The Sketch of Jackwood

Jackwood House from The Sketch
Jackwood, Shooters Hill, the home of Nat C. Goodwin and his wife

Many thanks to reader Mike Smith for sending me a copy of an article entitled “The Splendour of the Modern Actor” from a weekly newspaper called The Sketch dated August 2nd 1899. The article was about the American actor Nat C. Goodwin and his wife, the actress Maxine Elliot, who lived in Jackwood at the end of the 19th Century and who I mentioned in a previous post about Jackwood. It includes a number of fascinating photographs of Jackwood as it was in 1899. The appearance of the house, shown in the photograph above, is the same as the Old English style mansion that was put up for sale in 1874.

Maxine Elliot and her sister Gertrude in their carriage in front of Jackwood House
Maxine Elliot and her sister Gertrude in their carriage in front of Jackwood House

The author of the article describes their journey by horse drawn buggy from Blackheath station up to the mansion in the woods of Shooters Hill.  The description of the interior of the house matches that in the sales literature:

The interior  is entirely lined with polished pitch-pine, and the great staircase with its open gallery is a triumph of workmanship, while the overmantels are of dark wood handsomely carved, many displaying the Arms of the first tenant, Sir William Plasted Wilde, whose crest and motto decorate the richly moulded ceilings, especially that in the drawing room, which is adorned with heavy pendants.

I think the Sir William Plasted Wilde mentioned should be really be Sir James Plaisted Wilde who became Lord Penzance, of the Mysterious P atop the gate leading into the walled garden in Jack Wood. Some of the details of the drawing room can just about be made out in the photograph below.

The drawing room at Jackwood: Miss Maxine Elliot and Mr. N.C. Goodwin
The drawing room at Jackwood: Miss Maxine Elliot and Mr. N.C. Goodwin

Much of the Sketch article is about the lifestyle of the tenants of Jackwood, and the way in which they had decorated the house, for example with Nat’s collection of native American artefacts which included the feathered head-dress of Indian chief Big Mouth and a selection of leather belts, one of which was fringed with a number of human scalps. There is a brief mention of the gardens:

But your hostess is insistent on showing you the grounds before luncheon, for the charming pleasances and the terraced rose gardens, enclosed on one side by a dwarf wall adorned by rounded Kentish gables and copied from Haddon Hall, are amongst the sights at Jackwood. These pleasant walks, paved in places with smooth red tiling, overlook the lawn tennis ground, at one end of which a mighty oak gives agreeable shade to onlookers, while further down the hillside the thistle-grown slopes are the playground of wild rabbits, which emerge from the thick underwood around in the cool of the evening. Through a vista in the forest, a favourite resort of the family, you may watch on Thursday nights Brock’s fireworks at the Crystal Palace far away in the distance.

Parts of the terrace shown in the photograph below are amongst the few remnants of Jackwood that survive today.

A fascinating glimpse into “society” life in Shooters Hill at the end of the nineteenth century. Thanks again Mike.

Maxine Elliot and her sister Gertrude on the terrace at Jackwood
Miss Maxine Elliot and her sister Gertrude on the terrace at Jackwood
From photographs by Thomas, Cheapside

Mayfield 1874 – aka Jackwood House

On the terrace of the former Mayfield and Jackwood House
On the terrace of the former Mayfield and Jackwood House

I returned to the maps room at the British Library this week to have a second look at the volume of Victorian house sales literature where I discovered the 1873 description of Shrewsbury House. This time I opened the heavy volume at the pages describing the estate and house called Mayfield, though it was also at one time known as Jackwood House. I’ve included the full transcript of the estate description at the end of this post,  though again without  trying to reproduce all the different font styles and sizes of the original. The brochure includes three pictures: of the mansion house; its library and the lodge house. The house itself is in a style that would now probably be known as mock Tudor, with half timbered upper floors,  but was then known as the Old English style. It was demolished in 1927, but the lodge remains as do one of the garden terraces, the walled “Mysterious P” garden, and some of the ancillary buildings. The latter are now used as council offices, but still retain some of  the style of the mansion house though nowhere near as elaborate.

