Charlton Church Lane, SE7

Place Name

This was originally plain Church Lane in changed sometime in the 1930s. Unsurprisingly, this led from the heart of old Charlton to a church, which in this case is the 17thCentury St Luke’s. In fact there has been a church on the site since the 1077 “said to have originally been built of chalk and flint”. In 1630 the original church was knocked down “when the present nave, the old chancel and what is now the Lady Chapel were constructed using Kentish red bricks probably made locally. The tower and north aisle were added later in the 17th century. The organ chamber, new chancel and old vestry followed circa 1840. The new vestries completed the present complex in 1956. According, to local historians remains of the flint and chalk walls were found between brick facings in the South walls which are some 750mm thick. These materials may well also be hidden behind the rendered surface of part of the north wall between the two buttresses which have no apparent function and might therefore also be remnants of the earlier building.” Today the church which is in the vernacular pre-Indigo Jones Renaissance style is a Grade 2* Listed building. Charlton was first mentioned as Cerletun in the Domesday Book of 1086. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon words ceorl (pronounced churl) and tūn meaning the farmstead of the freeman or peasants. Caroline Taggart in The Book of London Place Names explains: “[They were] an independent peasant landowner. Not a rich man, but his own master.” They were freeman of the lowest rank who owned and cultivated a small farm. The village was variously recorded as Cherleton in 1275 and Cherlton in 1292.

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