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St. John the Baptist, Eltham, Kent © Copyright Stephen Craven - - licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence cc-by-sa/2.0.
St. John the Baptist, Eltham Parish Church

Eltham Parish

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Eltham is, ecclesiastically, (as of 1847) in the diocese of London.  From 1845 to 1861 Eltham was not assigned to any deanery. From 1861 to 1868 Eltham was included in the rural deanery of Greenwich, thereafter in that of Woolwich. Prior to 1847 Eltham was in the diocese of Rochester and the rural deanery of Dartford. The parish church is named for St. John the Baptist with original parish registers dating from 1583.

The church is named for St. John the Baptist with original parish registers commencing in 1583.

Eltham is a village, a parish, and a sub-district, in Lewisham district, Kent. The village stands near the Lee and Dartford railway, 3 miles south by west of Woolwich; and has a post office with a telegraph office and savings bank under London, SE; a railway station, and a fair on 20 Oct. It was known at Domesday as Alteham; it enjoyed distinction and prosperity, from the 13th century till the 16th, in consequence of its possessing a royal palace; it flourished also, for some time, as a market-town; it afterwards sank into comparative neglect and insignificance, yet continued to present attractions to visitors and residents; and it now has some good houses, and rejoices in picturesque environs, studded with villas and mansions.

The parish includes also the hamlet of Mottingham. The parish contains acres, 4,350. Real property, £20, 567. Pop., 3,009. Houses, 537.

The manor belonged to the Crown in the time of Edward the Confessor; was given, by William the Conqueror, to Odo, Earl of Kent; soon partly reverted to the Crown, and partly was given to the Mandevilles, from whom it took the name of Eltham-Mandeville; was conveyed, by Edward I., to John de Vesci; passed first to the Aytons, next to the Scroops; reverted, in 1318, to Queen Isabel; went, for a short time, about the middle of the following century, to Robert Dawson; was given, by Henry VIII., to successively Sir Henry Guildford and Sir Thomas Speke; passed, under Edward VI., to Sir John Gates; was held, under the Crown, in the time of Elizabeth, by William Cromer and Lord Cobham; went in lease, at the accession of Charles I., to the Earl of Dorset; was seized by the parliament in the time of the Commonwealth, - occupied for some time by the Earl of Essex, - and sold to Nathaniel Rich; was purchased, at the Restoration, by Sir John Shaw; and has ever since continued in the possession of Sir John's descendants, with the exception that a portion which was included in the royal park is still vested in the Crown.

A large and splendid mansion appears to have been erected on the manor about the middle of the 13th century; was almost entirely rebuilt by Edward IV.; received large additions from Henry VII.; consisted then of four quadrangles, within a high-walled and wide-moated enclosure, encompassed by parks of about 1,700 acres; suffered some neglect from the time of Henry VIII. till that of Charles I.; underwent enormous devastation during the time of the Commonwealth; and is now represented by only a few remains, which were rescued from utter decay by a slight restoration, at a cost of £700, in 1828. Henry III. kept Christmas here in 1269. Edward's second son John was born here; and hence was called John of Eltham. Edward III. held parliaments here; and, in 1365, gave sumptuous entertainment here to his former prisoner, King John of France. The regent Lionel, son of Edward III., kept Christmas here in 1347. Richard II. entertained here Leo, king of Armenia, in 1386. Henry IV. was here in 1409; Henry VI., in 1429; Edward IV., in 1483. The Princess Bridget, danghter of Edward IV., was born here. Henry VIII. was here in 1515 and 1526; but began, after the latter year, to cherish a preference for his new palace at Greenwich. Mary was here in 1556. Elizabeth, when a child, was often brought hither for a change of air; but, on reaching the throne, gave preference, as her father had done, to Greenwich. The Earl of Essex died here in 1646. The chief remains are the tilt-yard entrance archway; the moat, partially drained and dressed; the battlemented wall, with flanking loop-hole turrets; subterranean passages or drains, which served as sally-ports; a three-arched, ivy-clad bridge, spanning the moat; the buttery, with barge-board gables, and fine-corbelled attics; and, above all, the banqueting-hall, in good preservation, 100 feet long, 56 feet wide, and 60 feet high, with double windows on each side, two grand bays, and a magnificent open roof, and forming a beautiful specimen of the domestic architecture of the time of Edward IV..

The living is a vicarage in the diocese of London. Value, £355 with a habitable glebe house. Patrons, the Trustees of the late Sir G. Page Turner, Bart.. The church was greatly improved in 1819 and 1828. The perpetual curacy of Shooter's Hill, constituted in 1866, is a separate benefice.