Former ancillary building to Mayfield
Former ancillary building to Mayfield

The drawing of the lodge in the sales brochure shows a pretty little, ivy-clad, thatched cottage, identical  to the building in the picture on the left below, which is a scan of a photograph in Greenwich Heritage Centre‘s Shooters Hill collection. On the right is the lodge as it is today; no longer thatched and with an extension on the right hand side.

Mayfield House Lodge ?
Mayfield House Lodge ?
Jackwood Lodge now
Jackwood Lodge now











The plan of the estate includes the layout of the gardens and grounds. The terrace that survives today was to the west of the house, as you can see in the snippet from Alan Godfrey Maps‘ reprint of the 1894 Ordnance Survey map of Shooters Hill below. The semi-circular fountain in the photograph at the top of this post  is marked at the centre of the terrace, and the L shaped ancillary building and the lodge also appear on the map.

However the estate plan shows several features that aren’t on the OS map. The plan shows the 130,000 gallon reservoir in the arrow-head shaped area of land to the north of the lodge – in the fork between where Crown Woods Lane and Kenilworth Gardens are now. The gardens south of the mansion included what looks like a woodland walk and a circular “Rosary”. Presumably this was where Lord Penzance pursued his passion for rose growing. There’s no trace of  the woodland walk and rosary now – the area is completely covered with trees and undergrowth.

1894 OS Map showing Jackwood House
Snippet from 1894 OS Map showing Jackwood House

I wrote about Lord Penzance, who is mentioned as the seller of the house and estate, in a previous post about Jackwood House and its Mysterious P. Lord Penzance was James Wilde before he was raised to the peerage, and he married Lady Mary, daughter of William Pleydell-Bouverie, 3rd Earl of Radnor, in 1860. I mention this because it led me down a wrong path in trying to decipher the words engraved on the basin of the fountain on the terrace:


It’s a long time since I took Latin “O” Level, and even then I needed two attempts to pass, so it took a while to work out what this meant. I found D.D. quite easily – it stands for De Dato meaning This Day. IACOBUS can be Jacob or James – must be James Wilde I thought. COMES was more difficult; the online Latin dictionary gave comes comitis : companion, friend, comrade / count, though the only usage I saw fitted the latter translation better. RADNOR, I assumed, referred to his wife’s family association with the Earldom of Radnor. So it could be commemorating James Wilde’s companionship with Mary of Radnor… then I noticed that successive Earls of Radnor are alternately called William and Jacob, and that Mary’s brother was called Jacob, so the inscription could be referring to Jacob, the 4th Earl of Radnor. Why? I didn’t know.

Bagnold had the answer. He gives the names of the various owners of the estate, mentioning:

The house was in first instance called “Jack’s Wood,” probably in contraction of “Jack’s Hill Wood”; that name was soon changed to “Mayfield” and later to “Jackwood”. It is said that the architectural details of the house were largely taken from the historic Haddon Hall in Derbyshire.

Lord Penzance did not long continue to occupy “Jackwood House” for his lease, granted in 1863, was assigned to Viscount Folkestone and the Hon. G.W. Fitzgerald in 1874 or earlier, and in 1875 to Mr John Harvey who, in 1877, put the place up to auction.

And in a typed footnote, disappearing off the frayed bottom of the page:

Apparently, Viscount Folkestone succeeded to the Earldom of Radnor during his tenure of Jackwood House for, on the basin of the fountain on the terrace is the inscription – “D.D. IACOBUS COMES DE RADNOR 1873”

This fits in with the wkipedia entry on Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie which says that he was called Viscount Folkestone from 1828 until 1869.

The one thing that’s still not clear to me is whether there was another house on the site before Lord Penzance took out his lease in 1862. Partly this is because Margherita Arlina Hamm’s  “Eminent Actors in Their Homes” claims that “the homestead dates from the fourteenth century”, and also the different shapes of the mansion house in the 1866 and 1894 OS maps. It could be that Margherita was fooled by the Old English style of the house, and that the 1866 map was based on an old or incomplete design of the mansion which may still have been being built when the map was compiled. But that question will have to wait for another day.


The terrace at Jackwood
The terrace at Jackwood

Transcript of the 1874 sales description:










About two miles from Eltham Station on the North Kent Loop Line, and a pleasant drive of about

eight miles from London on the main Dover Road; and within short driving distance of “The

Crays,” Erith on the River Thames, and other of the most interesting parts of the county.

