Queenscroft Park in Eltham is in the Middle Park housing estate. It lies against the hillside and under the brow of the hill where Eltham Palace stood. This is quite a young park, only established in c.1952.
The park and Eltham Palace
This land was once in the enclosed Middle Park of Eltham Palace.
The parliamentary survey of 1648 after the death of Charles I found the park covered 333 acres, with a lodge in the middle. However, the deer had been killed. There were 324 trees in addition to the 1,000 trees identified as suitable for shipbuilding. Sir John Shaw leased the Eltham Palace Estates after the Restoration. Middle Park became a farm which produced food for Eltham Lodge, Sir John’s home and now the clubhouse of the Royal Blackheath Golf Club.
The 20th century
Queenscroft, 150 Eltham Hill, is a redbrick house c.1720 and a Grade II listed building on Eltham Hill. In the 1860s the house looked out over orchards and fields and to the west lay nurseries. The house gives its name to the park.
By 1914 Oakhurst Farm lay to the west of the house and the OS map of that time also shows a round lake and a long pond with a line of trees just to the north of both pieces of water. In 1927 Eltham Hill School was built on the farmland and the new Middle Park housing estate was built 1931-36. By 1952 Oakhurst Farm had disappeared, replaced by Queenscroft Park with a model boating lake and paddling pool dating from 1950s.
Queenscroft Park today
The site is rather bare – a grassy hillside with a slight hollow leading down to the lake and a notable clump of mature oak and lime trees along the line of the school boundary.
Flowering grasses cover one hillside in the summer and it is very beautiful. There are tables for picnics and benches for just sitting. Patches of newly planted wildflowers will spread in time.
In 2022 there are significant redevelopment plans for Queenscroft Park: ‘refurbishment to the toilets to allow it to be used by the Friends group, facility maintenance, playground improvements, new park furniture, creation of a wildlife pond, meadow creation and tree planting.’1
Queenscroft Park in Eltham is potentially very lovely, lying quietly on its hillside. It will be interesting to see how the planned redevelopment progresses.