If you are planning a visit to Whitehall why not include a walk around Cheam village and look at some of the other historic buildings on this Heritage Walk which was originally devised by Patricia Jackson, with the assistance of Sutton Heritage Service and local residents both past and present. The walk takes approximately one hour. Please respect the privacy of residents in houses listed on this page. A more detailed guide to the Cheam Heritage Walk is available from Whitehall.
Cheam still retains some of its village atmosphere and, in spite of the ever-increasing traffic, those who live, work or visit there still refer to the central are as Cheam village. Although the handsome appearance of Whitehall cannot fail to impress, anyone passing through Cheam by car or bus may notice chiefly the now mellowed mock-Tudor buildings of the 1920s and 1930s. Many of the buildings are listed as of historical and architectural interest, and Cheam Village was designated a conservation area in 1970. The visitor who takes time to look will discover a rich historical background and a wide variety of building styles.
Cheam was one of the Saxon settlements which developed along the Thanet sand belt between the chalk downs to the south and the London clay to the north. Early man settled here because water could easily be obtained from wells along this spring-line. Cheam, in a variety of spellings including Cheyham and Keyham, was held by the Abbot and Convent of Chertsey, but was transferred to Christ Church, Canterbury, and was then divided into easyt and west Cheam manors. The Domesday Survey of 1086 indicates that about 300 people lived in Cheam at that time.
Farming and allied activities dominated the local economy for many years. The building of Nonsuch Palace begun by Henry VIII in 1538, and later the presence of Cheam School, must have played an important part in Cheam life. The railway came to Cheam in 1847 and piped water in 1863. In the 1920s and 1930s much of the old village centre was redeveloped and building began on the fields surrounding it.
The walk begins and ends at Whitehall where you can take some refreshments in the tea room.
Malden Road Cottages. The detached house next to Whitehall, No. 3 Malden road (now called Nonsuch Cottage), was built in the seventeenth century. The fine door surround and hood may have been added in the eighteenth century when the house was first weather-boarded. At the rear of No. 5 there was a concealed underground room which was once used for food storage as part of the Whitehall property.
The Old Rectory. The late sixteenth century core of the building was remodelled in the Stuart or Queen Anne period. The south-west corner is timber-framed with a covering of mathematical or simulated brick tiles, which were renewed in recent years and are now mellowed to match the brickwork of the rest of the house. Five out of six rectors of Cheam in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries became bishops, because of their connections with the Court and Nonsuch Palace. In 1638 the Patronage of Cheam (the right to appoint the rector) was acquired by St. John’s College, Oxford, in whose gift it still remains. The building was the home of the Rector of St. Dunstan’s Church until the late 1990s.
Broadway Cottages. Walk back along the Malden Road, past Whitehall until you come to Broadway Cottages. This terrace of shops, nearest to Whitehall, is timber-framed and weather-boarded and was built in the seventeenth century as dwellings.
Site of White Lodge. On the east side of the pelican crossing, on the corner of The Broadway and Park Road, is the site of White Lodge. Built in 1740, the square white house was demolished in 1964, to make way for modern buildings. When the land behind the house was cleared following demolition, the remains of a complex of brick-lined vaults was found, dating from the late seventeenth century.
The Baptist Church. On the opposite corner of Malden Road and Park Road stands the Baptist Church. The foundation stone was laid on 29th May 1907 by Thomas Wall of Sutton, a local benefactor and creator of the Wall’s sausage and ice-cream empire. Another stone laid in 1923 is inscribed to Mrs. C. F. Bethell, of Cheam Park.
Site of West Cheam Manor House. Further along Malden Road is the site of the West Cheam Manor House, which stood between the present Malden Road, Church Road and Park Road, and was demolished in 1796. The site is now occupied by Cheam Library, which was opened in 1962, the design receiving a Civic Trust award. The famous Cheam School, which was known as the Manor House School on early Census returns and Ordnance Survey maps, may have been housed here before 1719 when it moved to the Tabor Court site. The War Memorial, pictured on the right in front of the library, was designed by the architect and local historian, Charles Marshall.
The Old Farmhouse. On the north side of Church Road stands The Old Farmhouse, formerly divided and known as Church Cottages. Restored and dated in 1973 the marks on timbers and the roof construction in the church end of the house confirmed this end of the house was constructed much earlier than previously thought, probably in 1450. The large Tudor chimney, now the centre of the house, having been added around 1550. The west end of the house is a 17th century addition. It was thought that the house had been used by the priest attached to St. Dunstan’s Church before the Reformation made a large family home necessary, but the current view is that it is difficult to prove any link to the church and the house is more likely to have been home to the rent collector for the Lumley family, and known as Home Farm. The name was changed to The Old Farmhouse recently when the property was changed back from Church Cottages to a single dwelling.
