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Our Role in Eltham

The Eltham Society was founded in 1965 by a group of local people who wished to ensure that Eltham retained its distinctiveness by:

  • Encouraging high standards of architecture and town planning in Eltham.
  • Stimulating public interest in and care for the beauty, history and character of the area.
  • Encouraging the preservation, development and improvement of areas of public amenity and historic interest.
  • Pursuing these aims with exhibitions, lectures, publications, meetings and promotion of schemes of a charitable nature..

Membership rapidly grew and the Society flourished. It has passed its 40th Birthday in 2005 and continues to promote its original raison d'etre through the work of its committees and Executive Council.


Eltham The Amenity Committee deals with planning applications, offering sound observations at borough planning meetings and is, at times, consulted by Greenwich borough, so is therefore a very respected group. The committee also comments on changes in transport through the South Greenwich Forum, and sends representatives to the Town Centre Partnership and various Parks Friends Groups and other ad hoc meetings.

The society's motto, "Preserving the past, Conserving the present, and Protecting the future" aptly describes the work of the amenity committee as all its deliberations have some impact on the past, the present and the future of Eltham.

One of the major areas of work done by the Amenity Committee is to seek out new projects worthy of the Eltham Society Award. The Eltham Society initiated Heritage Awards in 1975, as our contribution to the European Heritage Year. In some years there has been more than one award while in others there have been none.

The aim of the award is to recognise improvement in standards of design, layout and amenity of buildings, land and public areas within Eltham. Both major and small developments are equally eligible for the award. The main criteria for assessing whether a project is worthy are:

  • Improvements to amenities for the local community.
  • The design of access for people with disabilities.
  • Imaginative designs that make a contribution to quality and appearance of the built and/or natural environment of Eltham.
  • Enhancement of visual amenity.
  • Schemes that demonstrate that the principles of sustainable design and construction have been adopted - re-use of land and existing buildings; the recycling of construction materials; maintenance; and running costs and energy consumption.
  • Good landscape treatment of a site or area, including landscape treatment of buildings, as well as land reclamation schemes, parks and open spaces.

Nominations for an award are made in the year following construction, opening, first use. The award recognises achievements made in the Eltham area, which in recent years have included:

  • Sutcliffe Park reclamation.
  • The restoration of Well Hall Pleasaunce.
  • The Thomas Haworth Mausoleum.
  • The design of Passey Place.

A full list can be seen by clicking on the Eltham Society Award.

Social Committee

The Social Committee organises events for members throughout the year. These include walks and visits to notable places of interest. The current programme can be seen by clicking on "Society events".

Recent excursions have included:

  • A guided tour of Greenwich Town Hall with the Mayor and regalia.
  • The Foundling Museum at Brunswick Square, London and its associations with artist William Hogarth and composer Georg Frederic Handel.
  • Visits to Apothecaries' Hall, and Fishmongers' Hall in London.
  • Lullingstone Castle and the World Garden.

Recent walks have included:

  • "The Road to South America" - connections with South America in Eltham.
  • The Thames Path from London Bridge to Canary Wharf.

Publications Committee

Apart from producing the quarterly Newsletter, the Publications Committee commissions, edits and publishes a booklets. Its most recent were Trams in Eltham by John Kennett and Severndroog Castle by Sally Simmons and Margaret Taylor. All our publications in print can found by clicking on "Publications" on the left.

Lecture Program

Monthly illustrated lectures are given throughout the year except in January and August. The current programme can be seen by clicking on "Society events" to the left.

Some recent talks covered Eltham topics such as:

  • Refurbishment of Well Hall Pleasaunce
  • Eltham Park South and North
  • Severndroog Castle
  • Eltham's Fire Brigade

Whilst others are of broader interest:

  • The Chelsea Pensioners
  • Hall Place, Bexley
  • A history of pub signs
  • Christopher Marlow, poet, playwright, spy

Schools Local History Project

Since 1966, the society has invited local primary schools to participate in a local history project concerning Prince John of Eltham. The aim of the project is to illustrate the links between Prince John, who was born at Eltham Palace in 1316 and Westminster Abbey where he is buried.

The two day event has taken place in October with a visit to Eltham Palace and the following day a visit to Westminster Abbey for the laying of flowers, gathered from Eltham Palace, on Prince John's tomb.

A booklet, published by the society, titled 'Prince John of Eltham and Eltham Palace' tells us that "Prince John of Eltham was one of the few members of the Royal Family to be born at Eltham. His father was King Edward II and his mother a French Princess called, Isabella the Fair. She had been sent to England to marry King Edward when she was only 16 years old. Isabella travelled through Kent in the winter of 1308 and stayed at Eltham Palace to rest and get ready for the grand procession in which she was to enter London. She was very fond of Eltham for the rest of her life."

Last year, a group, headed by the Rev. Barbara Kingston, reviewed the arrangements, and looked at ways of modifying the project to come into line with the National Curriculum and the busy timetable of a primary school. Questionnaires were circulated to schools that had previously taken part to investigate possible new ways so this event can continue.

This review culminated in a visit by children from Deansfield School in autumn 2008. A whole class visited Eltham Palace in September where there was a workshop arranged by English Heritage on the Tudors at Eltham. In October, six of the children went to Prince John's tomb at Westminster Abbey. There, the Dean met the children, read a short passage from the bible, said some prayers at the tomb and then talked to the children. The children laid posies on the tomb. The verger then gave the children a tour of the Abbey and the children left the Abbey by the coronation route. The children greatly enjoyed themselves.

In 2009, the visit will be made in the Spring Term by Wyborne School with a Tudor workshop at Eltham Palace and a subsequent visit to Prince John's tomb in Westminster Abbey.


Please download the form by clicking the button here on the right and send it to the Membership Secretary at the address on the form