Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …
Cheam was first recorded as Ceg(e)ham in Anglo-Saxon charters of 727 and 967, and as Ceiham in the Domesday Book of 1086, the name meaning, in Old English, the homestead or small settlement (ham) by the tree stumps (ceg). In the later Medieval period, the manor was divided into East Cheam (Estcheiham) and West Cheam (Westcheiham). Also at this time, Cheam became an important centre for pottery production, the local clay being well suited to this use. The area remained at least semi-rural throughout much of its history, only really becoming genteelly suburbanised in the Edwardian era of the early twentieth century. Cheam is part of the London Borough of Sutton.
A number of houses from the past village are still in existence in the centre of the present town, including the essentially sixteenth-century Whitehall, which is open to the public.
Church of St Dunstan
The old church of St Dunstan was originally built in the Saxon period, extended in the later Medieval, and converted into a memorial chapel for members of the Lumley family in the post-Medieval. It was subsequently remodelled in the eighteenth century, and substantially demolished in the nineteenth (when a new church was built on an immediately adjoining site).
The surviving Lumley Chapel contains many fine memorials, including those to John Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley (d. 1609) and his wives Jane (nee Fitzalan) (d. 1579) and Elizabeth (nee Darcy) (d. 1617).
Incidentally, the aforementioned John Lumley inherited the now-sadly-lost nearby Nonsuch Palace from his first wife Jane’s father Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel, in 1580 (FitzAlan having bought it from Queen Mary in 1556). He remitted possession of the Palace to Queen Elizabeth I in 1592, but was allowed to continue to live there, with his second wife Elizabeth, as Keeper.
Nonsuch Palace was originally built – although not entirely completed – by Henry VIII between 1538-41, as an English Renaissance rival to Francis I of France’s Chateau de Chambord, begun in 1519. It was eventually demolished by Charles II’s mistress Barbara, Countess of Castlemaine, in 1682-83 – the proceeds of the sale of salvaged building materials used by her to settle her gambling debts!