Select Page

Historic Walk of Blackheath

Historic walk in Lee Parish area south of Blackheath Village, including two churches, early to mid-19C housing from modest to grand statements, off the beaten track. Led by historian Neil Rhind MBE FSA for the Blackheath Society.

Meet: outside car showroom opposite St Margaret's church, Lee Terrace/Belmont Hill SE13 5DL

Sat 10am. Duration max 2 hours. Pre-book ONLY via self-addressed envelope to: Old Bakehouse, 11 Blackheath Village London SE3 9LA by 9 September. Max 40 on tour.


380, 53, 386

HISTORIC WALK OF BLACKHEATH Early Victorian and some modern Blackheath _ on its south sideSaturday 19 September 2015 at 11amSunday 20 September 2015 at 11 amWalks organised by the Blackheath Society (founded 1937)Reg_d charity No: 259843Led by Neil Rhind MBE FSAThese walks are a just a brief look at some of Blackheath_s most interesting houses, mostly on its south side, largely of the early-mid 19th century, but some earlier and a few modern. It starts at the Hare & Billet public house, opposite the ancient pond on the Heath, and finishes as near as the south end of Blackheath Village, as we can get within the time and without crossing a main road.The tongue of land sticking out towards the Heath was developed by 1733 _ Stubbs Buildings _ but by 1765 the foremost building was the public house called even then the Hare & Billet. Some claim it is a corruption of the sign Harrow & Billet but there is no prima facie evidence for this. Much altered inside and without its original balcony and iron railings.Famous in 1815 when George Wilson (The Blackheath Pedestrian) who walked 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours, used the pub as his base. Other followed his example. Immediately opposite the pub is the Hare & Billet pond, in the southeast corner of Marr_s Ravine. The pond was a watering place for cattle and horses, the drovers taking their refreshment at the neighbouring inn. The location of the pond now is marked more or less on Samuel Travers_ 1695 plan of Blackheath with the legend _Beggar_s Bush_ so the pond and the pub may have been attracting customers from the 17th century if not before. For many years, there was a retaining rail to prevent too many animals crowding into the pond and fouling it. Behind the pub was a row of cottages called the Blue Houses, probably made of mud and finished in blue lime wash. These went down for Grotes Place, and Eliot Cottages at the west side. The distinctive corner house with the bow window dates from 1810. Next door is the remains of building known as the Canister House, of uncertain date, but certainly before 1780. Beyond the pub to the south is Grotes Place, and Grotes Buildings, with Lloyds Place beyond. The name dates from the development in 1774 of the buildings, on land belonging to the trustees of Morden College, by Bremen- born banker Andreas (later Andrew) Grote (1710-1788), resident in Point House (which survives) on the north west corner of the Heath. Grotes Place (a late 18th century appellation) was built in bits and pieces from the 1830s to 1850s on the site of the Blue Houses, wooden boarded cottages no doubt treated in blue lime wash. Alas, all now gone.The west end of Grotes Buildings boasted a stable and coach house block for all the tenants and, later, commercial premises for blacksmiths and farriers. This was demolished in 1892 for a horse bus stable for transport magnate Thomas Tilling (1825-1893). Eventually extended and converted into an electrical factory in 1921, it was demolished in December 1995 and the present Nos 19-26 Eliot Place erected on the site by about 2009. Grotes Buildings, a fine irregular 1770s terrace is one of the most attractive elements in the Heath framework. A pity that No 2 was stuccoed late in the 19th century. Note No 3 in particular being the home of the most famous 18th century golfer in the world: William Innes (1719-1795) , and note No 6 which was the first base of the social survey organisation, Mass Observation, established in 1937 by Charles Madge and Tom Harrison. No 7 (Lindsay House) altered in the 1930s but the fine original mid 18th railings retained. Lloyds Place (named after a John Lloyd) is a mix of 18th-century houses, much altered over the years but largely with origins of 1750. Eastnor House being the best and restored post 1939-1945 War by the Blackheath Preservation Trust. No 4 slightly _Gothicised_ _ its windows on the flank once blocked up. The walk will not go close to Lloyds Place but will digress once past No 7 Grotes Buildings) down Camden Row. Now mostly late Victorian in date