The Particulars, Plans, Views and Conditions of Sale

Of the exceedingly attractive





Exquisitely Finished Family Mansion,

Forming a perfect specimen of the

Old English Style of Architecture


Stabling, Entrance Lodge, Picturesque Grounds, and Ornamental

Woodlands, in all

21A. 2R. 25P.   OR 44A. 0R. 25P.

For Sale with Possession by Messrs.


At the Mart, Tokenhouse Yard, near the Bank of England, in the City of London,

ON TUESDAY, JUNE 30, 1874,

At Two o’clock punctually (unless an acceptable offer be previously made).

By order of the Right Honourable Lord Penzance (who has no further need of a residence near London)


Particulars, with Plans and Views, may be had of Messrs. WILDE, BERGER, MOORE, & WILDE,

Solicitors, 21 College Hill, E.C.; and of Messrs. DEBENHAM, TEWSON & FARMER, Auctioneers and Land




N.B. Messrs. DEBENHAM, TEWSON & FARMER’S, Sales for the above date will include several

other properties; intending Purchasers and others who are interested therein are invited to refer to

The Times of Monday, June 29th, in which the “Order of Sale” will be published




Charming Residential Estate



Most pleasantly situate


Commanding a fine panoramic view of the lovely scenery for which this part of the country is so

celebrated, overlooking the Eltham Valley, the Elmstead Woods and Heights near Chiselhurst, and

extending to the Kent and Surrey ranges of hills.


A particularly well built and exquisitely finished


Standing upon a soil of gravel and sand, built in the Old English style for the occupation of the


Every detail has been elaborately wrought out, and no expense spared to render the residence one

of the most perfect of its kind, replete with every comfort and convenience. It has South and West

aspects, and occupies a singularly picturesque spot in a Wood of Oak Trees and Fern; which places

it in a position of perfect rural seclusion. The Carriage Drive winds through the thickly timbered

grounds, which are protected by a pretty Thatched Rustic Lodge.



Contains the following accommodation:-

On the UPPER FLOOR — Five Servants’ Bedrooms, four having fire places, and a Housemaid’s

                        Closet; two large principal Bedchambers, one measuring 28ft. by 21ft., the walls of

                        one heavily panelled, and moulded and decorated yellow and white, and the other

                        similarly panelled, and decorated blue and white, the ceilings of both Rooms being

                        most beautifully moulded and ornamented. These rooms have deeply recessed

                        windows, fitted with lockers, forming window seats, and commanding delightful views

                        over a wide expanse of country; a Dressing Room, two Store Closets, and a hanging

                        Wardrobe. There  is a Box Room in the roof, fitted with large hot and cold water

                        cisterns; a spacious Landing, tastefully finished,  panelled and heavily moulded in

                        pitch pine with a dado, a handsome balustrade and handrail, with massive newels and

                        carved finials; a coil of hot water pipes. a w.c., &c.

On the FIRST FLOOR:–    A large Landing from main Staircase (forming a gallery), with handsome

                        balustrade and handrail, massive newels and carved finials, all exquisitely finished

                        in pitch pine. There is a book recess on this Landing. Two principal Bedchambers,

                        measuring respectively 22ft. by 18ft. and 20ft. by 28ft., both having paneled and

                        heavily moulded walls, and ornamental ceilings, finished in pitch pine. There are

                        Dressing Rooms to each of these Bedchambers, large enough for Bedrooms, if

                        required; the whole are fitted with register stoves, with beautiful carved and moulded

                        pitch pine chimney pieces.


                        is of truly noble dimensions; the walls entirely paneled, heavily moulded, and fitted

                        in Brown Oak, with large and massive bookcases, and lockers forming window seats

                        to the two deep bay windows; a very elaborately worked caved Brown Oak chimney

                        piece, with stone hearth and inner mantel, and a richly paneled and elaborately

                        ornamented ceiling.  It opens onto the Terraces through a pair of folding

                        doors. There is a private staircase winding to the Study below. It is fitted with

                        hot water pipes for warmth in winter. Gas is laid on in all the passages, which are

                        also furnished with a set of hydrants in connexion with a large reservoir, constructed

                        on high ground for the water supply of the premises, and as a security against fire.

                        There is also on this Floor a Housemaid’s Closet, with water laid on, and a w.c.

