The Community Voice for London SE26
Although Sydenham Hill Woods and Dulwich Woods merge into each other they were not separated until after the opening of the Crystal Palace in 1854 and the creation of the high level line in 1865. Today they are managed by the Dulwich Estates and the London Wildlife Trust respectively. On the Dulwich side of the old railway line there is a line of green posts about 3 feet high - these mark the boundary between the two woods.
Between the junction with Crescent Wood Road and Cox's Walk there were seven houses.
The Hoo was one of the largest. It stood almost opposite the present (modern) 36 Sydenham Hill. I noticed earlier today that if you stand at the boundary of 34a and 36 Sydenham Hill the woods opposite show an area of more recent growth with mature trees at either side, clearly indicating the site of the house.
The red-brick building you remember was a small surviving outbuilding of Beechgrove. The Beechgrove estate was the Estates Governors' last attempt to develop this part of their Sydenham Woods estate, and was resisted successfully by the Sydenham Society and other local groups. Between Beechgrove and the corner of Cox's Walk was Lapsewood, built by Charles Barry, architect of Dulwich College. He lived there about 1861-1871.
The only book I know that deals fairly comprehensively with the wood is: "The Great North Wood - A brief history of ancient woodlands from Selhurst to Deptford" by LSC Neville, London Wildlife Trust (1987). When I get my computer working again I will upload a couple of pictures that haven't already been published of Sydenham Hill.
The building in the foreground on the right looks to be what is now the Astra Palace Hotel, with the building behind it (unfortunately obscured by trees, but showing 5 chimney pots) being 'The Hurst', AKA #4 Sydenham Hill, which was still standing when I came to Sydenham Hill in the early 70s, but had clearly been left derelict for some years; when I knew it, it looked like something out of a Hammer Horror movie!
Interesting to see the row of gas lamps, along with the telegraph pole in the background and to the right; was that carrying telephone or electricity cables?
The other picture shows the opposite end of Sydenham Hill, looking towards the Sydenham Hill/Kirkdale roundabout. I think the wall beyond the pillar box (which is still roughly in the same position) is that of Castlebar. The house in the distance is Holly Brow, near the roundabout, and the cyclist is approaching the entrance to Cox's Walk.
That driver seems to be going at quite a lick, very brave of that photographer standing right in the path !
@ Falkor - how do you fancy a walk that side of Sydenham this weekend? Taking in Sydenham Park etc, which you have stated you haven't done yet.
Greg Whitehead wrote:
For me, the view from that roundabout has to be the finest in London, bar none.
Greg Whitehead wrote:Steve, do you know much about what I believe is called Eliot Lodge? You know the one, the large house that stands at the roundabout of Sydenham Hill and Kirkdale?
The original part, nearest to the road, was built about 1853. In common with many large houses in the area built before the reservoir, it had a well. The large additon, furthest from the road, was built about 1870, over the well. It has been suggested to me that there is still evidence of the well beneath the floor of one of the rooms in the extension. The house was converted into flats during the 1930s.
By the way, I don't believe the Folly was ever complete; I've been told it was built as a picturesqe ruin, although I can't remember where I heard this.
Falkor, I have a few pictures of Sydenham Hill which might interest you. I will put them on flikr when things are back to normal.
Some information has been published about the woods, and should be available for reference at Southwark Local Studies Library. Over the years I've gathered a folder of material such as leaflets, nature trails, campaign material to save the woods and so on. They were mostly published by the London Wildlife Trust or a group formed in the early 1990s called the Friends of the Great North Wood who, despite their name, concentrated almost exclusively on Sydenham Hill Woods.
Keef wrote:For those of you who've never used it, flickr.com is a fantastic site where people post their photos.
If you visit http://www.flickr.com/search and search for photos tagged Sydenham, you get some nice results, including some really nice shots of the woods.
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