Cheam

The Wikipedia entry for Hancock’s Half Hour (1954-61) – episodes available via BBC Sounds app – will tell you that the radio character’s residence was 23, Railway Cuttings, East Cheam:

“Railway Cuttings and East Cheam were fictitious (though see below), but Cheam is a real town, once in Surrey, today part of the London Borough of Sutton in Greater London. The whole area is smart and expensive, and by creating ‘Railway Cuttings, East Cheam’ Galton and Simpson created an address for a snob who wanted to live in a ‘posh’ area, but could only afford the ‘cheap end’ (which in reality does not exist).”

By the 14th century Cheam had been split into east and west manors, each of which had its own village. East Cheam (later known as Lower Cheam) was the larger of the pair. From the 14th to the 16th century Cheam was known for its potteries, which specialised in making jugs.

I’ve been visiting Whitehall, which was built on Malden Road around 1500 and is outer London’s finest remaining example of a medieval hall house. The house, which was later extended and weath­er­boarded – its front door is pictured above – is open to the public on Thursdays and at weekends.

Henry VIII acquired the manors of Cheam after commis­sioning the construc­tion of Nonsuch Palace in the neigh­bouring parish of Cuddington in 1538.

Cheam school was founded sometime before 1646, and may have used either Whitehall or West Cheam manor house as its original home. The manor house was demol­ished in 1796. At the 1801 census, the 616 inhab­i­tants were concen­trated in three clusters: around Whitehall, around the church and on the High Street. On the north side of the parish, Cheam Common was enclosed by 1810.

When Cheam station opened in 1847, it had at first little effect on the character of the village. St Dunstan’s was rebuilt in 1864 but the chancel of the medieval church was preserved as the Lumley chapel.

John Hacket (1592-1670) was an English churchman, ordained in 1618. In 1623, he was chaplain to King James I, and in 1624 John Williams (Welsh clergyman, political adviser to James, and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal 1621-25) gave Hacket the livings of St Andrew’s, Holborn, and of Cheam. Williams told Hacket that he intended Holborn for wealth, and Cheam for health.

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