Last week I was in Telegraph Hill Park in a quiet residential area. This week I am visiting Lewisham Park in South East London, off a busy main road. London Gardens Online (LGO) tells me that ‘… Lewisham Park was laid out as the centrepiece of a housing development built on the estate of the Rt Hon William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth, prior to building commencing…
History of the park
…Access was at first restricted to residents of the surrounding houses. It was handed over to Trustees in 1878 and taken over by London Borough of Lewisham in 1965, after the freehold had been purchased in 1960…
…The park once had a lake, which was formed as a result of gravel extraction during building work, and this was emptied within living memory, although it was not shown on the Stanford Map of 1862. Its site is now a circular sunken area ringed with plane trees…
…The sunken area in Lewisham Park is bounded with modern railings, hedges, shrubberies and horse chestnuts. [However], the original path layout in the park has altered, although perimeter walks remain as originally laid out and the park’s structure, principally of London plane trees, is still discernible, including the complete ring around the site of the lake and one notable oak... more much recent planting of cypress, flowering cherry, birch, rose beds, rhododendron etc., has rather obscured the original coherence. ‘
Access to Lewisham Park
LGO is not quite accurate about the enclosure of the park. There are railings and some hedging around the park, and you can enter through five entrance gates which are locked at night.
The sunken area in the park
But there are no railings around the sunken area. And neither is there a complete ring of London Plane trees around the sunken area. This might have been true in 2012 but today the ring is more a half-circle. Finally, the gravel pit is still marked on the Ordnance Survey map published in 1872, although by 1897 it had become a lake, with a complete ring of trees. The ring was still complete in 1934 and I think the changes may have been a result of WWII. Ring-necked parakeets are very active in the park, in and out of the nesting holes in the plane trees!
And there is plenty of encouragement for other birds to visit, and linger!
Trees in Lewisham Park
The Council has planted a number of new trees but apart from the Gingko I couldn’t identify them. In addition to the London Plane Trees I also found oak trees, junipers, pines, holly, horse chestnuts, and acers.
The perimeter walk around Lewisham Park is an easy and level surface. I saw walkers, mothers pushing prams, and runners doing circuits.
Play area, roses, and shrubs
As LGO points out, the layout of the internal paths in the Park has changed since 1897 – to accommodate a children’s playground and to facilitate access across the park to the surrounding streets. However, I feel that the sense of an open park has been retained. There are a few rose beds near the children’s playground and a single bed of perennials in the middle of the park, and these do not compromise the feel of space.
There are shrubs around the perimeter of the park and around some of the trees, but it was hard to identify them with few leaves!
I was again surprised and delighted to find yet another attractive, quiet, well-tended green space – Lewisham Park in South East London.