10 great things to discover in Charlton

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…


8.) The Valley. For many years, London’s largest football ground; while the old east terrace was the biggest in the country. Awaiting happier times.


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.

About Darryl Chamberlain

Journalist, SE Londoner.
This entry was posted in Charlton. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to 10 great things to discover in Charlton

  1. Mary says:

    How about the little bridge in where Ransom Road goes under the main line railway. It was built to allow Glenton’s Sand and Gravel Railway to go under the railway as it ran from the Glenton pit, in what is now the Valley, down to the river. Up to the 1970s you could still see bits of track at the river end.

  2. Brenda says:

    I have bookmarked and look forward to reading my local news.
    Oh by the way I just remembered I heard that Vito has given up on the Swan and left.

    • Darryl says:

      I heard similar from elsewhere – can’t say I blame him. Do you know what happens now?

      • Brenda says:

        I think he’s handed back to the previous landlord. So normal service resumes tho I dont think it changed much?

        The viewpoints is a good one, brilliant view of the Barrier walking down Lansdowne Lane.

  3. Nat says:

    Great idea – I look forward to more Charlton gems.

    I’ve lived here for a decade now and you seem to have covered most of the ‘sights’ – although I might add the view across the peninsula you get from standing looking between the tower blocks opposite Charlton House.

    • Darryl says:

      Thanks Nat – I almost picked the “hidden” viewpoints for the 10.

      So we have so far…

      11) Disused gravel railway at Ransom Road
      12) The viewpoints

  4. Sarah Dhesi says:

    Refreshing to see an interesting website with it’s facts spot on. Thought I was the only local who felt such passion.

  5. Sarah Dhesi says:

    Oh and beautiful photos. Your comment about the Lido is true. Hopefully one day the big people in charge will see potential not for the amount of money it can generate but for the charlton people.
    I say give it the makeover it really deserves, get out the old photos and look at what the other last existing Lidos have done. Don’t spoil it’s charm with modernity.

  6. Steve says:

    I like the fact that the local shops are local shops – no national or global chains here, but you can get most things you need without even getting on a bus (even a cobbler – now they are rare). Sad that Valerie’s closed, though.

    (second part of comment edited because it related to an alleged police incident – Steve, if you have an idea for a post, please use the “suggest a topic” thread)

  7. greenwichguide says:

    A few more, though perhaps not great, as such.

    1. Charlton Village itself, particularly the war memorial/drinking fountain/horse trough at the top of Charlton Church Lane. Although Charlton has long been swallowed up in suburbia, there is still a village feel to the place, even if it is presently a little run-down.

    2. The St Lukes Cottages almshouses in Fairfield Grove.

    3. The Inigo Jones summerhouse-cum-public lavatory (sadly still closed by LB Greenwich).

  8. John says:

    Hmm. Not sure I’d have the Anchor and Hope in a top ten listing – I never feel it lives up to the location. No beer on handpumps – no demand, they say – and any time there’s karaoake or pub singers the volume’s greater than the talent.

    Never been there for a ‘proper’ gig, secret, low-key or not, and perhaps I should, but every time I’ve been I’ve felt somehow disappointed.

  9. Nice work! Can I nominate “the views” from some higher parts of Charlton please. I know lots of parts of London have good views, but there aren’t many parts with such good vantage points so close to the working parts of the Thames.

  10. neilclasper says:

    I’m a big fan of the view over the A102 from Charlton Rd: http://flic.kr/p/8DWgYu. Always changing, and it gets the light in some very interesting ways, particularly in the morning.

    I also like the fact that Charlton has a ‘proper’ music shop (Mike Edwardes on Charlton Church Lane) where you can buy things useful things like guitar strings and leads, and also acts as a sort of hub for local musicians. I often look at the notice board and daydream about the sorts of bands I could join if time permitted. Shops like that are a bit of an endangered species, I fear.

  11. marmoset says:

    It’s lovely to seen the thinking behind this blog start as a seed and then go on to grow and blossom.

  12. hilly says:

    you did already mention charlton house, but the mulberry tree there is a bit special in its own right, and has several plaques at its base.

    From treesforcities:
    “Said to be the oldest of its species in the country, this old and venerable tree is thought to have been planted in 1608 at the bequest of Charles I. Mulberries were planted at this time to promote the burgeoning silk trade in England and were once a common feature of East and South East London, where the silk trade flourished right up until the early 1900s.”

    • Sharon says:

      Hi,
      I have just read about the Old Mulberry Tree,I have memories of my Dad lifting me up to pick the fruit when I was little,yummy they were too.I suppose you can’t anywhere near it now? I live in Norfolk now so would love to hear if the old Tree is bearing fruit.

  13. Mazehiller says:

    I would like to express my support too for the view from the top of Eastcombe Avenue/Charlton road, and also for historic Charlton village, a bit tatty in places but retaining a special unpretentious charm still.
    I really like the architectural pockets of delight such as the individual listed Georgian houses on Fairfield Grove, the crumbling Victorian folly in the rear garden of the Old Vicarage on Woodland Terrace and the grand villas of Little Heath.

  14. PlumBum says:

    How about the toy library in Charlton House. A little gem that hires out toys as well as children’s safety equipment. It had struggled recently with funding but I understand that Sainsbury’s down in the Peninsular has adopted them as their charity for the year so hopefully it will continue to grow. The tearoom in Charlton House is also lovely.

  15. Charlton Lane Dave says:

    Darryl – great job here. The “sense of community” would make my top ten even if it is a bit of a cliche.