On the GROUND FLOOR – A glazed Outer Porch, leading to a lofty Hall, measuring about 26ft.

                        by 20ft., finished in pitched pine, and having a carved Oak mantel. The Grand

                        Staircase is entirely of pitch pine, with massive newels, moulded finials, and finely

                        turned balusters. the Hall and Landings are also fitted with hot water pipes.

A charming Morning Room

                        About 20ft. by 18ft beautifully finished in pitch pine paneling, a noble chimney

                        piece, two bay windows, and china closets; the ceiling ornamented in plaster.


                        About 20ft. by 16ft., the ceiling exquisitely moulded and embossed in colors; the

                        walls richly paneled and painted; a convenient range of cupboards, and a deed

                        closet; a massive mantel in pitch pine, and a kerbed stone hearth to fire place. The

                        private winding staircase previously mentioned ascends from this Room to the

                        Library above.

A capital Dining Room

                        About 20ft. by 18ft beautifully paneled in pitch pine, the ceiling richly embossed

                        and moulded, and the mantel of pitch pine. There are two deep bayed windows,

                        and china closet.


                        Include – a linen room with store cupboards; a Store Room; a Butler’s Pantry

                        fitted with cupboards, hot and cold water laid on, and Store Room adjoining; a

                        China Closet; a Housekeeper’s Room; Lamp Room; a large, light and lofty Kitchen,

                        fitted with range, hot plate, dressers, &c.; a Scullery, with range, copper, and

                        dressers; Cook’s Pastry Room, Servants Hall, Dairy, Larder, Beer and Wine Cel-

                        lars, Knife House, Coal House, w.c., &c.

                        There is plentiful service of Water from a private reservoir (capable of holding 130,000 gallons),

                        which stands in the grounds at sufficient elevation to ensure a supply of water to any part of the

                        premises; and pipes laid for the purpose of irrigating the Gardens, for the supply of additional

                        Fountains and the Cascade. There is also a Dipping Well of excellent water.

                        The Drainage has been carefully attended to; and gas is laid on to the house and to


                        Which is detached, and comprises accommodation for five Horses, Harness Room, and two Rooms

                        for Coachmen over; large Coach House, with two pairs of folding doors.

                        There is also a Wash House, with gas and water laid on, and three rooms over, suitable for bedrooms

                        for batchelors, or for extra men servants; the largest of these three Rooms was originally intended as

                        a Chemists Laboratory, and has gas and water laid on.

                        The Turret over has an expensive Dial Clock, which chimes the quarters and strikes the hours.

                        There is an excellent range of timber built and tiled Sheds for the storage of wood, &c., a Carpenters’

                        Shop, and a Cart Shed.



Have been laid out with great artistic taste, and disposed in Lawn terraces, commanding

Panoramic Views of almost unrivalled beauty.


Are ornamented with

Trees and Shrubs of most luxuriant growth.


Are enlivened by a great


And afford here and there glimpses of the most charming scenery.

                        The whole (colored Green on Plan) occupies a most enviable site and comprises a total area of

21A.        2R.          25P.

(More or less).

                        And is held from Her Majesty’s Commissioners of Woods and Forests for a term of 99 years from

                        5th April 1862 at an annual Ground Rent of £150, and of £4 per cent. per annum upon such amount

                        as should be expended by Her Majesty’s said Commissioners in the redemption of tithe rent charges.

                        The portion (colored Pink on Plan) comprising 22a. 2r. 0p., is held for a term of 21 years from 24th

                        June, 1864, from the trustees of the late John Blades, esq., at a rent of £50 per annum, and the

                        Vendor’s interest in the lease will, if desired, be assigned to the Purchaser. (See Conditions.)

                        Lord Penzance has occupied 26 Acres of Grass Land which immediately adjoin the Woods.  They

                        were hired of the neighbouring farmer, and no doubt could be so again, if desired.

                        The Estate is so readily accessible from the City and West End, and yet so truly in the Country, as

                        to render it a desirable purchase for a Nobleman or Gentleman requiring a House near London.

Possession on completion of the purchase.

                        All the valuable Fixtures will be included in the Sale; the Blinds, Cornices, gas Fittings, and a

                        few other items, of which an Inventory can be seen at the Auctioneers’ Offices, and will be produced

                        at the time of sale, are to be taken at a Valuation in the usual way.

