfway up Deptford High Street. It is a stunning piece depicting the "Royal George at the launch of another ship of the line "The Cambridge" not shown in this part of the mural. It was painted by John Cleveley the Elder who was famous for his maritime scenes. Can anyone tell me why and who commisioned it to be placed here?

Webpage photo from Lewisham Council 

Theres something very spooky going on here when this picture was taken and appeared on the Lewisham Councils website. The mural is in reverse! I took the recent photo above three weeks ago and its the right way around as per the original painting. Somebody must have spotted the fo-par and turned it around the right way!!!
Thanks to the Deptford Dame and The Shipwrights Palace for drawing my attention to pun intended.

Deptford Central Hall

Deptford Central Hall was built on slum clearance land in 1903. It was deliberately designed so that it didn't look too church like to attract people into the building who might be put off by a traditional church. When it opened it had a membership of 221, which grew to 1646 by 1908. The mission always had a deep concern for the poverty in the neighbourhood which arose from the intermittent employment opportunities at the local docks. The mission sought to meet the needs of families through soup kitchens, breakfasts for children, distributions of used clothing and even a fund to enable children to go to the seaside From the 1920's the Mission had a concern for disabled and elderly people, reflected in what was then called "The Cripples Guild" and the "Cosy Corner" drop in, and what we now call the DPC The church was bombed in 1940 and the entire west side of the building was destroyed, including the original worship space and the tower. Planning the rebuilding took a long time, but the Mission as it is now opened in 1956, with a renewed energy for its work in the community The Mission celebrated its centenary in 2003.