Kent House.

In February 1957 yet another old and historic building of the Village days was demolished - KENT HOUSE, which stood in Kent House Road not far from its junction with Lennard Road - thus breaking the final link of over 700 years. The building got its name from being close to the County boundary, the first house in Kent coming from the London area.

in 1910, the year of his death at the age of 46, gave us such historical facts as were then available to him. Members of the Beckenham Branch of the Historical Association, after intensive research in the County Archives, reveal that this house was the oldest house in Kent of which we have definite knowledge; its history has been traced back to 1240 when it was owned by St. Catherine's Hospital.

A document dated 1503 was also found relating to a petition to Henry VIII, following a murder trial, in which John Style, of Langley, was acquitted; the scene of the alleged crime was Kent House.

In the 17th century the Lethieulliers, descendants of Sir John Ie Thieullier (the name appears to have been altered in the following generations), Sheriff of London, occupied this house.

In 1776 it was sold to Thomas Lucas, of Lee, and in 1784 it passed, through marriage, to John Julius Angerstein, he being a rich merchant of Charlton.

Julius Angerstein was a member of Lloyds in the Coffee House days and initiated the move to the Royal Exchange. An oil painting of him by Lawrence now hangs in the new Lloyds Building in Lime Street, and in the Nelson Room there, are copies of letters between Angerstein and Nelson.

It was while staying with the Lethieulliers in 1694 that Anthony Rawlins, a wealthy London merchant, died and in his will left £50 for the use of the Poor, which sum was used, as Borrowman recalls - "in building a house with three distinct rooms, all under one roof, for the lodging and housing of the poor of this Parish". These are, of course, the Almshouses adjoining the Parish Church which are still administered by the Beckenham Parochial Charity, having been altered and enlarged from time to time.

Thomas Randall, one of the Parish Churchwardens in 1766, and whose name appears on the old treble bell, died there in 1806, after which the property passed to James Randall and was then used as a farm known as Kent House Farm.

In his diary of 13th December 1665 Samuel Pepys refers to the Lethieullier family, and it may well be that he, being a friend, visited them at Kent House.

Thackeray certainly was a visitor and it has been conjectured that it was to have been this house in which the hero and heroine of Thackeray's unfinished novel 'Denis Duval' were to have resided when they married, for among the notes left by its author is one giving a description of a villa at Beckenham which might well be Kent House.

In a 'Morning Post' issue of 1815 the property was advertised as having Common Rights on Penge Common. It was still a farm in 1878 but in later years the premises were used as a Nursing Home and as a Private Hotel.

Now, on the site of the ancient building, we have a block of residential houses and flats.
 

 

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