Shooters Hill Woodlands

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Post to the west Shooters Hill

Clothworkers wood

Site of Falconhurst.  Built by Lord Penzance’s uncle. Then called Falconwood. Lord Truro lived there could have been illegitimate son of George IV; Falconwood used as a hotel and then London County Council and park.  The wood is now part of Woodlands Farm.  

The wood consists of oak, ash, silver birch and sycamore.

Oxleas Wood

Oxleas Wood. A large area of surviving ancient woodland; it is among the oldest tracts of woodland in the London area. The woods are dense but interspersed with glades. The London County Council acquired it in 1934; and previously it has formed part of the grounds of Falconwood House, built in the 1860s, and now demolished.  The glades date from the 1860s as does a stone-lined drinking pool for pheasants in the south-east comer of the woods. There is a good network of footpaths and bridleways. The woods were coppiced until the Second World War.  On the woodland floor are bluebell, yellow pimpernel, wood sage, hedge woundwort, wood anemone, wood violet, yellow archangel, common cow wheat and butchers broom, penduculate oak, wild cherry, wild service, funghi including fly agaric. Also found is the rare green hunting spider. It is on the Kent boundary, and there are two boundary markers one in cast iron and upright. As also it is the London County Council boundary there is a flat plate for the Woolwich boundary. It is edged by the Roman road between London and Dover and various modern alternatives. From the 12th to the 14th the woods were managed as coppice for the royal manor of Eltham.  Crown ownership ended in 1679 when they were granted to Sir John Shaw and for the next 200 years they were managed under leaseholds.  The War Office took them over in 1871 and the LCC in 1930, which opened the woods to the public in 1934 and reintroduced coppicing in 1983.  The woods were under threat from proposals to build the East London River Crossing.  They are protected by being designated as an SSSI.  The damp environment feeds ditches and streams—one of which crosses Oxleas Wood and supports rushes, sedges and tall brome.  A wide range of plants is associated with a wet flush in the edge of Oxleas with numerous fungi and lichens. Birds include the rare wood warbler, nuthatches, tree creepers, woodcock and woodpeckers.  Woodmice, bank voles and short-tailed vole as well as foxes have been recorded. The name "Oxleas" derives from the Saxon, meaning a pasture for Oxen.

Cafe near the entrance from Crown Woods Lane. Excellent views

Shepherdleas Wood,

LCC bought it with Oxleas.

Shooters Hill

Made of London clay. Why it there? Many flints to be seen about the place. All water works. White quartz pebbles. All the Welling side is sandstone and a very large heavy flints. On the North is gravel and shallow pits. All of this is a drift from the Weald, which had prevented the hill from being washed away. Does it mean Shaw as a hill. New Cross turnpike tried to clean it up. Greenwich/Bexley boundary is granite strip across the pavement on the north side of the road. Roman Road, Watling Street, highwaymen and a gibbet. Scheme to turn it into a cemetery. Shooters Hill follows the route of the ancient Watling Street and forms the northern boundary of Oxleas Wood. It has been an important road into London for over 2,000 years and was once a notorious haunt for highwaymen. The fact that the highwaymen would have carried pistols lies behind the most popular explanation as to how the hill got its name. The robbers would hide in Oxleas Wood waiting for their prey, and the bodies of captured highwaymen were left hanging in gibbets as a deterrent to others. The famous diarist Samuel Pepys recorded a journey he made in 1661: "Mrs Anne and I rode under the man that hangs upon Shooters Hill and a filthy sight it was to see how his flesh is shrunk to the bones". Shooters Hill was still hazardous well into the nineteenth century, and it was there that Charles Dickens set the opening chapter of his novel 'A Tale of Two Cities', in which the Dover mail coach gets stuck in the mud on Shooters Hill. This scene dramatically captures the fear and dread travellers would have felt when passing Oxleas Woods in the days of the highwaymen.

Anchor in Hope, there since at least 1837. An attractive mid 19th century brick pub, with a steeply pitched roof, looking more like a villa in its somewhat isolated location. 

