Thames Tributary Ravensbourne - Blackheath

TQ 388 764
Thames Tributary Ravensbourne
The Ravensbourne continues to flow north to the Thames
TQ 38293 76489

Area on the edge of Blackheath with some posh houses and modern flats. On Blackheath itself are ponds and the hillock from where Wesley is said to have preached. The A2 crosses this area on what was probably its original Roman base. Underneath it and alongside it are chalk workings, caves and tunnels - in some of the chalk pits 19th century guns were tested. The Greenwich Park Railway also crossed here. On the Greenwich side of the Heath and adjacent to the park is the very grand Rangers House and on the Lewisham side Hollyhedge House is a TA base. The site of Lewisham silk mill was once the Royal Armoury and one of the foundations of the British armaments industry.

Post to the west St Johns
Post to the east Blackheath
Post to the south Lewisham
Post to the north Greenwich

Aberdeen Terrace.
Large houses designed by John Whitchcord for Lewis Glenton 1850s. Nice views for rich people.

Alison Close
Development of flats 1972 in place of the Green Man which had its entrance in Blackheath Hill on the other side of the site. Also called Bowling Green House or Green Man Music hall until 1970s. Green Row was where Wesley stayed after preaching there.

Caves underneath - One from Borehole 4
Whitfield’s Mount. Wesley's first field-preaching in London was at Blackheath in June 1739 on a hillock later known as Whitefield's Mount – and Whitfield too preached from there. It supports the only scrub and woodland found in the middle of the Heath
Mount Pond tends to dry out in summer and is dominated by non-native plants - New Zealand pigmy weed and button weed.

Blackheath Hill
Roman Road. Very dangerous and nasty when it became a turnpike in 1756. The trust reduced the steepness in 1785 and widened in 1826 following purchase of property from Morden College. In 2000 it collapsed and engineers secured it with Microgravity - a technique that uses the earth's own gravity to identify voids/loosely compacted soil. The area is made up of chalk overlaid with Thanet Sand and the road follows the route of the Roman Road which was narrower than the modern road and is substantially intact. Chalk extraction has taken place since medieval times. And quarries had been backfilled. But it is believed that water is the most likely culprit - either as ground water percolating down the hill or a sudden rush.
Chalk workings. The hill and the road are cut through an area of chalk quarries. Lime kilns – the earliest reference is in 1677.
Air raid shelters. A survey by Lewisham Borough Engineer's Department in January 1941 identified an old quarry face between Blackheath Hill and Morden Hill as a place into which a drift tunnel could be driven to accommodate 8,700 people. The proposed entrances were to be in Lethbridge Road and Lewisham Hill, with an old well in the garden of 'Morden Cliff to serve as a ventilation shaft. Too expensive and never done.
33-35 1848
37-45, 19th
53-73 1820
60 Horse and Groom. Tudor style coaching inn built 1937. There was an extensive cave system under the pub used for tourists and then as an air raid shelter. On the southern side of the road. It suddenly descended several feet into its own cellar and stood there held up by scaffolding, a storey shorter than it used to be. Demolished.
70-74 19th, with design of greyhounds
87 built by Morden College – originally an extension originally to 89
89 set back from the road, with fanlight and Tuscan porch. 1770s
91 19th
93 built by Morden College 18th with 19th shop front
98-110 built by Morden College, 1780s an irregular terrace
Robinscroft Mews site of Blackheath Hill Station. Opened 18th September 1871 by London Chatham and Dover Railway. The line ran between Greenwich and Nunhead. Closed January 1917. The line 1871 only opened as far as here from lack of money. A street level building was above the tracks and connected to the platforms by a footbridge. There were waiting facilities only on the up side, where there was an awning. After closure it became a light engineering works, and was rebuilt. The markings of a smoke outlet pipe, added after closure, remained on a sidewall. The tunnel under Blackheath Hill to the station was also used as a factory.
Boundary Stone on the corner Point Hill
Court Leet, posting house. It was the First stage out of London into Kent, Its Stabling and horses took up the whole of the island site between main road Dartmouth Row, Dartmouth Place and the Heath. It had seating for 300 and was used by the bible society and London City Mission. Now only a bus stop
Duke's Head. Developed from a market house set up in Fair field for the Blackheath Fair. In 1792 it was the first local post office.
Flats by London County Council - those on the south side of the road now demolished following subsidence.
Holy Trinity Church. Designed by J. Wild in c1839. Early English. Stock brick, street front with two spires. Demolished
Underground passage is said to pass beneath the hill. Never found

