Another in the occasional series on “Far Flung Lost London”
Lewisham was first recorded in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 918 as Lievesham, meaning, in Old English, homestead or hamlet of Leofsa. That same year, the manor was given by Elfrida, the daughter or niece (sources differ) of Alfred the Great to the abbey of St Peter at Ghent. Lewisham was to remain a semi-rural settlement surrounded by farms and fields throughout the later Medieval and post-Medieval periods. It only began to be more extensively developed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when a number of fashionable mansions were built among the existing farmhouses. (Sub)urbanisation began after the arrival of the railway in the middle part of the nineteenth century.
The church of St Mary was originally built in or before 918, and subsequently rebuilt between 1471-1512. It was substantially rebuilt again between 1774-7, and yet again, after a fire, in 1830, and extended in 1881. The tower of the late Medieval church still survives, and is the oldest structure in Lewisham. The vicarage dates to 1692-3.