Long and Lazy Lewisham – part 5: 47-63 High Street
Our focus in this and the next post will be the location best known as Chiesman’s department store, which dominated the stretch of the High Street north of the Clock Tower for a century in its evolving forms, before making way for the modern Police Station. The story of the site goes back to the 1850s and reflects changing trends in how we shopped over the next century and a half.
Today we will be focussing on the site’s life before it came to be dominated by the Chiesman brothers’ store.
A new terrace of superior shops
In November 1854, a promotional article was printed in the Kentish Mercury promising “Important Information to the Inhabitants of Lewisham, Lee and Blackheath”. The article proclaimed that the delivery of parcels of goods from insanitary premises was causing “a large amount of sickness and disease” to spread to middle and upper class houses. The solution was to shop in the new “Terrace of Superior Class Shops” – Granville Terrace on Lewisham High Street, and presumably also to stay or eat at the new ‘Sanitary Hotel’ at the end of the terrace. This was of course only a few years after the first Lewisham railway station was opened at the top of the High Street, bringing more people to the northern end of Lewisham and transforming this area around the junctions of the High Street with Lee High Road and Loampit Vale into prime property for developers and businesses.
The land on which the new terrace was built – like all that used for all the buildings we’ve looked at so far – was previously part of the estate of the Earls of St Germans. The new shops occupied most of the space between Granville Road (now Granville Grove) and Lee Bridge (the junction with Lee High Road). Like so much else in the area, it started out with the name Granville. However, raised pavement over the River Quaggy that allowed these new shops a frontage onto the High Street soon gave it the name ‘High Pavement’ – for reasons that are clear from contemporary photos like that at the top of this blog post.
This post will focus on the main block that was taken over by Chiesman’s. These were the shops that became numbers 47 to 63 Lewisham High Street – the block shown in the 1887 picture above during the celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee. In a later post, we will find out more about the end three shops, with their main buildings set back from the road (which were to become Stroud’s and later the RACS’s Tower House, which still stands opposite the Clock Tower).
After a few decades as a fashionable row of separate shops, this entire section of the terrace was quickly taken over by Chiesman’s from the mid-1880s. This means that there will be some repetition in the stories of these shops, but we will run through them one-by-one from the northern end, nearest to Edmund Couldery’s school at Mount Granville House the other side of Granville Road/Grove…
Number 10 (and 11) Granville Terrace, later 47 and 49 High Street
Number 10 – at the northern end of the terrace – was originally the Granville Sanitary Hotel, “where Comfort, Cleanliness and Economy are united” according to the advert in the Kentish Mercury (11/11/1954). It didn’t last long, however, and by 1860 it had been split into two shops.
The shop that became number 11 when the property was split was occupied in 1860 by Charles Ault, a whitesmith (i.e. metalworker with ‘white’ metals) and gasfitter who was previously based on Lee High Road and in 1851 lived in Ladywell. Ault and his wife Ann lived there until the early 1880s, mainly with apprentices and lodgers. Ault appears in the 1884 directory, but had departed by 1887; by 1891 he was living on Granville Road, an widowed insurance agent.
The 1887 jubilee photo (above) shows the shop occupied by Henry John Baulf, a cheesemonger from Greenwich, who left shortly afterwards for New Zealand where he died in 1907. The next known proprietor of what was now 47 High Street was Kate Whitten Blaxall, who worked there as a milliner using the name Madame Kate Whitten and is listed in the 1881 census with her husband William, her mother Fanny Reed (whose maiden name was Whitten) and her sister. By the end of the 1890s, the shop had become part of the growing Chiesman’s store.
The other half of the old hotel was a ‘fancy repository’ or something similar for all of its pre-Chiesman’s existence as a shop. The first proprietors were Stephen and Jane Holman, who lived there in the early 1860s – the 1861 census records him as a Managing Civil Hydraulic Engineer and her as a “fancy article seller”, although it is his name that appears in the directories up to 1863. In 1867, the repository was run by a Joseph Edward Bowes and in the early 1870s by the Tophams – Mary Ann and her husband James (another engineer). From 1876 to 1884, Harriett Randall is variously listed – at what was now number 49 High Street – as a Berlin wool shopkeeper and running a fancy repository. The 1891 census finds an Emily Shayler there, also a Berlin wool shopkeeper, along with her children, but she had moved on a year later as the shop was taken over by Chiesman’s.
