Sunday, 24 January 2010

Shuttle flowing to the Cray. Avery Hill

River Shuttle, tributary to the Cray, which is a tributary to Darent, itself a Thames Tributary
A tributary of the Shuttle flows south from Eltham Warren

Suburban area to the east of Eltham with a great deal of open space. Colonel North's mansion has had many additions and extensions and is now part of the University of Greenwich.   There are also many sports grounds, the nature centre and the cemetery. Bexley Road is now dominated by the new buildings of Crown Woods School.

Post to the west Eltham
Post to the east Blackfen
Post to the south New Eltham

Avery Hill Park
Avery Hill. Marked as this on the Ordnance Survey map of 1876, but called Polecat End on earlier maps. However the land was called ‘Aviary’ in 1839 so maybe there was an earlier 'aviary'. ‘Avery Hill’ was later the name of the mansion built in 1890. From 1906 it was used as a teachers' training college is and now part of Greenwich University.
Avery Hill, mansion. Large house built for John North in a flamboyant renaissance style, designed by architect Thomas Cutler. Much of it was destroyed in the Second World War, and what remains is overshadowed by extensions. Colonel North made a fortune out of the nitrate trade in Chile. He is said to have gone to South America to build railways and to have been involved in gun running. North was made an honorary colonel of the Tower Hamlets Yeomanry and invited the Prince of Wales to Avery Hill. North got his knighthood. He bought the estate in 1883; plus a house built in 1841. He demolished this in 1888 retaining one small room, and built a large mansion, completed in 1890, to demonstrate his wealth. He lived there for only a few years, and died in 1896. It was bought by the London County Council in 1902; and in 1906 became a teachers training college. What remains of the outside of the 1890 building is the large entrance and the western parts. House had 50 rooms with marble staircases, picture galleries and sculptures. Arched classical windows go round what are now the Senior Common Room, the Winter Garden, and the conservatory at the end of the Picture Gallery. The Picture Gallery of 1890 is now the Library, with a red brick section of 1910. The Sculpture Gallery of 1890 is also part of the Library. The 'interior has extravagant decorative work. The surviving rooms of the 1890 building include a small room, called the Boyd Room, surviving from the previous house of c1841. This is also part of the Library. The entrance porch with carved mahogany doors leads into the Entrance Hall, with a glazed dome above and is an elaborate carved chimneypiece, with classical figures and pre-Raphaelite style tiles. The Senior Common Room has inlaid ivory doors and busts of John North and his wife on either side. It was the original drawing room and has direct access to the Winter Garden. Leading off the Picture Gallery is the Garden Court, an enclosed small space. Another surviving room is the Ladies Cloakroom, with ornately tiled walls and ceiling, and stained glass.
Avery Hill Park was opened in 1903 and owned by the London County Council. 86 acres.
School of Primary Education in the taller block at the east end.
Department of Design & Technology, 1963 with a series of H sharply angular roofs
School of Secondary Education, the core of which is the original stables of 1890. Stables were panelled in teak and centrally heated. North used the park as a training ground for his horses as he hoped to rival Blenkiron at Middle Park. The Stable Block has a cupola on top; and a red brick section which is an extension of 1907.
The Engine House - now the Junior Common Room has an, original. Water Tower adjoining. Both structures are of 1890, and are linked to the Mansion by a covered arcade.
The admin block, with the roof of the Music Room protruding above, and the School of Primary Education all built 1963-71.
Winter Garden. A conservatory at the rear. It has a glass dome with iron pillars over the temperate house. It was built in 1890 and has a statue of Mercury on top. It has palms, citrus, cacti, domestic pot plants, orchids, philodendron, strelitzia regina etc all around; a tropical house with ferns, anthurium, bananas, bromeliads etc; and a cool house with camelias, acacias etc. in the cool house is a large goldfish-pond with a statue of the Greek goddess Galatea reclining on a dolphin, by Leopoldo Ansiglioni 1882. The temperate house contains a display of old agricultural implements. There is a row of tall eucalyptus trees outside. Features in films 'The Big Sleep’.
Walled garden, including rose and flower gardens. The old flowerbeds and rockery give a clue to North's grandiose scheme.
A large plant nursery, used by the GLC, in the middle of which are the farmhouse and stables of John North's stud farm of 1890.

Bexley Road
This road was diverted in 1889 by Colonel North. The driveway to the mansion follows the line of the old Bexley Road.
Milestone reading '9 miles to London Bridge, 7 miles to Dartford.
Gatehouse with a French chateau-like roof and archway.
Lodge
Wall of red brick built along the north boundary in 1890 after Bexley Road had been diverted from its previous route.

Eltham Heights
To the north of Avery Hill

Gravel Pit Lane
A footpath, broad and well paved, which is an ancient country lane. It is the route of an old course to a windmill.
A stream, from the golf course, runs over it towards the Shuttle. It has ancient hedges with field maple, hazel, crab and holly.
Environmental Curriculum Centre. This was originally the ILEA Nature Study Scheme, and occupies functional buildings from 1960. Since 1990 it has been run by the London Borough of Greenwich. The site incorporates a variety of wildlife habitats, including meadows of wild flowers, cornfields, hedgerows, woodlands. There are two ponds fed by a branch of the River Shuttle, as well as artificial ponds.
Horse trough. 1905 presented by Maryon-Wilson

Riefield Road
Crown Woods School. Comprehensive School. Includes a boarding building for army children. The central part is 1954, in a subdued modernist style with mainly glass curtain walling.
Eltham Cemetery. A formal layout of 1935. Monument to Ernest Bennett, a young airman who died in a flying accident in 1938; the figure is dressed in an airman's uniform. Crematorium

Sources
Bygone Kent
Eltham Walk
Greenwich, Local List

Greenwich University. Web site
Goldsmiths South East London industrial archaeology

London Borough of Greenwich. Web site
London Encyclopaedia
Nature Conservation in Greenwich, 
North West Kent Family History Society Newsletter
Pevsner and Cherry. South London
Shuttle Riverway, trail,
Spurgeon. Discover Eltham

No comments: