Old Henry’s Game

Annie asks (over a year ago, now, ahem…)

I went to Greenwich Park Secondary School for Girls in the 1950s and for a period of time we had to walk down to a building in Peyton Place for our school dinners.  It was said that the building was previously a mortuary but I never found out if it was true. The downstairs room had a roaring fire and upstairs I am sure there was a dumb waiter. While walking up Royal Hill a couple of years ago the building happened to be open and appeared to have a workshop up and running in there.

I would really love to know the history of it.

The Phantom replies:

I think you mean Linear House, home of an art gallery these days, on the corner of Peyton Place and Royal Hill, the other side of the road to the old Borough Hall. I believe it dates from about 1830 and must have been a rather handsome workshop of some kind before someone tagged the ugly protrubrance on the front. That extension may be useful, but pretty it ain’t.

It has quite an odd history. Malcolm Godfrey, in Walking Ghostly Greenwich, claims that it goes along the old railway cutting leading to Greenwich Park station, rumoured to be filled in with stocks of leftover tickets after the trams stopped. It’s more or less in the right location but that if true that’s one big old hole to fill with bits of cardboard – either it’s an exaggeration, the tickets are joined with other stuff or someone back in the 1920s made a serious miscalculation on the office stationery budget.

The building was indeed a mortuary for a while, and just before it became a dining hall for your school, Annie – during  the second world war -when it acquired Henry, the naughty ghost.

He’s really what you might call a poltergeist, described as ‘playful but annoying,’ removing or damaging small items of electrical equipment, hiding stuff, and knocking pictures off walls.

He’s never been sighted (naturally) and I have no idea whether his presence has been felt since the major refurb to turn the place into an art space – it would be a bit of a bummer to have a picture-smashing phantom in an art gallery…

the attachments to this post:

linear house 2
linear house 2

linear house 1
linear house 1

4 Comments to “Old Henry’s Game”

  1. James Spinks says:

    I thought the Viewfinder gallery had migrated to Brixton some time ago? I let my membership lapse once they moved out of the Greenwich area.

  2. Ah yes, it now seems to be a ‘venue gallery’

  3. Helen Othen says:

    We have occupied this building since 1994, renovating the inside in 2005, amongst other work creating a photographic gallery in the ALREADY EXISTING ‘ugly protruberance’ on the front, thereby improving the original inner space immeasurably. We created The Viewfinder Gallery, later leasing it to an independent curator who finally moved away, taking the name. The gallery is now The Greenwich Gallery, featuring photographic exhibitions showing thought-provoking, theme-based, high quality work. See http://www.thegreenwichgallery.com.

    As far as our understanding goes, for a brief period during the war it was a mortuary, and then a ‘feeding station for the poor of Greenwich’ before becoming the canteen for the local school. We then rescued the decaying building, creating a photographic laboratory and studio in 1991.

    The lab closed in 2009, but the building is still home to creative businesses involved in photography and high quality digital processing.

  4. Cheers Helen – it’s alright – I don’t hold you personally responsible for the extension!!

    Didn’t know about the ‘feeding station for the poor’…

    Have you ever had any ghostly encounters?