Blackheath Park

Blackheath Park, Greenwich

A late Georgian and early Victorian private estate situated south-east of Blackheath village, bordering Kidbrooke

St Michael and All Angels, Pond Road, Blackheath Park
St Michael and All Angels, Pond Road*

Black­heath Park is also known as the Black­heath Cator estate, after Brom­ley busi­ness­man John Cator, who bought the land cheap­ly and demol­ished Wrick­le­marsh House, a clas­si­cal man­sion built for Sir Gre­go­ry Page by John James, who had worked with Hawksmoor and Wren. After Cator died in 1806, his heirs began to sell off plots of land and Black­heath Park took shape dur­ing the 1820s and 1830s.

Anoth­er flur­ry of build­ing fol­lowed in the late 1850s and again in the 1930s, when the expiry of leas­es removed con­straints on infill­ing. The Cators installed lodges at the main entrances to the estate and grant­ed land for St Michael and All Angels church, and lat­er for the Con­ser­va­toire and Black­heath Halls.

After the Sec­ond World War the local author­i­ty and the Lon­don Coun­ty Coun­cil com­pul­so­ri­ly pur­chased sev­er­al plots and put up blocks of flats, but resis­tance by preser­va­tion groups reduced the intend­ed scale of devel­op­ment. The Cator estate retained its pri­vate sta­tus, with the munic­i­pal author­i­ties con­tribut­ing to the freeholder’s main­te­nance fund.

Pri­vate hous­ing schemes, prin­ci­pal­ly by Span Devel­op­ments Ltd, also result­ed in the demo­li­tion of orig­i­nal prop­er­ties, main­ly between 1957 and 1965. Although the Span hous­es encoun­tered oppo­si­tion at the time, they have since been wide­ly acknowl­edged as rep­re­sent­ing the best in con­tem­po­rary design.

In 1965 the local res­i­dents’ asso­ci­a­tion took over the own­er­ship of the roads and the admin­is­tra­tion of the estate from the Cator fam­i­ly trustees. The asso­ci­a­tion con­vert­ed to a lim­it­ed com­pa­ny in 1985 and in this form it levies an estate charge on indi­vid­ual prop­er­ties to cov­er the cost of road main­te­nance and of improve­ments to pave­ments, street light­ing and drainage. The com­pa­ny restricts access to the estate’s roads, which is why you can’t tour Black­heath Park via Google Street View. Green­wich coun­cil declared Black­heath Park a con­ser­va­tion area in 2002.

The philosopher John Stuart Mill lived at 113 Blackheath Park for 20 years and wrote On Liberty and Utilitarianism here.

Blackheath Park’s other distinguished residents have included Richard Bourne, who founded P&O, Mappin the cutler, Barrow the wine merchant, and Yarrow the shipbuilder.

Postal district: SE3
Website: Blackheath Cator Estate Residents Limited
PDFs: Blackheath Park conservation area appraisal – downloadable documentation
The picture of St Michael & All Angels, on this page is (fractionally) adapted from an original image by that excellent photographer of ecclesiastical structures John Salmon, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.