20 Mar

Let’s move to Eltham, south-east London: it gave birth to Kate Bush and Bob Hope

On the surface, it’s your average London sprawl of 1930s semis, but it hides its treasuresWhat’s going for it? It’s true, you do have to suspend a jot of disbelief imagining a young Henry VIII jousting in the tilt yard while you queue for socks at the tills in M&S. But that’s Eltham for you. Like many suburbs, it hides its treasures, its oddities. On the surface, it’s your average London sprawl of 1930s semis, Carphone Warehouse and McDonald’s. But this sprawl gave birth to Kate Bush (Kate Bush!), to Bob Hope (actual Bob Hope!), schooled a young Frankie Howerd and was nursery to Henry VIII. Not a bad little nursery: Eltham Palace, tucked out of view, is these days mostly the product of the Courtauld family, who built their dreamy art deco grand design, down to (recently returned) gold phones and quarters for their pet lemur, Jongy, amid the ruins of Henry’s childhood home. But ever since Thomas More introduced young Henry to the greatest mind in Europe, Erasmus, a few hundred metres from where today stands Dylan Barbers “sunbed/tanning” and Coco’s Espresso Bar, Eltham, high on its hill, has considered itself a cut above the likes of Sidcup.The case against Two mammoth roads, the A2 and A20, roar through, dividing up the manor and fumigating the place. Continue reading…

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