Ashburnham Triangle, Greenwich

A conser­vation area in south-​​west Greenwich, consisting of nine original streets and some later cul-​​de-​​sacs, bounded by Greenwich South Street, Blackheath Road and Greenwich High Road

7 Ashburnham Grove, the birthplace of Edgar Wallace

7 Ashburnham Grove, birthplace of Edgar Wallace

John Ashburnham – who came from a Sussex family of “stupendous antiquity” – acquired the land here as part of a substantial inher­itance in 1755.

His new set of possessions included the Chocolate House, which stood on the brow of Blackheath and had gained its name from tastings of drinking chocolate held there when the beverage first came into fashion.

The Chocolate House was unima­gin­atively renamed Ashburnham House in 1820. From around this time the family laid out streets and housing to the north-​​west of South Street, with the scheme gaining full momentum nearer the middle of the 19th century.

Much of the little estate consisted of tasteful stuccoed terraces, together with several pubs, including the Guildford Arms and the Ashburnham Arms, nowadays known locally as ‘the Ash’.

Thriller writer Edgar Wallace was born in 1875 at 7 Ashburnham Grove, which now displays an unofficial plaque. A biography harshly calls the area a ‘London slum’. Wallace’s unmarried, show business parents offered him up for adoption when he was only nine days old.

In the 1880s the Ashburnham family began to sell off the estate in stages and Ashburnham House was demolished to make way for further devel­opment. Blackheath high school opened on Catherine Grove in 1904. The school was converted to apartments just under a century later and three new houses were built in the former playground.

Most of the Ashburnham Triangle’s original housing has survived unspoilt, although the enclave was one of last conser­vation areas to be designated in Greenwich. The Greenwich Forge, at 62 Guildford Grove, is a wrought iron worker and blacksmith. On Catherine Grove, the former Maurice Drummond House has recently been converted into a ’boutique hotel’.

Postal district: SE10
Website: The Ashburnham Triangle Association
Further reading: Diana Rimel, Ashburnham Triangle, Ashburnham Triangle Association, 1994, updated 2009

 

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