A wintry scene at The Old Farmhouse by photographer David Carter.
Lychgate and St. Dunstan’s Church. The neo-Gothic Lychgate built in 1891 leads to St. Dunstan’s Church. The parish church was built in 1864 from a design by F. E. Pownall with a stone exterior and an interior of red and black brick in the French Gothic style. The rose window at the west end contains scenes from the life of St. John the Baptist. The glass dates from 1872 and was made by Clayton and Bell. The lancet windows below depict scenes from the life of St. Dunstan, who lived from 909-988 AD. The spire is an important landmark in the village centre. The present church was built to the north of the former Saxon or Norman church which had been altered in the eighteenth century.
The Lumley Chapel. The chancel of this survives as The Lumley Chapel, the oldest building in Cheam. The chapel takes its name from John, Lord Lumley, who for a time owned Nonsuch Palace, and it contains the magnificent alabaster tombs of Lord Lumley and his first and second wives. The filled-in 13th century arch on the south side was a bay which once divided the aisle from the nane. The tombs together with its fine plaster ceiling and the memorials removed from the old church when it was pulled down, this makes the chapel a treasury of local history.
Church Farm House. In Springclose Lane is Church Farm House partly hidden behind a high wall and hedge. It may be seventeenth century in origin, but the building was altered considerably in succeeding centuries. Farmer Hales, who cultivated the extensive lands of Church Farm, lived here, the last farmer to do so. The large road bridge, which carried the by-pass over the railway and replaced the original brick bridge which gave access to the farmland, is still known as Hales Bridge.
Church Farm Lane,where a row of cottages are marked with their date of completion, 1881, leads to Love Lane, one of the old routes from Sutton to Cheam which went from St. Nicholas’ church in Sutton along what is now Camden and Western Roads to Love Lane, continued through Park Road (then known as Red Lion Street) down Park Lane (called Pudding Lane in medieval times) through Cheam and Nonsuch Parks to Ewell.
Site of Stafford House and Cheam Cottage. Along the south fork of Park Road is the site of Stafford House from which the nearby Stafford Close takes its name. This was a boys’ school (not the famous Cheam School) in the early nineteenth century, but had been built some years previously. Next door, at No. 38 Park Road, is Cheam Cottage, a seventeenth century building with later alterations. In the early eighteenth century it was the home Robert Sanxay, son of Dr. Daniel Sanxay, Headmaster of Cheam School until 1739, when his son, James succeeded him.
Red Lion Public House. At the fork of Park Road, the Red Lion public house is a seventeenth century building, renovated and altered at various times. A weather-boarded front was replaced with brick earlier this century, but the well-shaft to the right of the door is original.
The Parochial Rooms. Turning back into The Broadway, on the east side, past the site of White Lodge stands the Parochial Rooms, built to a design by the architect Sir Thomas Graham Jackson on land given by Spencer Wilde of Cheam House. A stone over the door, dated 1869, bears the words “Serve God and be Cheerful”. This was the motto of the Revd. John Hacket, Rector of St. Dunstan’s from 1624-62. His motto was incorporated into the arms of the former Borough of Sutton and Cheam, and is the motto of Nonsuch High School for Girls. The Parochial Rooms, which were restored some years ago with a grant from the London Borough of Sutton and the activities of local well-wishers, are administered by Trustees on behalf of the community.
Site of The Plough Inn and Cheam Brewery. The mock-Tudor 1920s and 1930s shops of The Broadway lead to the cross-roads. On the south-east corner of the cross-roads, now a grass enclosure, is the site of the Plough Inn, the local public house of the Cheam Brewery, which was opposite on the north-west corner. The present Harrow Inn, built in 1935, replaced one which is reputed to have been on the site for over four hundred years, and to have included a rival brewery at the back.
Site of Cheam School. On land between Dallas Road and Belmont Rise is the site of Cheam School. This famous private school was here from 1719 until 1935, when it moved to Headley near Newbury in Berkshire. It was founded in the mid-seventeenth century by the Revd. George Aldrich, who is reputed to have lived at Whitehall. Tabor Court flats which now occupy the ground were named after Robert and Arthur Tabor, father and son, who were successively Headmasters of the school, from 1856 until 1920, and the belfry on top of Tabor Court once formed part of the school buildings. The chapel of the school, now altered, survives as St. Christopher’s Catholic Church in Dallas Road. William Gilpin. headmaster of the school from 1752 to 1777, was an artist and critic whose theory of the picturesque in art led to his characterisation as Dr. Syntax in the satire by William Combe, with famous caricatures by Thomas Rowlandson. Material connected with Gilpin and Syntax may be viewed in Whitehall.
