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  • hilly 12:05 pm on October 2, 2014
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    Local History Walk on Sunday 

    Royal Coat of Arms in a Shooters Hill garden

    Royal Coat of Arms in a Shooters Hill garden

    I hear from Steve that the Shooters Hill Local History Group is organising a circular walk on Sunday 5th October commencing at The Bull on Shooters Hill at 11am with a 12.30pm finish. He doesn’t give many details, but says that it an opportunity to learn more about the history of our area, and will make reference to some famous local names associated with Shooters Hill, houses, landowners and stories of interest about the area.

    Participants in the Group’s last history walk took a peek over the wall of the garden of a Shooters Hill house and saw the stone coat of arms shown above. I wonder if this walk will go the same way?

    Appropriate footwear is recommended

  • hilly 5:24 pm on October 1, 2014
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    Constitution Rise Woodlands 

    The pond in the Constitution Hill woodland

    The pond in the Constitution Rise woodland

    Wide Horizons  have been making progress on their project to turn the 5-acre woodland site on Constitution Rise into an outdoor learning centre. Their Director of Operations Hamish Cherrett recently e-mailed local residents with an update:

     Since my last communication we have been working hard on various fundraising bids to secure essential funding to improve the access and ensure basic amenities such as water supply and toilets are installed along with works including remediation of the ponds at the north of the site.
    We have also been talking with some local primary schools about long term partnerships to assist with regeneration and conservation work as well as using the site as an education base, any partnerships are still to be confirmed however we hope that classes from at least two schools will start to use the site regularly from October. Over the coming weeks we will have groups of young people undertaking conservation and ground clearance work so you will likely see activity around the entrance at various times. All activities will be structured and are being led by Wide Horizons tutors, any activity will take place between 10am-4pm.

    Wide Horizons are planning to hold an open evening at their centre in Eltham where they will present their proposals for the woods over the  next 2 years. They also hope to have the Head Teacher of at least one of their partner schools present to share their thoughts about the woods project. The date for the open evening hasn’t been announced yet.

    Snippet from Alan Godfrey's 1866 OS Map of Shooters Hill

    Snippet from Alan Godfrey’s 1866 OS Map of Shooters Hill

    Google maps snippet showing location of woodland on Constitution Rise

    Google maps snippet showing location of woodland on Constitution Rise















    As can be seen on the snippet above from Alan Godfrey’s 1866 OS map, above, the woodland on Constitution Rise used to be part of the grounds of a large house called The Rookery.  According to Bagnold it was once called The Grove and in 1802 it was leased by Henry Lidgbird to a G.T. Goodenough who lived there until 1819. After that it was the summer residence of Edward Strachey, the second son of Sir Henry Strachey, and his wife Julia. They called the property Goodenough House, and it was referred to as such by the philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle who visited the Stracheys in Shooters Hill a number of times. Carlyle, in his Reminiscences, described the house and its gardens as follows

    They lived in Fitzroy Square, a fine-enough house, and had a very pleasant country establishment at Shooter’s Hill ; where, in summer time, they were all commonly to be found. I have seldom seen a pleasanter place ; a panorama of green, flowery, clear, and decorated country all round ; an umbrageous little park, with roses, gardens ; a modestly excellent house ; from the drawing-room window a continual view of ships, multiform and multitudinous, sailing up or down the river (about a mile off) ; smoky London as background ; the clear sky overhead ; and within doors honesty, good sense, and smiling seriousness the rule, and not the exception.

    Edward Strachey was an employee of the East India Company and worked in India for many years in various posts culminating in his appointment as a judge of the provincial court of appeal at Dacca. On his return to London he held a post at East India House where his colleagues included James Mill, his son John Stuart Mill and Thomas Love Peacock. The Stracheys were also well acquainted with Edward Irving. Edward Strachey died at Shooter’s Hill on 3 January 1832 and his wife on 20 November 1847.

    The house was occupied, again according to Bagnold, between 1845 and 1847 by Henry Alwin Soames, and its name had changed back to The Grove. It appears on the 1866 OS map as The Rookery, and has that name in a local directory of 1874. There were a number of other occupants, mainly military men, until it was demolished to make way for the Wimpey Estate around the time that Bagnold was writing in 1936-38.

    I doubt that anything remains of the house, and its gardens, while still umbrageous (perhaps too umbrageous), are very overgrown. It’ll be interesting to hear more about what Wide Horizons plan for the future of the Rookery’s gardens.