Blisset Street,
Called after a local family one of the lime burners
2 Royal George. Named after the flagship of Admiral Kempenflet. 1850 Shepherd Neame pub. Closed.
Railway Line. The line from Nunhead to Greenwich went under Blackheath Hill. It then went into a deep cutting and into a 150 yard covered way, under Blissett Street.

Cade Road
Road on the heath with a variety of grasses in short acid grassland forming a mosaic among taller grasses. There is also elm scrub as well as oak and silver birch. There are also flowers like common knapweed and oxeye daisy

Chesterfield Gardens
On site of Clifton House, The Yews and Crooms Hill House
Flats 1937, extended in 1950 by W. Braxton Sinclair.
10 has a stone door case with swan-necked pediment which came from Croom's Hill House built 1723, and demolished in 1938

Chesterfield Walk
Avenue of trees from the Ranger's House alongside the park wall to Blackheath.
Montague House. It was owned by the Hervey family in 1703 and in 1806 occupied by Princess Caroline. The house was demolished by order of Prince George in 1815 after his wife had left for the Continent. Site is part of Rangers House Garden.
McCartney House. Well and passage underneath it. Constructed illegally in Charles 11's reign on royal property. In 1751 it was owned by James Wolfe's father. Wolfe stayed there between campaigns and it from here that he left for Quebec. An irregular complex with several additions, which incorporate one or two late c 17 buildings. Soane made additions in 1802 and remodelled the interior. Further extensions alter 1886; conversion to flats 1925. Blue plaque put up in 1909 to General Wolfe by the London County Council
Stable Yard courtyard with 18th tethering post
Cottage and coachman's house
Rangers House 1989, b, Philip Garnet. Wolseley plaques in the stonework. Constructed illegally in Charles 11's reign on royal property. A red-brick villa with a balustrade, and wings added on either side. It belonged to the Earl of Chesterfield and many of his "Letters to his Son' were written from here. The front probably dares from the occupancy of Admiral Hosier pre 1727. Gallery added in 1749-50, perhaps by Isaac Ware, for the fourth Earl of Chesterfield - subdivided, it was restored in 1959-60; and since 1974 it has housed the Suffolk Collection of Tudor portraits. A spiral staircase provides access to the central cupola which is seated inside, like a miniature gazebo. In 1815 it became the official residence of the Ranger of Greenwich Park. Bought by L.C.C and passed English Heritage.
Lime Avenue planted to commemorate the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977

Dabin Crescent,
Railway Greenwich Park Line. There are some remains of the covered way which led towards the terminus in the upper section of the cutting wall which overlooks a playground.

Dartmouth Grove
This is an encroachment on the heath
Sherwell and Lydia. Houses, built by architect Thomas Gayfere after 1776. Stuccoed, with bays on the ground floor. This must be one of the earliest adaptations of such a design for a semi-detached pair. Cantilevered stone staircases inside.

Dartmouth Hill
2 Montague House, mid c18, brick, three storeys, with later porch.
18 on the site of the rebel chapel built by Joshua Morton in about 1790.
20-22 1770s. Their position was dictated by the shallowness of the site.
20 blue plaque to James Glaisher, the astronomer. He worked at the Greenwich Observatory and organised the system of weather forecasting. Plaque erected 1974.

