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.

47 thoughts on “10 great things to discover in Charlton

  1. Mary October 18, 2010 / 12:35

    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 October 18, 2010 / 12:53

    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 October 18, 2010 / 12:57

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

      • Brenda October 18, 2010 / 13:35

        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 October 18, 2010 / 13:06

    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 October 18, 2010 / 13:12

      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 October 18, 2010 / 13:35

    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 October 18, 2010 / 13:50

    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 October 18, 2010 / 14:23

    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 October 18, 2010 / 14:37

    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 October 18, 2010 / 14:44

    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. Brockley Nick October 18, 2010 / 15:25

    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 October 18, 2010 / 18:43

    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 October 18, 2010 / 19:23

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

  12. hilly October 18, 2010 / 19:49

    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 December 18, 2010 / 00:25

      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 October 18, 2010 / 23:01

    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 October 20, 2010 / 09:53

    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 October 23, 2010 / 07:14

    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 December 18, 2010 / 00:21

    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 February 26, 2011 / 00:50

    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 February 26, 2011 / 14:24

      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 March 7, 2011 / 16:27

    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 July 8, 2011 / 00:03

    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.


    Fossedene Rob

    • Sam Thomas February 24, 2013 / 12:52

      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 June 22, 2012 / 14:45

    I so miss wolfe crscent so many grat memories.

    • Lee October 12, 2013 / 18:21

      I grew up in Wolfe Crecent, now live in Australia. Best days of my life

  21. barbara cheesman August 18, 2012 / 22:10

    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 November 29, 2012 / 14:08

    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 December 24, 2013 / 19:47

      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 January 23, 2013 / 11:07

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

    • Bren December 23, 2013 / 14:52

      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 December 24, 2013 / 19:45

        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.

  24. Terry Allen February 6, 2015 / 10:16

    I grew up on the Springfield Grove estate and have loads of memories from early 50s to early 70s. Played football for both Sprincourt and Heathway and had club meetings at Charlton House.
    I’m not sure if this web site us still running but if so will post many more memories.

  25. janet Robinson June 17, 2015 / 13:55

    Hi my name is janet Robinson,my Dad lived at 9 mcarthur terrace nr charlton park/village he and mum married at st lukes church 60yrs ago on the 30th july would any one know who the vicar was then,i myself had wonderful memories of visiting nan and grandad staying in the school holidays going to the deer park the putting green in the park as a family we were all scattered about so 9 mcarthur known as the half way house all the families meeting point fantastic family christmases so many of us the xmas lunch was served in two sittings remember grandad working at the granada whilst waiting for him my cousin and i used to go across the water on the woolwich ferry then catch the 53 bus that stopped right out nans

    • Terry Allen June 17, 2015 / 22:53

      Hi Janet,
      I was very good friends with the family at 10 McArthur Terrace who were the Noonan family. Mrs Noonan still lived there until recently and, sadly, she passed away late last year. They lived there from the mid 1960’s I think would have known your parents. I was baptised at St Luke’s in the early 1950s but in the late 1950s the vicar was Mr Whale and he would let us cut the grass with scythes which we thought was great fun for a 7 yr old! He also ran a club at the Assembly Rooms in the village and bands started playing there and some later very well known rock stars featured there in their early careers. I used to try and watch through the windows as I was too young to get in but heard more than I saw. Happy days.

    • Kate kirby nee jackson June 18, 2015 / 06:25

      Hello, in the early fifties the rector of S t. Luke’s was John Palmer. His daughters Mary and Penelope may still be alive, I was friends with them then but we lost touch. Then, after him it was Father Bear. Curates living in the Rectory Fairfield Grove were Gilbert Parsons and Basil Tuffield amongst others.

  26. Christine September 24, 2015 / 08:30

    I believe the name of the church that used to be on the corner of Charlton Lane and Woolwich Road was the ‘Holy Trinity’ – I will check it out. My parents got married there in the mid 1940’s.
    We lived in Hornfair Road from 1958 to 1969.

    • Alvar Scott September 24, 2015 / 23:23

      Hello Christine,
      It was the Holy Trinity. I have since located a couple of pictures of the church, including one inside. I just wondered if anyone had some ‘happy snaps’ of the place from the 60’s, as I remember weddings took place there (confetti left in the gutter the next day etc).

  27. MiceElf January 29, 2016 / 06:39

    Prompted by Twitter to add to this, what about Our Lady of Grace church on Charlton Road which is a very handsome building with an attractive interior and St Thomas’ church in old Charlton with its lovely sactuary. The memorials there are fascinating too – Walter de la Mare’s father was the first rector and the great Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie was born almost next to the church in Maryon Road.

    Charlton cemetery is a fascinating place and there is an interpretation board to the graves of the great and good who are buried there.

    Another recent pleasure are the regular visits of the horses of the Kings Troop exercising along the Charlton roads.

  28. freddob42 August 26, 2016 / 09:59

    I lived in Charlton Lane, top end, from the age of 7 in 1949 until 1957. I loved living there and it’s nice to see so many people posting their memories.

    Minding people’s cars parked on the grass while they were at football matches was a great money spinner for us young ‘uns! I used to deliver newspapers for Leader’s and Sam Bartram was on my delivery round. I even met the great man one day!

    I attended Thorntree Road school and then Maryon Park Primary, going on to Colfe’s Grammar in Lewisham.

    I loved the area, so many nice parks to play in and explore. A great place to grow up.

    I now live in Australia, but have never forgotten Charlton.

    • Katharine Kirby nee Jackson August 26, 2016 / 21:53

      I remember you and your pals minding the cars for the fans, I was impressed that you earned 3d or something like for each car. The roars from the fans echoed up to us while the matches were played.I would sit on the kerb of Fairfield Grove outside The Rectory where I lived and play jacks. We dug about in the bomb site of the church next door, the crypt was still in existence. It was covered in rosebay willow herb. I was friends with Kathy White who lived opposite, and we started at Maryon Park Primary together September 1955, I think. I could already read so was stuffed with smarties for finishing all the reading books so fast, Janet and John etc…

      • freddob42 August 31, 2016 / 08:46

        Do you remember the hollow tree on the corner of Fairfield? 🙂

        • Terry Allen August 31, 2016 / 09:04

          Do you mean the Hollow Oak commonly known as the ‘Olly Oak’ which at the bottom of Springfield Grove near the Church Lane entrance? It was a famous meeting place for everybody on the estate.

          • Katharine Kirby nee Jackson August 31, 2016 / 11:07

            Sorry but I don’t think I was old enough to leave the immediate area of The Rectory. Walking down to school was always with my mother. Later when I went to Sherington (?) I went on my own.

          • freddob42 September 7, 2016 / 10:07

            No, the one I referred to was on the corner of Charlton Lane/Fairfield Grove, on the vacant land along from the Rectory/Vicarage.

Comments are closed.