- Blackheath, London
infobox UK place
static_image_caption= All Saints' Church
country = England
map_type = Greater London
constituency_westminster= Lewisham East and Greenwich and Woolwich
Blackheath is an area in southeast London, centred around a section of open public grassland ('the Heath') and straddling the boundary of the
London Borough of Lewishamand the London Borough of Greenwich. The focal point of Blackheath is its centre which is known as the Village. The borough boundary runs across the middle of the heath; much of Blackheath Village on the south side of the Heath lies in Lewisham, while the Blackheath Standard area and that part of the Village around Blackheath Halls lie on the north and eastern side respectively, in Greenwich. Blackheath was the centre of the ancient "Hundred of Blackheath".Mills, A., "Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names", (2001)]
Blackheath was so called because it appeared a much darker colour than the green fields beside the Thames which it overlooked - the soil was dark and so were the plants which grew there. Contrary to local belief that in 1665 many of the London-based victims of the plague were buried on the Heath, the name has nothing to do with the plague or Black Death. Certain sources tell us that a combination of the words "bleak" and "heath" lead to the area's name. The soil was of poor quality and was not cultivated, but chalk, gravel and larger pebbles for ballast were dug out of it. This left the deep pits all over the Heath. Some are now ponds and some were filled in with rubble from bomb sites in the Second World War.
Blackheath was settled by Romans as a stopping point on
Watling Street. In the reign of Ethelred the Unready, the Danish fleet anchored in the river Thames off Greenwichfor over three years, with the army being encamped on the hill above and from here they attacked Kent. Some vestiges of the Danish camps may be traced in the names of Eastcombe and Westcombe, on the borders of Blackheath. [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=45486 'Greenwich', The Environs of London: volume 4: Counties of Herts, Essex & Kent (1796), pp. 426-93] accessed: 26 May 2007] Blackheath was later a rallying point for Wat Tyler's Peasants' Revoltof 1381, and for Jack Cade's Kentish rebellion in 1450. Wat Tyler is remembered by Wat Tyler Road on the heath. After pitching camp on Blackheath, Cornish rebels were defeated in the Battle of Deptford Bridge (sometimes called the Battle of Blackheath), just to the west, on 17 June 1497. With Watling Street crossing the heath carrying stagecoaches en route to north Kent and the Channel ports, it was also a notorious haunt of highwaymen during the 17th century. Many years later, Blackheath also had strong associations with the campaign for women's suffrage, the suffragettemovement.
The sizeable prestigious private estate of Blackheath Park, created by
John Catorand known as the Cator Estate, is situated east of Blackheath village. Built in the late 1700s and early 1800s, it contains many fine examples of substantial Georgian and Victorian houses - most notably Michael Searles' The Paragon crescent - as well as some 1930s and 1960s additions. St Michael and All Angels Church, designed by local architectGeorge Smith and completed in 1830, was dubbed the "Needle of Kent" in honour of its tall, thin spire (it is also nicknamed the "Devil's Pick" or "The Devil's Toothpick"). All Saints Church, situated on the Heath, dates from 1857 and was designed by the architect Benjamin Ferrey. The Cator Estate was built on part of the estate formerly owned by Sir John Morden, whose Morden College(1695) is another notable building to the south-east of the Heath. The Cator Estate also contains innovative 1960s 'Span' houses and flats by the renowned Span Developments(architect Eric Lyons).
The main centre of Blackheath - 'the village' - lies to the south side of the heath in the vicinity of
Blackheath railway station, and is home to numerous shops, restaurants and pubs. All Saints' parish church stands on the heath itself, apart from the other buildings of the village. Approximately one mile to the north-east, Blackheath Standard is another shopping area, taking its name from the 'Royal Standard' pub.
