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.