Pepys Parks in Lewisham

Near to Sayes Court Park is the spread-out site of Pepys Parks in Lewisham, alongside the River Thames.

London Gardens Online summarises this Park as follows:’…Pepys Park is a public open space created as part of the LCC’s 1960s Pepys Estate, which was built over the site of the Victualling Yard established for storage of provisions and clothing for the Royal Navy in 1742. The Victualling Yard was relocated here when the Tower Hill yard had become inadequate. The park consists of a number of open spaces between the riverside and Grove Street. In the 1950s a playing field had been opened by the LCC called Royal Victoria Yard, which later became Pepys Park in 1968…’.

The Lewisham Council website describes these green spaces perhaps more accurately as ‘Pepys Parks’ in the plural and while LGO has placed the parks correctly on a map, the marker only identifies one of several green spaces which are probably Pepys Parks. 

Lower Pepys Park

Lower Pepys Park is a large, open, grassed park on one side of Grove Street. Housing and blocks of flats flank three sides. On the opposite side of the road a new development, The Timberyard, is under construction. The grassy central area has trees around the perimeter, and a lot of new, young saplings are in evidence as part of the Evelyn 200 scheme.

Lower Pepys Parks
Lower Pepys Parks with new trees as part of the Evelyn 200 scheme
Lower Pepys Parks
Lower Pepys Parks with new trees and The Timberyard development in the background

The other plantings, such as the borders in front of the flats, are sad. They are either limited in variety and poorly cared for, or just poorly cared for, as the photographs below show. I did find some Rosa Gallica, which is perhaps appropriate in an historically interesting area with John Evelyn connections. However, even this had rubbish lurking amongst the roots – what a pity.

Planting in Lower Pepys Parks
Lower Pepys Parks
Planting in Lower Pepys Parks
Rosa Gallica in Lower Pepys Parks
Rosa Gallica in Lower Pepys Parks

Yet some people care – I found this gorgeous ‘Albertine’ rose growing abundantly in a small garden on the edge of the park.

Albertine Rose, Lower Pepys Parks
Albertine rose in a private garden, Lower Pepys Parks

It did not strike me as a particularly child-friendly park – the obstacles placed around the perimeter of Lower Pepys Park looked more army training gear than playthings for children! At one side there is also a basketball court. But it is a large green space albeit one without much character.

The Timberyard

The new development on the south side of the park, The Timberyard, promises rejuvenation of the area with 1132 new homes, a restored pub, The Victoria, and an energy centre which will provide power to the whole development. Prices seem to start at £475,000 for a one-bedroom flat and so it also seems likely that the area could change quite dramatically.

Upper Pepys Park

Upper Pepys Park is a pleasing surprise after the rather soulless Lower Pepys Park. A path between the blocks of flats and a flight of steps leads to ‘meadowland’! Another open, grassy area (smaller) and bounded by the buildings has new planting of trees under the Evelyn 200 scheme, and alongside the grassy area is a wildlife garden proper. This part of the Parks feels quite different – friendly, welcoming, calm and much more intimate – delightful!

Steps joining Lower and Upper Pepys Parks
The path and steps leading from Lower Pepys Parks to Upper Pepys Parks
Roses in Upper Pepys Parks
Roses in Upper Pepys Parks
Wildflower meadow in Upper Pepys Parks
The wildflower meadow in Upper Pepys Parks

The two parts of the Park lead to the Thames, where there are fine views to Canary Wharf, and up and down the river. The children’s play area is quite big, and open, and varied. However, it looked more like an assault course to me!

Childrens's play area in Upper Pepys Parks
Children’s play area in Upper Pepys Parks
The River from Upper Pepys Parks
Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs from the river edge in Upper Pepys Parks

These two sections of Pepys Parks in Lewisham are interesting and well worth visiting The next post will look at the other green spaces which make up these Parks in Lewisham, on the river.

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