Number 9, later 51
Number 9 Granville Terrace changed hands less frequently before succumbing to the growth of Chiesman’s. A butcher’s shop from 1854 through to 1884, it was initially run by an R Warren (“from the Strand” according to the initial adverts) but by 1860 had been taken over by William Woodcock from Rutland, who lived there with his wife Dorcas Toovey Woodcock until William’s death in January 1883. During that time he employed a small number of assistants, who appear to have lived with him (including, in 1861, William Couldery – just a few doors down from his future wife Emily and brother-in-law Edmund Couldery at the latter’s school). After William Woodcock’s death, the Kentish Mercury advertised the sale by auction of this “old-established Butcher’s Business, situate in High-Street, Lewisham, [and] for upwards of 27 years successfully run by the late owner”. The estimated rental value was £100 per year. The Chiesman brothers took over the property, by now numbered 51 High Street.
Number 8, later 53
A similar story can be told of number 8 Granville Terrace, albeit with its original occupant in place for longer. John Kingsford advertised himself as a bread and biscuit maker in an 1854 advert, but is more generally recorded as a baker. Before he arrived there was apparently no baker in the parish of Lee, according to an advert in the Kentish Mercury seeking a baker for the new Granville Terrace (18/2/1854)
Kingsford was born in Bocking, Essex in 1807 and had previously worked and lived with his wife Elizabeth and their many children on Loampit Hill and Loampit Vale, before taking up this prime location on the High Street, where he remained until his death in 1876. By 1880, Ellen Power and Sons were the bakers here; Ellen Welch had married baker William Power in 1855 and continued the trade after his death, first in Rotherhithe and then in Granville Terrace. This property – number 53 High Street – was the first to be taken over by Chiesman Bros as they expanded out from their original shop at number 59.
Number 7, later 55
Number 7 Granville Terrace also retained its original use throughout its three pre-Chiesman decades. Following the original occupant, fishmonger Robert Barton (there in 1854 and 1858), came a succession in the same trade – James Brock (1860) and William Quister or Christoe (who I think are probably the same man, 1861 and 1863), and then James Perkins Cook from 1867. During this period, part of the building was also used by coal merchants Smith and Withers. Cook was from St Pancras and described himself in the 1871 census as a master fishmonger and poulterer, employing one man and two boys. He lived and worked on the premises with his wife Sarah from 1867 until at least 1884. By 1891, the shop had been taken over by Chiesman’s.
Number 6 (or 6A or 5½), later 57
The numbering of Granville Terrace becomes a little unclear for numbers 5 and 6, with an additional number arising from one building being split around 1860, meaning that there was variously a 6A or a 5½ in addition to numbers 5 and 6. Where the additional number appears when listed in the local directory also seems to vary.
The original occupant of number 6, Charles Barham was listed in the 1854 advert as a clothier. By 1860 he had moved to number 3 Granville Terrace where we will see him in a future post. The occupancy in the 1860s is harder to track, with the 1860 and 1863 directories listing James Thomas La Feuillade operating as a music seller at 6A but the 1861 census showing us a John Baston, coal merchant, living there with his wife Jane and their children. Presumably they either shared the property or Baston lived there, while La Feuillade ran his shop from the ground floor. Although he wasn’t there for long, La Feuillade was a long-time Lewisham shopkeeper, starting out on Blackheath Road as a piano tuner before opening up his music shop – which he proclaimed in an advert in 1896 to be the “Oldest Established Pianoforte and Musical Warehouse in Lewisham” (by then it was at 96 High Street, roughly where the main entrance to the Lewisham Centre now stands). Two radically different trades moved in over the next ten years – first Thomas Richardson Swain as a corn and coal merchant, and then, from 1871, Henrietta Emeny as an upholsterer and furniture dealer.
Born in Deptford in 1801, Henrietta Young had married David Emeny, a French polisher, in 1834; in 1851 they were living in Shepherd’s Place (the houses on the north side of Loampit Vale between the River Ravensbourne and the High Street). In 1861, she was living on Lewis Place with her son Stuart, daughter Henrietta, and mother Elizabeth Young; Henrietta senior is listed then as an “upholstress employing 2 men”. Ten years later (after David’s death in 1864), she and Stuart were at Granville Terrace, where they rain their business – H Emeny and Sons – until they died in 1878 and 1877 respectively. Stuart’s widow Sarah appears to have taken on the property and the business and we find her there in 1881 with her two young sons and a servant. Sometime after 1884, she left Granville Terrace (now 57 High Street) and moved to Sydenham and later Catford; she died in 1920 aged 81. By 1889, Chiesman’s had taken over number 57.