Dartmouth Row
An illegal encroachment on Blackheath. Some of the houses date to the 1690s was probably the first on the heath. Land between Dartmouth Grove and Dartmouth Hill was the site of the Blackheath Fair suppressed for moral reasons by Lord Dartmouth's which allowed him to begin building here.
18 built in 1780 and used as a post office
20 -22 smaller than most in the houses in the road. Perhaps late c 17, but altered.
21 -23 Spencer. Until 1689, part of one mansion with ‘Percival’. After the 1812 assassination of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, his family was linked with the house – hence the names. Doorway, with carved frieze, off centre and windows have lively keystone faces. Staircase and two ground-floor rooms with plasterwork.
Percival House, divided into two dwellings for more than a century and those dwellings into flats. 1690s.
22a and 24-26 are, by Leonard Hunt, 1911, Arts and Crafts rather than neo-Georgian.
25 Hurricane pilot killed when his parachute didn't open September 1940
28 1794, L-plan, with a timber-framed weather boarded part on the garden side. A late example of such materials, although it could be older.
30 and 30a. Divided in 1924. Original is pre-1753. Central door with heavy keystones, the upper window with stone surrounds.
32, later stucco
34, brick
36a – 39 these houses have been so often altered, enlarged and subdivided, that it is very difficult to determine what survives of 17th fabric.
5 result of the suppression of the fair.
Church of the Ascension. Built as a private chapel for Dartmouth House or the Dartmouth Chapel. The church was first a chapel of ease endowed in 1697. It has a modest exterior, with small cupola. The decorated apse results from a rebuilding of 1750. The nave was restored in 1950 by Robert Potter after war damage. The galleries except for one have been removed. Heraldic glass by Francis Spear.
Dartmouth Hill House. Now gone.
Dartmouth House. Home of Legge family, Lords of Manor of Lewisham since 17th. Roman remains in the garden are now in BM. Large, plain mid-18th which might have been called the manor house of Lewisham, but never was. Later it became the Palace of the Bishop of Southwark and then was used by the religious College of Greyladies and later the Southwark Diocesan Home. Built c.1750, large and plain, with canted bays,
Grey ladies Gardens – built in the grounds of Dartmouth House.
1-5 Dartmouth Terrace

Diamond Terrace
Features in films 'The Crying Game’
1-2 with early 19th balconies,
1a a purple brick house with a partly open ground floor by Julian Sofaer, 1963-5
4-8 1859
Sand mine. 19th mine for silver sand
Diamond Cottage 1844
Cedar Bank 1861

Dutton Street
Once called Trinity Street. Laid out by George Smith for Morden College. Dutton was one of the promoters of the Greenwich Railway

Eliot Vale
Named for landowners, Eliots.
Lease granted by the Earl of St.Germans to Alexander Doull for development in 1790s. There is acid grassland here and a variety of grasses there are many Grasshoppers here in summer
1-6 Haddo Villas
2-3 The Close 1881 by W.J. Green, behind a lodge with black and white half- timbering
5-6 domestic Tudor dated at the back 1877.
3-5 The Meadway Eliot Vale Cottage 1804,
8 -9 1805
8 Eliot Vale House
9 The Lodge
Eliot Pits have woodland and scrub on the slopes, with damp grassland at the bottom, where plants such as hairy sedge can be found including fiddle dock.
Tudor defensive blockhouse found here in 1953. Built under Henry VIII to defend the Dover Road. It was a cylindrical building on which to mount cannon

Eliot Hill
Old gravel pit
1 - 6 Eliot Hill, built 1864. Designed to give the impression of a single detached house.
The Knoll. Large house Built late 1790s to the designs of George Gibson. Since about 1905 it has been divided into two, one of which is Old Knoll. Two projecting wings, one with a projecting balustraded billiard hall added in the 1850s. Two tented balconies in the centre of the garden front.
Garden building. Here in the 18th this belonged to Montague House and was demolished 1815
LCC boundary markers at Old Knoll.

Granville Park
Semi-detached houses of the 1850s and '60s. Quaggy is underground here but is the boundary of Lee and Blackheath.
Cast iron London County Council marker shows the end of their common land
Steps under the railway on the line of an old path from Lewisham to Blackheath. Rail siding closed 1963
8 Samuel Smiles was also said to live here. Home of the Stantons who owned Lewisham Silk Mills
11 Samuel Smiles’ home. Lewisham Plaque put up in 1959 – but it is wrong. The apostle of self-help really lived from 1860 to 1863 at no. 12,
12 where Samuel Smiles really lived
Granville House 1854
28 Garden designer's garden with Pool, herbaceous and shrub planting around circular lawns, gravel garden and sunken terrace with pots.