                        The Purchaser may have the option, to be declared in writing, addressed to the Auctioneers, within 10

                        days of the Sale, of purchasing, as a Valuation, all the very appropriate Furniture and Effects (except

                        some few items, which the vendor will remove, and of which a list will be furnished. Such valuation

                        to be made in the usual manner, by two referees, to be nominated by the respective parties or by

                        their umpire). Should the Purchaser not exercise such option, the Vendor reserves the right to hold

                        a Sale by Auction on the Premises before the completion of the purchase.

The Mysterious P

The Royal P

I can’t resist a mystery, so when I saw the photograph above, by helenoftheways, on flickr, with its accompanying question about the origin of the crowned P I was intrigued, and had to know the answer.

The gateway with the crowned P is the entrance to a pretty walled garden that was once part of the old Jackwood House. It’s a quiet, secluded, contemplative area, dotted with plaques and benches in memory of former residents of the area, such as an analytical chemist at the Woolwich Arsenal and head woodsman at Castlewood House. The garden has appeared on e-shootershill before, in this post about Stu Mayhew’s picture and poem “Into the Secret Garden”.

For once google was unable to provide the answer. It did reveal that Sir Robert Bateson Harvey had lived at Jackwood House in the 1870s. Harvey, MP for Buckinghamshire was married to Magdalene Breadalbane Anderson, daughter of Sir John Pringle, so I wondered if the P stood for Pringle, but it seemed a bit far-fetched.

Undeterred, I headed for the library. As a regular browser of the local history sections of Woolwich Library and the Heritage Centre I felt there must be a chance of solving the mystery there. However I found the key to the conundrum serendipitously when reading The Story of Christ Church Shooters Hill in the Proceedings of the Woolwich and District Antiquarian Society. This included a couple of pages summarising development in the mid 19th Century when a number of grand houses in the area were built or enlarged. Almost in passing it mentioned that “Jackwood House was raised by Lord Penzance ….”.

Lord Penzance
Lord Penzance picture from wikipedia

With this piece of information google was a bit more forthcoming. An article in SENine confirmed that the P stood for Penzance, and that the crown with balls on indicates a baronetcy.

Lord Penzance was famous for breeding new varieties of Rose, particularly striving for strong fragrance, including one named after himself, one after his wife and many named after characters from Sir Walter Scott. He was also responsible for jailing a number of members of the clergy under the Benjamin Disraeli-backed Public Worship Regulation Act which banned the use of catholic rituals – so-called smells and bells – in protestant worship. This act wasn’t repealed until 1965. Lord Penzance’s definition of marriage in 1866 is still in use today in the UK and some Commonwealth countries:

I conceive that marriage, as understood in Christendom, may for this purpose be defined as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others.

Different sources give different dates for when Jackwood House was built. Some sources say 1862, but this is contradicted by a description of the House in a book entitled “Eminent Actors in Their Homes” by Margherita Arlina Hamm about two later residents of Jackwood House, the American actor Nat C. Goodwin and his wife Maxine Elliot at the end of the 19th Century:

The homestead dates from the fourteenth century. It is a low, irregular edifice with thick walls,  roomy stairways, queer passages, and mysterious closets. It has been built piecemeal at various times, and while the softening hand of the years has united the various parts into a harmonious whole, yet both walls and roofs indicate the constructive efforts of different minds. Each part has a roof of a different design, so that an interesting chapter in domestic architecture could be drawn from the roofs alone.

Jackwood House appears in the old Ordinance Survey maps of 1894 and 1914, but not that of 1866. However the 1866 map does have a large house named Mayfield in almost the same position as Jackwood, though a different shape. So was Jackwood House built by extending an existing older house? Another mystery, for another day!

