Hello! Welcome to the Charlton Champion – a new blog about life in Charlton, south-east London. We’ll celebrate what’s good about the place, and hopefully find ways of starting to fix what’s bad. If you’d like to contribute – get in touch.
Celebrating seemed like a good way to start, so here’s 10 things I like about Charlton.
1) The parks. Charlton is blessed with some wonderful bits of green space, mostly largely hidden from the passing world. Maryon Park is an under-rated gem of a park, little touched since David Hemmings’ photographer stumbled across a murder there in cult 1966 film Blow Up. Maryon Wilson Park is an eerie escape from the urban sprawl, and still feels more like its original name – Hanging Tree Wood. Charlton Park could do with a little TLC in places, but is a vital venue for many local sports teams. Hornfair Park definitely needs some TLC, but some day, its lido will be great again. We hope.
2) Charlton House. When was the last time you stepped inside this Jacobean beauty? The haunted house to out-spook all others, it now functions as a community centre but at one point was under consideration to become the old Greenwich borough’s town hall. Its gardens are also worth exploring, particularly the peace garden to the south of the house.
3) Poplar Cottage. From Ideal Homes: “Poplar Cottage has stood in Charlton Road since at least 1695. It is the last surving example of weatherboarded cottages in Charlton. Many similar cottages in Charlton were pulled down in the 20th century.”
4) The burial place of the only assassinated British prime minister. Spencer Perceval‘s remains lie in St Luke’s Church, nearly two centuries after he was shot dead in the lobby of the House of Commons by a merchant with a grudge against the government. Perceval’s government saw Britain through a time of great economic hardship – so tough, that he had to serve as his own chancellor because nobody else wanted to do the job.
5) The Thames Barrier. Definitely not in Woolwich, as some mistakenly believe, the “eighth wonder of the world” stretches from the eastern corner of SE7 across to the north bank at Silvertown. It officially opened in 1984, 10 years after construction began and 31 years after the catastrophic floods which led to it being commissioned. It was closed four times in the 1980s, 35 times in the 1990s, and 75 times in the 2000s.
6) Charlton Lane level crossing. A strangely peaceful spot. You don’t get many of these in London – and our level crossing is possibly the closest to the centre of the capital. (See also the rural-style foot crossing on the Angerstein branch line, between Fairthorn Road and Farmdale Road, Greenwich.)
7) Gilbert’s Pit. Just to the west of Maryon Park – the last remnant of chalk and sand mining in Charlton, and a site of special scentific interest. Well, there is one other remnant of the mining days…
9) Blackheath FC. Technically not in Charlton – the Rectory Field is the first SE3 address as you head west on Charlton Road – but it’d be dumb to ignore this sporting gem. A founding member of the FA, but its withdrawal began the divide with soccer and it is now the oldest open rugby club in the world. The Rectory Field, in use since 1883, also played host to Kent county cricket matches until 1972.
10) The Anchor and Hope. Probably London’s best “secret” riverside pub, with a fine view up to the peninsula and down to the Thames Barrier. Occasionally plays host to low key shows from Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook.
Those are my 10 – but can we find another 10 great things in Charlton? I’d love to hear from you – please add your thoughts in the comments box.