There are chapels for Independents and Wesleyans.

Philipott's alms-houses have £166; Passey's charities have £235; Leggatt's school has £24; and other charities have £138.

Over, the translator of "Juvenal" was vicar. Bishop Horne, the comedian Doggett, and Sir William James, the conqueror of Severndroog, whose castle stands on the neighbouring Shooters' hill, were buried in the churchyard. The Philipotts, authors of the "Survey of Kent" were natives. Vandyke the painter, Lilbourne the republican, and Dr. Sherard and Dillenius the botanists were residents; and the house which Sherard inhabited still stands.

The sub-district is conterminate with the parish.

Mottingham, a hamlet in Eltham parish, Kent; 3-1/4 miles South of Woolwich. It has a wall letter-box under Eltham, London SE. Acres, 638. Real property, £1,194. Pop., 142. Houses, 24.

Source:  John Marius Wilson, comp.  The Imperial Gazatteer of England and Wales. (London, England: A. Fullerton & Co., 1870).

Eltham Bibliography

-- various. 'Archaeologia Cantiana'. Publisher: Kent, England: Kent Archaeological Society, various dates.  [Note:  The following volumes can be found on  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (1876), 11, 12, 13 (1880), 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 32, 34, 35, vol. 1907 supplement.]

  • General references to Eltham: vol. , pp.
  • Currently in revision

Great Britain, Public Record Office. 'Calendar of the patent rolls preserved in the Public Record Office--Edward II, Vol. 1. 1307-1313'Each volume has own index. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Great Britain, Public Record Office. 'Inquisitions and assessments relating to feudal aids : with other analogous documents preserved in the Public Record Office, A. D. 1284-1431', Vol. 3. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Great Britain, Exchequer. 'The book of fees commonly called testa de nevill, pt. 3'. The Book of fees contains information about the holdings of feudal tenants. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Hall, Hubert, 1857-1944. 'The Red book of the Exchequer - Liber rubeus de Scaccario, Vol. 3'. The Red book of the Exchequer was a register intended to preserve important documents comprising charters, statutes of the realm, public acts (Placita), private deeds and ordinances, correspondence. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Glencross, Reginald Morshead. 'Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Vol. 1. 1559-1571'. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Hasted, Edward. 'The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent; Containing the antient and present state of it, civil and ecclesiastical; collected from public records, and other authorities: illustrated with maps, views, antiquities, etc. The second edition, improved, corrected, and continued to the present time'. 12 volumes. Publisher: Canterbury: Printed by W. Bristow, 1797-1801. URL: British History Online

Hussey, Arthur. 'Notes on the churches in the counties of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey, mentioned in Domesday book, and those of more recent date'. Publisher: London J.R. Smith,(1852).

Letters, Dr. Samantha. 'Kent', Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516 (2005).  URL: British History Online.

Page, William, 1861-1934, ed.. 'The Victoria history of the county of Kent'. Publisher: London: Constable (1908).  URL: British History Online

Sharp, J. E. E. S., ed.. 'Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward I, File 39', Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume 2: Edward I. Published:(1906), pp. 315-323.  URL: British History Online.

Sharp, J. E. E. S., ed.. 'Inquisitions Post Mortem, Henry III, File 45', Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume 1: Henry III. Published:(1904), pp. 296-302.  URL: British History Online.

Location of Records

The following list of records is not intended to be exhaustive.  There are many records that are awaiting discovery in archive offices throughout Kent and England.  This list is intended only to set out those records that are available via at least two relatively easy-to-access avenues.  If you have used or discover a record that would be of benefit to other researchers, that is not on this list, please send me an email with the details of the archive - name, address and archival call number.

Census | Church of England | Non-Conformist | Parish chest | Workhouse and Poor Law | Land | Assizes and Sessions | School



Date The National Archives, Ruskin Avenue,
Kew, Richmond,
also available at:
Eltham Local Studies & Archives, Central Library, High Street, Eltham, BR1 1EX, tel. 020 8461 7170, Email:
LDS Family History Centre
(Find a centre near you)
and indexed online at:
6 June 1841 Currently under revision  
30 Mar 1851 Currently under revision  
30 Mar 1851 census name index & images Currently under revision  
7 Apr 1861 Currently under revision  
2 Apr 1871 Currently under revision  
3 Apr 1881 Currently under revision  
5 Apr 1891 Currently under revision  
31 Mar 1901 Currently under revision  
2 Apr 1911 Currently under revision  
2 Apr 1911 RG 78/139 - Census Enumerator's Summary Books online only and other subscription sites none