Margherita Arlina Hamm’s description of Jackwood continues with more roses:

Lord Penzance Rose
Lord Penzance Rose from Roses UK

One part known as Miss Elliott’s rose garden is the fairest spot of all. In it are the plants presented to her by members of the nobility and royal family, and around these are specimens of nearly every rose known to horticulture. The old English tea-rose, both the white and the blush variety, grows here in perfection, as do the standard rose tree of France, the Jacqueminot, the Marechal Niel, the American Beauty of this country, and the climbing roses – white, pink, and red – of Kent and Surrey. Arbors and trellises afford shade to the visitor and support to vines, the peach and other wall trees. In England there is a quaint practice of training many fruit trees upon walls and trellises, which is almost unknown in the United States. It enables the gardener to secure a maximum of light and ventilation for the fruit, and to produce the fine specimens which carry off the prizes in the agricultural county fairs. It is near the rose garden that Miss Elliott holds tea-parties and levees in the afternoon, which are attended by the many friends – American, English, and French – of the host and hostess.
The interior of Jackwood Hall is as imposing in its way as the Tower of London. It was built at a time when the modern economical spirit had not come into vogue. The walls would stand a siege, while the beams seem large and strong enough to last a thousand years. The wainscoting is massive, and the floors have been worn by human feet, as well as by the hands of the cleaner, until they seem a work of art in themselves. The balmy climate of southern England permits the doors and windows to be kept open nearly all the year, and at many casements the vines and roses appear to have a mad desire to usurp the place of the curtains.

So a mysterious P leads to an interesting trip through local history, and leaves another mystery to be pursued. How satisfying is that!

The Mysterious P
The Mysterious P

Poetry Competition

This is another slightly tenously linked Shooters Hill story, but I’ve been collecting local poems for a while, and so am hoping that this will aid me in my search. An selondon poetry magazine called South Bank Poetry is staging a new open competition, and are reaching to all who might be interested in joining in, so please read on if you are feeling poetic.

In the meantime I’d also like to share a nice photo/poem combination about the Walled garden at Jackwood entitled Into the Secret Garden by Stu Mayhew


Into the Secret Garden
She’ll lead you down a path
There’ll be tenderness in the air
She’ll let you come just far enough
So you know she’s really there
She’ll look at you and smile
And her eyes will say
She’s got a secret garden
Where everything you want
Where everything you need
Will always stay
A million miles away

South Bank Poetry Magazine – Open Competition
Closing Date: 9th May, 2011

South Bank Poetry
South Bank Poetry Magazine

Niall O’Sullivan (who will read every entry). Poems up to 50 lines with a London focus or context. The full rules are published in South Bank Poetry Magazine. The judge’s decision is final. Prize-winning and commended poets will be listed on the Poetry Book Society website by mid-June 2011.

First Prize: One year’s Charter Membership of The Poetry Book Society. Winner receives 20 new poetry books which are PBS Choices and Recommendations, plus other benefits. Second Prize: £200. Third Prize: £150. Fourth Prize: A pair of tickets for the 2012 T.S. Eliot Award readings and a two-year subscription to South Bank Poetry magazine. Fifth Prize: A pair of tickets for the 2012 T.S. Eliot Award readings and a one-year subscription to South Bank Poetry. Five commended poets will receive a one-year subscription to SBP magazine.

Entry Fee:
1st poem £3.50, 2nd poem £2.50, 3rd poem £2.00, 4th poem £1.50; or 5 for £10 and £1 for each additional poem.

Current subscribers to South Bank Poetry magazine are entitled to the following discounts: 1st poem £3.00, 2nd poem free, 3rd £1.50, 4th £1.00; or five poems for £6 and £1 for each additional poem.

Contact: UK cheques or postal orders crossed, payable to Peter Ebsworth. No entry form required, send two copies of each poem, one anonymous, the other with contact details, to: Peter Ebsworth, South Bank Poetry, 74 Sylvan Road, London SE19 2RZ.

New subscribers may enter poems at the reduced rate if they add £9 (for a three issue subscription inc. P&P) to their total payment. All entries will be simultaneously considered for publication in South Bank Poetry magazine if a contact e-mail address is included.

Launch of South Bank Poetry issue 9
Friday 8 April, 8pm at the Poetry Café, 22 Betterton Street, WC2H 9BX.
Entry is free to subscribers, or £4/£3 concessions, which includes a copy of the magazine

Shooters Hill, the Cupcake

jamosie sweet
jamosie sweet's enchanted garden cupcakes
Well, so far there’s been the comic, the poster, and the painting, and here’s another example of the inspiration that can be found on shooters hill, and it takes the form of a cupcake! It’s made by jamosie sweet, who has recently started to sell these decorations.

