Friday, 29 June 2018

Wondering where to find C19th prison records?

Lewisham Local History Archive Centre. Reference: A/03/44/9/1/4/51 (MC 1837)

Records of prisoners and prison staff are held in a number of different places, including The National Archives, prisons themselves and local history archives. There is no national register of prisoners. A good starting point is The National Archives research guide - 'Prisoners and prison staff'. Advice, links, tips on how to begin a search.

Another useful place to look is the website Prison History . The site contains information on 843 English prisons, lock ups and hulks used to confine those accused and convicted of crime between 1800 and 1899.

Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre Opening Times

Monday​*                 10am–12:45           2.15-4.45
                               Open for appointments only

Tuesday                 9.30am–12:45        2.15-5.45               
                               Drop in day (and appointments)

Wednesday            Closed​

Thursday                9.30am–12:45        2:15–5.45    
                               Drop in day (and appointments)

Friday*                   9.30am–12:45        2.15-4.45    
                               Open for appointments only

Saturday*               9.30am–12:45        2:15-4.45    
                               Open for appointments only some days

Sunday ​                 Closed

Enquiries/Appointments: *Please note that there is no counter service on these days for people who do not already have an appointment on that day. 

Contact us: or 020 8314 8501. Please email if you can, as it allows us time to give you a considered answer.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Exhibition at Lewisham Library - Suffrage Centenary

The year marks the centenary of women gaining the right to vote. The Representation of the People Act (1918) was passed after decades of struggle and gave some women over 30 the right to vote. This exhibition explores the suffrage struggle before 1914 with particular emphasis on local links. See  a specially commissioned photograph of the suffragette banner  of the Lewisham branch of the Women’s social and Political Union. Find out about how local women such as Rosa May Billinghurst (WSPU activist) and Florence Gadesden, Headmistress of Blackheath High School for Girls, and others made history. The exhibition comes with a guide which asks open ended questions to help you explore the exhibition. Contact the Local History and Archives Centre for a talk with the Local History Librarian or the Archivist. For more, follow us on Facebook for a series of postings which has been running through the year. There is plenty to find out about.

Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre │199-201 Lewisham High Street, Lewisham, London SE13 6LG │ │020 8314 8501 │
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Suffrage struggles and Blackheath

Blackheath has a long history of suffrage activity. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) lived at 113 Blackheath Park from 1852-1871. It was here he wrote his famous book On Liberty. He presented the first petition to Parliament for votes for women in 1866. This effectively launched the British Women’s Suffrage Campaign.

College for the Daughters of Gentlemen

Formerly 22a-26 Dartmouth Row, this is now Greyladies Gardens. The school was run by the Browning Sisters who were Robert Browning’s great aunts. Notable alumni include Millicent Garret Fawcett, President of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and her sister Elisabeth Garret Anderson –the first woman doctor in England. Emily Davies was a campaigner for women’s education. She founded Girton College Cambridge. Millicent Fawcett is honoured by a Gillian Wearing created statue in Parliament Square.

Blackheath Halls

Built in 1895-6, the building hosted a WSPU public meeting in October 1909 which ended in uproar.
Apart from the Heath, other meeting places included 72 Tranquil Vale, now Le Bouchon wine shop, which was a WSPU shop. No.7 the village as Jobbins tea rooms where both suffragists and suffragettes met.  No.5 the village (now Shepherds Foods & Winkworths estate agents) was the Ladies Reading Room.

Blackheath High School for Girls

Florence Marie Armoid Gadesden [Gadsden] headmistress of Blackheath High School and suffragist was born in Paris on 15 May 1853. An ardent suffragist, she was headmistress from 1880-1919. She ran the Ladies Reading Room and was an ardent campaigner not only for women’s suffrage but education. She lived at 3 The Orchard, just around the corner from militant suffragette Rosa May Billinghurst. There is so much to say about Rosa May Billinghurst, so she will feature in another blog posting.

Red House debates

On 11 July 1913 there was a suffrage debate at Blackheath in the garden of Red House, Dartmouth Grove at the home of Mrs Duckham. It was organised by the Blackheath branch of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage (non-militant). Mrs Duckham was the branch secretary and often held meetings in her home, now Dartmouth Court. 150 people attended the meeting on this occasion.

Emily Wilding Davison

Emily Wilding Davison is probably the most famous British suffragette. Born in Blackheath at 13 Vanbrugh Park West, Emily was a very militant member of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). She was arrested nine times, went on hunger strike seven times and was force fed on forty-nine occasions. She died after being hit by King George V's horse Anmer at the 1913 Epsom Derby when she walked onto the track during the race. Suicide or accident?

Suffrage pilgrims

On 1 September 1913, the Suffrage Pilgrims arrived at Lee Green. They were marching from Kent to London as part of a national, multi-route suffrage pilgrimage. They were met by the Blackheath branch of the London Society of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. There was an open air meeting at Whitfield Mount, a regular rallying ground of many popular campaigns over the years. The story of the Great Pilgrimage for women’s suffrage is told in detail by Jane Robinson in the book Hearts and Minds (available for loan in Lewisham libraries). The book does not include this particular incident but the event is also highlighted in the Suffrage Centenary exhibition organised by the Local History and Archives Centre (LHAC), 2nd Floor, Lewisham Library, Lewisham High Street.

Kentish Mercury September 1913

Subject files in Lewisham Local History and Archive Centre

Subject files 
The Local History and Archives Centre has a cuttings and subject files  on a range of topics of local interest from the Deptford Dockyard to Goldsmiths College to the Suffragettes. To view, please

Who killed Christopher Marlowe?

Playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe was knifed to death after leaving a house (not a public as is sometimes reported) in 1593 in Deptford. The circumstances were shady. Days earlier a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Was he a spy? He was buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of St Nicholas Deptford. A later plaque in his honour can be seen in the churchyard wall. Lewisham libraries has several books on Marlowe if you want to take things further.