This street guide contains streets from all over the London Borough of Greenwich and they are based on the Borough’s conservation area guides.
The name Ashburnham derives from the Ashburnham family who owned and developed much of the Ashburnham Triangle Conservation Area in the early and mid 19th century.
The Travers map of 1695 shows a street on the exact line of Ashburnham Place. The age of this street is confirmed by the other maps. Only one building is marked on the 1695 map – a ‘Hospital’. This is the 1575 Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital (also known as Almshouses or College). It was rebuilt in 1819.
At 94 Greenwich High Road, at the end of Ashburnham Place, was the “Cage” – the parish lock up.
Development within the Ashburnham triangle is mainly residential and commenced about 1830 – with the main building phase diminishing after 1870.
ASHRIDGE CRESCENT (1930s)
The John Laing and Son Shrewsbury Park Estate. The John Laing and Son Company was one of the best high quality volume house builders of the 1930s and paid special attention to all aspects of both building quality and estate development. Their general approach is described in “Dunroamin; the suburban semi and its enemies” (Paul Oliver et al., Barrie and Jenkins 1981). Laing’s were the most comprehensive developers of their time – looking at layout, planting, and eventually including shops and industrial areas on some of their estates. “They laid out the roads, in some cases naming them as well as landscaping the grass verges”; “each garden was provided with its own fruit tree out of Laing’s nurseries”(p101). “The particular characteristics of Laing Estates were variety, extensive planting and sensitive road layouts, designed to preserve landmarks or trees. He wanted moderation, simplicity no falseness, so there was a particular aversion to the use of half timbering on his homes” (p 102).
In Shrewsbury Park, the houses were laid out in generous plots and the vegetation has matured over the years to provide a very attractive setting. If the subject matter of architectural history is confined to advances in architecture, it is possible to argue that the architectural quality of the houses is unremarkable. But this would overlook some stylish innovation here.
This was built on the western Priory Field.
Batley Green has early origins as a village green. During the 18th century it was known as Sheepgate Green and formed the intersection of four major roads: what we now know as Charlton Road, Westcombe Hill, Old Dover Road and Stratheden Road.
The 19th century maps show a green criss-crossed with paths, with a large pond in the centre. Around 1885 William Fox Batley, a local philanthropist had the green refurbished, trees planted, railings erected and public lavatories installed. Hence it became known as Batley Green.
BEACONSFIELD ROAD (1880s)
Beaconsfield Road comprises a disparate assortment of late Victorian, Edwardian, interwar and post-war buildings. There are two buildings surviving from the early 1880s; three other large detached Victorian villas were lost to the post-war housing development known as Beaconsfield Close. It is assumed that the road was named after Benjamin Disraeli, first Earl of Beaconsfield (1804-1881).
Bennett Park has a decidedly urban flavour, with three storey closely spaced villas in pairs, in yellow stock brick whose verticality is emphasised by double height bays and tall windows. It was developed speculatively over two decades from 1861 on a plot severed by the railway in 1849.
Blackheath Park, the main east-west route, is a long and broad avenue that was built piecemeal after 1812. With Lee Road it has the most important sequence of historic buildings in the conservation area. Like other principal roads on the estate, Blackheath Park has a spacious, airy character that persists, notwithstanding the courtyard developments tucked in amongst the bigger houses. Large nineteenth century houses survive, some divided into flats or converted to institutional use (The Gables). Interspersed with these larger houses is the post-war courtyard housing, started by Span and continued through to the 1980s.
Blackheath Park Conservation Area covers an area that was the southern and larger part of a rural estate bordering the Heath. Wricklemarsh House was built here in 1724. It was dismantled in 1787 by John Cator and development under leaseholds began in earnest from about 1820 in response to demand for suburban housing in and close to Blackheath Village. By the end of the nineteenth century, most of the land was being occupied, and included street frontage homes and small mansions with grounds. In the twentieth century, many of the grounds were turned over to smaller scale housing, and a few earlier properties were demolished in the process.
Development on Blackheath Road has evolved gradually since 1575 and is varied and organic. Surviving buildings here date from the first years of the 18th century.
In 1838, there were three fields – a western field, a northern one and a southern one. These three fields were developed separately, and became three separate non-interconnecting character areas.
To the north, on the site of what became the Fire Station (now converted to flats) was the 18th century Eastcombe House set in wooded and landscaped grounds with a lake. A few other houses existed on Charlton Road well set into its wooded landscape.
The first development was along Old Dover Road. Two pairs of semi-detached villas with side entrance porches were constructed, probably in the early 1840s and in 1847 the British Oak.
The 1867 OS map shows the western and northern fields surviving undeveloped but the southern field, fronting onto the Old Dover Road was now developed into four streets. The British Oak Public House appears as the most significant building on the Old Dover Road frontage. Three streets run at right angles north from Old Dover Road: Russell Place (now Reynolds Place), Bowater Place, and Bedford
Place (now Sunfields Place). Bowater Terrace (now Lizban Street) runs behind them.
The houses in Bradyll Street were all designed by George Smith, Surveyor to Morden College in the 1850s. The two-storey brick cottages remain relatively unaltered.
The 1847 British Oak, 109 Old Dover Road. This is an interesting 1847 public house constructed on 3 storeys of yellow stocks. It has a rendered and painted parapet and a projecting cast iron balcony. The British Oak is designed in restrained classical style with parapet front and sides. Externally it retains much traditional character including a plinth of engineering bricks, original windows, and 19th century possibly original fascia boards. It has delicate chamfered corners and a matching expressed central bay. The main façade has a late 19th century full-width first floor canopied balcony supported on four cast iron simple classical Doric columns.
On the north side of Vanbrugh Park is Broadbridge Close, built in 1952 as a part of Morden College. It is a tightly enclosed crescent of arts and crafts-styled houses sealed off behind stout wooden gates.
Brooklands Park provided access from Blackheath Park to Brooklands House and thence to Elmsdale via a narrow bridge over the Lower Kid Brook, which has one parapet surviving. With development it acquired a clear 1930s character marked by a fine specimen tree. The setback of later development behind established vegetation on the west side allows the 1930s character to remain.
In the 1930s economic circumstances and lease expiries led to major change in the south of the conservation area. Foxes Dale, Brookway, Meadowbank and Parkgate date from this period and, together with Manor Way, are laid out with two to three storey detached and semidetached houses on long garden plots.
