W G Grace

By kind permission of John King, Author

The same day as the expiry of the ultimatum, an historic battle of another kind took place in Grove Park. It was a cricket match on a pitch at Durham Farm, Marvels Lane between Grove Park and Eltham, the latter team including the most celebrated player in the history of the game, Dr W G Grace who lived nearby in Mottingham Lane. It was Grace’s last match but that could not then be known and the event only merited a small paragraph in the local newspapers. Although the match was drawn, Grace scored the greatest number of runs at 69. The Grove Park team included the Vicar of St Augustine’s son, Cyril Luffman, Edward Tyler, the Master of the Workhouse in Marvels Lane, and some other members of the St Augustine’s Cricket Club.

The following Monday, 82 children of the Sunday School and Band of Hope of St Augustine’s went on their annual treat to the seaside, this year to Sandgate, the railway stopping a train at Grove Park to pick them up. The same day St Mildred’s Sunday School and Choir Boys went to Littlehampton, starting their journey at Lee Green by train to New Cross Gate station. On the Tuesday Austria declared war on Serbia. It was now almost impossible to stop the ‘lights going out’. On 31 July Russia, who supported Serbia, began to mobilise, while in Germany martial law was declared. On 1st August Germany declared war on Russia while her ally, France, gave the order to the military to mobilise. The following day German troops occupied Luxembourg and patrols crossed the French frontier.

Nearer Grove Park, on 3rd August, a Bank Holiday, the annual Lewisham Horse Show took place, this year in a large meadow on Walter Wood’s Horn Park Farm, in Eltham Road, Lee. The southern end of the farm adjoined Melrose Farm in Winn Road. The international situation was certainly appreciated by Sir Edward Coates who spoke ‘very gravely’ about it. As if to reinforce the point, the usual military participants were absent, having been mobilised, while the drop in takings was attributed by the Lee Journal to the war cloud. That same weekend, it was observed that the military were purchasing horses from stables in Lee High Road.

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