London Gardens Online tells me that ‘…Wickham Gardens is a cul-de-sac off Wickham Road, the houses surrounding a garden that was protected under the London Squares and Enclosures (Preservation) Act 1906, which prohibited building on the enclosure.
Much of the area, including houses in Wickham Gardens, was damaged by bombing in WWII and rebuilt after the war although Victorian houses remain on the north side.
The central garden remains largely unchanged as an area of grass with shrubs and a number of trees, surrounded by the roadway… In 1928 the garden was described as: ‘Enclosed by a low wall with light iron railings on top. A well-kept and very attractive ornamental garden with lawn, shrubs and a few trees. Overlooked by small but well-tenanted dwelling houses.’ It was in the private ownership of a Mr A H Tarleton…’.
The description of Wickham Gardens in Lewisham in LGO (July 2006) is essentially correct but I did not expect what I found. The central garden is still enclosed on three sides by a low wall but the iron railings seen in 1928 on top of the wall have gone.
The ornamental garden of 1928 is also in the past as all I found were a few cyclamens, hiding in the leaves. There are indeed trees around the green, although on the whole they look quite young. However, the mention of ‘shrubs’ led me to expect something more interesting and attractive than the parasol-shaped, twiggy bushes around the perimeter.
The effects of the V2 bomb damage in 1945 on the houses is quite clear on the ground. Originally Wickham Gardens was a green space surrounded by a semi-circular road. Three villas on Wickham Road backed on to the Gardens – I assume at the point where there is no wall. These were the buildings destroyed in 1945 and replaced with 1960s flats.
As you drive into Wickham Gardens in Lewisham there is a small opening on the right which is one end of a small lane which links the Gardens to Harefield Road. It is paved in places with what look like original setts or paving stones and is an extraordinary little passage. It is quite hidden and walking along the lane feels like being in the countryside!
Wickham Road is the widest of the roads in Brockley, and the oldest, being established in c.1850. The housing near Wickham Gardens gives an idea of what was lost in WWII. The area was under the bomber flight path to the London Docks which is why there was so much damage here.