The South Field in Ladywell Fields is a large, almost rectangular field which feels very much like parkland. With Predergast School on one side and two railway stations and Catford shopping centre at the other end there are always people walking through and across the park. In the other direction the field leads to the Lewisham Shopping Centre via the Middle Field, and the North Field.
The South Field in 1894-96
Today’s park has the same shape as the Ladywell Recreation Ground shown on the OS map of 1894-96. The crossing paths in the field are still the same; there are two main differences. Firstly the River Ravensbourne has been straightened, creating a backwater, and secondly the garden of the villa on Ravensbourne Park Road which extended into the park is today’s Community Orchard and the Iona Close Nature Reserve.
Just inside the entrance from Bourneville Road is a small community orchard which was planted in 2011. This would have been in the gardens of 60 and 62 Ravensbourne Park Road, and between the orchard and the houses is, I believe, the Iona Close Nature Reserve. This is not accessible to the public as far as I can see.
Exercise & sports facilities
The tennis courts and bowling green are hidden away between the River Ravensbourne and the railway line into Catford Bridge Station. There is some outdoor gym gear in the park itself and a small children’s play area.
The River Ravensbourne
The river is visible as it comes into the South Field but soon is hidden by trees. This section has been straightened and if you walk on the path alongside the railway line you find the backwater, the curve of the river before straightening, which is clear in the map of 1897 above.
Ring-necked parakeets are all over South East London where their squeaks are quite unmistakable! I found this group posing on one of my visits. I have noticed the numbers increasing in the past few years, and apparently there are 8,600 breeding pairs in the UK.
Trees in the South Field of Ladywell Fields
The South Field is really parkland and its glory are the trees – old London plane trees and oak trees. This blog site details and traces the trees – do take a look.
The South Field in Ladywell Fields is open parkland, with beautiful London Plane trees and Oak trees. The River Ravensbourne flows quietly on one side of the field and sports fields are hidden away behind the trees along the river – it is all very peaceful.
- Friends of Ladywell Fields: http://ladywellfields.blogspot.com
- Iona Close Nature Reserve: https://natureconservationlewisham.co.uk/tag/iona-close-orchard/