Memories around the Mysterious Pond

I’ve been meaning to act on this wonderful piece sent in by Tony. I’ve just not had time… At some point I will go and take photos of all of the places he mentions:

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.


Filed under blackheath, history

4 responses to “Memories around the Mysterious Pond

  1. Fizzy

    I moved to Blackheath in the late 1970s and I can certainly remember the remnants of the pond were there amongst the sagging willows. I don’t know if it was finally drained, or whether the puddling clay lining just gave up.

  2. Hi

    I grew up on the Casterbridge Estate. The second pond mentioned in this thread was constructed in 1827 apparently? The pond, or should I really say “Lake” remains an important feature to this lovely peaceful corner of the surrounding Cator Estate. Thankfully, volunteers help to keep it clean and even Greenwich council have finally started to look after things properly after years of dodging responsibilty!

    A new fountain has been installed, you can see it in the Google map image as a cascade in the most open part of the lake.

    As a youth during the 70’s, I swam in the lake [good knows why?] and it was a meeting place for young loves doing their courting … how times change!

    I always wondered why and when the local landmark ‘The bumpy wall’ was constructed? Did it form part of the original lake construction, or was it placed in a position to allow horses to be tied to, and be able to drink from the lake many years ago?

    • I have recently moved into this area, and liking local history. Like myself , I have read the same tale about these columns from wricklemarsh to make the Paragon colonades. The claim that the columns of the paragon came from wricklemarsh is false.The book is in Blackheath standard Reference Library, and its the history of the Paragon only. It quotes, ” wricklemarsh house was finished late in 1724,or early 1725 and coade did not come into popular use until 1769. 32 inche in diameter, where the paragon is 18inches. In victorian times one piece of the colomns was found in the gardens in 103 blackheath park road, and had been used as step up for mounting horses, and was placed by Mr Brown in front of the Paragon, where it stills lays.” I went round, and it still exist dead centre of the paragon between no 7 and 8 on the front lawn.

    • Haley


      I live on the Casterbridge Estate and have lived in the area all my life, all 32 years of it! I would love to find out the history behind the lake, the statue that sits in the middle of the island, the red brick dome, and the old donkey fields which is now Guy Barnett Grove.

      The only information I can find is that the ornamental lake belonged to Casterbridge House formerly known as Elmsdale, not sure if that is correct.

      I love the idea of kids swimming in the lake having fun. My earliest childhood memory is of feeding the ducks at the pond, something my own children also enjoy to do now.

      It would be great if anyone could give me some more info or point me in the right direction.

      Many thanks

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