Charlton is a former village, now a district, in South East London, England, and a part of the Royal Borough of Greenwich. It is located 7.2 miles (11.6 km) east-southeast of Charing Cross. 'Charlton next Woolwich' was an ancient parish in the county of Kent, which became part of the metropolitan area of London in 1855. It is home to Charlton Athletic F.C. and the location of Charlton House.
Charlton is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as Cerletone. It is formed from Old English 'ceorl' and 'tūn' and means 'farmstead of the freemen or peasants'. It is a common English placename and the parish was also known as Charlton next Woolwich to distinguish it from Charlton by Dover. During the 19th century the riverside portion of the area became known as New Charlton. In the last few years, with the emphasis on regeneration, the former New Charlton area has become known as Charlton Riverside, most of which is actually located in Peninsula Ward of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
Charlton is assessed in the Domesday Book of 1086 at one "sulung", which is commonly held to have been the equivalent of two hides. In 1086 it was in the fee of Gundulf, bishop of Rochester, but in 1066 it had been held from the king as two estates, by two brothers, named Godwine and Alweard. Though assessed at only one sulung, it had a slightly higher value than might be expected, at £7, both in 1066 and in 1086.
In 1093, the manor of Charlton was given to Bermondsey Abbey by Bishop Robert Bloet of Lincoln. In 1268, the Abbey was granted a Monday market at Charlton, as well as an annual fair of three days, centred on Trinity Sunday, the eighth Sunday after Easter.
In the early 18th century, Charlton was described by Daniel Defoe as:
a village famous, or rather infamous for the yearly collected rabble of mad-people, at Horn-Fair; the rudeness of which I cannot but think, is such as ought to be suppressed, and indeed in a civiliz'd well govern'd nation, it may well be said to be unsufferable. The mob indeed at that time take all kinds of liberties, and the women are especially impudent for that day; as if it was a day that justify'd the giving themselves a loose to all manner of indecency and immodesty, without any reproach, or without suffering the censure which such behaviour would deserve at another time. (from A Tour through Great Britain)
Apart from the Thames Barrier and The Valley, the area's other most notable feature is Charlton House, a Jacobean mansion by architect John Thorpe, built for Sir Adam Newton between 1607 and 1612. Sir Adam was tutor to Prince Henry, son of King James I of England, and was also responsible for building nearby St Luke's Church. On the death of Adam Newton, his executors Peter Newton and David Cunningham, 1st Baronet of Auchinhervie were charged to rebuild St Luke's. The church is the burial place of Spencer Perceval (1762–1812), the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated, and of murdered civil servant Edward Drummond. Sir William Langhorne, 1st Baronet, is also buried there. On the northern edge of the garden of Charlton House is a mulberry tree planted in 1608 by order of King James in an effort to cultivate silkworms.
Later, Charlton House became the home of the Maryon-Wilson family, after whom a nearby park is named (another park in Charlton, Maryon Park, also named after the family, was the location for Antonioni's 1966 film Blow-Up). Since 1925, the house has been owned by the Royal Borough of Greenwich and has functioned as a library and community centre.
The flat land adjoining the Thames at Charlton Riverside has been a significant industrial area since Victorian times. A notable establishment was the Siemens Brothers Telegraph Works opened in 1863, which manufactured two new transatlantic cables in the 1880s, and contributed to PLUTO in World War 2.
The centre of Charlton SE7 is the original village and spans down Charlton Church Lane, which is on a hillside overlooking the River Thames. Charlton is the only neighbourhood in Greenwich or Lewisham to rightly hold the title Village. Old postcards from the 19th century depict the layout of the Village then as being similar to that of today. Moving away from the Village, in the opposite direction to Shooters Hill, the area termed as present day Charlton branches out towards Blackheath Royal Standard in one direction and steeply downhill in the opposite direction towards the shopping areas. This urban sprawl has led to the name Charlton Riverside - being applied to a large area reaching down to the south bank of the River Thames, roughly where the Thames Barrier crosses the river, although the barrier itself is located at Woolwich Reach.
Charlton is also home to several parks of varying features, namely Maryon Park, Maryon Wilson Park, Hornfair Park, named in reference to the old Horn Fair, held in October, for which Charlton was renowned in previous centuries, and Charlton Park, which is largely made up of sports pitches or playing fields. Maryon Park provided the location for the classic 1960s movie Blow-Up.
The architecture of Charlton is diverse, offering an insight into how different parts of the area were built up, as it evolved from a Thames-side village into the London suburb that it is today. Charlton gave its name to Charlton House, and has links with the classic architect Inigo Jones, a street being named after him. Other streets in Charlton named after prominent figures or places include Montcalm[disambiguation needed], Prince Henry[disambiguation needed], Canberra, and Kashmir.
There are four main pubs within the vicinity of Charlton Village, including The Bugle Horn, a former coaching inn. Other landmarks include the village's drinking Fountain and a Roman Catholic church on Charlton Road: Our Lady of Grace.
Our Lady of Grace church was established by the Assumptionists Order. They settled in Charlton in 1903 after being expelled from France in 1900 due to suppression of Holy Orders. The first nuns moved into Highcombe and set up a mission in Charlton. The current church was built in 1905 and celebrated its centenary on 17 September 2005 with a concelebrated ecumenical mass, led by Archbishop Kevin McDonald and parish priest, Fr. Michael Leach. The church has strong historic links with the Irish community in south east London are evident in the statue of Saint Patrick on display inside. The current presbretry was also the home of William Henry Barlow (1812–1902), the eminent 19th century engineer, who designed St. Pancras Railway Station and for whom English Heritage have erected a blue plaque in recognition.
Charlton Village is also home to the historic Saint Luke's Church and then Charlton New Testament Church of God on Charlton Church Lane.
The contemporary population is a mixture of long established families, young professionals, and various ethnic groups, and has become very accessible for commuters in recent times due to its proximity to North Greenwich tube station, Woolwich Arsenal station, Greenwich's Cutty Sark DLR station, Canary Wharf itself, and rail links to central London. Charlton Riverside houses many larger shops, the cinema just over the border of the Greenwich Peninsula, as well as being close to The O2 arena (London) and Canary Wharf.
There are large retail parks close to the river in Charlton Riverside, with smaller, more specialised shops along Charlton Church Lane and in Charlton Village.
The southern approach of the Blackwall Tunnel crossing of the River Thames is located to the west. Charlton is also served by Charlton railway station on the lines from London to Dartford via Greenwich and Lewisham. The area is served by London bus routes 53, 54, 161, 177, 180, 472, 486, 422, 380 and N1. North Greenwich is the nearest tube station, a short bus ride to the north.
- Charlton is best known as the home of Charlton Athletic F.C. The club plays at The Valley (a former chalk pit) situated to the north of the village, close to the main road and railway line.
- The Rectory Field, home of Blackheath Rugby Club, is on the border of Blackheath and Charlton.
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- Mills, D. (2000). Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names. Oxford.
- Annales Monastici, Luard, H.R. (ed., 5 vols., Rolls Series), 3, 1866.
- A genealogical and heraldic history of the extinct and dormant baronetcies of England, John Burke (1838), 385
- A Visit to the Works of Messrs. Siemens Bros, The Telegraphist, June 2 1884.