Hi – I used to live in Blackheath (on the Lane, in Blackheath Park/Cator Estate, then Southvale Road) and although I don’t any more, I have a great fondness for the place and I love reading your blog.
I saw your comment about the Mysterious Pond – apologies if you know all this already, but if not I might be able to shed some light on it.
Living in Blackheath Park, I was always fascinated by the story of Wricklemarsh House (Neil covers it at length so I won’t give the whole story!) and used to spend time trying to track down any remnants of it.
Take a look at this map
Right slap bang in the middle, you’ve got the Grand House – and a wonderful piece of Georgian bling it was too, as these pictures will show.
It must have had great views up there at the top of the hill, although interesting it faced away from London, not towards it.
What we’re interested in are its formal gardens and especially the round pound to the north of the house. Although the house was demolished, the pond remained for many years after – hence ‘Pond Road’, and the kink in the road, as it travels round it just north of the railway bridge. The pond was drained at some point in the 20th century, not sure when, but it’s still very obvious where it was.
If you stand at the junction of the South Row and Pond Road, you’re at the entrance to the grounds of the old house, and I enjoyed standing there, picturing the grand avenue leading up the hill, with the road to the house following Pond Road up the hill, with the avenue of trees on either side. Once you’ve over the bridge, Pond Road is still a grand road, and I used to wonder if some of the ancient trees on either side might pre-date the houses and have come from that avenue.
When you reach the junction of Pond Road and Blackheath Park, you’re standing exactly where Wricklemarsh stood. Another avenue of trees would continue down what is now Foxes Dale, and another would run east-west along Blackheath Park Road itself – again, I look at the ancient trees along there, and I wonder if they were planted at the time of the grand house.
However, even more interesting is the *other* pond. Looking back at the old map, you’ll see another pond to the south, fed by a small stream called the ‘Kid’ (hence Kidbrooke). ‘Brookway’, off Foxes Dale, is another clue to its path.
Now, that pond has *mostly* been drained, but a small ornamental area of it still remains. Go east, along Brookway, to the Casterbridge estate – and there, in the middle, is a pond – a pond I’m quite confident that was part of the grounds of Wricklemarsh. Look closely at the island – you’ll see there’s a still a bit of decorative statuary remain, and there’s an ornate little bridge too (I hope, anyway, it’s been a while and my memory isn’t 100% reliable). It’s all still there on this Google map.
And what of the Wricklemarsh – well, James Cator knocked it down and developed the estate, but he did keep that wonderful collonnaded front for his own house.
Monthly Archives: June 2009
These videos really show how the cat flew through the air – pawing the wind like water as it went! Thanks to Ben for sending them in. If you’ve taken any photos or videos of the Blackheath Bike and Kite Festival, please add them to the comments below.
And a question – do the local council make a profit from the Bike and Kite festival? My initial assumption was no, until I saw the number of traffic wardens roaming around over the weekend… They looked like they were issuing a bumper crop of parking tickets!
If you didn’t manage to go to the Bike and Kite festival on Saturday, then try and go on Sunday. It was really something special, as the video above by YouTube user Jadepike4 demonstrates.
There are always two distinct camps of kite fliers: The model fliers, like inverse puppeteers with their enormous hovering cats, people and teddy bears looming over us. And the stunt fliers, flinging their synchronised kites through the air. I wonder whether the two tribes get along. Do the stunt fliers look down on the modellers as tacky and gauche? Do the modellers think of the stunt fliers as showy and macho? Or maybe not. Maybe they’re just happy to be up in the air.
Here’s an idea for next year – one up from the flying cats (great though they were). In the 16th Century, the Chinese invented a man-lifting kite. This would draw in the crowds next year! Okay, it may be a little dangerous, but could be very exciting too… Perhaps I’ll volunteer to get hoisted up. Makes a change from attaching an old Nokia to a kite.
Click on the Keep Reading link below to view my hundreds of photos – apologies for the dodgy quality, there are far better ones inside the Flickr Blackheath collection.