Built by a number of different builders in small numbers, the houses followed a common model characterised by two storey brick construction, plain-tiled roofs and chimneys, with significant front gardens and long rear gardens.
Brookway follows the course of the Lower Kid Brook culverted underneath it, and the visual link to the Brooklands pond is significant. The frying-pan section marks the eastern extent of the Wicklemarsh south water, and rear gardens towards Foxes Dale are two to three metres below ground floor level. Brookway has mostly semi-detached houses of the conventional appearance of the period.
Development within the Ashburnham triangle is mainly residential and commenced about 1830 – with the main building phase diminishing after 1870.
Carradoc Street was built between 1834 and 1839, and the two-storey brick cottages with some stucco facing are mostly unaltered. These cottages represent a simple vernacular that was once common in Greenwich.
Development within the Ashburnham triangle is mainly residential and commenced about 1830 – with the main building phase diminishing after 1870.
The only public open space in the area is a pocket park in Catherine Grove.
The Cator Estate has a discernable hierarchy of roads. The principal east-west spine is the wide succession of straights which make up the gently curved path of Blackheath Park itself, which is paralleled to the south by Manor Way. Brooklands Park and Foxes Dale connect these treelined roads, with Morden Road and Pond Road being the principal approaches from the north. The junction of Blackheath Park, Pond Road and Foxes Dale is the historic heart of the estate, being the site of the former Wricklemarsh House. St Michael and All Angels’ Church marks its position in distant views.
Later roads such as Parkgate and Brookway lead off the main avenues, and in turn are joined by an array of culde-sacs and courts, many tucked behind the main frontages.
Despite the verdant character of the Cator Estate there is surprisingly little public open space. The pond and grassy areas around the Casterbridge Road flats are the largest private amenity space. The Lower Kid Brook, feeding the Brooklands Pond and still unculverted between Foxes Dale and Lee Road, runs east-west across the southern part of the conservation area.
Lee Road is a fairly busy thoroughfare, leading up to the Village and beyond it Shooters Hill.
Charlton village is an ancient settlement with Saxon and Roman origins referred to in the Domesday Book of 1086 and retaining a real village identity with a parish church, manor house, coaching inn and high street at its core. Despite its absorption into the London suburbs during the course of the 20th century, Charlton Village still conveys a surprisingly strong impression of its rural origins, thanks in large part to the partial survival of the ancient rural landscapes comprising deer park, woodland and former sand quarries, reinvented as public parks during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This sense of rus in urbe (countryside in the city) is one of the area’s most significant and defining characteristics.
CHARLTON ROAD (1765)
The development of the Charlton area in which the Rectory Field Conservation Area is located was historically defined by roads, and road construction. The key structure is the former Roman Road from London to Canterbury, which bounds the area to the south and was constructed by Agricola in 76-80 AD. The second defining road is Charlton Road, which was constructed in 1765 and runs west to east from its junction with the Roman Road to reach the small village of Charlton. This junction was later marked by at the Blackheath Royal Standard Public House. Charlton village, historically, grew around Charlton House providing accommodation and local services in support of the economy of this substantial country house.
Chaundrye Close is a pleasant development of 6 detached properties built in 1959 behind the historic wall on Court Yard. The properties are thus discreetly located and are well-proportioned and constructed of good quality materials.
COLLEGE PLACE EAST
College Place East, built in 1841 for Morden College by their Surveyor George Smith, is contemporary with other College developments on Maidenstone Hill and, in East Greenwich, in the Pelton Street area. The narrow streetscape of Trinity Grove is similar in scale to the adjacent streets. Residents there have developed a great sense of ownership for it, and have added their own individual touches to the pavement such as seats, decking, climbing plants and window boxes.
Coleraine Road comprises groups of fine quality late-Victorian buildings with a richness and complexity of architectural features and detailing.
Corvette Square,Trafalgar Road is an unusual four storey quadrangle of maisonettes, designed and built from 1965-8 by Stirling and Gowan for the Greater London Council. They have been described as “elegantly brusque” (Cherry and Pevsner, 1983). The patch of grass in the middle only partially softens the hard urban character of the internal space, but there are compensating glimpses outwards towards the Old Royal Naval College and Maze Hill.
According to the historic maps, during the earlier part of the 19th century Court Road was a wide tree-lined road which led from Eltham Palace southwards to Chapel Farm, and was known then as ‘Chappel Farm Road’. This was not an ancient route from Eltham to Mottingham, (although a lane did lead across the fields from Chapel Farm to Mottingham) but was simply the route from the Palace to the Farm. The winding and twisting nature of Court Road betrays its humble origins as a farm lane through the countryside.
By 1894 24 grand Victorian villas with extensive grounds, sweeping front drives and some with adjoining coach houses had been built along the length of the west side of the newly named Court Road, and the lower portion of the east side. There was also now a direct route from Eltham to Mottingham, since a new section of road had been constructed between Eltham Station and Mottingham Road.
By this time two extensive properties had also been built on the triangular field to the east of Courtyard, but with their facades orientated towards the east, since the pre-existing footpath which originally connected the top of Court Road with Court Yard had been widened to become an extension of Court Road. (These two houses were subsequently demolished to make way for the Moat Court housing development in the 1960s.)
By 1914 several more large houses had been built along the east side of Court Road along the upper part, encroaching onto the western part of the Great Park. Piecemeal development continued in the gaps along Court Road during the interwar period and later in the 20th century.
Court Yard was and still is the main approach to the Palace from the centre of the village and the parish church. Like the High Street, it is part of the surviving medieval street pattern. The Palace was originally the site of Bishop Bek’s manor house. The manor and the church would have been closely linked since the seat of royal and secular power and religious authority were invariably connected in medieval times.
The name originates from the rectangular courtyard that was built in the late 15C to house the service buildings of the outer Court of the Palace. The Outer Court is thought to have begun in the 14C as a range of lodgings and service buildings.
COUTHURST ROAD (1867)
The 1890 OS map shows the complete development of the other two Rectory fields. On the northern field there is a development with three streets at right angles to Charlton Road (Couthurst Road, Hassendean Road, and Furzefield Road) and Lyveden Road at the rear closes the vista and backing onto Lizban Street. There is a ‘hall’ shown on the site of St Johns Houses in Furzefield Road.
