Friday 26 November 2010

History of Albury Street Part 2.

Until 1882, Albury Street was called Union Street, a name which commemorated the Act of Union between England and Scotland. Union Street was already in existence in 1707 although only a few houses may have been built by then. The parcel of land on which the street was laid out is clearly shown on Evelyn's map of 1623 where it is marked as 'James Browns land'.
Its area is about 2 acres. Its boundaries no doubt were medieval, showing the original field pattern although no documentary evidence of this has been found. There is some possibility that the parcel of land may have belonged to the manor which the lord was then Sir Richard Browne. The manor was purchased by John Evelyn but James Brown's land does not seem to have been included in the Evelyn Estate. In 1623, it is shown lying between Church Lane (Church St?) to the East and Butt Lane, later Deptford High Street, to the West. Its southern boundary is shown marked by a hedge and its northern boundary by a few trees. There is a house in the center and two more at the eastern end. No record of the tenure of the adjacent land, nearly two acres of Bridgehouse land to the north leased to Will. Sale has been found for the seventeenth century.

Part of the parcel to the south was occupied by Thomas Lucas as early as 1692/3, and the remainder was in the possession of Elizabeth Clapp, but how and when they obtained their interest in the land, formerly the King's Land, has not been discovered. Further to the south lay Mr Paget's land and half an acre of Bridgehouse land leased to him. The tenure of this strip of Bridgehouse land has been traced from 1603 to 1737, being occupied by Eusebius Paget, his son Ephrain Paget, a clerk, and then by Peter Pett. The land is described in 1647 as pasture and there is no reason to doubt that all the land around here was pasture including James Brown's. By the time Thomas Lucas began his building separations, the lanes surrounding these parcels of land, Butt Lane to the west, Church Street to the east, Flagons Row to the north, and Crossfield Lane to the south were all lined with buildings, traditionally rural in type, some of brick and some of wood, built irregularly with no attempt at an overall plan. By deed of lease and release dated 5th and 6th January 1692/3, the land which was developed as Union |street, was assigned to William Allen of Deptford, Mariner, and others to Isaac Leader, also of Deptford, an anchorsmith. The land was described as containing an orchard and a messuage of tenement. The purchase price was not disclosed. Thomas Lucas obtained the land from Leader again by a deed of lease and release dated 23rd and 24th January 1704/5. Once more the purchase price was not disclosed. Lucas immediately mortgaged the land to Thomas Loving (or Leving ) of Deptford, blockmaker, for £350 by a deed dated 25th January 1704/5. This mortgaged was to run for 1000 years but could be redeemed after one year on  payment of £367.10s. In spite of various payments to Loving and his successor, Ralph Crew, the mortgaged was not fully paid off by the time of Lucas's death. So, by the beginning of 1705, Lucas was in possession of the land on which he was to develop Union Street, and had obtain the capital, on paper rather than in actual cash, to enable him to start building. Apart from his possession of land in Deptford, and that he was described as a bricklayer in the lease and release of 1704/5, and so must have learnt his trade by then, little is known of Thomas Lucas before he began work on what was to become Union Street. On the 22nd December 1703, he succeeded his associate Thomas Leving as foreman of the Deptford jury to the Kent Commission of Sewers. It would be interesting to speculate that Lucas obtained the post to facilitate laying a sewer for Union street, but no evidence of a sewer having been laid has been found. On the 3rd of December 1706, Lucas was rated for his tile kiln  which stood on land owned by Mrs Bridgete Ann Kingswill in Church Marsh Level. By 1706, the kiln was probably already producing tiles for new houses in Union Street. Although the earliest lease discovered of a plot in Union Street is dated 20th February 1707, it is unlikely that Lucas waited until then before starting building. He must of begun the first houses soon after negotiating the purchase of the ground and its mortgage in 1704/5. Some confirmation of this is given by a lease and release of the 18th and 19th October 1805. by which Lucas Freeman of Church Street, Deptford  and the descendant of Thomas Lucas's son-in -law Jon Freeman, assigned No. 8 on the north side (No. 13 now) to Robert Bowring its occupant at that time. Since all the original leases discovered were granted for 99 years it suggests that this house having reverted by October 1805 to Lucas's descendant, probably at the previous Michaelmas, was originally leased in 1706. The original lease has not been found but it could either have been an assignment for 99 years of a house already completed by Lucas, or it could have been a lease by which Lucas assigned a plot of land for 99 years on the express condition that a house be erected on the site within a year. Both types of lease for dates later than 1706 have been found.

Part 2 extract from A Quiney's paper on Albury Street 1979.