Charlton (St. Luke)

CHARLTON (St. Luke), a parish, in the union of Lewisham, hundred of Blackheath, lathe of Suttonat-Hone, W. division of Kent, 6½ miles (E.) from London; containing 2655 inhabitants. This place, in ancient records called Cerletone and Ceorletone, is supposed to have derived that name from Ceorle, the Saxon term for husbandman. The manor appears to have belonged, from the close of the eleventh century till the Dissolution, to the monks of Bermondsey, to whom Henry III. granted a charter for a weekly market, and an annual fair on the eve of the Holy Trinity, to be held here. In 1665, the town, which at that time was of considerable importance, suffered severely from the ravages of the plague, and, together with the neighbourhood, sustained much injury from a violent tempest. The parish comprises by admeasurement 1400 acres, of which 528 are arable, 460 pasture, 165 marsh, and 30 woodland; and is delightfully situated in the heart of a fertile district, abounding with picturesque scenery, interspersed with elegant villas, and commanding from the higher parts extensive prospects. The village, which is on rising ground, retains much of its rural character; nearly opposite to the church is the manor-house, erected in 1612, a spacious and stately building, in front of which is a row of cypress-trees, said to have been the first planted in England. The market has long been discontinued; the fair, now held on St. Luke's day, is called Horn fair, from the numerous articles of that material brought for sale.

The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £10. 7. 8½., and in the gift of Sir T. M. Wilson, Bart.: the tithes have been commuted for £600, and the glebe comprises 13 acres. The church, rebuilt of brick in 1640, and enlarged in 1839, is a neat edifice with an embattled tower: the windows are embellished with armorial bearings in stained glass, and the building contains various pieces of ancient armour, and numerous handsome monuments, among which are one to Lady Catherine Puckeringe; one to Brigadier-General Richards, surveyor of the ordnance in the reign of George II.; and one to the Right Hon. Spencer Perceval, who was interred in the church. The church of St. Peter in Blackheath Park, and Morden College, are both in the parish; and the district of St. Thomas', Woolwich, endowed in 1845 by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, includes part of Charlton. A parochial school was built by Sir William Langhorne, who in 1714 endowed it with £300, now producing £8 per annum; it is conducted on the national plan. Sir William also bequeathed £1000 to augment the rector's income.—See Blackheath.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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