Well Hall Pleasaunce in Eltham is an interesting and historical park in south east London with a variety of ‘garden rooms’ to explore.
History of the park
The Manor of Well Hall was a Mediaeval estate to the north of Eltham Palace and there is evidence of occupation since 1253. From the mid-16th century William Roper (1495-1578), a lawyer and MP, and his family owned the estate. His wife Margaret Roper was Sir Thomas More’s daughter. Garden walls and the moat date from this time and the house stood on today’s moated island. The Tudor Barn dates from their time.
In 1733 the Ropers sold the estate, which included c.200 hundred acres of land, to Sir Gregory Page who owned Wricklemarsh in Blackheath. He demolished the Tudor house and built a new house. In 1899-1921 the tenants were Hubert Bland and Edith Nesbit.
By 1930 the estate was dilapidated and the Page family sold Well Hall to Woolwich Borough Council. The area had a lot of new housing but there was a dearth of parks and recreational facilities.
J Sutcliffe, Borough Engineer, and his successor H W Tee, made the plans to restore the park. The Council demolished the house and the farm buildings, laid out the gardens and the first phase of the park opened in 1933. The Council bought more land, restored the barn (now listed Grade II*) and converted it to an art gallery and restaurant and there was another ‘opening’ in 1936.
Well Hall Pleasaunce today
Heritage Lottery Funding enabled a major restoration programme in 2000-2002. Today the park and gardens are also Grade II listed. H W Tee laid out several different themed gardens and these are mainly in place today. The major changes are the loss of the formal gardens along Well Hall Road and plant nurseries. And there are ducks in the moats instead of swans!
There is a bowling club but tennis courts and a putting green have gone.
The Friends have produced a useful tree trail. And the Well Hall stream, a tributary of the Quaggy, flows into the moat and out through the grounds.
Well Hall Pleasaunce in Eltham is well worth visiting for a wander, a visit to the restaurant, to play bowls, or just to sit.