Church Records, Church of England

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Parish Register   Currently under revision  
Bishop's transcripts   Currently under revision  
CMB transcripts   Currently under revision  
Parish Registers, transcribed by Thomas Colyer-Fergusson   Currently under revision  

Church Records, Non-Conformist

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Particular Baptist Chapel, Nonconformist Return   Currently under revision  
Methodist Church Registers   Currently under revision  

Parish chest records

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Parish Council Minutes   Currently under revision  
Removal orders out of Eltham   Currently under revision  
Settlement Examinations, Minute book   Currently under revision  
Overseers' Accounts   Currently under revision  
Return of Churchwardens, constables and defaulters     
Tithe Apportionment Files      
Poor Rate books   Currently under revision  

Workhouse and Poor Law Records

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Admission & Discharge books   This section currently under revision  
Guardians' Minutes      
Births   Currently under revision  
Deaths   Currently under revision  
Religious creed registers   Currently under revision  
Apprentice Register      
Registers of lunatics      
Letters books      
Vaccination registers, Eltham area 1899-1930 Currently under revision  

Land Records

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Land tax assessments 1780-1831 Currently under revision  
Land tax assessments 1875-1876 Currently under revision  
Land tax assessments 1889-1890 Currently under revision  
Rates and Duties - Houses, Windows, Lights   Currently under revision  
Manorial Court rolls   Currently under revision  
War Damage Files 1939-1962 Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone, Kent, no.: Finding Aid at CKS-DRb/RW 123 None

Assizes and Sessions Records
(poor laws, jail terms, oaths, and other municipal and public records)

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Hearth tax   Currently under revision  
Victuallers Recognizances   Currently under revision  
Churchwarden's Presentments   Currently under revision  
Parish rate books   Currently under revision  

School Records

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
    Currently under revision  


Coming Soon

Church Registers


Parish Chest

  • Settlement Certificates
  • Removal Orders
  • Bastardy Examinations
  • Parish-assisted Immigrants
  • Churchwarden's Accounts
  • Overseer's Accounts
  • Surveyor's Accounts
  • Workhouse Records
  • Pew Rents
  • Donors' Rolls
  • Vestry Minutes
  • Bishops' Visitations
  • Parish Magazines
  • Parish Histories


Total Population

1801   -   1,627
1811   -   1,813
1821   -   1,883
1831   -   2,005
1841   -   2,186
1851   -   2,437
1861   -   2,867
1871   -   4,064
1881   -   5,048
1891   -   5,682
1901   -   7,218
1911   -   13,450
1921   -   28,308

Mottingham Hamlet
1801   -   75
1811   -   69
1821   -   94
1831   -   124
1841   -   124
1851   -   131
1861   -   142
1871   -   475
1881   -   770
1891   -   1037
1901   -   1332
1911   -   1534
1921   -   1804
The civil parish of the same name at the 1921 census was coextensive with such parish (or place).

Eltham Distance to

London 7.1 mi.
Canterbury 45.9 mi.
Ashford 41.1 mi.
Chatham 21.8 mi.
Cranbrook 32.1 mi.
Dartford 6.2 mi.
Deptford 4.2 mi.
Dover 58.9 mi.
Faversham 37.5 mi.
Folkestone 54.4 mi.
Gravesend 14.3 mi.
Greenwich 2.6 mi.
Hythe 52.2 mi.
Maidstone 24.2 mi.
Margate 57.8 mi.
Milton Regis 30.4 mi.
Queenborough 30.5 mi.
Ramsgate 59.9 mi.
Rochester 19.0 mi.
Sandwich 57.4 mi.
Sheerness 30.4 mi.
Tenterden 38.3 mi.
Tonbridge 20.3 mi.
Woolwich 3.2 mi.


Municipal & Public Records

  • Mayors
  • Town Clerks
  • Recorders
  • Chamberlains
  • M.P.s
  • Jurats, Aldermen and Common Councilmen
  • Electoral Register
  • Freeholders
  • Freemen Index
  • Freeman's Roll
  • Masters Index
  • Pubs, Taverns, Inns, Alehouses
  • Victuallers

Wills & Estate Records

  • AD index 1448-1857
  • CC index 1448-1857
  • PCC 1338-1858
  • PPR 1858-1925
  • Depositions

Court Records

  • Gaol Returns
  • Quarter Sessions
  • Transportations
  • Summons for Pavement Repairs
  • Protestation Rolls c1641-1643
  • Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy 1662
  • Oaths of Allegiance c1720s

Military Records

Land Records
& Maps

Tax Lists

Other Records

Village Resources