    Guided tour of the woodland site in February

    Guided tour of the woodland site in February

    Chickens at Wide Horizon's Eltham Centre

    Chickens at Wide Horizon’s Eltham Centre

  • hilly 8:54 am on September 25, 2014
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    Sloe, sloe quick sip sloe 

    Hedgerow Liqueurs 2014

    Hannah from Woodlands Farm e-mailed to say that the sloes on the farm are ready to be harvested already, a lot earlier than usual, so they have hastily arranged their annual Hedgerow Liqueurs day for Saturday 4th October 2014 :

    Join us for a tramp and forage around the hedgerows, followed by sloe gin making.
    Bring your own gin or spirit of choice together with at least a one litre, wide neck (>2.5cm) container. Alternatively, Kilner type jars, 1.5 litre, will be available at cost price. Sugar, sloes and wild damsons will be provided by Woodlands Farm.
    Book early via the Farm Office, numbers limited
    Please dress appropriately for outdoor activities and bring a packed lunch

    Price £15 (£10 members)
    18+years only

    You can contact the farm to book a place by phone on 020 8319 8900 or by e-mail on woodlandsft@aol.com

    There’s another new arrival to visit at the farm: a British White calf  born recently, seen below with her mother Clover.

    Clover the British White and her new calf at Woodlands Farm

    Clover the British White and her new calf at Woodlands Farm

  • hilly 9:49 pm on September 24, 2014
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    Green Chain Mega-amble this weekend 

    Green Chain Megawalkers gather at Crystal Palace Station

    Green Chain Megawalkers gather at Crystal Palace Station

    Walk London‘s series of free guided walks this weekend – their Autumn Ambles – includes one of the longest but most rewarding “ambles” in London: the Green Chain Megawalk. The 22 mile amble actually moves along at a steady average walking speed, and will be led once again by Ian Bull, our favourite leader of walks in South-East London and a bit of an expert on the Green Chain, not to mention a part-time restorer of steam locomotives. The walk starts at Crystal Palace railway station at 9.15am on Saturday, 27th September and finishes more than 9 hours later down at the Thames near Erith railway station. The Walk London web site has the details:

    The Green Chain Megawalk is by a considerable margin the longest established long-distance guided walk in London and many hundreds have participated. Some thought they wouldn’t complete such a distance, yet the camaraderie and expert guidance have seen all but a handful achieve an on-time finish. Every one of the participants has taken wonderful memories from the day. Here’s your chance to join the institution!
    We’ll gently climb to some of the highest points in the city, suburbia giving way to outstanding views and miles of London’s best woodland, some established for 8,000 years. For lengthy sections you won’t know you are in a town, let alone the Metropolis as well over half the route is off-road. Despite travelling around an entire quartile of London we’ll cross just 40 surfaced thoroughfares.
    The route is steep in its latter parts, a packed lunch is essential, and of course you must be reasonably fit. You must also be able to sustain three miles per hour for most of a day and if you think you can, this particularly friendly event is the one Walk London walk that you should do. There is no need to book, just turn up and go, a remarkable day awaits you.

    One of the good things about the walk is that if 22 miles proves too much then it is possible to drop out along the way and get a bus or train home, and for those living in Shooters Hill the late lunchtime stop at the Oxleas Café can be an early finishing point if the legs are ready to give up after 16 miles.

    There’s an interactive map of the route of the Green Chain Walk on the Green Chain web site here. For further information about the walk contact Ian by phone,  020 7223 3572 or  email – ianbull at btinternet dot com.

    The Green Chain Megawalk is by far the longest of the Autumn Ambles; most of them are just a couple of miles, and there are walks taking in Soho, St. Paul’s and the City of London. Looks like a good weekend for a walk.

    Ian Bull leads Green Chain walkers cross Eaglesfield Park

    Ian Bull leads Green Chain walkers cross Eaglesfield Park


  • hilly 9:20 pm on September 11, 2014
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    Pet Cemetery Presentation 

    Headstone in the pet cemetery, Hornfair Park

    Headstone in the pet cemetery, Hornfair Park

    Liz, who chairs the  Friends of the Pet Cemetery, wrote to let me know about a presentation she is giving about the cemetery’s history at Charlton House on Saturday. The Friends’ latest newsletter has the details:

    If you would like to hear more about the history of the former Blue Cross Cemetery, our Chair, Liz McDermott, will be giving a PowerPoint presentation for the Charlton History Society, Charlton House, Saturday 13th September, commencing at 2.30pm.  All welcome.

    I hear the presentation includes some great old archive photos.

    The Pet Cemetery originated in the Blue Cross Quarantine Kennels which started at the end of the First World War and particularly looked after service men and women’s pets. They provided accommodation for 123 dogs along with cats and other pets including guinea pigs. It later fell into disrepair, and the Friends were set up in 2012  with the aim of  refreshing the memorial stones, replanting the garden beds, improving the seating, installing bird and bat boxes and creating a wildlife-friendly environment.

    They’ve made some great progress on these objectives: old, untidy shrubs have been removed and hedges trimmed (revealing more memorial stones); the bird and bat boxes are up, and at least one of the bird boxes has had occupants;  and some of the stones have been cleaned up, with help from stonework professionals. There’s a “before” and “after” pair of photographs of one of the cleaned memorials below.

    The Friends meet at the cemetery on the second Sunday of each month to continue their maintenance and restoration work, and they welcome visitors and helpers. Their future plans include a full survey of the cemetery, educational visits, more planting and possibly a pet “memorial wall”.

    Pet cemetery Headstone - before

    Pet cemetery Headstone – before

    Pet cemetery Headstone - after

    Pet cemetery Headstone – after
















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