Wednesday 3 February 2010

A Front Room in Albury Street.

This photo dates from about 1911 and could be the interior of 29 Albury Street. This gentleman who ever he was looks in deep contemplation. How will I pay my rent this week?...... still plenty of coal.

Source: My thanks to the Lewisham Local Studies and Archives

More Goings On at 34 Albury Street

In September 1950 a Mrs Emily Wilcox rented No. 34 for 23s 9p per week and looked after 6 children in this 7 roomed house. She also encountered terrifying events for a number of years whilst at the property. My mother and Aunt Jeanie knew her well and were told on a number of occasions by her that the place was haunted. Mrs Wilcox use to hear quite distinctly footsteps going up and down the stairs when the place was empty, and once saw a shimmering white light on the first floor landing. Sash windows were constantly being flung open by themselves and more disturbing an apparition of a lady would appear quite unexpectedly. I quote, "she always wore a cloak and a wide brimmed hat" This apparition also appeared in other properties close by. The further you investigate and go back in time researching archives you discover many references to the fact that Lord Nelson stayed briefly at this property and would meet Lady Hamilton there. I believe this story was not invented to elevate the selling price of the property but I know was handed down word to mouth over the years to successive occupants. Could it be that the lady in the cloak and wide brimmed hat may of been this lady in the photograph....Emma Hart...later to become...Lady Hamilton?

Newspaper cutting "Ghost in a Cloak" September 1950

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.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Map of Deptford Strond hand drawn by John Evelyn

 John Evelyn lived in Deptford at Sayes Court from 1652. Evelyn inherited the house when hemarried the daughter of Sir Richard Browne in 1652. On his return to England at the Restoration, Evelyn had laid out meticulously planned gardens in the French style of hedges and parterres. In its grounds was a cottage at one time rented by master wood carver Grinling Gibbons. After Evelyn had moved to Surrey in 1694, Russian Tsar Peter the Great studied shipbuilding for three months in 1698. He and some of his fellow Russians stayed at Sayes Court, the manor house of Deptford. Evelyn was angered at the antics of the Tsar, who got drunk with his friends and, using a wheelbarrow with Peter in it succeeded in ramming their way through a fine holly hedge. Sayes Court was demolished in 1728-9 and a workhouse built on its site. Part of the estates around Sayes Court were purchased in 1742 for the building of the Admiralty Victualling Yard, renamed in 1858 after a visit by Queen Victoria as the Royal Victoria Yard. This massive facility included warehouses, a bakery, a cattleyard/abattoir and sugar stores, and closed in 1960. All that remains is the name in a public park called Sayes Court Park, accessed from Sayes Court Street off Evelyn Street, not far from Deptford High Street. The building known as Sayes Court that was destroyed during the Second World War was not the old home of John Evelyn, but the St Nicholas's parish workhouse built on its site in the 1720s. After the New Poor Law made it redundant in the 1830s the building had various uses, including that of an almshouse for Evelyn family servants and estate workers.

Map of Deptford, with annotations on population growth by John Evelyn

Original Map layout of Sayes Court.

When the black and white photograph above was taken from Czar Street c. 1910 it was set in an attractive park, but in the emergency of the First World War it was annexed by the army to enlarge its Supply Reserve Depot at the old cattle market. And in it looks now........

Peter the Great's House. RENTED.

Evidently Peter and his work mates were not good tenants.
During their stay they caused a great deal of damage at the house and John Evelyn was not unhappy. His estate reported that Peter's partying, which was full of 'right nasty' people, had wrecked the house and garden. Carpets were left filthy with grease and ink, and many paintings were use as targets for shooting. Locks and windows smashed and of the fifty chairs left at the premises none could be found. Probably used to keep the fire going! A keen gardener, Evelyn was shocked by damage to his holly hedges, lovingly cared for over a twenty year period. Apparently Peter and his friends had played a riotous game which involved pushing each other through the hedges in wheelbarrows! The King's Surveyor, Christopher Wren was ordered to report on the damage, and recommended that Evelyn be paid £350 in compensation, a huge sum in the 17th century.

31 Albury Street.

Ink drawing from Fletcher's book (c1965) "London Nobody Knows" shows with the correct door brackets in place.

