Maze Hill

Maze Hill, Greenwich

A road forming the eastern boundary of Greenwich Park since the enclosure of the common in the 15th century and probably a cart track from the river to Blackheath for many years before

Steve Cadman - Vanbrugh Castle

Despite evi­dence that the road once led to a turf maze in Black­heath, its name appears to come from 17th-cen­tu­ry res­i­dent Sir Alger­non May. Per­haps the maze influ­enced the respelling of ‘May’s Hill’.

Grav­el extrac­tion dom­i­nat­ed the east side of the road until around 1650. After the work­ings had been exhaust­ed the land was let to small­hold­ers, who were grad­u­al­ly eased out to make way for the homes of gen­tle­men, schol­ars and naval offi­cers.

At the junc­tion of Maze Hill and West­combe Park Road are the brood­ing tow­ers of Van­brugh Cas­tle, built around 1720 by the great drama­tist and archi­tect Sir John Van­brugh, who also designed Cas­tle Howard and Blenheim Palace.

Van­brugh cre­at­ed a fortress-like com­plex of mock-medieval build­ings, but only the cen­tre­piece sur­vived a spate of rede­vel­op­ment in the 1890s and 1900s that fol­lowed the open­ing of Maze Hill sta­tion in 1876.

In the first half of the 20th cen­tu­ry many of the hill’s grand homes were sub­di­vid­ed and some were destroyed in the blitz. The elab­o­rate Maze Hill House was demol­ished in 1932 and replaced by an estate of small­er prop­er­ties. The north­ern part of the local­i­ty is now dom­i­nat­ed by munic­i­pal­ly built res­i­dences, includ­ing 1960s tow­er blocks.

The Black­heath Preser­va­tion Trust bought Van­brugh Cas­tle in 1976, restor­ing the fab­ric of the build­ing and con­vert­ing it into four dwellings.

Former slave Olaudah Equiano lived briefly at 111 Maze Hill. A pioneering abolitionist campaigner, Equiano published his autobiography in 1789. The book was one of the first personal accounts of slavery and became an international bestseller.

Postal districts: SE3 and SE10
Station: Southeastern (zone 3)
* The picture of Vanbrugh Castle at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Steve Cadman, at Flickr, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.