Greenwich Park
Roman road alignment across the park
'Ranger's Field' resembles a typical English village green behind Rangers House. Exotic trees planted
Princess Caroline's Bath in area of the park which was the garden of Montague House. It was filled in but the position is clear

Greenwich South Street
John Penn and Widow Smith Almshouses. Built by John Penn’s wife in his memory. Designed by George Smith in 1884, red brick and stone. For retired workers from the works. Widow Smith’s almshouses had been in Trafalgar Road.
97 Vicarage to St.Paul’s church By W.M.Teulon.

Hare and Billet Road,
A parkland road running east/west across Blackheath–it is essentially part of a foot path from Greenwich to Blackheath Village.
Sand pits opposite the pub – the Hare and Billet pond could have originated in this way, or not.
Hare and Billet pub. Is on an area of encroachment into the heath originating around 1730 by Giles Stubbs. The pub is first mentioned by name in 1765. Around it were cottages called ‘The Blue Houses’ which had gone by the 1850s.

Heath Lane
An old right of way extending the footpath from St Margaret's church to Blackheath
this would have needed a bridge over the Upper Kid Brook but has been developed diverted

Holly Hedge House. Home of the Territorial Auxiliary and Volunteer Reserve Association. The site is one of the earliest encroachments on Blackheath, dating to at least 1689. It was the site of a windmill enclosed by a holly hedge. By the late 1760s it was the site of The Hollies or Holly Hedge House, used by the younger sons of the Earls of Dartmouth. In 1887 the Blackheath units of the Kent Artillery took it over along with the rifle brigades based in a Drill Hall in Vanbrugh Park. The War Office took over a separate piece of land for use by the regular army as married quarters. TAVRA have remained here. During the Second World War it was used by the Searchlight Unit of the 20th London (Queen's Own Royal West Kent) Battalion. The old building suffered damage in World War II, and was demolished in 1946 and replaced by an addition to a 1938 building which incorporates, the staircase of the original house.
The "Nelson Lion"- Coade stone 1810. Said to be a reject from a pair cast incorrectly for a pediment in the Royal Hospital
The "Deptford Pump", reputedly a rallying point for the local militia during the Napoleonic Wars
20th London Regiment Memorial identified by the iron railings with crosses at their tips. Unveiled by the future King George VI in 1920.
Roman camp in the north west of the site
Position of a flagstaff and a battery of two old 24lb guns originally set up in August 1860,
Holly Hedge bungalows, 30 prefabs for families bombed out in Greenwich.
Pump in a limestone pillar
Mill. Probably erected at about the 1680s. Probably a post mill. Probably demolished in 1770s. No indication what was milled

Hyde Vale
Drinking fountain, square base and limestone fountain. Horse trough in front 1877

Lethbridge Estate
Slopes of Loat's chalk pits

Lewisham Hill
Heath terrace. 1854 site of an old wooden house called the Manor House with Dickens associations
Lacey House & Burnett House, large Victorian houses survive from 1870s development
Blocks of flats replaced Dartmouth Terrace which was a row of twenty houses built c.1820. Some bomb damage from 1944.
59, 61, 63 last three Victorian survivors built 1865. They were called Dartmouth Point - the original name of the corner.
Nurses' Home, by Bertram Carter, 1938, with additions of 1948-9. Progressive for its time. Semicircular glass staircase shafts.
Fire hydrant iron pavement cover. Made by James Simpson & Co. By Elliot Hill junction.

Lewisham Road
Tesco Store. A sprawling building in vernacular style, c1987.
Eagle House, built c1870 as the office of Anchor Brewery established here in 1818. H & V Nicholls ran the brewery between 1839 and 1982. It was taken over by Whitbreads in 1891 and became its first bottling plant, closing in 1984.
Relief sculpture on the side wall. The Picnic, by Gerda Rubinstein 1988.
292/303 Heath Terrace a terrace of 1854;
Obelisk and drinking fountain, of limestone and of mysterious origin. It dates from 1866 the area was being built up. It may have had some decorative function. It says it was erected by public subscription. Metal plate at the back has gone.
Morden College marker
Elliott Brothers, Entrance to GEC Elliott car park, pioneering computer manufacturers. Moved here in 1898. ‘Century Works’ opened in 1900, with 300 workers producing quality instruments for navigation, surveying, calculating, telegraphy, optics, mechanical and electrical engineering. Taken over by GEC and moved to Rochester
165 Anchor Pub. Basic local with old photos on the walls.
122 Sydney Arms
Heathside Estate, the earlier L.C.C. type of walk-up flats, c. 1948 by E. Armstrong.

