Thursday, 18 February 2010

Thames Tributary Ravensbourne - Beckenham Place

Thames Tributary Ravensbourne
The Ravensbourne continues to flow northwards
TQ 38557 70436

A large area of park land and woods around what was Beckenham Place. Some of the area is a golf course but most is recreational space.   One industry in the corner of this area is the important lens manufacturer, Wray - hidden in a suburban side street surrounded by parks

Post to the north Southend
Post to the south Beckenham

Ashgrove
Wray (Optical) works. Formed in 1850. From the 1940s Wray was part owned by Dollond &Aitchison, who sold to Hilger &Watts in 1962. Subsequently they became part of the Rank Organisation
Millwall FC Training ground
Lewisham Youth Football Club
Ash Plantation. Someone - probably John Cator - planted ash trees within the existing woodland here. The shrub layer is densest and most diverse east of the railway. Hazel, hawthorn, Midland hawthorn and holly are the main shrubs. With black currant, buckthorn, wild privet, dog-rose, field-rose, gooseberry, red currant and wych elm. Bluebells are particularly abundant, Dog’s mercury, early dog-violet, wood-sedge, remote sedge, stinking iris, wall lettuce, wood anemone, wood melick, wood millet, wood forget-me-not and wood meadow-grass are all more or less widespread while wood spurge, scaly male-fern and yellow archangel are each found in only one locality within the wood

Beckenham Place Park
Beckenham Place Park contains about 20 hectares of ancient woodland
Hollow with a path round it is the site of an ox bow lake. often standing water beneath the trees in winter. This wet woodland is dominated by willow, mostly crack and grey , with alder in the drier eastern areas. There is also great yellow-cress, sedges, iris, and Indian balsam and many Lichens.

Crab Hill
Boundary Post
Ravensbourne Station. 1st July 1892. Between Shortlands and Beckenham Hill on South Eastern Trains
Park entrance. Norway maple grows on the slopes of the cutting which falls from Crab Hill.

Downs Hill
36 garden sloping steeply away from house. Ponds, water and sheltered patio. Wooded area, with shrubs and flowers.

Ravensbourne
West side of Beckenham Park Place, valley with pebble beds of mussel shells in limey matrix
The Danish fleet is said to have sailed up the Ravensbourne under Olaf

Summerhouse Hill Wood
Ancient woodland. This has oak, sweet chestnut, beech, hornbeam and rowan as well as wild service. The wood is on Rocque’s map of 1745 as 'Langstead Wood' but by 1863 it was known as 'Summerhouse Hill Wood' - perhaps there was by then a summer house there. The south part of the wood is a coppice-with a few oaks, silver birch and sweet chestnut. This was not been cut for many years. Beech has been planted and there are wild service-trees, a wild pear, and field maples as well as wild cherry, rowan, whitebeam, downy birch and hornbeam. Sycamore is now widespread but many are dead and support beetles.
Boundary post for Beckenham Parish

Westgate Road
Thus is the Western approach to Beckenham Place. It is on Peter Cator's development plan of 1864 and it remains as it was first built - long, wide and straight, like other roads laid out by him.
Westgate Lodge also known as Beckenham Place Park Lodge, a red brick Cator Estate lodge house with a balustraded entrance and central chimney stack. Locally listed
Beckenham Convent
St. Mary's Primary School

Sources
Field. London Place names
Grace's Guide. Web site
London Borough of Bromley. Web site
Smyth. Citywildspace
Wagstaffe and Pullen. Beckenham anthology
Walk round Beckenham.

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