Craigerne Road and Dornberg Road, which are both now short streets terminating at the top of the motorway cutting, are shown as running through to Old Dover Road. There is a school and associated chapel marked Sun School at the south end of Banchory Road, this survives as Sunfields Methodist Church and Sunfields Memorial Church Hall.
The 1890 map shows and names the ‘Rectory Field Cricket and Football ground’ with a pavilion backing onto the east end of Lyveden Road. The Rectory Field was even then home to the Blackheath Rugby Football Club, which is the oldest Rugby Club in the World, founded in or before 1858.
CREEK ROAD (1815)
Denser housing for workers in the new industries was built along Creek Road (then known as Bridge Street) towards Deptford’s industrial heart.
Crooms Hill is justly regarded as one of London’s most significant and historic residential streets, comparable in its interest with Richmond Green, Hampstead, Stoke Newington High Street and Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. The street’s appeal owes as much to its topography, winding up the side of Greenwich Park to Blackheath, as it does to the richness of its architecture. To the western edge, gardens and mature ornamental trees make a significant contribution to the grand character of the street. The greenery is mirrored to the east by Greenwich Park, which forms a strong boundary becoming more informal to the hilltop.
From the corner of Nevada Street (formerly Silver Street), Crooms Hill begins with a substantial early Georgian terrace of 1721, set back from the road behind gardens and distinguished by high quality brickwork. As the road rises, a sequence of houses of various shapes, heights and materials unfolds. Stone paving adds to the character of the area, although some of it is crudely laid.
Amongst the earliest are Nos 16-18, which are late seventeenth century and later stuccoed. Leading from Crooms Hill are some of the set pieces, most notably Gloucester Circus and Crooms Hill Grove, an intact and remarkably narrow row of 1838. One of the earliest survivors on Crooms Hill is The Grange, with its gazebo of 1672, attributed to Thomas Hooke (Cherry and Pevsner, 1983).
Past King George Street, Crooms Hill bends to reveal the white spire of Our Ladye Star of the Sea, a Gothic revival Roman Catholic church of 1851, built in Kentish ragstone. It takes full advantage of its prominent position to act as a distinctive landmark on the Greenwich skyline. The church is not however at the crown of the hill and a winding stone path rises towards St Ursula’s Convent (1925) and the spur of ground overlooking Hyde Vale, topped by a cluster of red brick Georgian revival properties, Chesterfield Gardens. The semi-rural, rough and tumble character of the Heath prevails, but the presence of highways lighting and the hum of traffic on Blackheath Hill is a reminder of its busy location.
Crane Street is a narrow, stone-paved passageway running parallel to the Thames that provides entrances to the buildings facing the river. The street is a physical reminder of the former tight-knit, cramped alleys and yards of this part of Greenwich, before their replacement by flats and houses in the early twentieth century.
CUTTY SARK GARDENS
The Greenwich waterfront was a warren of pubs, yards and houses and was the focus of the town’s maritime activity until its clearance in the twentieth century. Today, Cutty Sark Gardens is important as the arrival point for visitors coming to Greenwich by boat. The rather unnatural appearance of the square is due to the raised deck, which covers an underground car park reached from a concealed ramp. The Cutty Sark, a Grade 1 listed structure, has a justifiably commanding presence in the square and the ship’s masts lie well against the trees of the Old Royal Naval College. There has been an effort to retain historical maritime links through the choice of materials and detailing of the square. At the water’s edge, the little glass dome over the entrance to the Greenwich foot tunnel contrasts with the scale of the Canary Wharf towers behind them.
DELACOURT ROAD (1850s)
This street was called Woodlands Road up to 1901. The row of substantial semi-detached houses dates from the 1850s and was called Woodlands Villas, the villas received their bungalow shop extensions in the 1880’s – though some traded as shops and workshops from the 1860s. A parallel row of shops on the west side was erected in the 1860s – but was demolished in 1970 as part of Rochester Way dual carriageway road construction. No 21-25 (not in the Conservation Area but worthy of inclusion within it) was constructed just before World War 1 and retains both a good early 20th C shopfront and a matching garage – both with leaded clerestorey windows. It is believed by its owner to have been an Express Dairy depot with stabling and horse tethering rings surviving in the rear.
With the exception of Woodlands, no. 3 Dinsdale Road is the oldest building in the Conservation Area. It appears on the 1831 ‘Plan of the Parish of St Alphege’ and the 1844 Tithe Map where it is described as a “cottage with garden”, and was apparently tenanted as early as 1801. Known as ‘Rose Cottage’, the west portion was demolished in 1935 due to constant traffic damage. Since it was originally surrounded by farmland the building has a rural character.
The other buildings on Dinsdale Road fall into a number of distinctive historic groups which are distinguished by period, character and detailed design. Building periods range
between early 19th century, the late-19th century and early 20th century.
EASTBROOK ROAD (1860s)
The eight 19th century houses were built before 1869 and are typically of three stories plus basement. They are bay-fronted, with garden walls, strong eaves. The upper ground floor is gained by external front steps.
EAGLESFIELD ROAD (1912)
The Fire Station was constructed in 1912 under a row of five gables reminiscent of Philip Webb and his successor William Lethaby, founder and first principal (1893–1911) of the London County Council Central School of Arts and Crafts – both contemporary exponents of traditional building and the arts and crafts.
Eaglesfield Road contains a variety of interesting, mainly Edwardian early 20th Century houses. The street was in much of its original condition when the Conservation Area was designated in 1992. Unfortunately a number of the houses have since been altered in their external details, and eroded in character – a process which has been able to take place outside planning control because of the owners’ use of the Permitted Development Rights which exist in this street – outside the Laing Estate. There are also a few post war infill houses in Eaglesfield Road.
Westcombe is a topographical place name. The word ‘Combe’ (or ‘cumb’) is old English in origin and means ‘valley’. ‘Combe’ is a common place name in England and is usually appended to another descriptive word to form a compound name. The adjective used in this case is ‘West’. The 1778 map of the Hundred of Blackheath indicates that there was also a place called ‘East comb’, just to the east, which now only survives in a street name: Eastcombe Avenue.
The 1832 Morris map is carefully drawn and detailed. It shows a patchwork of small fields, and substantial development in the area. It would seem that the area was then urban fringe with market gardening. Alongside the small garden plots there is the first housing development within the Ashburnham triangle: Seven houses are shown on the west side of ‘Egerton Road’, all survive and nos. 1-6 are now Listed.
