Lying between Blackheath and Sidcup, this is the southernmost town in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and boasts good links into central London as well as the Kentish countryside.
A short history
Eltham is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Strategically placed between London and Kent, its proximity to the River Thames led to the building of a medieval manor house which became Eltham Palace. The Tudors, however, preferred Greenwich which led to the decline of the palace. While two of its parks were lost, the Great Park was leased by Sir John Shaw, a financier, who built himself Eltham Lodge. This now forms part of the Blackheath Golf Club.
The arrival of the railway in what is now known as New Eltham encouraged development to the south-east in the 1880s, but the land north of Eltham Palace remained in agricultural use until the beginning of the 20th century. The first big property development came when the politician Archibald Cameron Corbett bought Eltham Park Estate and developed it into sunburn housing between 1900 and 1914. This was followed by the Government’s Progress Estate (during the First World War, as such it was built in a mishmash of styles, according to the materials that were available). Further ones were built in the 1930s and 1950s.
One of its most significant buildings is the Art Deco mansion built in the 1930s by textiles millionaire Sir Stephen Courtauld. The buildings were restored by English Heritage in the 1990s and opened to the public.
Green spaces and going out
There are a variety of parks in Eltham including both Eltham north and south parks which straddle the A2 (the latter is larger, and has a playground, sports facilities and a cafe). Then, to the south of the town are larger spaces including Sparrows Lane, Avery Hill Park and Fairy Hill Park which has tennis courts and outdoor gymnastics facilities.
Most of the shops and services are based in the high street which is made up of a healthy mix of independent businesses, cafes and delis and mainstream chains. The number of pubs was supressed by early temperance campaigners but today microbreweries are opening up in their place. A six-screen Vue cinema opened in 2019 on the high street as part of an entertainment complex.
Trains from Eltham take 19 mins to reach London Bridge from where you can connect to the Jubilee line and be in Canary Wharf in 31 mins. Direct trains to Charing Cross take 29 mins.
Did you know?
The author Edith Nesbit wrote her famous book The Railway Children while living in Well Hall Pleasaunce in Eltham.