Archive for December, 2011

Christmas Greetings

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Fourth in a short series of turn-of-the-20th-Century Greenwich Christmas postcards from the Phantom Collection.

I’ve chosen this one as my Actual The Day card because it amuses me that it’s just a bog-standard postcard that’s had a greeting hurriedly plonked on it, presumably by some local printer to meet the Christmas rush. I know the feeling…

I’ll not be around much (if at all) for the next week or so, so for now, have a happy one, folks…

Snowy Greenwich Park Lodge

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Third in a series of turn-of-the 20th-century Greenwich Christmas postcards.

Today’s I know very little about, as it’s another one that was never sent and thus has no postmark. It’s not a rare one – it was clearly a popular choice in Edwardian times – but, like yesteday’s mysterious tree in Greenwich Park, the whimsical, Tudor-like style of the lodge makes it look fabulously old.

Happy Christmas Eve, guys.

Advent Windows 24

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

The Grand Finale!  At St Alfege Church, of course…

5pm: Christingle

1045: Choir Carols

1130: Midnight Mass

Everyone is welcome


Snow Scene, Greenwich Park

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Second in my turn-of-the-20th-Century Christmas postcards series.

This is one of my favourite photos of Greenwich park – there is something mysterious and still about it – almost Narnia-esque. It was presumably taken before the gates were opened to hoards of small boys in knickerbockers carrying tin trays and I find it magical (I can’t work out whether that’s in spite of or because without the label, it could be pretty much anywhere.)

The message is pretty bog-standard, addressed to a Miss J. Homeock in Swindon.

With love to Joan from Mrs J and Mollie.

It’s postmarked 5.00pm, 7th November 1919, but I suspect the postcard is a good 20 years older than that.

Advent Windows 23

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

At 58 Royal Hill, SE10 8RT  An End to Barriers will open at 7.00pm

Berlin 1989-A dance in Freedom’ Multi-media illuminated silhouette.

Entertainment and hospitality with the coming together of ‘Sing the Windows’

We Will Have Snowballs…

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

First of a short series of turn-of-the-20th-Century Greenwich Christmas cards from the Phantom Collection today.

This is not a rare shot – there are quite a few of these postcards around – and often have the exact same scene in the snow by night, with an eerie moon but it’s rare that it’s in colour – and unique, now that it has actually been used.

In case you can’t read the writing, it intriguingly says

Wait until Xmas, Pat. We will have snowballs here, when you come. Hurry up. Dickie.

On the back it is addressed to a Miss Shalf in Walsall, Staffs and postmarked 8.00pm , 6th December 1903.

Who were Pat and Dickie? Long-distance sweethearts? Brother and Sister? Cousins? Neighbours? Friends?

I guess we’ll never know, though sadly Pat could have taken her time after all. Christmas 1903 was just bloomin’ wet. Dickie would have had to have waited for another three years for his snowball fight, but he would have had a beezer of a time then. Boxing Day 1906 saw heavy snow in London…

I had my first snowball ever last Saturday when I confessed to pals at a party that when I was a kid in the 70s all the adults drank them but I was too young and was never allowed to try them.

My pals, shocked, suddenly switched to retro-ville, dug around the back of the cocktail cabinet for a crusty old bottle of advocaat and we all went back to 1976. If you’ve never tried one, it’s not nearly as disgusting as people might make you think. Actually, I’ve become quite addicted to them this Christmas…


2 measures Warninks Advocaat (I’m told to avoid cheap own-brand versions)

1/4 measure of Lime Cordial

Top up with Lemonade.


Serve in the cheesiest Hi-Ball glass you own with a maraschino cherry. Mmmm

Season’s Greetings – But Which Season?

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Amazingly, Jeremy took this photo TODAY (anyone looking in the archives in future – that’s 22nd December 2011) in the Observatory Gardens.

Well, I guess the days are growing longer now…

Happy Easter Christmas Folks!


Advent Windows 22

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Go to 30 Crooms Hill, SE10 8ER at 7pm this evening to see Park Life unveiled.

A celebration of Greenwich Park as experienced and enjoyed throughout its long history, using graphics, silhouettes, toy theatre and digital images to explore the value of sharing a beautiful open space.

Refreshments will be available in exchange for donations to the church Restoration Appeal.


Tom Potter

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

The last time I promised a week of Greenwich ghosts, back in October, I went down with some terrible affliction, so I’m promising no such thing this time. But even more traditionally than Halloween, Christmas is the time for ghost stories so I am risking further curses and tentatively continuing with the series I’ve been doing with local illustrator Aliyahgator.

I’m now going to disappoint Dennis and tell him that unless I get inspired in the next 48 hours there’s not going to be a new ghost story from me this year (soz – I fully intended to, then forgot…) If you want a modern Greenwich horror story there’s one about a goddess and a deer in Greenwich Park in one of the One Eye Grey publications – I’m sure Chris Roberts (no – not that one…) will enlighten us as to which one; I don’t seem to be able to find my collection.

No – today we have a rarity – a ghost with a name, seen on an actual date – 8th September, 1866, though he only manifested the once. Even more, I may have even found him. Then again, I might not…

The story is centred around St Mary’s Lodge in Crooms Hill. Now unless there’s another St Mary’s Lodge in Crooms Hill, the only one I know of is the sweet little Nash building that currently houses the Cow and Coffee Bean Cafe at the St Mary’s entrance to the park (named, in case you’re wondering, for the long-gone St Mary’s Church, which stood pretty much where King Billy flourishes his scroll these days (Ooh-er, Missus.)

According to legend a young sailor, Tom Potter, arrived on the doorstep of the lodge asking to see his mother who used to work as a maid but who was no longer there. The new housemaid sent him away, but the mistress of the house was curious. On looking into the story, she discovered Tom had died in Jamaica two days before he’d knocked on the door. Ooooooh, Shiver…

Thing is, to me this story feels a bit odd. Hasn’t anyone looked at the size of the lodge? It’s teeny. There might just about be enough room for the ‘mistress of the house’ – but why would anyone who could afford servants live in a place the size of a large garden shed?

I guess it could just be the one servant and ‘the mistress of the house’ a single old woman. So okay, we’ll leave that for the moment.

I made a cursory check of the 1861 census, five years earlier (sorry, the very unfriendly rules and regs of the horrible-and-expensive-to-use Family History website who I will not name as they don’t deserve the publicity, don’t let me reproduce it) and actually found a Thomas Potter, who at the time was 11 and lived in Crooms Hill. Brilliant bit of research, TGP! Yeah! That would have made him 16 when he died – a good age for a Victorian sailor boy. Fantastic! You got it!

But hang on. There’s also an George Potter, also aged 7 and a Wilson Potter, aged 5, both, like Tom,born in Middlesex.


They are listed with 24 other kids in what is clearly an orphanage in Crooms Hill. The horrid family history website I used didn’t let me look at the pages either side (even though I’d paid, gnassh, gnassh - bah…) so I couldn’t see the Crooms Hill entry in its entirety. Perhaps some nice person can tell me where the Crooms Hill Orphanage was. ‘Cause there is no bloomin’ way you’d fit 25 children and their ‘carers’ in St Mary’s Lodge.  And hang  on – aren’t ‘orphans’, by default, um, motherless?

So even if Tom’s mother had died a year before they ended up in Oliver Twist-ville, he’d have known all about it before he went to sea, so why would he knock on the door of St Mary’s Lodge in 1866 looking for her?

I guess he had been dead two days. None of us are  at our best at that time in our lives…

Advent Windows 21

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

See a window display of a personalised gate called Home is where… at 34 Coltman House, SE10 9DW from 6pm