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Eltham (pronounced el·təm) is a place in south-east London in the London Borough of Greenwich. It originally developed along part of the road from London to Maidstone and lies three miles almost due south of Woolwich (Mottingham, to the south, was originally part of the parish - explaining why Eltham College is not actually in Eltham anymore).
Development of the area
Eltham lies on a high, sandy plateau which gave it a strategic significance. That, and the fact of its position on the main route to the English Channel ports in Kent, led to the creation of the moated Plantagenet Eltham Palace, still its most notable landmark.
The nearby manor of Well Hall was home to Sir John Pulteney , four times Lord Mayor of London, and later to wealthy Catholic William Roper and his wife Margaret (daughter of Sir Thomas More, Chancellor to King Henry VIII). In 1733 Sir Gregory Page bought the estate for £19,000 and demolished Roper House, building Page House - later known as Well Hall House - on the site. Until its demolition in 1931, Well Hall House was also later home to Hubert Bland and E Nesbit (the site is now a public park: Well Hall Pleasaunce, while a 16th century former barn is now a prominent public house, The Tudor Barn).
Development after 1900
The village street adjacent to the palace and the surrounding land remained rural until Archibald Cameron Corbett bought the Eltham Park Estate and developed it with well-built suburban housing between 1900 and 1914. The Bexley Heath Railway (see below) had opened what came to be known as the Bexleyheath Line in 1895, and when, in 1915, the Government built the Progress Estate and large estates of temporary hutments to house the vastly increased numbers of workers in the Woolwich Arsenal, suburban development of the district had begun.
After World War I the building of housing estates continued unabatedly. By the beginning of World War II, three large estates were in existence: the Page Estate (1923), Middle Park (1931-36), and Horn Park (begun 1936, completed 1950s). The latter two were built on Eltham Palace's former hunting parks. Coldharbour Estate was built in 1947.
The Bexleyheath Line
Originally opened on 1 May 1895 by a private company, it was taken over by the South Eastern Railway after suffering bankruptcy. There were two stations in Eltham - Eltham (Well Hall) (originally simply "Well Hall"); and Eltham Park ("Shooters Hill" originally) opened 1 July 1908.
Both stations in Eltham have now been closed and the new station opened in Glenlea Road, combining bus and rail in one complex.
The Dartford Loop
The line was opened by the South Eastern Railway as early as September 1 1866. There are two stations in Eltham: Mottingham (given the name "Eltham" until the Bexleyheath line opened), and New Eltham ("Pope Street").
Eltham High Street lies on the A210, the original A20 London - Maidstone road, now diverted southwards down the dual carriageway Sidcup Road to make eventual connection with the M20 motorway. Similarly, to the north, the diverted dual carriageway Rochester Road has replaced the always-congested old road of that name through the Well Hall roundabout.
Crossing the two from north to the south is the A205 South Circular road.
- Socialist Hubert Bland and writer E Nesbit lived in Well Hall House, Eltham from 1899 to 1922.
- Millionaire, war veteran and philanthropist Stephen Courtauld lived at Eltham Palace from the mid 1930s to 1944.
- Actor and comedian Bob Hope was born in Eltham in 1903 (blue plaque at 44 Craigton Road, SE9).
- Commodore Sir William James (naval commander) (1720-1783) settled in Eltham at Park Farm Place in 1759 and is commemorated by Severndroog Castle on nearby Shooter's Hill.
- Naturalist and writer Richard Jefferies (1848-1887) lived at 59 Footscray Road, SE9.
- Cabinet minister and leader of London County Council Herbert Morrison (1888-1965) lived at 55 Archery Road, SE9 between 1929 and 1960
- Boy_George & Kate_Bush lived in Eltham in their early years
- Oxleas Wood
- Jack Woods
- Eltham Park
- Avery Hill Park
- and the Royal Blackheath Golf Course
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