The Old Forge and The Railway Inn. Back along the High Street into Station Way, just before the bridge, is The Old Forge. A smithy was established here from 1860 by Moses Barnes and closed in 1926. The forge, one of several in Cheam, had previously been in the pit behind the Railway Inn, together with ten cottages which were occupied until 1936. The railway came to Cheam in 1847, and Cheam Station was one of three in the present Borough opened in that year.
Coldblow and the Site of the Century Cinema. Beyond the railway bridge, on the corner of Sandy Lane and Peaches Close is the tall house formerly called Coldblow which was built in 1889 for Edward Boniface the local brewer. The house has now been converted into flats. Back under the bridge past the Railway Inn, on the north corner of Kingsway Road where Century House now stands is the site of the Century Cinema. This was built in 1937 and closed in 1960, although part of the structure remained until 1990.
Site of Cheam Court Farm. Further along Station Way, on the south-west corner with Ewell Road is the site of Cheam Court Farm. The farmhouse, which was reputed to date from Tudor times, was demolished in 1929 The ground floor was made of brick, chalk and flint, with stucco-covered timber-framing above. Part of the building was demolished in 1845, to make an access road to the station. St. Alban’s Church, formerly known as Barn Church, in Gander Green Lane, was constructed of material’s from the barn and outbuildings of the Farm. The dairy business was bought by United Dairies in 1929 and continued nearby in Ewell Road until a few years ago, the Dairy Mansions have now been built on the site.
Cheam from the Crossroads.
Site of Cheam Brewery. On the opposite side of Ewell Road, on the corner of The Broadway, is the site of Cheam Brewery. The Brewery claimed to have been established for over 200 years when it ceased brewing a few years before it was demolished in 1921. From 1876, Edward Boniface who lived in nearby Coldblow, is recorded as the brewer. No doubt the brewer’s location had been determined by the plentiful supplies of pure water which were available.
Cheam Brewery from an early painting by artist Lady Limpus, daughter of Otho W. Travers, a Cheam resident in the Victorian era.
The Old Cottage. Built about 1500, the Old Cottage is on the west side of The Broadway, and is probably the surviving wing of a larger structure. The timber-framed jettied building formerly stood about halfway between the cross-roads and its present site, between Cheam Brewery and the walls of Cheam House estate. These were demolished for road widening and eventually this section of the old Malden Road was renamed The Broadway. The Old Cottage was dismantled, moved and re-assembled in its present position in 1922. The original infill of wattle and rye dough, covered with plaster, was replaced with concrete, and the building raised on a brick plinth. From the Old Cottage the road named Parkside, off The Broadway, was created on the site of Cheam House when it was demolished in 1922.
Site of Cheam Kiln 1 and Cheam Kiln 2. Parkside is also the site of Cheam Kiln 1. After the demolition of Cheam House, built for John Pybus in 1766, when houses were built in the new road, in April 1923, a medieval kiln and a large number of pottery fragments were found behind No. 5 Parkside. More pieces of Cheam pottery were found in the Nonsuch Palace excavation in 1959 and when Cheam Kiln 2 was excavated ten years later. There is a permanent display of Cheam pottery in Whitehall, where other fragments were found during the excavation of the back garden in 1978-1980.
The Lodge and Site of Cheam Park House. At the bottom of Parkside stands The Lodge to Cheam Park House and the entrance to Cheam Park. The Lodge has a pedimented porch and stuccoed walls and dates from about 1820. The site of Cheam Park House is in Cheam Park. Built in 1820 for Archdale Palmer, a London tea merchant. The house was situated on the left-hand side of the drive, just where it swings round to the stable yard, and was demolished in 1945 after a flying bomb had landed in the park. The House and Park were acquired by the Borough on the death of the last owner-occupier, Mrs. Bethell, in 1936, and for some time the area was known as Bethell Park.
Park Lane Cottages. Turning west from the Lodge up Park Lane, Park Lane Cottages form a picturesque group on one of the original routes through Cheam. At one time they formed part of the Cheam House estate. On the south side the brick cottages are mostly late eighteenth century and the timber cottages date from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Two former carpenter’s workshops built in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries may be seen at the top of the road.
Elizabeth House. On the north side of Park Lane, on land which formerly belonged to Whitehall, Elizabeth House was built as sheltered accommodation with its exterior covered with white plastic weather-boarding to match the surrounding timber-covered buildings. Just beyond Elizabeth House, towards the top of Park Lane, there is a fine view of Whitehall’s rear elevation featuring the modern Friends of Whitehall sundial on the sixteenth century staircase tower. Elizabeth House was demolished in 2015 and has since been rebuilt again matching the timber-covered buildins of the area.
This completes the Heritage walk.