Eden Park.

Until the Edens came to Beckenham in about 1782, the area was called Bure Gates. Old maps show a cluster of buildings situated just below Beckenham's highest point of 175 ft, now the Crossways and Village Way traffic lights.

When Peter Burrell died in 1820 there were 34 years of the lease remaining. It is likely that the lease had been taken out for some 72 years from 1782. William and Eleanor Elliott had married in 1776 and by 1782 they had four daughters and a baby son born earlier in the year. Their 4th daughter Caroline had been born in Ireland in 1781 when William was the Chief Secretary. He resigned that appointment in 1782. Time was ripe for the increasing family to have a home of their own and letters written by William in the summer of 1782 show that this was to be in Beckenham. Then in August 1784, their second son George was born at Eden farm and baptised at the parish church of St George’s in Beckenham.

William was spending his time haymaking and working in the fields with his hired day labourers It was a particularly bad season and William wrote to Lord Loughborough in a letter from Beckenham on 8th August 1782 as follows: “My pastures are wet and poked full of holes by the horses, our Guinea chickens are dying of ague, pears and apples are dropping in cartloads, and the melons are rotten instead of ripe. I am wet up to the knees six times a day and cannot get the 6th part of the day’s work out of my day labourers. ”

Exactly where they lived at this time is not clear. It is generally thought to be at the farm buildings shown in the 1838 tithe map close to the mansion site. Certainly by 1790 William was paying window tax for 74 windows. The mansion shown in subsequent pictures of the Eden farm must have been in existence by 1790. William was also paying hair powder duty at Eden farm in 1795 on behalf of the American nurse Hannah De Grave and the housekeeper Mrs Gibson.

The name Eden Farm was regularly used from 18th September 1794, because " we were obliged to give a name to our place to avoid a new penny post, which goes to the Beckenham village."

William had continued to accept appointments in Europe and his wife and family always accompanied him. Henry was born in Paris in 1786 when his father was envoy to the court at Versailles. Mary Louisa was their “nice little senorita” born in 1788 when William was Ambassador to Spain. Charles arrived in The Hague in 1791 when William, now Lord Auckland, was appointed Ambassador to Holland.

William Eden as First Lord Auckland had no more overseas appointments from 1793 but became the confidential adviser of Mr. William Pitt the Younger for seven years. He was appointed the Postmaster-General in 1798 the year in which he lost a second son, Charles, buried at St George’s age seven, Henry having died of a fever in 1794. By 1800, William and Eleanor had produced 14 children, six sons and eight daughters although only four of their boys were alive with worse to follow. After a year as President of the Board of Trade, William retired in 1807.

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