and style and replacements of one of Blackheath_s forgotten slums: Camden Road, Place and Square: dozens of working class families in poor quality timber clad housing, poor drainage. Site cleared in 1890s when the old leases expired and replaced with villas for the skilled artisans and shop keepers. All Saints_ Church Hall (Mary Evans Picture Library) [was No 51 Tranquil Vale] An attractive Arts & Crafts building, with a nice patterned gable, by architect Charles Canning Winmill (1866-1945) [designer of some fine fire stations for the London County Council] in 1927 as a gift for the parish of All Saints_ as a parish room. In 1989 the Parish sold it the Mary Evans Picture Library _ founded in 1964 by print collectors Mary (1936-2010) and Hilary Evans (1929-2011 ) as a commercial images collection.The Picture Library building stands on the foundations of Rashleigh_s House of 1780 replaced by a short row of shops (originally known as Camden Place later as Nos 51-61 Tranquil Vale) damaged beyond repair by a Zeppelin raid in August 1916 .South Vale Road The walk will turn right down South Vale Road, past South Vale Mansions (of about 1928-29) but designed to look like the rest of the road. South Vale takes its name from the large Cottage and its garden which stood on the south side of the plot. This was home of the Collins family. On the death of Julia Collins (1780-1864) the cottage and ground was sold to builder Frederick Stansby who laid out the new road and named it Stansby Street after himself, in the period 1870 to 1874. The south side (Nos 4-18 from 1875) are seemingly sunk into the slope towards the railway line; Nos 19 (tucked into a corner) to No 32 (sometimes kn own as South Vale Terrace) rise in three storeys above ground, so enjoy good views. Built largely to appeal to local shopkeepers and skilled artisans initially, many have since been _gentrified_ cleaned and restored since the 1960s and achieve eye-watering prices when for sale in recent times.Baizdon RoadNamed in 1953 after William Baizdon (or Baisdon, or Basden) one of the windmill operators working on the Heath in the 1730sThe site for John Ball School primary school (London County Council 1952-1953) and a series of municipal flats erected by the LCC (now owned by Lewisham Council) on the huge garden ground once attached to Heathfield House, No 1 Eliot Place (see below). Neither the school _ named after a participant in the 1381 Peasants_ Revolt – nor the flats won any prizes for urban design and the school has been altered and extended so often it would have been kinder to demolish the lot and start again.The road was cut and named in March 1953, along the line of a cart track to the back gardens of houses in Eliot Place (see below). There were to be six blocks of four-storey flats, two blocks of three storey and 14 individual two-storey houses. The whole site was sold in 1951 by the trustees of Morden College, after nearly 10 years of neglect, to Lewisham Council for œ10,650.Some of the Baizdon road houses have been subject to right-to-buy legislation and evidently have been much altered and improved by the new owners. Lurking behind fences and walls are some _contemporary_ private houses, one designed in 1963, by eminent architect Stephen Gardiner, built on the back garden ground of No 9 Eliot Vale.Because Baizdon Road occupies most of the garden ground once attached to No 1 Eliot Place (Heathfield House) the walk will make a brief diversion to see this important Blackheath landmark. It was built in 1796, possibly designed by architect surveyor Michael Searles (1751-1813), and remained in occupation by men of substance from the outset to the late 1930s. It fell in to bad condition in the 1950s, but was rescued in the late 1950s, and restored as three flats. The extension on the west elevation, c 1959, is more in keeping with the style the Baizdon Road flats than Eliot Place, One plot was retained by the local authority for a public library but the plan never went forward and eventually it was sold for development in 2007 for Heathfield Gardens, the group lacked the latter amenity not-withstanding the name. The OrchardThe north side of Eliot Vale, the houses of which dates from about 1894 onwards, was the south boundary of the Orchard estate. The Orchard was a Dartmouth property, no doubt once part of the Heath but Dartmouth estate managers first fenced it for an orchard and fields and then, in 1784, authorised the building of a substantial house by West Indies merchant Duncan Campbell (1741-1803). Campbell was a keen golfer (onetime Captain of the Blackheath golfing society) but