Mayplace Lane Get-together

Mayplace Lane near the bronze age barrow on Plum Lane
Mayplace Lane near the bronze age barrow on Plum Lane

If you’re interested in helping to tidy and improve Mayplace Lane, or want to know more about proposals to prevent fly-tipping in the lane, then come along on Sunday (3rd November) at 11.00am to meet others with similar interests. Nicola sent a reminder on twitter about the get-together:

As well as clearing litter there are suggestions that lovers of the lane could also improve it by guerrilla gardening and encouraging nature,  for example by building woodpiles for hedgehogs and erecting nesting boxes. Perhaps a Neighbourhood Watch group could be set up. I’m sure these ideas will be discussed on Sunday, along with proposals to put lockable gates at each end of the lane to stop fly tipping trucks from dumping their loads of rubbish.

The gating suggestion was set out in a meeting at the Town Hall on the 19th September attended by Paul Stephen, the Community Safety Officer and Partnership Coordinator in Greenwich Council’s Safer Communities Team, Martin Ryan from CleanSweep, local councillor Danny Thorpe and a few local residents. There would need to be gates at the Plum Lane junction and just above Highview flats down near Dallin Road, and a “Friends of Mayplace Lane” group would need to be established to take responsibility for the lane after the gates had been installed. It was stated that because the lane is unadopted the council had no legal responsibility to clear fly-tipped rubbish, though they have been doing this up to now, and if gates were installed it was expected that the Friends would be responsible. Details of how the scheme would work, such as exactly what gates would be used and who would be given keys for the gates, were left for later clarification.

Before gates can be put up the council will need to get a “gating order”, for which they have to follow a process which includes a full consultation of affected people. To decide whether it was worth starting on this process an informal door-to-door poll was conducted one Saturday morning at houses in Eglinton Hill and Brinklow Crescent which back on to Mayplace Lane. The result, according to an e-mail from Councillor Danny Thorpe, was: “We have 39 responses in total, with 37 in favour and two against or not interested.” This was enough for the council to start on the gating order process. I haven’t heard yet how it’s progressing.

Snippet from1837 map in the Firepower Museum
Snippet from1837 map in the Firepower Museum

I think Mayplace Lane is fascinating, and love the idea that perhaps it was once a route that Bronze Age people used to visit the land of their ancestors – the barrow cemetery that once adorned the top of Shooters Hill. I had read that it was an old track that predated the modern road layout, and found confirmation serendipitously at the Firepower museum‘s recent community open day. A map of Woolwich and environs from 1837 on the wall at Firepower includes an intriguing path from the top of Sandy Hill Road up to the summit of Shooters Hill. You can see it on the snippet above labelled “To Shewsbury House”. It starts just over the road from the Fox and Hounds; a pub of that name is still there today.

Why do I think that path is Mayplace Lane?  Well its northern end is in about the same place – continuing the line of Sandy Hill Road, roughly where Herbert Road is today. But also, in the 1866 OS map from Alan Godfrey shown in my earlier post about Mayplace Lane you can see that Mayplace Lane ends up close to the start of the old Shrewsbury House’s long drive way, which was roughly where the fire station is now. I’ve included the 1866 snippet again below, rotated through 180° so that South is at the top as in the 1837 map. Mayplace Lane winds up the centre of the map. Interesting that in the 29 years between the 1837 and 1866 maps some modern roads such as Eglinton Hill have been constructed – the start of the development of the Herbert Estate by British Land.

Snippet from 1866 OS Map rotated so South is at the top
Snippet from 1866 OS Map rotated so South is at the top

Another thing that’s been puzzling me about Mayplace Lane, possibly related to gates, is the strange concrete blocks in the ground just past the Bronze Age barrow. You can see them in the photograph below – two rows of three square concrete objects a couple of yards apart. Each piece of concrete has a distinct, separate circle at its centre, as though there was a concrete post which has been cut off level with the ground. Does anyone know what they are or were? There’s nothing on the old OS maps to indicate that there was a gate or barrier at this location, and they look more 20th century than 19th. I wonder if they could be something to do with second world war defence preparations. There were other defensive structures nearby – for example Dragon’s teeth were set up in Eglinton Hill and Brinklow Crescent to impede movements of tanks and mechanised infantry. I’d love to know – but it’ll have to be another topic for my next visit to the Greenwich Heritage Centre.

