Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Conduit Head, Eltham

A Scheduled Monument in Eltham South, Greenwich

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Latitude: 51.4486 / 51°26'54"N

Longitude: 0.0651 / 0°3'54"E

OS Eastings: 543597.452479

OS Northings: 174202.24078

OS Grid: TQ435742

Mapcode National: GBR NM.H2P

Mapcode Global: VHHNR.2VRC

Entry Name: Conduit Head, Eltham

Scheduled Date: 20 September 1956

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005550

English Heritage Legacy ID: LO 48

County: Greenwich

Electoral Ward/Division: Eltham South

Built-Up Area: Greenwich

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Eltham Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Southwark


Eltham Palace conduit head, 52m north-east of Holy Trinity church.

Source: Historic England


This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records. This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 24 March 2015.

The monument includes a 16th century conduit head surviving as upstanding and below-ground remains. It is situated on a gentle south-facing slope adjacent to Holy Trinity Church in Avery Hill Park.

The conduit head is a red-brick structure with a sunken four-centred arch opening forming the entrance to a chamber with a pointed barrel vault. The brickwork has been patched and buttressed in places. The interior of the main chamber includes three arched openings in the west wall and two in the east wall. One of these leads along a vaulted passage to a square chamber with a low brick dividing wall forming a tank. The conduit head contained a sluice and tank to control the flow of water from springs to Eltham Palace via a pipe under the moat.

The upstanding remains of the conduit head are listed at Grade II.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The provision of clean water has been seen as a public responsibility since early times. The earliest water-supply systems in Britain were built during the Roman period. Aqueducts supplied civil and military centres from wells, springs and impounded sources. Medieval water systems were constructed for monasteries as early as the twelfth century, and similar conduit systems were built for some medieval towns. Early supplies depended on gravitational flow from a spring to a conduit head. Conduits were pipes or channels used to convey and transport the water. Where a head of water was brought up to the surface it was accessed through a conduit head. Some conduits, such as that at Exeter in the 14th and 15th centuries, were laid underground, whilst others, such as Wells, ran in the street.

Despite some later repair work and alterations, Eltham Palace conduit head survives well. It formed a significant part of the water supply system to Eltham Palace and provides an insight into 16th century construction techniques and engineering. As a monument accessible to the public it provides a useful educational and recreational resource, which is of historical interest for its association with the Royal Palace.

Source: Historic England


NMR TQ47SW47. PastScape 1463808. LBS 396506

Source: Historic England

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