King George’s Field

Today King George’s Field is a small grassy field just outside Greenwich Cemetery, and across the road from Eltham Common.

History of the field

A small open space alongside the Greenwich Cemetery was once common land and part of Eltham Common and Woolwich Common. A donation from King George’s Fields Foundation enabled the council to buy land from the War Department in 1952 and set it aside for public use. The donation stipulated that the land should only be used for public recreation. The Foundation had also to approve the layout of the site. 

King George’s Field in March
King George’s Field in March

The King George’s Fields Foundation dates from 1936, after the death of George V. The king had been the first President of the National Playing Fields Foundation set up in 1925. The aim of the Foundation was ‘”to promote and assist in the establishment… of playing fields for the use and enjoyment of the people”. Grants were for playing fields across the UK, with ‘each to be styled “King George’s Field” and be provided a pair of heraldic panels or other such signage commemorative of His Late Majesty.’ The overriding aim was to engage children in sport and play to benefit their health and general well-being. 

The charity closed down in 1965 because it had allocated all its funds. During its time 471 King George’s Fields had been created in the UK. The National Playing Fields Association (NPFA) now took over responsibility for the sites. The Duke of York, later King George VI, founded the NPFA in 1925. In 2008 the name was changed to Fields in Trust.

King George’s Field today

King George’s Field below Shooters Hill is open grassland with mature oak trees in the middle of the field and a young redwood near the brick structure.

There is a narrow ditch along the boundary of the cemetery with an intermittent stream. Some beautiful willow trees mark the presence of water.[1] The stream is the Lower Kidbrook[2] one of the many tributaries which flow into the River Quaggy.

Ditch with the Little Kidbrook
Ditch with the Little Kidbrook
Willow trees next to the Little Kidbrook
Willow trees next to the Little Kidbrook

T odayKing George’s Field is more a space for contemplation and quietness, despite the busy Well Hall Road, than a space for activity.

[1] Lower Kid Brook:

[2] White, Ken: The Quaggy River and its Catchment Area, 1999, republished by QWAG, p.54

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