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.
Tag Archives: blackheath park
The strange hexagonal house in Blackheath Park has been spotted in a music video. A keen-eyed reader named “Prawntail” wrote:
This house is often used for promo shoots. I attended a shoot here for David Holmes… The lady of the house sits in a lovely summer house in the back garden and watches the ridiculous posturing go on, happy to chat about history of house. Personally I found the interior terribly male. Garden is lovely though.
Many thanks for the tip! You can watch the video by clicking on it, or click on the link here.
The song is called “Sugar Man” and is by “David Holmes presents The Free Association” (C) 2003 Mercury Records Limited.
You might be able to get in on CD from Amazon.
The Bugle had some misdelivered post today. So rather than stick it back in the post box, I thought I’d walk it to its rightful letterbox. The road in question was Blackheath Park, a beautiful private road, originally part of the Cator Estate, and full of spectacular leafy Victorian and Georgian houses.
I delivered the letter, and was walking back down the road, when I saw the most extraordinary house. Number 10 Blackheath Park looks like it has dropped down from out of space in comparison with the properties next to it, but doesn’t offend them, and actually seems to blend in (or maybe the trees around it soften the blow).
The front has a most peculiar spiral shaped tower of steps leading up to a raised front door, combined with a strange little water feature. I did a bit of research, and it seems to have been built by an architect called Partick Gwynne, who died in 2003. According to this article in The Telegraph, it was built in the Sixties:
The best of Gwynne’s houses date from the hedonistic 1960s: Witley Park, where the staircase seems to float; 10 Blackheath Park, where the four principal rooms were designed as hexagons because the owner thought a series of small, inter-linked rooms ideal for parties.
Pevsner described 10 Blackheath Park, with its black slate facings and horizontal bronze-tinted glazing, as “designed to shock”. Though some of Gwynne’s houses have been demolished, most have lasted well, often in the hands of their original owners or of new owners keen to value them. Four of them have already been listed, a record that few of his contemporaries can rival.