Foxes Dale was extended southwards to Manor Way across the filled-in bed of the old Wricklemarsh south water. Despite the post-war development of The Hall, Foxes Dale south of the entrance to the Hall flats retains its 1930s feel.
Behind the Paragon is Fulthorp Road, named after John Fulthorp, a fifteenth century landowner. It is occupied by a group of flat blocks, designed by architects Richardson & Houfe in 1954 for Greenwich Council. The conservative neo-Georgian style adopted for the buildings was requested by local residents.
GLOUCESTER CIRCUS (1809)
Gloucester Circus, was designed and built by Michael Searles (later the designer of the Paragon at Blackheath) as a speculative venture, and completed in 1809.
Gloucester Circus is a semi-circular, private garden, enclosed with iron railings. The private lawns with ornamental trees and shrubs (such as weeping ash and cherries) contain an old plane tree to
the northeastern side. The garden contributes positively to the overall composition.
GREENWICH HIGH ROAD
Since Roman Times, a traveller going east from London along the south bank of the Thames had to cross Deptford Creek at Deptford Bridge. Once across this creek, the road divided. The left fork, formerly called London Street, now Greenwich High Road, lead to Greenwich and then on to Woolwich. On the right, the main Canterbury road, the Roman Watling Street, went uphill to Blackheath, and became known as Blackheath Road.
GREENWICH SOUTH STREET
A road, running south from Greenwich to Lime Kilns, joins Blackheath Road and Greenwich High Road. Originally Lime Kiln Lane, it is now called Greenwich South Street.
The Travers map of 1695 shows a water-mill on the site of the Mumford Flour mills on Deptford Creek. It shows the lime-kilns to the south of Lime Kiln Lane, and a three-acre piece of land called Howlands Piece – the site on which Catherine House was later built.
The 1832 map shows Plot 299 which appears to have been owned by the Ashburnham family and was developed into Guildford Grove, Devonshire Drive and Ashburnham Grove and the then undeveloped parts of Egerton Drive.
HERVEY ROAD (1860s)
The special character of the area is its origin and development as a 19th century hamlet based on the Sun in the Sands PH. Since Rasmussen (1934) London has many times been characterised, appreciated and considered as a series of villages each with individual character – as opposed to an amorphous sea of suburbia.
The Sun in the Sands Conservation Area straddles Shooters Hill Road, just to the east of the Sun in the Sands roundabout and the A 102(M) Blackwall Tunnel approach road. The latter forms a recent landscape scar in what was previously a relatively level area extending from the Blackheath plateau.
The area encompassed by the conservation area boundary has developed in phases, beginning with the 1840s development of the 5-acre plot, then known as ‘Sunfield’ around the older Sun in the Sands Public House, and finishing with the completion of Hervey Road in the interwar period of the 20th Century.
The oldest houses in Hervey Road are located at the southeast and west ends. Nos. 75-83, Mayfield Terrace, was built in 1879. Nos 100-110 opposite (originally Park Villas) were built in 1868. Nos 37-55 and 24-28 were built between 1896 and 1916. Most of the remaining houses date to the 1920s.
Humber Road comprise Victorian, and Edwardian buildings of great richness and complexity including a terrace purpose-built shops, with some post-war infill houses and flats on the south side. The road was named after William Humber, one of the directors of the Westcombe Park Estate Company.
Hyde Vale, as its name suggests, is a shallow valley separating the higher ground of The Point and Heath by Chesterfield Walk.
Kidbrooke Grove is a straight, treelined avenue aligned with the spire of St John’s Church. It was first developed in 1870 by Lewis Glenton, a local philanthropist who had substantially funded the
building of the nearby St James’ Church some three years earlier. Houses were built from the northern, Shooters Hill end first and continued over the next forty years.
KIDBROOKE PARK ROAD
Kidbrooke Park Road is on the line of an old lane, possibly seventeenth century or earlier, between Shooters Hill Road and the farms at Kidbrooke to the south. Building began in the 1820s but accelerated after the completion of St James’s Church.
KING JOHN’S WALK
King John’s Walk has its origins in an ancient lane from Eltham to Mottingham, which now forms part of the Green Chain Walk. It skirts the northern and western boundaries of the Palace, then heads south through open fields with majestic views towards central London across Vista Field until reaching Middle Park Avenue and then the railway.
According to the 1839 tithe map it was formerly known as Mottingham Lane, although by 1894 it had become King John’s Lane. It is assumed that the name originates from the time when King John of France was held captive at Eltham Palace in 1364. This however does not explain why the Palace became known as King John’s Court in the 18th century since Edward II, III and IV, Richard II and Henry VIII would have had far stronger associations with the Palace.
Kings Orchard was laid out in the mid-1930s on a ‘teardrop’ style plan incorporating Wellington Road – by then renamed Wythfield Road – on the east. This was a greenfield site comprising pasture land and a large orchard, hence the name. The 1936 OS map shows that houses were under construction on the south side.
Built into the side of a steep escarpment, St George’s Church forms a prominent local landmark. The architects were Newman and Newman and it was consecrated in 1891. With the exception of the church,
there were no buildings on Kirkside Road until the early 20th century.
Langton Way to the south is much more informal and organic in appearance, having developed gradually from its origins as a mews or back lane to the big houses on Shooters Hill Road. Some of the old
coach houses remain after conversion to dwellings and there has been much infilling, of which the most distinctive is the cluster of housing for the elderly, by Trevor Dannett and Partners (1973-75).
Lee Road has long been a well-used route through the area, visible on John Rocque’s map of 1746 and thus predating the Cator land purchases. The east side of Lee Road is substantially nineteenth century, with houses set at some distance from the pavement.
Lee Road, formerly a country lane, was developed between 1810 and 1830 in a series of small frontage developments, contemporary with building within Blackheath Park. Today it carries substantial traffic.
LITTLE HEATH ROAD
In 1805-6, the Woolwich Repository grounds were enclosed and Little Heath Road made up. The Repository gatehouse was constructed on Gun Park.
Manor Way is the other avenue laid out, but scarcely developed, in the nineteenth century. Only one of the two small patches of nineteenth century development survives, namely the villas at the east end. The listed three-storey No 102 (Rowlands House) was built in 1862 to the designs of local architect, Joseph Black. The adjacent three storey buildings with iron-lace conservatories behind are locally listed. Two yellow brick Victorian buildings sit at the end of Manorbrook. However, today Manor Way is predominantly of interwar character.