was also Commissioner of Convicts at Woolwich. He chose the convicts needed for the transportations to Australia which started in May 1787. Once Campbell had left his Blackheath home the Dartmouth trustees refashioned the house,and added a long stable block in 1801. Orchard House was occupied largely by members of the Dartmouth family until the mid 1850s. Having passed through various aristocratic hands it was part of the estate of the 5th Earl of Dartmouth when he died in 1891. This led to a vigorous public campaign to remove the house and restore the ground to the Heath. Alas, the Dartmouth land agent was not moved and abandoned Orchard House to developers D & R Kennard in 1893 who laid out the houses on the north side of Eliot Vale, The Orchard and Orchard Drive. The big house remained but was converted into flats in 1920/21 _ eventually to be demolished in 1965 for the block of flats called Lynn Court. A little bit of infill on the north side in the late 1930s did nothing for the aesthetics of the Orchard estate. No 1 the Orchard was demolished in 1963-64 for a two- storey concrete block of houses called North Several, designed by architect Royston Summers (1931-2012). Aberdeen TerraceThe next point of Heath interest is a grand statement of 12 substantial semi-detached villas, Aberdeen Terrace, built for developer Lewis Glenton (1812-1873) to the design of architect John Whichcord jnr (1823-1885). No 1 was acquired by Goldsmith_s College for student accommodation and a large extension dropping down to Granville Park was erected after the last (1939-1945) war. From the 1930s Nos 7 and 8 Aberdeen Terrace were taken out of domestic use and converted into offices. This was by the trades union: the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE). After the union staff left, the two buildings were restored in the 1990s as a single family houses by architect Philip Cooper. Granville ParkIn 1854 the large pleasure garden and meadow attached to the mansion The Knoll [not on today_s walk] was chopped off the title and developed for Granville Park, a natural coombe or valley, to accommodate nearly 90 three/four storey middle class Victorian villas over the years 1859 to 1865. Three of the best face the Heath and, unusually, boast no street numbers; from left to right: Granville House, Newton House and Clarendon House. The triangles of grass on the north side of the houses have developed a considerable thicket of trees and shrubs.The walk will not cover the entire Granville Park but will demonstrate a variety of the villas at the north end: they were designed by architect Henry William Spratt (1827-1909). He was son-in-law of the developer Joseph Russell (1813-1874) as a result of a lease of 1856 from William Eliot the 3rd Earl of St Germans (1798-1877) The smaller retained garden of the Knoll was further truncated with the building in 1903 of Oakcroft Road, when the original house was cut into two unequal sections. From Granville Park the walk will turn right into Pagoda Gardens where one can see how badly British domestic architecture was practiced in the early 1960s and on the north side a recent (2014) prize-winning example of outstanding contemporary building design by Samuel Cooper RIBA, of E-2 Architecture & Interiors. The Aberdeen Terrace development was on the gardens and stables of the Chinese style pavilion, the Pagoda, designed as a sports pavilion for Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch and his wife Elizabeth (1744-1827) daughter of the Earl of Cardigan, by architect Sir William Chambers (1723-1796) in 1762-1763. Lewis Glenton obtained a lease in 1853 and extended the house for himself, and used the extensive gardens for Aberdeen Terrace and what were originally known from 1857-58 as Haddo Villas, but now more prosaically as Nos 1-6 Eliot Vale on the east side of the Pagoda plot. Eliot ValeThe naming of these groups of buildings may have been because Lewis Glenton was a bit of a snob _ his across-the-Heath neighbour for a short while was George Gordon Hamilton, Lord Haddo and 4th Earl of Aberdeen (1784-1860). He was made the nominal Ranger of Greenwich Park in 1845 but was most distinguished for being a not very important Prime Minister from 1852-1855. The traveller can dally at the entrance to Heath Lane (erstwhile Love Lane until 1939) where they will see the much altered sections of West Lodge, designed by architect William James Green (1856-1899) for his brother ship owner Joseph Fletcher Green (1847-1921), as a wedding present from his mother-in-law [Ellen Penn], on the latter_s marriage in 1880. When