Horse trough  - which was outside  "We Anchor in Hope" "There was a small beer shop at the foot of Shooters Hill with a notice on the front wall which offered extra horses 'to help you up the hill', from the top of which the animals were returned for re-use.  Tired animals refreshed themselves here while their drivers, no doubt, did likewise in the ale house.”  The horse trough is no longer there, of course, but readers can observe it by travelling to Eltham Green.  There it is and has been since 1932, on the corner of Eltham Green Road, opposite the "Yorkshire Grey".

176 Derby Villas a multi-gabled, very Gothic building of 1861.

Short column of cast iron, - at the eastern border of the London Borough of Greenwich, where Oxleas Wood ends, and the houses begin.  Just inside the woods is an upright column boundary marker - semi-circular with a rounded top from the London County Council.  It bears a legend.  It has a flat back facing east, so this seems to be the meeting point of two boundaries - east west and north south.  The modern boundary between Woolwich and the London Borough of Bexley is a few feet east of this LCC marker.  Eighteen inches high and ten inches wide.   

Granite strip across the pavement on the north side of the road.

Boundary marker at the eastern border of the London Borough of Greenwich, where Oxleas Wood ends, and the houses begin.  Just inside the woods is a boundary marker - cast iron flat plate, half submerged in the ground   It states: BOROUGH OF WOOLWICH 1903 THE BOUNDARY IS 36 FEET N. OF THIS PLATE The lettered side of the plate is roughly parallel to the road, no doubt on an east-west plane.  The measurement takes us to the centre of the carriageway, and Ordnance Survey maps of that time show the boundary between Woolwich and Eltham following the centre line of the road.  This may be a puzzle to some readers, because it marks the boundary between Woolwich and Eltham, which by 1903 were in the same Borough.

Milestone in Prince of Wales Drive, 6 miles from London, plates renewed 1977

Shooters Hill Golf Course.

Claygate beds outgrown, dry acid grassland, scrub.  Foxes.  There are fragments of ancient woodland in the roughs.  Ground flora includes yellow archangel,  bluebells and medick.

Club Founded 1903

Lowood Club House. Stuccoed concrete 1874.

Woodlands Farm. 

Last working farm in London, which was called Bullock Farm, Baldock Farm, Clock Farm or Clock House Farm. It became the RACS pig farm.  Records indicate that it was created out of dense woodland known as Bushy Lees Wood. There is evidence that some woodland was cleared in the Middle Ages and this small-scale clearance might account for the complex field shapes. The boundaries which remained can be seen from the shape of the farm's perimeter boundary and the oldest hedges have been recorded as being approximately 600 years old. The road through the farm goes to the abattoir access.  The 1720 Plumstead plan shows no buildings here but the Rocque map of 1741 indicates a farm as does the Ordnance Survey of 1844 and 1869 with a farm and a house called "Woodlands.”  By 1897 there was a second house. Use of the farm for pigs to be sold in RACS Co-op butchers' shops followed the First World War.   Several acres of barley were grown and the farm became known as the ‘Co-op Farm’.  Originally 122 acres, the farm is now about 82 acres. The outbuildings included a large barn with a clock, stables and cottages. Behind the barn were a cow-house, pig yard, chaff house and a brick cart lodge.  Local action in 1994 resulted in the formation of the Woodlands Farm Alliance, which led to the creation of the Woodlands Farm Trust in 1995, which with grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Bridge House Estates Trust. There is wych elm, elder oak, hawthorn, osier, crack willow, crab apple, white bryony, greenfinches, carrion crow, wood pigeon.  There are hedges with wild service. A stream runs through an area of willow carr.

The Abattoir was built in 1937 by RACS on the northern area of the farm adjacent to Cloth Workers Wood. Operation ceased around 1985. The CWS applied twice for planning permission to build housing on the cleared abattoir site.  The 1962 Ordnance Survey shows a cattle shed near this junction and in fact beef was at one time produced, although the animals later came from elsewhere

Woodlands house. 1886 over the front porch.  There since 1869, rebuilt 1890s. Surrounded by the farm, a large and attractive house of 1886, with tiled upper floor and gables.

House further west is probably the original Farm. A substantial house with farm buildings, which was probably the original, but it is the 1886 house, which is called ‘Woodlands’ today, with the name on a gate close by. 

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