Hayes, West Wickham and Keston in old picture postcards

Hayes, West Wickham and Keston in old picture postcards

:   Muriel V. Searle
:   Greater London
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-4694-4
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Hayes, West Wickham and Keston in old picture postcards'

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59. Private schools carne in all degrees of size and social background. This rather small one at Keston was shown on a postcard in 1910.

60. Areas accepted as 'posh', like Bickley and Keston, were characterised by their private schools, offering education at a fee for gentlemen's sons and daughters, who were not allowed to mingle with ordinary village children for social and snob reasons. This 1910 view shows one of the larger schools, Heathfield. Only just down the road was an equally good example oflife at the other end of the scale; tiny cottages known as squats. In the more distant past a family who (by roping in every friend, relation and offspring, and by working as a team for many hours at top speed) could complete an entire cottage and prove its habitability by having a fire lit and smoke coming from the chimney by nightfall, could claim the land they had chosen. A squat's serviceability (as opposed to a ramshackle job merely to acquire a site) is demonstrated by the fact that at least one still survives. Used as a teahouse before the war, it has been modernised and extended into a large bungalow.

61. One of the few compensations of the 1987 hurricane was the opening up of distant views of Holwood House. The loss of giant ornamental trees outside its main frontage lets it stand out from afar and complete many a view from Downe. This is not the house known by the great Prime Minister, Pitt, being rebuilt on or near its site. But the grounds retain many of the trees he knew, and rnany he would hirnself have planted.

62. Old Keston pump is said to have been installed 'for the public good' by a local Rector, mindful of the effort of raising water from wells, and of its increasingly poor quality, the souree of many a typhoid and cholera outbreak in and around London. A proper drainage grille is visible, preventing a sea of mud and mire around thepump.

63. The Keston Common cottages in the early 1930s; even today this byway keeps the look of a village. Soon after this card was circulated, the massive stone fountain from outside the BeU in Bromley was removed, after about sixty years on that site, and re-erected here at Keston, in the middle of the grassy space facing the Greyhound, though minus its huge top lantern. It is still there today, complete with some of its bottom plumbing.

64. Keston church, little ehanged since this posteard was sent in 1905, was described some years before then as 'a humble country church, interesting most from its situation and absence of pretention': far removed from the ostentatious high- Victorian town church of current fashion. Though the writer had little adrniration for 'windows altered by the viJlage carpenter and builder , the rest was at least plain and serviceable , 'fitted with high pews, with a row of hat pegs on the walls above'.

65. Wilberforce Oak went through many changes of appearance as mankind fought to preserve it into the 20th century, for its unique assoeiations. A Churchill among trees - the indestructible old warrior toughened instead of bowed by age - it stood for several decades protected behind these iron railings. In the 1950s its deteriorating upper branches, stiJl trying to leaf, were held together by a network af iron braces, struts and rings until time disposed of them. Then a new sapling was put inside the remaining carcase of the giant hollew trunk (though various ramblers have claimed its growth from acorns they spontaneously planted in passing). It flourished for about 35 years until felled in 1987 by Hurricane Len; ironically, the strong young tree collapsed while the original ancient trunk survived, and goes on clinging to life. This card was written in 1908 in conditions that, themselves, are now historie; the dense , dank blanket of fog known as a pea-souper until, following the last and greatest (the Great Smog of 1952), Clean Air Acts consigned those killer vapours to history.

66. Wilbetforce Oak in its preserved heyday with sorne remaining upper branches; today it is reduced to only the split carcase of the bottom trunk. Several generations of ramblers have stopped to read the inscription on the sta nc Wilbetforce Seat, inside its centre medallion. Moved farther back behind the Holwood perimeter fencing for proteetion from vandalism and other damage, it is much harder now to read. The carved extract from Wilberforce's diary of 1787 runs: 'At length I weil remember after a conversation with MI. Pitt in the open air at the root of an old tree at Holwood, just above the steep descent into the Vale of Keston , I resolved to give notice on a fit occasion in the House of Commons of my intention to bring forward the abolition of the slave trade.'

67. A nice early 20th century example of an extinct type of postcard: the private family snapshot returned from developing in the same format as a commercial view card, with post office approved backing, but printed off one's own negative. This was a popular means of writing to relatives and friends. In this case, a larger portrait was also produced in postcard shape. The marvellous Bernard Shaw style beard belonged to the author's paternal great-grandfather, Alfred Searle, who sits on Wilberforce Seat at utter peace with the world.

68. No amount of scholarly research can scotch the favourite legend of Ceasar's Well. How Ceasar's troops camped at Holwood, weary and thirsty, desperate to find water. And how one sharp-eyed Roman noticed a raven continually returning to one patch of grass as if drinking. Hidden there was a running spring. Hence the name Ceasar's WeIl for this souree of the Ravensbourne: the river or bourne of the raven. It still bubbles up into this circular basin, and fJows right across Keston Ponds. lts course is seen as moving water, while the lake around it is almost still. The ponds were created by damming old gravel pits in the 1830s.

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