in flats the house was renamed The Close. Considerable alteration and addition by the various flat owners have diminished the overall design quality of the original house. Next to West Lodge to the east is No 8 Eliot Vale (Eliot Vale House) of 1805 [not 1780 as the plaque on the building] and, along with Eliot Vale Cottage (No 9 Eliot Vale), built by developer Alexander Doull [see also Eliot Place], on a lease from the Eliot trustees (the Earls of St Germans) on a stretch of land called the Slipe _ not the best building plot because it was wet more often than not with water draining off the Heath into the Kid Brook in the valley below. Some of this ground had been part of the Heath so it was necessary for Doull to pay a small annual fine for his encroachment. Long before the houses the thickets here were the haunt of travellers. Heath Lane (erstwhile Love Lane)An ancient footpath, probably a field path which stretches from the south end of Crooms Hill, across the Heath, into Eliot Vale and then down to Lee Terrace, across the old Upper Kid Brook (or Wricklemarsh brook) and , now the railway line. A few houses have been built – mostly 1920s and 1930s _ at the north end. On the west side. the more interesting examples are Nos 5 & 6 The Close (of 1877) The architect, alas, is not known, but it was another wedding present from Mrs Penn to her daughter, Isabella, when she married Frederic Stokes (1850-1929), a solicitor and all-round sportsman. Note the glazed decorated finials on the chimney stacks. Built as one house but split in 1924 ; No 7 was the stables and staff house for The Close but since converted (and amended frequently) into a single family dwelling.Beyond here is No 8 (Five Mile House, designed by Canadian-born architect Frederick Thwaites Bush (1887-1985). Otherwise there is nothing of architectural interest, only a footpath, on the west side, through the thickets leading to the entrance road for St Joseph_s Vale (see below). In recent times an opening has been cut on the east side into the development on the old railway sidings, which provide a short cut to the Village. Also, a private entrance into the thicket between the railway line and the school, guarded as an ecologically-protected woodland.The path runs parallel for some yards with the roadway leading to St Joseph_s Vale, a development on the site of the Rosemary Field, then boasting an ornamental water attached to the Penn mansion on Belmont Hill, known as The Cedars. Local contractor William Henry Penfold drained the lake in the 1930s and filled the depression with building rubbish. In morerecent times the consolidated site has been developed for private houses and named St Joseph_s Vale, after the erstwhile RomanCatholic boy_s school, on Lee Terrace. Lee TerraceThe footpath has provided a way to cross from one parish (Lewisham) into another (Lee) at the point which brings the church into view: St Margaret_s, the parish church of Lee. St Margaret of AntiochThe present building dates from 1840 and was the third: the stub of the first (early medieval) church, survives in the old churchyard [not on this walk]; the second replaced the main body of the older version but lasted little time (from 1813 to 1841); and the growth of the parish led to a demand for a substantial replacement _ which stands today, It was designed by Norwich architect John Brown (1805-1876) , and consecrated in March 1841. St Margaret_s was much refitted in the 1870s by James Brooks (1825-1901). The church has been handsomely restored both inside and out over the last 15-20 years. Nos 3 & 5 Lee TerraceUntil the1820s the north side of Lee Terrace was farmland. But in the 1820s the first hint of development was seen when the architect George Ledwell Taylor (1780-1873) decided to build himself a house at Lee, _where none were to be got_. He actually built four: Nos 3, 5, 7 & 9 Lee Grove, on the corner of Heath Lane. His own house _ The Hollies, now No 3 Lee Terrace _ was designed in 1825 in the Palladian style and was one of the first of a series of domestic dwellings which add much to the architectural delight of Blackheath. In 1955 it was acquired by St Joseph_s Academy and converted into a preparatory school and much altered. In 1993 the Hollies was rescued by the Blackheath Preservation Trust, which formally established its credentials as Taylor_s work, fully restored the house as a single family dwelling, and saw it subsequently listed Grade II. Another party rescued No 5 and effected a good restoration.Nos 7+ 9 Lee Terrace (Wyberton House )Nos 3 & 4 of the Lee Grove group were acquired by civil engineering