The ancient parish of Deptford straddled the counties of Surrey and Kent, so there was some doubt over the county in which the manor of Hatcham was situated, and in 1636 the matter was settled placing it entirely within Surrey. Hatcham became part of Deptford St Paul when the parish was divided in 1730.
It has lent its name to the subsequently created ecclesiastical parishes of All Saints' Hatcham Park, St Catherine's and St James' Hatcham, which include parts of the historic county of Kent.
In the Domesday Book it is recorded as Hacheham. The name means "home of a man named Hæcci" and derives from an Old English personal name. It is described as a manor containing land for three ploughs, nine villagers and two smallholders, 6 acres (24,000 m2) of meadowland and woodland for 3 pigs.
Hatcham formed part of the Brixton Hundred of Surrey in medieval times. The manor was bought by the Haberdashers' Company in 1614, which later demolished the former manor house (during the 1840s) for redevelopment and the foundation of its schools.
Hatcham has been included within the Metropolitan Police District since 1830. In 1855 it was included in the area of responsibility of the Metropolitan Board of Works, in the Greenwich District. It became part of the County of London in 1889 and the Metropolitan Borough of Deptford in 1900.
Although the place name has largely fallen out of common parlance, its use is retained by several organisations including the Hatcham Liberal Club on Queen's Road and in the names of Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham Boys and Girls Grammar Schools, founded in 1876. These have both now been converted to City academies. Hatcham also constitutes a conservation area nowadays for planning purposes. The area largely corresponds to the contemporary district known as New Cross Gate.
- John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)
- John Bartholomew, Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887)
- 'Parishes: Hatcham (Parish of Deptford St Paul)', A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4 (1912)
- Mills, A., Dictionary of London Place Names, (2001), Oxford
- Lewisham London Borough Council - Hatcham
- Lewisham London Borough Council - Hatcham Conservation Area