Just south of the railway station, on the edge of the Blackheath Park estate, is the Blackheath Conservatoire of Music and the Arts. Next door is Blackheath Halls, a concert venue today owned and managed by
Trinity College of Music(based in nearby Greenwich). The heath is host to a free annual fireworks display on the Saturday in November closest to Guy Fawkes Night, jointly organised and now financed by the London Boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham. The show has become one of the UK's most popular and largest fireworks displays with over forty thousand spectators [ [http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/NewsAndEvents/News/NewsArchive/OctoberDecember2006/BlackheathFireworks2006.htm "Blackheath Fireworks 2006: safe and spectacular"] accessed 11 Jul 2007] .
In 1608, according to tradition, Blackheath was the place where
golfwas introduced to England - the Royal Blackheath Golf Club (based in nearby Eltham since 1923) was one of the first golf associations established (1766) outside Scotland. Blackheath also gave its name to the first hockey club, established during the mid 19th century.
However, Blackheath is perhaps most famous as the home of the
Blackheath Rugby Club, founded in 1858, which is the oldest documented rugby club in England. The Blackheath club also organised the world's first rugby international (between England and Scotland in Edinburghon 27 March 1871) and hosted the first international between England and Wales ten years later — the players meeting and getting changed at the Princess of Wales public house. Blackheath were one of the 12 founding members of the Football Associationin 1863, as well as Blackheath Proprietary Schooland Percival House, from Blackheath too.Cricket has been played on the 'Heath' itself since the 1820s. By 1890, London County Councilwas maintaining 36 pitches. [http://www.blackheathcc.com Blackheath Cricket Club] has been part of the sporting fabric of the area, joining forces with Blackheath Rugby Club in 1883 to purchase and develop the Rectory Fieldas a home ground. As well as hosting quality club cricket for getting on for 150 years, Blackheath CC hosted 84 first class Kent County matches between 1887 and 1971. For a list of these see: [http://uk.cricinfo.com/db/SOCIETIES/ENG/ACS/FC_MATCH_LIST/ENG/BYPLACE/BLACKHEATH_RECTORY_FIELD.html]
There is also a long history of
kite flyingon the heath. Growing popularity of the sportin recent years has attracted many kite flyers and kitebuggying is also a common sight on the heath.
Greenwich Park, Blackheath is also well-known as the start point of the London Marathon. This maintains a connection with athletics dating back to the establishment of the Blackheath Harriers (now Blackheath and Bromley Harriers) in 1869.
(in alphabetical order)
Sophie Aldred, actress and television presenter, was raised in Blackheath and attended Blackheath High School.
John Julius Angerstein, whose art collection formed the basis of the National Gallery, Londonin 1824, built Woodlands House, Mycenae Road, Westcombe Park.
Danny Baker, BBC London radio presenter and television personality
British hip hopartist, was raised and schooled in Blackheath.
Richard Branson, entrepreneur, was born in Blackheath.
Captain Samuel Brown, naval officer, engineer and inventor, died at Vanbrugh Lodge, Vanbrugh Fields, Blackheath in 1852.
Caroline of Brunswick, married to the Prince Regent, was banished in 1799 to a private residence ('The Pagoda' - attributed to architectSir William Chambers) in Blackheath.
James Callaghan, British Prime Minister1976-1979, lived in Blackheath in the 1950s and 1960s, and his daughter Margaret went to Blackheath High School.
Fanny Cradocklived at 134 Shooters Hill Road
Emily Davison, Suffragette, was born in Blackheath.
Clemence Dane, Playwright and novelist was born in Blackheath.
Francis Dodd(1874-1949), artist, lived at Arundel House, 51 Blackheath Park.
*Montague John Druitt, for many years a popular suspect in the
Jack the Rippermurders, lived in Blackheath, at 9 Eliot Place, during the 1880s.
Peter Martin Duncan(1824-1891), palaeontologistand doctor, practised in Blackheath during 1860s.
Astronomer RoyalSir Frank Watson Dysonlived at 6 Vanbrugh Hill, SE3 between 1894 and 1906 ( blue plaque).