Lindsell Street
Fire Station
Railway The line from Nunhead to Greenwich passed under Lindsell Street, and ran into a covered way. Two modern Department of Transport 'Weak Bridge' signs remained near a play ground.

Maidenstone Hill
Name may mean ‘fortified hill’ like in Maiden Castle. The area around it used to be called Troy Town – a name for old mazes. Some development there by 1700. Later Morden College development. Chalk workings underneath
1/33 College Place East by George Smith 1842 . Frank Brearly and Aeronautical Society
35 1799 former estate office for Morden College. With a 18th wooden front five windows wide, with imitation-rustication to the ground floor. Morden College plaque
37/75 College Place West 1845
2/8, not Morden College. Modest early c 19
10/18 not Morden College
Morden Hill
St John's Hospital. The core is Brandon House, of 1840. The Sisterhood of St John the Divine - an Anglican Sisterhood In 1883, the Sisterhood opened a small hospital in Lewisham and later moved into the former All Saints' Boys' Orphanage. And opened in 1886 as St John's Hospital for Men and Women, plus a training school for nurses. Following by 1923, it has 102 beds. In 1923, the Community of St John the Divine resigned all their duties in the hospital, but the traditional uniform and badge was worn until the introduction of the NHS in 1948. St John's Hospital closed in 1979. Demolished

Orchard Drive
North Several. An encroachment onto the heath. Seven houses by Royston Summers, 1969, three storeys, all glass walls...

Pagoda Gardens
The Pagoda. Chinese Style. The 4th Earl of Cardigan who lived at Rangers House Wanted a summer house and when Princess Caroline moved into Montague House she used the Pagoda as her nursery school and garden. It is a three-storey rectangular house crowned by a huge lead-clad pagoda roof with upswept corners and hooked finials of forbidding size. . The date of this Chinese extravaganza is uncertain - it could have been built as early as c. 1760, - around the same time as Chambers pagoda Kew. Historic garden by Jekyll-Jungle. Terraced formal garden with an informal water garden with stream; lush subtropical planting.

Point Hill
The Point. Hillside covered in woodland and scrub, providing habitat for common birds. Spectacular view northwards towards the City and Docklands. The only place on the Heath where knotted clover can be found which produces pale pink flowers in late May.
John Crowley, Ambrose Crowley’s son had an estate on the hill. The 18th development resulting in the building of Chocolate Row on Conduit Field and Conduit Vale which was called Sots Hole. The Name came from Chocolate House or Assembly Rooms owned by Chocolate maker John Smith.,
Point cavern. The, 170 feet deep cavern supposed to be Temple of Isis but probably a chalk mine. It was an 18th nightclub. Which seems to have been hollowed out by the Steers family in the reign of King Charles 11 to furnish chalk for the family's lime Kilns. The cave was used for drinking parties but these got out of hand they were closed. In 1939 they were considered for an air raid shelter and a timbered shaft was sunk at the rear of 77 Maidenstone Hill. In 1946 it was decided to seal the cavern once more. The last person to leave the Main Chamber put the names of the party on the wall and propped up candles on the bar for the next explorers to find. The site of the entrance shaft is now overgrown and there is no sign of it
2 1830 Hyde Vale Estate
5 1840
43, woodland
Conduits known to exist underground.