Land on the north side of Manor Way was originally part of the pleasure grounds attached to The Priory, Park Lodge (Meadowbank) and Brooklands House. Neil Rhind suggests that Manor Way owes its name to Kidbrooke Manor, the medieval estate to the north east of Blackheath. Chicanes slow traffic and the changing depths of grass verges help segregate pedestrians and vehicles.
Meadowbank was built south of the lawn of Park Lodge to give access to the land between Lee Road and Foxes Dale on which Parkgate was laid out. The pine in the centre of Meadowbank is of particular note. Park House was built on the severed grounds of Park Lodge, at the entrance to Meadowbank. Later development on the east end of Meadowbank includes a pair of unassuming semis in Park House gardens, and, more valuably, a secluded courtyard bungalow by architect David Branch for his own use.
MEREWORTH DRIVE (1934)
In 1933 at the time of the sale of Shrewsbury House to the Council, those parts of Shrewsbury Park not sold to the LCC for laying out as a park were sold to the John Laing Company. They commenced building immediately and there is a photograph dated 20 February 1934 showing houses constructed on the west corner of Mereworth Drive and Bushmoor Crescent. Laings constructed their estate under the slogan “Laing’s Estates are well planned on Garden City principles”. Their brochure “Laing’s 10 Estates” says of the Shrewsbury Park Estate “we believe that this estate is unsurpassed for Healthiness and Beauty of position”.
The creation of a large roundabout at the centre of Mereworth Drive increases a circular character, accentuating the inward looking focus, and the green informality. The road alignment design for Ashridge Crescent was modified, widening the road to enable retention of what was even in 1936 a fine large old sweet chestnut tree. This tree survives.
MIDDLE PARK AVENUE
The Middle Park Estate to the west of the Conservation Area was built on the site of Edward III’s 14th century deer park known as Middle Park. In the 19th century the area was the location for the renowned Middle Park Stud, founded by wealthy hosier and haberdasher William Blenkiron in 1866. The association with horse racing is commemorated in the name Newmarket Green, an open space at the centre of the Estate. The Middle Park Stakes are still held at Newmarket racecourse every year.
One of the exceptions to the post war architectural development is Moat Court, built in the triangle of land between Court Yard and Court Road. These are low-rise, low-density blocks which are minimally visible from the road since many of the existing trees and shrubs were retained and have since matured. The buildings exemplify the plain and modular style of the 1960s with projecting transparent stair blocks and make a positive contribution to the area since they do not dominate their environment but harmonise with it. Moat Court was given a Civic Trust Award in 1961.
Morden Road takes its name from nearby Morden College and was laid out for carriage use in 1852-3. Nos 1 and 3, the two houses nearest Morden College,were bombed and replaced in the 1950s. Their neighbours on both sides of the road are large weathered yellow brick villas, some of which had been divided into flats by the 1930s.There are newer and smaller houses at the southern end of the road, but in general Morden Road retains the grand scale of its original conception. A commemorative plaque records the road’s association with composer Charles Gounod who lived here 1861.
MORDEN ROAD MEWS
The narrow spur of Blackheath Park that becomes Morden Road Mews was never an avenue. It retains a historic feel as a quiet old service road for Morden Road, but now serves two storey mainly post-war
houses, with only two earlier buildings to emphasis its antiquity. Near its entrance is the former gateway to the mews.
In 1876 118 acres of land including 56 acres attached to Woodlands, 55 at Westcombe Park and 7 at the top of Green Lane (Vanbrugh Hill) were sold to the Midland Land and Investment Corporation Ltd.
The company intended to develop the Park on a large scale and even ran an architectural competition. However, the winning scheme was never realised, and Midland Land sold the property not long afterwards to the newly formed Westcombe Park Estate Company whose board included architects, engineers and builders. Around 1878 the company laid out new roads, drainage and sewers.
However it seems that a grand urban design for the whole area was abandoned as both freehold and leasehold plots were offered for sale and “it was left to the individual developers or plot purchasers to erect what they liked only so long as it conformed to a building line, was a property of a certain minimum value and did not exceed the density permitted by the development lease.”
Apparently sales of the building plots and building on them were sporadic. Some were advertised as “gentlemen’s residences” near Woodlands, others as property for “moderate class” at the north end of Mycenae Road. A subsequent auction in 1880 resulted in very few sales and coincided with the start of a recession in the property market during the 1880s. In 1883 over 100 plots were still vacant, and by 1900 Westcombe Park was still only partially developed. The Estate Company subsequently went into liquidation and the remaining land was sold off at low prices.
Mycenae Road encompasses late-Victorian, Edwardian and inter-war streetscapes, with the older properties to the north, the inter-war properties on the east side to the south, and with several later infill buildings. The road name presumably celebrates the great archaeological discoveries made at Mycenae, Greece, between 1874-76. Mycenae house, a local community centre, was built in 1933 directly behind Woodlands House in a complementary neo-Georgian style.
NELSON ROAD (1828); COLLEGE APPROACH (1836)
By the early nineteenth century the area was overcrowded and run down. A school had been built in 1814 close to the Church of St Alfege and the Queen Elizabeth’s almshouses were rebuilt in 1817. In 1830 the Greenwich Hospital commissioned their architect Joseph Kay to replace many of the smaller streets between Church Street and the Hospital itself. The formal, rectilinear plan that resulted included Nelson Road (formerly Nelson Street) in 1828 as a westward extension of Romney Road, and College Approach (originally Clarence Street), as well as the market, occupying the site of the late medieval mansion of Swanne House and later, Powis Brewery. Contemporary with Kay’s improvements was the Church of St Mary in King Street by George Basevi, demolished a century later. In the years that followed the town grew steadily, with streets and terraces being laid out to the west of Hyde Vale and Crooms Hill, including Royal Hill.
Kay adopted the then fashionable stucco for the facing material, following the example of John Nash and others in central London. Nelson Road (1829) and College Approach (1836) are each symmetrical and formal routes on axis with the Old Royal Naval College and anticipating its grandeur.
North Park was so-called since it was laid out along the northern part of the Great Park, which was known during the 19th century as Front park or North Park. Between 1869 and 1894 12 large properties with sweeping front drives were constructed along the eastern section on fields in the north eastern portion of the Park These were probably contemporary with the earliest houses on Court Road but were subsequently demolished and replaced by apartment blocks known as Green Acres and Woodington Close in the 1960s.