*Sir Arthur Eddington (1882-1944), mathematician & astrophysicist, lived at 4 Bennett Park (
Nick FerrariLBC 97.3 radio presenter.
James Glaisher(1809-1903), who pioneered modern weather forecasting techniques, lived at 22 Dartmouth Hill ( blue plaque).
Charles Gounodlived at 4 Morden Road in 1870 ( blue plaque).
Malcolm Hardee, anarchic comedianlived briefly at 33 Glenluce Road in the late 1990s.
Nathaniel Hawthorne(1804-1864), American author, lived at 4 Pond Road in 1856 ( blue plaque).
Jools HollandOBE, musician with the band Squeeze as well as a solo artist, lives in Westcombe Park.
John Hughes, The Very Reverend, lived as a child on Mycenae Road, Black Heath.
Glenda Jackson, former actress and now MP for Hampstead lives in Blackheath
Jude Law, Actor, attending 'John Ball' primary school.
Albert Lee, guitarist, composer and singer.
*David Lindsay (1897-1945), novelist, born and raised in Blackheath.
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen(Designer) lived in Blackheath
Elisabeth Lutyens, composer, lived in Pond Road.
Donald McGill(1875-1962), postcard cartoonistlived at 5 Bennett Park ( blue plaque).
John Stuart Mill(1806-1873), British philosopher and political economist.
Sir Stuart Milner-Barry, chess player and codebreaker, lived in Blackheath Park.
*Ray Moore (1942-1989), broadcaster and supporter of BBC Children In Need, lived in Blackheath.
Edith Nesbit, author and Fabian, moved to 16 Dartmouth Row in 1879.
Sir Gregory Page, landowner, had houses in Westcombe Park and Wricklemarsh, near Lee.
Jack Peñate, singer/songwriter
Sir James Clark Ross, who in 1831 located the magnetic North Pole, and whom after the Ross Islandand Ross seaare named, lived on Eliot Place.
Lee Ryan, singer, songwriter and actor, former the member of the band Blue
Ignatius Sancho(18th century Black writer, composer, businessman and freed slave)
Axel Scheffler, book illustrator, lives in Blackheath
Boris Starling, novelist, was born and brought up in Blackheath.
Walter Napleton Stone(1891-1917), recipient of the Victoria Cross, was born in Blackheath.
Terry Waite, humanitarian and hostagein Lebanon(1987-1991), lived in Blackheath.
Sir Willard White, opera singer.
Sir Alfred Yarrow, shipbuilder, lived at Woodlands, Mycenae Road, Westcombe Park from 1896.
Transport and locale
Blackheath railway station
Deptford Bridge DLR station
Hither Green railway station
Kidbrooke railway station
Lee railway station
Maze Hill railway station
Westcombe Park railway station
* [http://www.lewisham.myzen.co.uk/gallery Blackheath Photographs]
* [http://www.vimeo.com/979956 An animated comparison of Blackheath High Street in 1900 and now]
* [http://www.blackheath.org The Blackheath Society]
* [http://www.allsaintsblackheath.org/ All Saints'Church, Blackheath]
* [http://www.blackheathhalls.com Blackheath Halls website]
* [http://www.blackheath.co.uk Blackheath Hockey Club]
* [http://www.conservatoire.org.uk Blackheath Conservatoire website]
* [http://www.bandbhac.org.uk Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC website]
* [http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/greenwich/blackheath-park/cator-estate.htm Cator Estate History]
* [http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Blackheath,+Greater+London,+SE3,+UK&ll=51.467590,0.008326&spn=0.020725,0.072814&hl=en Blackheath at Google Maps]
* [http://lewishamnews.blogspot.com/ Lewisham News]
* [http://www.blackheathcc.com Blackheath Cricket Club]
* [http://blackheathbugle.wordpress.com Blackheath Bugle - website about Blackheath]
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