Sunday 6 December 2009

Stratton Brothers. Murder of the Farrows Daily Mirror Reports 1905

Extract from the book "Queer People" By Colin Beavan

On Monday, March 27, 1905, at 8:30 am, William Jones went to Chapman's Oil and Colour Shop on High Street in Deptford where he worked. When he arrived at the shop he found it closed and shuttered, which he found very unusual. The manager of the paint shop Thomas Farrow, aged 71, lived with his wife, Ann, aged 65, in the flat above the shop and he was not in the habit of having the shop still closed at such a late hour. Unable to open the door, he tried knocking but since he did not get any response from either Mr. and Mrs. Farrow he peeked through a window and saw that there were chairs knocked over. Alarmed at what he saw, he ran for help and found Louis Kidman, a local resident who worked in a nearby store, and the two men forced their way into the shop. It was not long before they found the body of Mr. Farrow on the ground dead, while Mrs. Farrow was found barely alive but unconscious in the couple's bed in the upstairs flat. Both bore the signs of being repeatedly beaten. A doctor and the police were called and Mrs. Farrow was taken to hospital. After each side had given their summations and the jury given their final instructions, it took them a little more than two hours of deliberation to find the Stratton brothers guilty of murder, and they were sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was carried out by Henry Pierrepoint (Britain's Chief Executioner) on May 23, 1905.

Murder Scene 

Henry Pierrepoint. Curiously enough I worked as a bricklayer in Swindon for a contractor named John Ellis who told me he was the great grandson of the same name, John Ellis, who was Henry's prodigy. John took over the duties when Henry was sacked for causing a fracas with prison guards who were handing over details of a condemed man. He attack John Ellis in a drunken stuper as he thought John was moving in on his position. He asked the home office for his job back but was refused. Its a small world.

Wonder if the present owners know of its grim past?

Sunday 22 November 2009

Albury Street looking East in the 60's.

Albury Street looking east towards Creek Road in the 60's? Look how they dug up the cobble stoned street. Albury Street had one of the finest cobbled streets in London. You can also see where the door brackets have been removed on the l/hand side.

Albury Street looking East again.

This photo shows Albury Street looking towards Church Street and Creek Road, 2010.

How it looked in 1900

Saturday 14 November 2009

The Centurion Pub.

 I always remember this Deptford pub as a child because it had the sign  of a Centurion soldier  but now I see it has been changed to a Ship. When was changed? Could it now represent the HMS Centurion a 60 gun ship of the line? She was built in Portsmouth around 1732 and I believe commissioned in 1734. As a part of the home fleet she took part in the expedition to Lisbon captained by Sir John Norris. In 1738 she was captained by George Anson and led a small squadron to the African coast then to Jamaica and back to England. In 1740 she started her famous circumnavigation being the only ship to survive the entire voyage and capturing the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Cavadonga. After being cut down to a 50 gun ship she took part in the first battle of Finisterre. In 1769 she was broken up at Chatham. I always thought the pub had the sign of a centurion soldier as the photo on the left shows, taken in the 80’s just after the pub caught fire. Maybe the name was changed then?
Visit his photo archive he has a remarkable photo collection of old Deptford Pubs.

Friday 13 November 2009

Albury Street , Deptford

Albury Street (formerly Union Street) 1906. Spent a good deal of my early years at No. 29. My nan lived here most of her life from 1900 onwards.

I remember here, at the Church Street end of Albury Street, there use to be a pub called the "Kings Head". Many a summer evening I and my brothers have sat outside drinking Vimto and eating the statutory bag of Smiths Crisps (with the proper blue waxed salt bag) listening to the singing and piano playing.

Thursday 5 November 2009

Deptford High Street

This picture shows the mid road toilets at the southern end of Deptford High Street joining to New Cross Road. Toilets are now gone and must have been filled in in the 60's. Opposite on the right of the photo there was the "Centurion Pub". Can anyone remember the one legged war veteran selling papers on the corner outside the pub entrance?

How it is now 2010.

Door Brackets Albury Street.

Charlie Oldham is a Master Sculptor and Woodcarver and lived in Brockley in the 1980s and 90s. After having worked in woodcarving studios in the west end he set up his first workshop with Tony Foley in Mary Anne Gdns next to Albury Street in Deptford.  He was pleased to be there as it was in the next street to where John Evelyn had found Grindling Gibbons in the 17th century, Crossfieid Street. He carved several sets of replacement Door Canopy Brackets for Albury Street and some were for the developer called Martin Gloyne and some were commissioned by Chris Fearnside of Greenwich University who I believed owned the buildings at that time for student accommodation. The buildings were auctioned off in the 90’s. He received a phone call from one of the buyers who went on to explain that after buying the houses the buyers were informed that there were some carved brackets for the door ways and they could call in and collect them. Somehow the brackets got mixed up and no one knew which ones went with which house so it was on a first come first served basis and so this is the reason why the brackets are arranged in a strange order. Charlie moved away and set up a new work shop in Frome in Somerset in 1994. Charlie also carved some more Door Brackets for the Spitalfieds Trust which are also very elaborate and intricate displaying Acanthus and Scroll work. Similar work was carried out on some houses on the Mile End Road. He also carried out carving work for Windsor Castle and has recently completed the restoration of the Redland's Chapel in Bristol.. My thanks to Charlie for the information and permission to publish his photographs. Please visit his website to see some truly beautiful work.