The road was then extended westwards across the Park to connect with Court Road, and construction of houses began at the west end on the northern side. Five large houses, equivalent in scale and plot size to those on Court Road, were built by 1914. These were contemporary with the early 20th century houses built on the east side of Court Road. There was then a building hiatus, no doubt due to the First World War, until North Road was completed by the 1930s. Whilst noticeably smaller than the earlier houses at the east and west ends of North Park and on Court Road, the later properties were still endowed with long and generous gardens.
The development by Morden College in and around Pelton Road took place over a twenty year period and although there are variations in the architectural detail, the houses conform to a common scale and consistency of materials. The houses on the south side of Pelton Road, built in 1842-45 by the Morden College Estate to the designs of their architect George Smith, are simple two storey houses, embellished by stucco architraves and fronted by front gardens. Painted wooden fences have replaced railings but the unity of the terrace is preserved. On the north side, the terrace includes the
contemporary Pelton Arms (1844), whose bullnosed corner entrance makes an effective stop to the group.
The Progress Estate is a very fine early example of garden suburb townscape design. It was constructed in ten months in 1915, by the Government’s Office of Works, to house munitions workers at Woolwich Arsenal. It has been evaluated as “the first and most spectacular of the Garden suburbs built by the government during the First World War to house munitions workers” … “a tour de force of picturesque design (Sir Nikolaus Pevsner Buildings of England – London: 2, p 307).
The Progress Estate, originally known as the Well Hall Estate, is located on the south facing wooded slopes of Eltham Hill and Woolwich Common, a little north of the former Well Hall at the point where Rochester Way crosses Well Hall Road. The land appears to have been part of the Page Estate – which owned Well Hall and, latterly, Well Hall Farm. Well Hall is visible at the bottom of the 1870 OS map just next to the southern tip of the Conservation Area – shown superimposed in green. The railway can be seen, with its line diverted to the south to avoid the old Well Hall. As the map shows, before construction in 1915, there were no buildings on the land now comprising the Progress Estate – which was farmland straddling the Well Hall Road, and mainly used for market gardening.
On Friday the 8th January 1915 a meeting of the Ministry of Munitions, the Office of Works, and the Local Government Board agreed a scheme of 1200 houses for Well Hall to be constructed in six months. The Local Government Board insisted that the work be to the highest town planning standards. The scheme then proceeded at astonishing speed. On Saturday, Frank Baines the Chief architect of the Office of Works and his senior architect A.J. Pitcher visited the site. Frank Baines (later Sir Frank) was a former pupil of the important Arts and Crafts Architect C.R. Ashbee. On Sunday, four architects each made a layout for the site. The layout selected was by Mr. Phillips who had not seen the site. He then worked through the night from 8pm to 8am to complete the layout by the Monday morning. Within 10 days of that first Saturday standard type elevations and a detailed design for the layout of the first 40 houses had been completed. By 27th January the tenders returned showed previous cost estimates to be too low. It was agreed that in order to meet as far as possible the ambitious timescale, it would be necessary to build on “a prime cost” basis. On 22nd May 1915, the first block of houses was complete and by 20th July 1915, 800 houses were complete and the LCC had agreed to take over management of the scheme. By August, the first 273 houses were occupied and rates were being charged on them. By 15th September 1000 houses were complete, and the Estate was completed and all houses handed over in December 1915. Already the LCC had arranged temporary class rooms for 680 children from the Estate. Over 5000 men had worked on the site, and at one point completions were at the rate of one house every two hours.
There are two public spaces in the area, Lovelace Green and the smaller Sandby Green. Both are enclosed by houses and are designed to act as village greens providing a townscape focus, visual green amenity space and recreational area. The Estate was designed and built without any schools, shops, churches, public halls or other non residential buildings.
The estate features the following roads (all 1915): Admiral Seymour Road
Martin Bowes Road
Phineas Pett Road
Prince Rupert Road
The Rectory Field conservation area comprises a small number of streets running north – south between Charlton and Old Dover Road. The character of the area’s townscape is defined by low two-floor construction and ‘T’ junctions giving quiet low vistas. The buildings are almost all small Victorian terraced houses, mainly yellow or mixed London Stocks under slate roofs.
Some houses have red brick dressings and a few are of red brick. There are three character areas each of four streets, corresponding to the three fields on which the area was developed, and the three phases in the history of Victorian development. The three character areas are physically separated and linked only by footpaths. The southern field was developed first before 1867 being architecturally early-Victorian. The northern followed shortly after is mid-Victorian, and the western one is late-Victorian, belonging to the end of the 19th century.
One of the buildings fronting onto Charlton Road predates these development phases: Poplar Cottage, a Listed 17th century weather-boarded vernacular cottage, is a rare survival of rural vernacular architecture in London.
Features common to many houses in all three character-areas are the terraces with front gardens, pitched roofs, yellow stocks, white painted wooden sash windows and arched entrance doorways.
The houses in the early-Victorian southern area are marked by quality of brickwork, architectural restraint, uniformity, simplicity, attention to proportion, arched doorways, designed fenestration pattern and clustered rows of eight chimneys – all recalling the recently departed Georgian era. These features of the small cottages, despite being built for relatively humble artisan occupation, integrate to produce an area with design character. In recognition of this, one of the parades in Lizban Street is Locally Listed. Reynolds Place is perhaps the best street in the Conservation Area and a number of the houses here are worthy of local listing.
The Rochester Relief Road, built in 1970, lies in a cutting to the east of the conservation area and carries high volumes of traffic between London and the Kent coast.
As part of the improvements to the town centre by the Greenwich Hospital the Old Dover Road, which at one time ran beneath the Queen’s House, was rerouted to the north to create Romney Road in 1697-99. After 1825 the road was later extended at each end, forming Nelson Road and Trafalgar Road.
ST GERMAN’S PLACE
St Germans Place is the western edge of the former St Germans Estate, which takes its name from the Cornish connections of its eighteenth century landowners. Development began in the early nineteenth century, making the earliest houses contemporary with the Regency villas on Shooters Hill Road. The houses face westwards towards the Heath and despite bomb damage and subsequent redevelopment the houses still form an impressive group with a consistent building line.