    Brenda – Sorry to hear it’s not worked out for Vito. He was managing an evolution on a budget and it needed a revolution with big money to make the change needed to re-establish the Swan.

    Does anyone know what the plans are for the buildings that are finally going up on the corner of Floyd Road and Charlton Church Lane? I am assuming a replacement of the shops with flats above that were knocked down a couple of years ago?

  16. Sharon says:

    Hi All,
    I was interested to read about Rectory Field being SE3 now?? I was born in Rectory Field Crescent,which overlooked the field and I lived there until 1970 when I left to get married.It was always SE7 ? My Mum lived there until about 2001 when she moved into sheltered housing,thinking that the houses were about to be demolished,but I don’t think that happened till a lot later.Would love to hear from any old Charltonians!!

  17. Mazer says:

    hi Sharon,

    Rectory field crescent remains se7 and the rectory field, grounds of the rugby club, and the roads to the west ( and south of charlton road) are all se3. As far I as I know they have been for a long time ?

    • Sharon says:

      Oh Thanks Mazer,never really gave it a thought,as it was the Rectory Field just assumed it was SE7.I used to go there every Sunday at the top end near the Blackheath and Blue Coats school to watch Greenwich Borough play football,only about 5 at the time but loved it,as always had an hot orange squash and a packet of oxo crisps,thought it was wonderful,how things have changed! My Dad James Morley was the sponge man,I can remember the smell of the horse linement he used to rub on the players sprains etc.Happy memories,always will have a soft spot for Charlton.

  18. kate kirby says:

    Hi all on this good blog; I lived in Fairfield Grove during the 1950’s, we had the top attic flat in the Rectory next to the bomb site of the old St. Paul’s Church. A wonderful view down to the river and I heard the cheering at the football ground every Saturday. Next door was a similar large house which was then the Clinic where I had sun ray treatment, collected my Virol and thick orange juice concentrate. I went to primary school down the road past the park with my friend Kathy White who lived in a house opposite. The Rectory was the venue for Garden Parties and fetes, we had a jolly sociable time. I remember visiting the Library in Charlton House, Services at St. Luke’s, the Almshouses, the Assembly Rooms and little shops. My father was a keen photographer, he developed his own pictures and many of them are of old Charlton Village around that time. I often think of the lovely life we had there although I gather that the rectory was demolished in the 60’s after being abandoned by the Church. Katie nee Jackson, now living in Cornwall.

  19. rob moore says:

    Was born & grew up in Church Lane – now in Norwich which reminds me of the Charlton of my childhood!

    Does anyone have memories of the Heights (off Church Lane and above the Valley) where I used to play as kid. Even. better – any photos.

    Cheers,

    Fossedene Rob

    • Sam Thomas says:

      Hi there, Rob, I live in Wales now but lived in Charlton church lane until about 1975 with my family until I was 8. I remember the Heights very well! my Dad was the foreman on the construction job that built the houses there. we used to play there as kids & My Dad found an old barrel, put my brothers in it & rolled them down the hill! I think these days he’d have been in trouble for that! we thought it was great fun! we have a picture somewhere of one of the first dumper trucks to arrive on site which my Dad had the keys to. It was on its side one Monday morning when Dad got to work, although I think he may have had something to do with it! he was a bit of a boy! I will try & upload it here at some point. I have many fond memories of Charlton especially Charlton house where I went to nursery & as a family we went to the library on a weekly basis .

  20. mike says:

    I so miss wolfe crscent so many grat memories.

  21. barbara cheesman says:

    Hi I lived in charlton from 1961 till 1972 went to cherry orchard infants school then on to sherington then kidbrooke got married in St lukes church and still have fond memories of the area.
    I went past hornfair park today and people were queuing to get into the lido!!!!! just like in the old days but we got there before 8am it was free and you could stay all day swim sun bathe listen to the piped music and buy a snack from the cafe happy days the sun seemed to shine all summer then.

  22. Carol says:

    Hi I lived in Charlton too and went to Cherry Orchard infants then on to Sherington and then Blackheath Bluecoats and got married in St Lukes, I remember a shop next to the boarded up loos in the village called penny g`s which sold all sorts of things and also running past the Poplar Cottage from school as we thought a witch lived there lol. I loved the lido in the summer but my Mum and Dad decided that as it was free before 8am we`d go then and the shock of putting a wee tootsie in that freezing water at 7am is forever etched on mind. I can remember using the sweet shop at the top of Victoria Lane before running hell for leather to the bustop by Springfields as you could see the bus trundling up the road from Sherington and I didn`t want to miss it. Thankyou for a lovely website it is lovely to have such memories x

    • Kate Kirby says:

      Yes I went to the LIdo in the 50’s but my mother was afraid I might catch polio from the water! I went to Sherington after the primary school by the Marion Richardson ? Park.

  23. Alvar says:

    Does anyone have pictures of the now demolished church which was on the corner of Charlton Lane and Woolwich road?

    • Bren says:

      No photos of that church, but remember it well. We moved to Charlton from Greenwich in 1949. We lived in Hasted Road and first Sunday there my sister and I were sent to the Sunday school in that church. It was run by an old deaconess who tried to separate me and my sister but we wouldn’t have that so we ran out. We eventually went to Sunday school in the small Gospel Hall in Church Lane.

      • Kate Kirby says:

        How interesting, I remember that old deaconess, I lived in Charlton Rectory on Fairfield Grove in the 1950’s. We stayed there, in the top flat, until 1960. There was a bomb site next door, St. Peters Church, I have a pc of that. It was where we played. We attended St. Luke’s. I’ll ask my mother about the church you are intrigued by and let you know what she remembers.

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