The first kites! The cat is a truly brilliant kite. And Pocahontas, the blue bear (with trailing honey pot), and the flying flower are also pretty good. But the cat – it’s paws look as though it is swimming through the clouds! Such a great event – enough people to be fun, enough space not to be too crowded. Makes me love London.
It’s a horrible noise… It’s been going all day. But now, because it is out of office hours, Greenwich council can’t do anything about it. I just hope they come home, otherwise it’s going to be bleating away all night, and I want to enjoy the Bike and Kite festival tomorrow… :( The council suggested that I could “phone the police and tell them it’s a break-in”. But it’s not… If it’s still going at 2am I might be tempted…
UPDATE: At the request of the people in question, I’ve removed the photos on this post.
I run a small B&B in the Lake District and last week four lovely Chinese ladies from Hong Kong stayed with us. One of them told me she would love to find her aunt who used to live in Blackheath – did I know how she could find her? Unfortunately she doesn’t know her aunt’s surname – she married a western man named **** and she would be in her 60s now. He, or she, (or maybe both) may be a doctor. But, vitally, the last known address was ** Kidbrooke Grove, SE3 (sometime in the 80s).
Its a long shot but does anyone in Blackheath know of this lady or where she is now? I have a contact email address in Hong Kong for any info which I know would be very gratefully received.
In this week of grim news about the fascists going to Europe, it’s a nice story – somebody must know something about the mystery couple… Let me know and I’ll pass it on. Hope we have more luck than with the Travelcard!
Found a real treat ın The Bookshop on the Heath. It’s a reprint of an older guide called The Borough Pocket Guide. Page 30 of Neil Rhind’s “Blackheath Village and Environs” history book says that the original was printed in 1909, but this is a later reprint. It must have been reprinted before 1990, as the London telephone number on the inlay slip begins with “01-”.
Anyway, it’s great. I’ve scanned it, and converted it to a PDF file. I’m unsure of the copyright, but will of course delete it if asked to – although it seems that this kind of obscure ephemera is what the internet was made for!
There’s a fold out map in the middle by G.W.Bacon and Co Ltd, 127 Strand, London, and you’ll be happy to see that The Mysterious Pond is still present at this time (see image above, or page 14 of the PDF file).
I’ve only just got the scanner (birthday present!), and the PDF file is all over the place – I can’t work out how to split the pages and number them correctly, but it’s still readable.
If there is going to be a South East London Tweetup (despite the supposed ban on adding the letters TW to the beginnings of words that shouldn’t have them), then it is going to be in a pub in Blackheath. Great! Easy for buglers, but seems to have left the organiser @troublebrother with a problem. All of the pubs in Blackheath have something missing… As he says:
- The railway, has a cider festival at the moment, for drinkers this may to place. However ifs its a nice evening not much space out side
- O’Neils . No
- Hare & Billet Lovely wood floors but can’t go outside. Not much space in side if Tweetup goes massive
- The Crown. Has a terrace, which can get busy in the evening.
- The Princess of Wales. Trumps the Crown in terrace stakes, as it potentially has whole heath. Also has shrine to Blackheath Rugby – my troubled mistress.
Personally I’d go for the Hare and Billet every time if the beer was a bit better. You can lurk outside on the heath (they will give you plastics though). It’s quieter and isn’t constantly heaving with people… Unless you really want to go to the secret weapon – The Dacre Arms! Although technically I think it’s just outside Blackheath. I agree with his O’Neil’s argument too.
Last year, Blackheath had £10k to spend on useful things in the area.
Not sure how much Boris will be doling out this year (assuming he’s dried himself off), but there is a meeting to decide how to spend the money on Tuesday 9th June 2009 at St Matthew Academy, St Joseph’s Vale off Lee Terrace SE3. 7.30pm. Hopefully the Google map is out of date, otherwise we’ll all be standing in a building site!
More about the assembly on the Lewisham council website.
The Blackheath Society’s page about it.
The I ♥ Blackheath facebook page talking about the assembly.
Godfried Gyechie – a local councillor on the assembly (link seems to have died, and bring your spell checker!).