Concrete structures near top of Mayplace Lane
Concrete structures near top of Mayplace Lane

Halloween Ball in aid of Samaritans

Samaritans halloween ball poster

Charlton House, with its resident lusty ghost, phantom rabbits and other paranormal phenomena, is a great venue for a Halloween event. So the fancy dress ball in aid of the Maidstone and Lewisham Samaritans this Saturday (26th October) is likely be a spooky affair. Tickets are available from Charlton House and cost £30.00, which includes welcoming cocktails in the Long Gallery and a Halloween supper in the Grand Salon, and is followed by dancing ’till midnight in the Old Library.

The best known ghost at Charlton House is Sir William Langhorne, who was thwarted in his desire to father an heir while he was alive, despite marrying a 17 year old local maiden when he was 80 years old, and has continued to look for a fertile bride after death. He is reputed to have turned the door knobs of rooms where female guests were staying, and is blamed for invisible-fingered bottom pinching. But he is not the only ghost in the house: a grey lady carrying a bundle believed to be a dead baby has also been seen, and phantom rabbits haunt the Long Gallery. There have also been reports of poltergeists mysteriously moving people’s belongings around, unexplained lift ascents and strange sounds.

All this paranormal activity has prompted psychic research organisations such as the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP), and the Ghost Club to investigate. The most spectacular occurrence witnessed by investigators occurred late one evening in 1995. A police siren sounded and there was an explosion, following which the seven pieces of a shattered blue and white tea cup were found laid out in a circle in the centre of the Long Gallery. In another test by the Ghost Club in 1999 a wooden mushroom shot ten feet across a room accompanied by a loud bang.

Are you brave enough to dance in a Halloween Ball at such a spooky site?

Samaritans' first phone at St Stephen Walbrook
Samaritans’ first phone at St Stephen Walbrook

This year is the 60th Anniversary of the founding of Samaritans by the Reverend Chad Varah, who vowed to stop the isolation and ignorance that would lead people to suicide. Chad answered their first call on 2nd November 1953. Now 20,665 volunteers answer a call, email or text every six seconds. To mark the anniversary, and 60 years of  continuous running, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, 60 volunteers from Central London Samaritans will be walking 8 miles through the city of London starting at Samaritans’ first base, Sir Christopher Wren’s St Stephen Walbrook church, and finishing at CLS current centre in Marshall Street, Soho. They are aiming to raise awareness of Samaritans work and raise money to help fund it – if you’d like to sponsor them there is a donations page on Virgin Money Giving.

St Stephen Walbrook, Samaritans first home
St Stephen Walbrook, Samaritans first home
Henry Moore's stone altar at St Stephen Walbrook
Henry Moore’s stone altar at St Stephen Walbrook

October half term events at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Half term Events Poster

Hannah, the Education Officer at Woodlands Farm sent details of their October half term events for children:

October Half Term Children’s Events

Wednesday 30th October
Tremendous Trees
Join us in our woodland as we discover all about trees and the wildlife associated with them.  We will also be collecting some seeds for our tree nursery.  Come down any time between 1-3pm to join our afternoon of tree discovery.

Thursday 31st October
Horrible Halloween
£2.50 per child.
Come along to a spooky evening at Woodlands Farm.  Wear fancy dress and make a lantern before we go on a night walk, looking for nocturnal wildlife as well as hearing a Halloween story or two.  Booking is essential for this event, to book call 020 8319 8900.

Friday 1st November
Super scarecrows
£2 per child
Come along to Woodlands Farm to join us in some super scarecrow fun.  Help us make a new scarecrow for our yard or make your own mini scarecrow to take home with you.  Drop in anytime between 1-3pm to join the fun!

For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Forshaw on

Work on the new education building at the farm is progressing rapidly; the building itself was already in place when I wandered down to the farm yesterday. I wonder if it will be open in time for the half term events?

Woodlands Farm’s Scarecrows
Woodlands Farm’s Scarecrows
Woodlands Farm Cock
Woodlands Farm Cock

Poetry at the Treehouse

Poetry at the Treehouse Flyer

Suzanna Fitzpatrick, who used to look after publicity for Woodlands Farm, wrote with details of an evening of poetry on Thursday 24th October organised by The Greenwich Poetry Workshop:

Greenwich Poetry Workshop presents:

Poetry at the Treehouse

Thursday 24 October 2013, 7pm for 7.30pm

The Treehouse (top floor), The Greenwich Tavern, 1 King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9JH

Phone 0208 858 8791 email:

Nearest stations: Cutty Sark DLR or Greenwich DLR/mainline

FREE ENTRY, no booking required.