ST JOHN’S PARK
St John’s Park runs parallel to Shooters Hill Road and is the spine of the Victorian estate of the same name, laid out in 1852. The junction with Stratheden Road is marked by the centrepiece of the estate, St John’s Church, given particular prominence by flanking it within a pair of crescents. The church itself is in the perpendicular gothic style and built in Kentish ragstone with a pinnacled spire. The houses in the area are substantial town houses and villas – the earliest houses are in a yellow London stock brick, later giving way to red brick with classical ornamentation. Despite some redevelopment and its abrupt truncation by the Rochester Way relief road, the street has a cohesive character.
SHOOTERS HILL ROAD
By the 1860s Shooters Hill Road was substantially developed but dates from before this.
Stratheden Road was originally a cart track leading up from the Heath and fans out at Vanbrugh Park at Stratheden Parade. A former cinema on the Old Dover Road, the Roxy, was demolished in 1981 and
replaced by a supermarket, but the remainder of the development is a typical, small scale suburban shopping parade from the inter-war period.
At the beginning of the 20th Century pressure to build led the recently formed LCC to purchase for a public park the nine acres at the highest point of Shooters Hill. This was 50% funded by Woolwich Council and laid out in 1908 by the important LCC garden designer and engineer Lt Col Sexby. Also in 1908 an ‘open air school’ was founded in Shrewsbury Park – at first in summer and then, from 1913, all year round.
The remainder of Shrewsbury Park was acquired by the LCC in 1929 – after which the school moved to Charlton Park. The preservation of the landscape continued in the 1920s with the LCC’s acquisition of Castle Wood (1921), and the 22 acres of Jackwood in 1923. Fred Halse was a former Mayor and Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Kent from 1926 – 1934. He used these roles to promote the preservation of the Southern slopes of Shooters Hill, which culminated in 240 acres of Crown land north of the Bexleyheath railway transferring to the LCC in 1934.
The character of Shrewsbury Park was a factor in the selection of the site by John Laing – it influenced their layout and design, and they used the Park setting to promote sales. As such the Park continues to make a strong contribution to the setting of the Laing Estate.
SHREWSBURY PARK ESTATE
The Shrewsbury Park Estate Conservation Area lies in an elevated position on the northern slopes of, and just under the summit of Shooters Hill, the second highest hill in the Greater London area. The area is surrounded by parks and golf courses and from certain places there are dramatic views – to the west over London, and to the south and east over Kent. Not surprisingly, historically, this topographically privileged area became the site of substantial country houses in their own large gardens, set above Woolwich and away from the lower Thames marshes.
The principal part of the Shrewsbury Park Estate Conservation Area consists of a residential estate built in the main from 1934-1936 by John Laing and Son builders. The remainder of the Conservation Area is made up of Eaglesfield Road and a few houses in Kinlet Road – these are mainly Edwardian houses in a mixture of styles. The Conservation Area includes Shooters Fire Station and Shrewsbury House, both of which are Grade II Listed.
Charles, sixteenth Earl of Shrewsbury – a descendant of Bess of Hardwick – had this fine “small but elegant” country house built on Shooters Hill in 1789. In 1799 the house and grounds fell into the ownership of the Prince Regent – later King George IV. The Earl of Shrewsbury leased the house to the Crown as a residence for the three-year-old Princess Charlotte, the only child of George IV and Princess Caroline of Brunswick. Charlotte lived there in the care of the Dowager Duchess of Elgin while her mother moved first to Charlton and then to Montague House on Blackheath to be near her. Shrewsbury House is now the centre of the Laing Estate. A long drive led from near where the fire station is now to the house.
The 1923 new Shrewsbury House
In 1923 Fred Halse demolished the old Shrewsbury House and built himself a new house, which now stands on the site. In 1934 Shrewsbury House and an acre of gardens was bought by Woolwich Council for £9000 for a library and museum – and although the latter was never instituted – the building survives as a successful community centre.
SUN IN THE SANDS
A building on this site appears on Rocque’s 1745 map, and this appears on Hasted’s Plan in his 1778 History of Kent. The first reference to a public house appears in the 1790s rate books, the ‘Sun Ale House’ is recorded as such in 1812. The present Sun in the Sands Public House is said to date from 1842 – and is believed to have been substantially rebuilt at the end of the 19th century.
However comparison of the photos below of the present building with an 1830 drawing shows that the pub retains the same form – wide gable ends and 5 bay width which were there and already ‘old’ in 1830. This suggests that, whilst no doubt much altered and rebuilt, the building frame predates the 1840s and is likely to be substantially the 18th century one seen in the 1830s watercolour. The name “Sun in the Sands” refers to the sand pits formerly around the pub.
SUN LANE (1840s)
This land, formerly belonging to the Sun PH, was developed in the 1840s as workmen’s cottages on Sun Lane, and 50-68 Old Dover Road (originally 12-30 Sun Garden Cottages). Then two more substantial semi detached pairs of substantial two floor Georgian houses at 133-9 Shooters Hill Road were built to the west of the pub and named Sunfield Terrace. In the mid 19th c a solicitor, an architect and a surveyor occupied these middle class houses.
THE VILLAGE, CHARLTON
Charlton Village is situated mid-way between Greenwich and Woolwich and, until the latter part of the 19th century, was part of rural Kent. The old village stood atop the Thames escarpment, where the high ground of the Blackheath plateau dropped away towards the riverside marshes in a series of narrow wooded combes or valleys. Though now urbanised, the form of the ancient landscape is still evident. The high street (known as The Village) follows the line of the escarpment, with large areas of green space (Charlton Park, Hornfair Park, Charlton Cemetery) remaining on the plateau to the south and east, while the streets to the north (Charlton Lane, Fairfield Grove, Charlton Church Lane) descend steeply towards the Thames-side industrial zone known since the mid-1800s as New Charlton, and in more recent years, as Charlton Riverside.
TILT YARD APPROACH
Originally the site of the Tudor Tilt Yard (a jousting ground), this has a surviving 16th century gateway and sections of brick walling which are Grade I listed. The Edwardian property known as The Gate House was built near the site of the original medieval gatehouse to the Outer Court of the Palace. The dwelling known as The Tilt Yard is an inter-war building erected in c.1930.