Number 6 (or 5½), later 59 – where Chiesman’s began
The other house that was part of the original number 6, later becoming 59 High Street, was to be the first shop opened by the Chiesman brothers in 1884. Before that, it seems only to have had two owners. The first was David Thomas Tidman, who had set up shop there as a boot and shoe salesman by 1860. He appears in the 1861 census (at 5½ Granville Terrace) aged 25, with his wife Rebecca and two daughters and a servant. By 1871, he was listed more generally as a draper employing three men and had added a son to the household, along with two assistants. In the late 1870s, Tidman left Lewisham and moved to Ramsgate and the drapers’ store was taken over by the Cross brothers.
Frederick William Cross is listed there (this time number 6 Granville Terrace) in 1881, an unmarried 28 year old from Hackney. The other brother was Arthur George Cross who is listed as a draper (aged 25) in the census, living in Croydon. Lewisham’s High Pavement wasn’t the brothers’ only fashionable address: the Norwood News in 1881 carried adverts for a summer sale at their shop on Westow Hill at the corner of Crystal Palace Park. Their partnership does not appear to have been a happy one, however, as it was dissolved that December, with each brother carrying on one of the shops under the name Cross Brothers. Frederick took on the Lewisham operation, but Cross Brothers only lasted another three years in Granville Terrace, however, before Frederick departed and the Chiesman brothers moved in, beginning the next phase in the life of Granville Terrace and the High Pavement. We will hear much more of them in a later blog post.
Number 5, later 61 – Maller’s
The last two shops in the main run of Granville Terrace were also the last to succumb to the growth of Chiesman’s. Both remained in the possession of single families from the 1860s through to the First World War. After its original occupant, painter and gilder William Gooding, Benjamin Maller took over number 5 in 1856 along with a Robert Miller. In the Kentish Mercury on 16 February, they put out an advert describing themselves as Seedsmen, Florists and Fruiterers, with ‘Seeds of every description’ and ‘a constant supply of fruit and vegetables direct from their own gardens’. Maller is referred to as having been ‘six years Gardener at Belmont House, Lee, Kent’ (in 1851 Benjamin and his wife Mary were living in Belmont Lodge, the site of which is now covered by 51 and 53 Belmont Hill).
The Maller-Miller partnership did not last long; indeed in 1860 a different, presumably subsequent, partnership was dissolved – this time of Maller and Fry at 5 Granville Terrace and Manor House Gardens. Despite this apparently turbulent first few years, the business seems to have thrived and in 1871 Maller told the census enumerator that he owned 3 acres and employed four men and eight boys. The Mallers moved their family to Lee in the 1870s and appear – with their grown-up children Mary, Benjamin and Herbert – in the 1881 census at ‘the Nursery, Leyland Road’.
Following Benjamin’s death in 1884, the family kept up the business as B Maller and Sons. The next three censuses list gardener Josiah Scarlett and his wife Olivia (1891) and then labourer/painter Anthony Would and his wife Ann – in 1911, Would is listed as the caretaker. The company appears to have carried on through the First World War, but by 1920 the local directory lists Chiesman Brothers reaching from number 33 to number 61.
Number 4, later 63 – Sayers’ pharmacy
The final property to fall into the orbit of Chiesman’s was number 63 High Street – earlier 4 Granville Terrace. After being a boot and shoe shop (Mr Francis) in 1854, a pharmaceutical chemist (Alfred Baker) in 1863 and a music seller’s (Christopher Hildyard) in 1867, by the end of the decade the shop had been taken over by William John Sayers whose family would run it for the next fifty years. Sayers himself ran the shop for over 30 years until his death, aged 63 in early 1900, during which time he was also vice-president of the Lewisham branch of the Charity Organisation Society (which in the late nineteenth century was run from number 29 High Street). His obituary in the Kentish Mercury (16/3/1900) describes him as “Kind hearted, sympathetic, and fond of real humour, he endeared himself to many”. His funeral was attended by several of his neighbours on the High Pavement, including members of the Chiesman and Stroud families, who witnessed his coffin “hidden under a canopy of seven arches of white flowers linked together with loops of tulips, lilies and azaleas – a tribute of affection from his seven children.” His widow Laura remained at 63 High Street, along with four of her children, with son William Charles Sayers taking over the shop and running it for another 30 years.
And then there were none…
So by 1891, the Chiesman brothers occupied the row of 51 to 59 Lewisham High Street, by 1911 they had taken over the neighbouring block of St Stephen’s Terrace (as we saw earlier) and by the end of the 1920s they had taken over number 61 and 63.
In the next post in the series we will find out more about them and their famous store.