Eltham Green is unremarkable today. The traffic whizzes over and past a series of open spaces. But it wasn’t always like this.
The 19th century
Robert Butts tells us that by 1878 Eltham Green was ‘but the ghost of its former self, when on May-day and rustic holidays it witnessed the mirth, and was vocal with the unrestrained delight to those to whom rest from labour is delight.’ And a pound still stood on the western corner of the green. Eltham Hill was a country lane even at the turn of the century.
The area today
Today the green is in four different sections: the area between Eltham Hill and Green Way, alongside Eltham Green Road, and the land in the roundabout.
The land between Eltham Hill and Green Way is the largest space. It is a large area of grassland with trees on two sides.
And on one of the trees is this rather lovely little figure and her house.
Houses nos.1-13 Eltham Green Road were built c.1840. They stood alone, surrounded by farmland and overlooking a green which was common land. Today all that remains is a narrow section of grass, but there are some majestic and beautiful London plane trees along the road.
The land west of Eltham Green Road and adjoining the new Kidbrooke Estate was also part of the former green. Here Robert Butts asked us to ‘rest awhile on the bridge under which a clear stream (the Quaggy) flows with a gentle ripple…coming from, and passing on through rich water-meadows’. It is slowly becoming a wildflower meadow.
The traffic whizzes past today. But I am sure Butts would be pleased to see the little stream in neighbouring Sutcliffe Park! I will be visiting Sutcliffe Park but not just yet!
The roundabout is not safely accessible on foot so I didn’t even try to get there.
The Yorkshire Grey pub was built c.1930s, around the time of the new Middle Park Estate and the Horn Park Estate. It stands on the edge of the roundabout and in its times it was THE venue for unlicensed boxing. Today the pub is a MacDonalds. It seems rather dull by comparison!
Eltham Green doesn’t merit a special visit but it is worth remembering its history when we pass.
 Butts, Robert: Butts’ Historical Guide to Lewisham, Ladywell, Lee, Blackheath and Eltham, 1878, digitised by the British Library, printed by Amazon, p.37