Shooters Hill Road
1 Heath House 1852
Pump stood east of Hyde Vale. 1860s. gone

Silk Mills Path
Footpath, starts at the railway viaduct in Lewisham Road. It continues between the River Ravensbourne and the Tesco store, and then emerges on Conington Road
Lewisham Silk Mills. Gateway piers and part of the wall remain. Originally c1895, but restored and moved further apart after the war. The mill site was to the west of Silk Mills Path; it is now covered by the Conington Industrial Estate and in part disused. A medieval corn mill site. The site was formerly the Armoury Mill, established by the 14th; and which it ground steel for Henry VlII's armoury at the Palace of Placentia at Greenwich, and continued this work for royal armouries up to c1637. It then had a variety of uses until 1807, when it became the Royal Small Arms Factory; this closed in 1818. By 1825 the mill was used for silk throwing, converting raw silk into silk thread, and eventually became known as Lewisham Silk Mills, producing gold and silver thread. The mill produced wire only from 1930 to 1937, when the buildings were demolished.
Boundary stone. 2 cannon taken from here, now in the library. ,
1-6 enclave of Italianate houses,
Sharsted Villas of the 1850s.
Railway arches used as workshops

Smiles Place
Lewisham boundary stone. Defaced to confuse the enemy in 2nd World War
Boundary post for Greenwich

Sparta Street
Quarry face at the rear
Flats - The curved range has some character.

St.Austell Road
Quarry remains
Boundary of Dartmouth House

The Orchard
Encroachment the 18th work of Duncan Campbell who profited both from being overseer of the hulks prison ships moored in the Thames and from his slave plantation in Jamaica.

Walerand Road
Modern flats by the junction with Lewisham Hill. With gate piers and part of the wall remaining from Colfe’s School of 1889 which replaced the original building on the site. Colfe’s School was founded in 1652 by Abraham Colfe, Vicar of Lewisham, and taken over by the Leathersellers Company after his death in 1657. It moved from this site to Horn Park Lane, Lee, in 1964.

Wat Tyler Road
Features in films 'The Crying Game’

West Grove
5 La Bagatelle on site of Bexley House
6/8 1766
9/12 1872 a dominant High Victorian terrace of 1873,
10 Grove Cottage
Chocolate Row
14 Crossletts 1740 eighteenth century wall. Early c 18 altered
17, Manna Mead Searles 1793
Conduit House on site of 14 Grove House
18 Point House 1730s
Coach House
Point House c 18 with views over Blackheath and towards the river. Probably dates from the 1750s but a house existed here by 1734. Unusual triangular oriel window.

Westgrove Lane
Was Nightingale Lane. Passages underneath
1 1789-90, three broadly spaced windows.
15 1855 lions and dogs on the parapet
23/25 entrance block

Aslet.  The Story of Greenwich/
Banbury. Shipbuilders of the Thames and Medway,
Blackheath nature trail,
Blue Plaque Guide
Bygone Kent
Chelsea Speleological Society Newsletter
Church of the Ascension. Web site
Clunn. The Face of London
East London History Society Newsletter
Egan. .Kidbrooke
Field. London Place Names,
Glencross. The Buildings of Greenwich
GLIAS. Newsletter
Goldsmiths. South East London Industrial Archaeology
Greenwich Historical Association. Transactions
Hamilton. Royal Greenwich
Hare and Billet. Web site
London Transport. Country Walks
London Borough of Greenwich. Local List
Lost Hospitals of London. Web site
Lewisham Local History Journal
Lucas. London
Mercury. Industries of Greenwich
Osborne. Defending London
Port of London Magazine
Rangers House. Web site
Rhind. The Heath,
Spurgeon. Discover Greenwich
Spurgeon. Discover Deptford and Lewisham
Summerson. Georgian Houses
Thames Basin Archaeology of Industry Report


Unknown said…
Are Eliot Hilland ,Lewisham Hill and are still existing now?I want to know,cos the two fascinates me..I am fun of vintage houses..And I wanted to visit vintage houses..
greenwich estate agent
Anonymous said…
The "sudden rush" of water that caused Blackheath Hill to collapse in 2000 occurred just downhill of where Thames Water's high-pressure pipes had needed to be repaired several times in the few years preceding the road collapse. Also just opposite where a pub had recently subsided with water in its basement with its owners being paid to go quietly. Several walls higher up the hill show no sign that much rain ever drained that way off the heath and anyway the collapse occurred after a whole month without rain. Draw your own conclusions about what caused the road to collapse and which bunch of corporate fat cats escaped responsibility for their failings.

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