EAST LODGE (MARSH LANE, GREENWICH, article written) about 1904
From a family newsletter published by the daughters of Mr.
Davies, Manager at Hills Chemical Works and resident at East Lodge.
“We may build more splendid habitations,
Fill our rooms with paintings and with sculptures,
But we cannot buy with gold the old associations.”
Whatever changes the year may bring, there are some places which always live in the memory, and round which loving thoughts and recollections home, holding them fast. ‘East Lodge’ is and ever will be one of these. Memories which gather round that dear old place have as it were woven themselves right into the lives of all of us. Some of our earliest recollections are connected with it. Who among us will ever forget the merry parties there – chiefly composed of cousins, but not entirely – especially at Christmas time or the New Year, the games of Blind Man’s Bluff or Fox and Geese played in the Hall or empty rooms. Those in the hall were the greatest fun. The picture is always fresh, the big square hall with its massive front door, the great bunch of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling, the staircase leading to the upper hall, and other rooms, up which most of us would often quietly creep leaving the blind man with about two careering round him, until he discovered what had happened and commanded us all to come down. How mixed we got sometimes, – I remember one nigh~, blind man being a newly married wife, she soon succeeded in catching a tall lean man and joyfully exclaimed ‘Oh I have got my dear old hubby’ – a shout of laughter greeted this speech, which soon told her she was wrong. Somehow the same games played elsewhere never have the same charm as they had at East Lodge.
There too there were the merry games round the fire, criticisms, ‘rhyme-making, title-acting, schoolmaster, My father’s rooster’ etc., till the room rang with fun and laughter. The bonnie fires at East Lodge were things to be remembered, and on those huge grates there was plenty of room for them. How cheery it was to come off a journey, at the end of the walk down the lane, in from the fog and cold to the bright welcome which always awaited us. The lovely fire and the tea ‘all ready. Honey was always a feature of those teas, and how we did enjoy it. No honey ever tastes like that used to.
Then the garden! Oh that garden, what a place it holds in our hearts. The lovely lawn with its big flower beds on either side that stretched from the front of the house to the river banks. The merry games of ball that we have had there, the quiet talks as we paced up and down it, watching the vessels, all come crowding into the mind as we think of that lawn. The shrubbery with its jolly swing which delighted us so as children, and the little hillock at the further end from which one could See all up and down the river; the little hillock of which George Macdonald said that it was ‘an ideal place to write a story’.
The summer house too, the ‘home’ in so many games of hides and seek. The kitchen garden too, with its fruit trees is a well-remembered spot for us. Also the dear old kitchen itself, with its arched window, and large round table. How the sunshine streamed in at that window as we sat at breakfast, and what merry supper parties gathered round that old table.
I think my earliest recollection of East Lodge were at the time of Uncle and Aunt’s Silver Wedding. If ever the house was full it was then, but what a good time we had, – I speak from the side of the little ones, but from what I remember, I fancy the big folks had quite as good a time.
The Sundays there will always live in the memory. The family gathering at morning service, the quiet afternoons, resting or reading round the fire, and the happy evenings as we all gathered round the piano to sing our favourite hymns. Some who often sang in that circle are now in that larger world, praising God around the throne. Sometimes we chanced to be at East Lodge on a New Year’s Eve. As midnight drew near we would leave our places by the fireside and go and stand in the big bay windows and opening them would listen to the bells which were to ring in the New Year. Not only the bells far and near would herald its birth, but all the steamers would give their greetings to the New Year with their hooters. And as we quietly listened to it all, and wondered what the fresh untrodden way held in store for us, we too would wish each other and all our friends far and near, ‘A Happy New Year’.
(the original accompanied by illustrations of house, garden and river by A.A.D )
A.A.D was the eldest, of the three daughters of Mr and Mrs Tom Davies of East Lodge – Anne Askew Davies, born 6.10.1858. We believe J.W.D to be Janet Whitridge Davies of Reigate, a first cousin of the three girls, whose father was Mr Clement Davies, a draper in Croydon. the next older sister, according to my records, lived from 1869-1969; she had become Mrs Edith Penfold of Purley, and has many descendants. I have neither date of birth for Janet, nor any record of a marriage for her, but her birth was probably within two years of Cousin Edith’s, which would put her in her early thirties when writing this tribute to the old house. The fathers Tom and Clement were both then dead I think, and the house demolished, (to make way for electricity works?)
This excerpt is taken from the manuscript magazine ‘The Four Wheeler’, edited by Mildred Davies of East Lodge, and Eastcombe Avenue, Charlton, and was circulated purely within the family. The title of the magazine refers to the four wheels of cousins who started it after a holiday together in Anglesey, but there were in fact six ‘wheels ‘that is families of cousins descended from John Davies, draper, of Oswestry Shropshire, and his wife, born Anne Askew Whitridge. It was, of necessity, that the unmarried daughters who contributed most, and the three ‘Charlton Cousins’ were prime amongst these.
The article ends with a pen and ink drawing inscribed ‘The Way In’ by AAD, and is followed by the accompanying quotation (unascribed)
‘Here once my step was awakened, Here beckoned the opening door, And welcome thrilled from the threshold ‘to the foot it had known before.’
Notes by Maj Wagstaffe, to whom thanks.
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