|St Luke's Churchyard||Greenwich|
A church in Charlton is mentioned in 1077 and the manor was within Bermondsey Abbey until the C16th. The medieval parish church of St Luke, built of chalk and flint, was demolished and largely rebuilt in the 1630s. The small churchyard, now closed to burials, has gravestones set among grass, trees including yew, a number of shrubs in front of the building, and a flagstone path from the small entrance gate to the church. On the nearby village green Charlton Hornfair was held on St Luke's Day, 18 October, until 1816.
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Charlton is referred to in the Domesday Book in 1086 as Cerletone, but there was an earlier settlement in the district during the Roman occupation. A church is mentioned in 1077 and the manor came within Bermondsey Abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the C16th. On the nearby village green Charlton Hornfair was held on St Luke's Day, 18 October, until 1816, and may have dated from the time of King John granting the rights to hold the fair to a miller. Daniel Defoe, writing in the early C18th, described: 'Charleton, a village famous or rather infamous for the yearly collected rabble of mad-people, at Horn-Fair; the rudeness of which I cannot but think, is such as ought to be suppress'd' but despite this he concedes that 'there are some very good houses lately built in this town' and 'tis indeed a very pleasant village'. When the village green became part of the grounds of Charlton House (q.v.) the fair moved to Fairfield but was eventually suppressed in 1872.
The nearby medieval parish church is thought to have been built of chalk and flint. It was largely demolished and rebuilt in the 1630s, although chalk and flint have been found between the brick facings in the very thick south walls of the current church. The new church was built with money given by executors of Adam Newton of Charlton House, a rare example of a church built during the reign of Charles I. The present church nave, old chancel and Lady Chapel are of the C17th and were built using red bricks that may have been locally made. The tower and north aisle date from later in the century and the organ chamber, new chancel and old vestry were built c.1840. New vestries were added in 1956. Monuments to Sir Adam and his wife Lady Newton are in the church, which also contains a portrait bust of Spencer Perceval, Prime Minister, who was assassinated in the House of Commons in 1812. The church was a navigation aid in the past and on St George's and St Luke's days is permitted to fly the Red Ensign from its flagpole.
The small churchyard in front has trees including yew, and a number of shrubs, the gravestones set among grass, with a flagstone path from the small entrance gate to the church. Behind the church is another secluded area with a number of older tombs as well as a garden of rest with recent memorial plaques. The Charlton War Memorial is located adjacent to the church at the junction of Charlton Church Lane and The Village where there is also a cattle trough and drinking fountain. Both were erected to commemorate the King's coronation in 1902, the granite cattle trough having the inscription:' Erected by Sir Spencer Maryon Wilson, 11th Bar[one]t and the inhabitants of Charlton to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII, 1902'. The red granite drinking fountain is set on a plinth beneath a half-timbered shelter.
Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; Robert and Celia Godley, 'Greenwich: A history of Greenwich, Blackheath, Charlton, Deptford and Woolwich', 1999.