Blythe Hill Fields in SE London in is a large grassy park on top of a steep hill in Brockley. There are wide views towards the City, One Tree Hill (!), and over leafy suburbs between Brockley and the River Thames. These are perhaps surprising views to those who regard London as consisting of streets of dull houses and tall office blocks!
The history of Blythe Hill Fields
‘…The land was formerly part of Brockley Farm and also the site of a brickworks, which was saved from housing development partly due to the hilly nature of the site. Blythe Hill House was built to the south in 1842 and its grounds covered a large part of Blythe Hill; the house was demolished in 1895. The land was purchased by the LCC and opened as a public park in 1935. A chimney from the former brickworks remained until 1938…’.London Gardens Online (April 2012)
On the map below Brockley Farm is in Brockley Lane, towards Ladywell. Edith’s Streets describes the farmhouse as a 16C building called Forest Place. Sadly the farmhouse was demolished in 1870 for new housing. The Castle inn became The Crooked Billet and today it is The Brockley Jack. The Noakes family, who were brewers and owned the pub, lived in Brockley Hall which survived until 1931. The Brockley Hall Estate replaced the farm. (There is a fascinating history of Brockley here.) Another farm is shown south of The Castle, and the Croydon and Surrey Canal, with its many locks, is clear on the left side of the map. The River Ravensbourne runs through open fields!
Blythe Hill Fields in SE London today
The park today is developing. The majority is open, grassy park land – breezy and pleasant, particularly on summer evenings.
Views from the top of the park
The views from the top of Blythe Hill are amazing! Brockley Cemetery, Hilly Fields, Lewisham’s new flats, Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs, the Shard, and the City are all clearly visible.
The wooded area of the park
On the lower slopes of the hill, towards the River Ravensbourne, there several young trees and it looks as though the plan is to develop a woodland. There are a lot of sycamore trees in the park, but also ash trees.
Children’s play area
I have always found children and their parents in the playground. There seems to be a wide variety of gear and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves judging from the squeals and laughs.
Outdoor gym gear in the park
Around the edge of the park a ‘Trim Trail’ is laid out. Some of the gear looks fairly intimidating to me! And although I have visited the park over the summer and into the autumn I have not seen anyone ‘trimming up’! The table tennis table looks more inviting, but oddly enough no-one was using that either.
A park in which to ease off…
The Friends of Blythe Hill Fields in SE London (set up in 2003) are protective of their local park and organise an annual festival, amongst other events. Do visit this lovely open park in Brockley, particularly at the end of the day as the sunlight fades over the City.