Inspired by the walks we take in the forest every Saturday morning up on Shooters Hill […] Theres only one thing missing and thats some little garden fairies.

via Jamosie Sweet: whimsical enchanted garden cupcakes!.

Special Scientific Interest


Oxleas Woods Parklands

Here comes part two in a series of maps, once again inspiration came from the “draft” woodland management plan submitted to Greenwich Council.

This time it’s the designation of Scientific Interest that has been mapped out, which is taken from an ordnance survey version including real boundaries, footpaths, and drains (not sure if that means woodland ditches or victorian plumbing): at Some of Jackwood and Oxleas Wood, and the whole of the Sheperdleas Wood were granted protection from 1984 – almost ten years before the government wanted to replace the woodlands with a traffic bypass – which goes to show how safe an SSSI actually is: not very (Twyford Down is also an SSSI and look what happened there) – anyway, Oxleas is probably safe, so here’s a bit of the Scientific Interest:

The whole of the notification document is decorated with an impressive sounding collection of flora and fauna names and is copied out below, with the addition of painstakingly embedded media – mainly from wikipedia for flora and uk wildlife sites for fauna – plus some bird protection links where birdsong and videos can be observed. A more recent check up stresses the importance of lying dead wood for invertebrates to use (presumably the dogs enjoy this aspect of woodland preservation too):

Oxleas, Jack and Shepherdleas Woods are one of the most extensive areas of long established woodland on the London Clay in Greater London. The woodland has a rich mixture of tree and shrub species within which several woodland types can be recognised. The woods contain a number of species with a restricted distribution in Greater London.

Most of the woodland lies on a south-east facing slope of the London Clay. In parts the former coppice system of management is evident, and this traditional management has been reinstated recently. The majority of the woodland comprises stands of hazel-sessile oak, hazel-pedunculate oak, and birch-pedunculate oak woodland. These stands tend to lie on the more acid base-poor soils and carry a ground flora of predominantly bramble and bracken, with wood sage Teucrium scorodonia. Pedunculate oak-hazel-ash and pedunculate oak-hornbeam woodland over bramble occurs mainly on the heavier richer soils, often on the lower slopes. In places the drainage is impeded and there is a small stand of alder. Plants characteristic of these wetter conditions include wild angelica Angelica sylvestris, broad buckler fern Dryopteris dilatata and pendulous sedge Carex pendula.

In parts there is a well developed woodland structure with a variety of trees and in particular, shrubs. Some of these shrubs have a restricted distribution in the London area such as guelder rose Viburnum opulus, midland thorn Crataegus laevigata and buckthorn Rhamnus cartharticus; several of the species are more usually associated with outcrops of chalk. These include wayfaring tree Viburnum lantana and dogwood Cornus sanguinea. The woods are also noteworthy for the large mature wild cherry Prunus avium, and the wild service tree Sorbus torminalis. The latter occurs in unusual abundance: no other London woodland is known to contain such a large population and size range of wild service tree.

In general the herb layer is typical of woodland on the London Clay; however there is a substantial number of plants which are associated with long established woodland. The spring flora includes bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta in abundance with wood anemone Anemone nemorosa and wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella. Along streams and ditches remote sedge Carex remota, wood sedge Carex sylvatica, yellow pimpernel Lysimachia nemorum, a number of ferns and the uncommon Forster’s woodrush Luzula forsteri are found. The lower damper slopes, particularly where there is an undisturbed litter layer, support a rich variety of fungi. Several locally uncommon species are present and more notable species such as Otidea alutacea, Russula pseudointegra, Ciboria batschiana and Podoscypha multizonata.

Past records indicate the prescence of a diverse and interesting insect fauna – particularly beetles (Coleoptera), bugs (Hemiptera), and flies (Diptera). More recent sampling records several notable species such as the beetles Oligota flavicornis, Oak Bark Beetle and the fly Dolichopus wahlbergi. In addition the Lepidoptera fauna includes a number of interesting species such as the festoon Apoda avellana, oak lutestring Cymatophorima diluta and the seraphim Lobophora halterata amongst the largest moths. The breeding bird community contains a range of woodland birds and has several species which are typically associated with the mature timber habitat: tree creeper, nuthatch, woodpecker, chiffchaff and wood warbler. Wood warbler is a notably scarce and declining breeding species in Greater London.