The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 54 From London to Tilbury and Gravesend


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II Via Eltham and Dartford (Southern Railway). To Eltham from Charing Cross or Cannon St., and London Bridge, 9+ miles in about + hour (fares from Charing Cross 2/1, 1/3). Few of the through-trains to Gravesend by this route stop at Eltham; passengers from Eltham to Gravesend must, therefore, usually change at Dartford. Eltham may be reached also by motor-omnibus Nos. 21, 109, or 132, or by tramway No. 46. All trains call at London Bridge, which is 1+ miles from Charing Cross and + mile from Cannon Street. 5 miles. New Cross. 5+ miles. St. John's; 7 miles. Hither Green. 7+ miles. Lee. Edmund Halley, the astronomer (died 1742), is buried in the old churchyard here. 9+ miles. Eltham, a suburban village, lies + miles. North of the station via Court Road (omnibus No. 109 to Penge). Taking the first turning to the left from Court Road, then turning to the left again, we reach the remains of Eltham Palace, a favourite residence of the English sovereigns, especially at Christmas-tide, from Henry III. (1270) to James I. (1612). The chief remains are the picturesque bridge over the old moat and the Banqueting-hall, known as 'King John's Barn,' perhaps because John of Eltham, son of Edward II., was born here (1316). Key and short historical account (6d.) at the lodge (closed on Sunday). The hall, built by Edward IV., was long used as a barn and has suffered considerable mutilation. The interior (100 by 36 feet; 55 feet high) is remarkable for its superb hammer-beam roof of chestnut (15th century; restored by the device of filling the beams with concrete in 1920); the bays at the end of the hall and the remains of the screen should be noticed. Adjoining the hall is Eltham Court, a 16th century house with picturesque gables, once the buttery of the palace. The Statutes of Eltham, 'ordinances concerning the king's house.' enacted by Wolsey in 1526, are the basis of the regulations still in force in the royal household. The churchyard of St. John the Baptist, in the village, contains the graves of Thomas Doggett, the comedian (died 1721), and of Bishop Home (died 1792), author of a Commentary on the Psalms. In Holy Trinity Church is a memorial of the landing of the 29th Division in Gallipoli on April 25th, 1915. The vicar was chaplain of the Division. Van Dyck used to spend his summers at Eltham. Tramways Nos. 44 and 46 run due north via Well Hall to (3+ miles) Woolwich. 10+ miles. New Eltham; 12 m. Sidcup; 13+ miles. Bexley; 15+ miles. Crayford. 17 miles. Dartford, and thence to Gravesend.