Above: The exterior of the private house, photographed from Croom’s Hill.
One of the oldest – and certainly one of the most interesting – thoroughfares in Greenwich is Croom’s Hill. At one time it would have been a steep, narrow track leading from Blackheath down to the village of Greenwich. With time, it has become a roadway but, near the top, it is still quite a climb. Croom’s Hill is lined with historic residences, with even more in some of the side roads. Of particular interest is a large house now called The Grange which is on the west side of Croom’s Hill, about half-way up.
The Grange is the oldest house on Croom’s Hill dating from very early times and its history is relatively well documented. In the house are eighteen-inch (0.34 m) thick timbers dating from the 12th century. In 1281 it was called ‘Paternoster Croft’ – specifically mentioned in the Abbey of Ghent’s list of properties in Greenwich, to which the manor of Greenwich then belonged. The house is said to have been restored in 1268. At a later date, it was known as ‘Grove House’. Edmund Chapman, chief joiner to Queen Elizabeth leased it from 1561 until 1568. The house then became the residence of the Lanier family of musicians.
The Grange was purchased in 1665 by Sir William Hooker. In 1666 he was one of the two Sheriffs of the City of London (with Sir Robert Hanson). In 1673 he was elected Lord Mayor of the City of London. Hooker was responsible for the Gazebo being constructed in the garden. It is known that he lived on Croom’s Hill in considerable style with his wife, Lettice, son and three daughters. Hooker lived there until his death in 1697, when he was buried in his vault at the church of St Alfege and a handsome monument was placed in the south aisle. It is of white marble surmounted by a figure dressed in Alderman’s robes. Hooker’s son – William (Junior) – continued in residence until 1713. Alterations were made to the house in the 18th century.
The Grade II listed house, with its elegant Gazebo in the garden, stands on the west side of Croom’s Hill at No 52. With Greenwich Park on the opposite side of the road, it is likely that the upper rooms in the house have fine views towards the extensive lawns. The house is a private residence and not open to the public.
Above: The Gazebo built into the retaining wall of the garden that stands beside the pavement of Croom’s Hill.
The Grange has a large level lawn, extending to the retaining wall beside the pavement of Croom’s Hill. Because the property stands on sloping ground, the lawn beside Croom’s Hill is higher than the pavement level. In 1672 Sir William Hooker had a red brick Gazebo built onto the retaining wall. It was probably designed by Robert Hooke and is perched on the wall but accessible from the level lawn within the garden. The Gazebo has a pyramidal tiled roof with oval wood finial. It was restored in 1959. The SW wall has an open round arch which once contained detached Roman Doric columns. There is no public access to the Gazebo, which is Grade II listed. However, it is possible to see the building because it is beside the pavement of Croom’s Hill.