Open Mic

Pamphlets for Sale

Suzanna will be reading some of her own poetry at the event. She is an accomplished poet – she wrote the Poetry London commended Lamb 001 inspired by her lambing experience at Woodlands Farm – and her poetry has been published in magazines such as South Bank Poetry, The Frogmore Papers, Brittle Star and The North.

If  you write poetry and would like to read any poems on Thursday then put your name down for the open mic when you arrive.

The Greenwich Tavern
The Greenwich Tavern

Delicious Hooch

Hedgerow Liqueurs flyer

Autumn is a fruitful foraging season, and Woodlands Farm is a fruitful place to forage for sloe berries and wild damsons. They will be foraging on Saturday, and using some of the fruit they gather to make Sloe Gin. Barry Gray from the farm wrote with details:

I attach a flyer for our autumn forage for sloes and wild damsons, with an opportunity to make sloe gin. This is a chance to see Woodlands Farm in autumn, hunt for wild fruit in the hedgerows and learn to make delicious country liqueurs in time for Christmas. Every participant leaves with a bottle of delicious hooch!


Saturday 19th October 2013
1.00—5.00 pm
Price £8 (£5 members)
18+ years only
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

You can contact the farm to book a place by phone on 020 8319 8900 or by e-mail on

Just so you know what to look for there are some photos below of sloe berries on the blackthorns at the farm, and there’s a Sloe Gin recipe in a previous post.

Sloe Berry at Woodlands Farm
Sloe Berry at Woodlands Farm
Sloe Berries at Woodlands Farm
Sloe Berries at Woodlands Farm

Friends of Shrewsbury Park AGM on Saturday

New path on Dot Hill, Shrewsbury Park
New path on Dot Hill

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are holding their Annual General Meeting this Saturday, 12th October starting at 11.00am. Kathy from the Friends wrote with details:

We will be holding our Annual General Meeting on Saturday 12 October 2013, at 11am.  We will meet at the bottom of the path that leads down from the car park, and joins Dothill.  If you are unsure where this is, please get in touch.

We will start with the business side (reports, elections), and then go on to finish the path through the old Nature Reserve – we hope you will be able to help us with this. If you are able/willing to do so,  then please bring along secateurs, loppers and stout gloves.  There will be a hot drink and biscuits for volunteers.

We welcome members joining the Management Committee, so if you have some spare time and would like to join the small, friendly team, then please get in touch with me and I will give you more information.

This will also be an opportunity to admire some of the Friends’ achievements over recent months, such as the new drainage system and re-surfaced path on Dot Hill pictured above. This part of the Dothill path was susceptible to flooding, as can be seen in the picture with an earlier post about the improvements, so the changes will make a big difference. Further down the path the Friends have erected a new set of wheel-chair friendly gates and a hand-carved notice board at the Garland Road entrance to the park.

New notice board at Garland Road entrance to Shrewsbury Park
New notice board at Garland Road entrance to Shrewsbury Park

If you are skilled in web site maintenance you may be able to help the Friends with their excellent website. They are looking for a volunteer to take over the technical aspects of updating their site as the web designer who has looked after it for the last five years has had to step down due to work commitments. Potential web masters can contact Kathy by e-mail on or come along and see her at the AGM.

The Friends are currently raising funds for a water fountain for the park, and have produced a 2014 Calendar which will be sold to help raise money. It includes art work by local children and photographs showing the park at different times of the year. The wintry January photograph is included below. The calendar costs £5.00 and will be available at the AGM or via the Friends.

Sledging in Shrewsbury Park
The January Picture in the Friends of Shrewsbury Park 2014 Calendar

Woodlands Farm Apple Day 13th October 2013

Woodlands Farm Apple Day 13th October 2013

The nights are drawing in, the trees are starting to change to their autumn colours and, that definitive harbinger of the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness, Woodlands Farm is holding its annual Apple Day. Maureen from the farm wrote:

Join us for a celebration of British apples on Sunday 13 October 2013, from 11am to 4pm. This is an opportunity to discover and buy many different types of traditional British apples.  There will be a variety of activities including traditional crafts such as making corn dollies, a treasure hunt, archery, apple pressing to make delicious juice, stalls selling local produce, including our own honey and home-made jams, cakes and try some Kentish Cider.  A great day out for all the family.  Entry is free, but donations are welcome and go towards the running of the Farm.

I hope there’s some Pitmaston Pineapples this year.

Woodlands Farm's Scarecrows
Woodlands Farm’s Scarecrows