Trafalgar Road is the main artery through East Greenwich. Contrasting with this busy commercial route, the streets leading down to the river are quiet, intimate and largely unexplored by Greenwich’s
East Greenwich is a low-lying, mainly residential area that occupies a wedge of land between the Royal Naval College, the Maze Hill railway cutting and the Thames. The irregular layout of the streets
is shaped by the bend of the river and the routes of the principal roads, especially the Old Woolwich Road and its successor, Trafalgar Road. The dominant landmark is Greenwich Power Station which, although altered, remains an impressive monument that contrasts forcefully with the domestic scale and character of the streets around it. East Greenwich waterfront was the site of Crowley House, a Jacobean mansion built in 1647 and demolished in 1854. It took its name from a Newcastle ironmaster, Sir Ambrose Crowley, who had purchased the house in 1704.
Trafalgar Road was laid out in 1825, as an extension of Romney Road to provide a wider and more direct route to Woolwich. The Old Woolwich Road had followed a serpentine route to the north. The new road slightly predated the improvements in Greenwich town centre by Joseph Kay for the Greenwich Hospital. Once Trafalgar Road was open the development of East Greenwich quickly followed, with the houses of the Morden College Estate and the terraces at the foot of Maze Hill being the principal contribution. Trafalgar Road itself was built up speculatively with ribbons of houses and shops stretched out along its length.
ULUNDI ROAD (1882)
During the 1880s a few small groups of buildings and secluded villas materialised, but the majority of the Victorian development took place in the 1890s. The 1894 OS map indicates that 22 houses had already been built along the north side of Westcombe Park Road. There had also been some development along the north side of Humber Road, the southern ends of Coleraine Road, Hardy Road, Foyle Road and the northern end of Mycenae Road. House building in Vanbrugh Hill, Glenluce Road, Ulundi Road, Dinsdale Road, Ruthin Road and Westcombe Hill was nearing completion.
Ulundi Road comprises a complete late-Victorian street, begun in 1882 and finished in 1900. The curious name commemorates the victory of the British against the Zulus at the Battle of Ulundi in 1879.
The Vanbrugh Park housing estate was built in 1961-65 by Chamberlain Powell and Bon. Its tower block and the close-knit terraces below provide an interesting contrast with the pattern of the adjoining streets.
In 1915 during construction of the Progress Estate, Edith Nesbit, the author of “The Railway Children” and other children’s books was living nearbye in an 18th century house Well Hall, her husband Hubert Bland a founder of the Fabian Society having died in 1914. Edith Nesbit died in 1924 and the house and grounds were purchased by Woolwich Council in 1929. Most of the old buildings were demolished and by 1936 the grounds had been laid out (using unemployed labour) into a public park, incorporating a Tudor barn and other remains and named on the suggestion of a local headmistress
“Well Hall Pleasaunce” and now a Conservation Area. The Progress Estate now lies north of this Pleasaunce and between it and the open space and woods of Woolwich Common.
WELL HALL ROAD
Well Hall Road appears on Roque’s 1741-1745 map of London, and historically connected the country village of Eltham with the industrial town of Woolwich.
In 1915 Well Hall Road already possessed a tram line, and in 1916 a bus route was started along this road to help workers from the Progress Estate reach employment in Woolwich. In 1911, Eltham was a quiet village with a population of 13,450, but by 1916 the new Ordnance Survey map shows shops and a new estate immediately opposite Well Hall. At the outbreak of the war in 1914, the Woolwich Arsenal employed 10,866.
WESTCOMBE HILL, VANBRUGH HILL
Two roads , Vanbrugh Hill and Westcombe Hill, are of some antiquity. During the 18th century they were established roadways which bounded the Westcombe Park Estate. Vanbrugh Hill was known as Love Lane and Westcombe Hill was called Sheepgate Lane. During the 19th century Westcombe Hill was known as Combe Farm Lane and Vanbrugh Hill as Green Lane.
The name Westcombe Park originally referred to a large country mansion set within its own parkland. According to Rocque’s Survey of London during the middle of the 18th century ‘Westcomb’ is illustrated as a small enclosed country estate (apparently owned by the Duke of Bolton) comprising a tree lined avenue leading down to a large house at the base of the valley, possibly with a large adjoining chapel, with a walled garden to the west. To the east of the estate lay Coomb Farm, with ploughed land and pasture. In the early part of the 18th century the estate was purchased by Henry Herbert, 9th Earl of Pembrooke, (1693-1751) who apparently pulled down the medieval manor house. The house was extant by 1728 when it was alluded to in a poem about Greenwich Park.
The 1778 Map of the Hundred of Blackheath illustrates Westcombe as a large country house set within its own parkland.
The first 19th century Ordnance Survey map, however, shows that by 1870 Westcombe Park House was no longer in existence. The long entrance drive to Westcombe Park House was still extant but all traces of the house had disappeared and only the surrounding parkland remained. In 1844 the tithe apportionment records that although ‘Westcombe Park House, lawn and shrubbery’ was the property of Sir Gregory Page Turner (1785-1843), and was leased to Thomas Brocklebank, it was unoccupied at this date. This was because Brocklebank had died in 1843 and his widow had moved to Shooters Hill Road. The house was advertised in the Greenwich Gazette the following year but remained unsold since there were only 5 years left on the lease. The house subsequently stood vacant for 10 years until it was demolished in 1854, presumably at the request of the Page-Turner Estate.
WESTCOMBE PARK ROAD
The west end of Westcombe Park Road had been in existence since the early 18th century. After Vanbrugh Park Road East, the eastern portion was originally a country lane passing through fields to Westcombe Hill, and was not widened into a highway until c. 1877. The rest of the roads within the Conservation Area were laid out at the same time, with the majority being named in 1878. Their layout was mainly dictated by the topography. The serpentine nature of Coleraine and Foyle road at their southern ends was in order to avoid gravel pits and ponds on the Westcombe Park House estate.
Ulundi Road and sections of a number of other roads follow the lines of old field boundaries. Foyle Road also follows one of the original carriage drives to Westcombe Park House.
WHITWORTH STREET (1850s)
Whitworth Street is of the same date and character as other streets developed by architect and Surveyor George Smith for Morden College. Although the houses are well preserved, the strident façade of the Co-op store on Trafalgar Road compromises the view to the end of the street.
WOOLWICH NEW ROAD
Woolwich New Road was called Cholic Lane on the 1745 Rocque map.
Wythfield Road – once Wellington Road – was constructed during the 1890s.