contractor William Webster (1822-1888). He demolished them in 1869 and built (and probably designed) for himself a fine mansion, which he named Wyberton House, after his native village, near Boston, in Lincolnshire. It was enormous and, inevitably, after Webster_s death it was often empty. Eventually, Wyberton House passed into boarding school use. Initially as Knightsville College for Girls, from 1906 to1918; and then as St Joseph_s Academy for Boys from 1919 to the early 1990s. Since then it has been converted in to seven substantial flats and was listed Grade II shortly afterwards.Glebe and Glebe TerraceBeyond Wyberton House to the east is The Glebe, a large field which was designated to provide an income for the Rector of the Parish, In the 1840s it was decided that the agricultural value was poor and a better return could be found by development. Thus, a remarkable horseshoe of gothic styled villas were erected. Most are not on this walk, but Nos 13 to 21 Lee Terrace, initially known as Glebe Terrace, were built by Joseph Russell in 1853-1854. After the Great War 1914-1918) these houses were subject to an extraordinary conversion into cross-over maisonettes. Lee Terrace (south side Nos 2-40)The walk is not intended to cover the south side of Lee Terrace but the student may be interested in the styles of Nos 2 + 4 (1852)Nos 6-18 (Victoria Terrace, dated 1848-1850); Nos 20-32 (Dacre Terrace of 1845-1847) built in the style of Nos 3 & 5 Lee Terrace); No 40: Belmont Housewas built for John Bousfield, clothing warehouseman, in 1869; in school use from 1906 to 1940. Old People_s Home for the LCC, then the City of Westminster; acquired in 1983 and converted as an extension of the neighbouring Blackheath Hospital in 1984.No 42 (Greylands) built in 1868 for wharfinger Bartholomew Hepenstall Hartley. Later sold to Robert Bousfield (1820-1889) brother of John, at No 40 Lee Terrace . Later converted into flats, used as an Old Peoples_ Home by the LCC then City of Westminster, until acquired in 1993 by the Blackheath Hospital and linked with No 40.Nos 25-29 Lee TerraceHouses very similar to Nos 20-32 Lee Terrace demolished in the early 1950s for the present blocks of municipal flats Nos 31-35 Demolished by Lewisham Council in 1939. Nos 37-45 Lee TerraceDemolished for the Lawns.The LawnsFollowing a pattern of enthusiasm for mansion flats, then being built all over the suburbs (in Blackheath at Dartmouth Court, Conduit House, Hyde Vale, and later, Selwyn Court, in Blackheath Village) the London Land & Property Company purchased Nos 37 to 45 Lee Terrace for new blocks of private flats, this time called The Lawns. They were considered the last word in domestic design, and modern comfort, with lifts, a janitor service and plenty of parking. The Lawns was designed by architects trading as Messrs Josephs, and built by contractors George Walker & Slater Ltd, in May 1937.Seager_s Houses (Nos 49- 61 Lee Terrace)This little row of two-storey houses, it has to be recognised, is a poor man_s version of George Ledwell Taylor_s The Hollies (see above) and were erected between 1833 (No 61) and 1836, from a pattern book by local contractor William Seager (1798-1857). He was responsible for much small scale property in the area at the early decades of the 19th century. His own houses was a grander semi-detached version of these but in the posher Montpelier Row (Nos 18 & 19)Walk ends outside Selwyn Court (1936-1937), Blackheath VillageWalking the HeathIn 2013 The Blackheath Society published a walker_s guide to the Heath, written and compiled by Neil Rhind and fellow Blackheath Society committee man Roger Marshall. It is a pocket-sized compendium which presents a distilled summary of the Heath_s history and is laid down as three walks. Walking the Heath It is ideal for all categories: the brisk walkers, those who prefer to stroll nonchalantly and even those who are armchair travellers. Copiously illustrated, with a detailed A3 fold out map, and separate plans showing the three walks which more or less encompass the entire 112 hectares of open ground. There is a Timeline supplement included which covers over 1,000 years of recorded Blackheath history.Copies are available from today_s guide and the Society supervisor. Priced œ7.50 _ but members of the Society are entitled to one copy for œ5, even if they join on the spot (subscription œ15 pa). Copyright: August 2015 Neil Rhind & the Blackheath SocietyPublished for the 2015 Open House walk by: The Blackheath SocietyThe Old Bakehouse 11 Blackheath VillageLondon SE3 9LA 020 8297 1937office@blackheath.orgwww.blackheath.org