Westcombe Park

Westcombe Park, Greenwich

Situated west of Charlton and north of Kidbrooke, Westcombe Park is in character an extension of Blackheath and Greenwich

Glenluce Road - geograph-2792380-by-Stephen-Craven

The manor of Combe (Old Eng­lish for a val­ley or hol­low) lay in the Charl­ton area, and West Combe had its own iden­ti­ty before the Nor­man con­quest, sep­a­rat­ed from the rest of the manor by what is now West­combe Hill. The land came into Crown pos­ses­sion before being grant­ed to Richard II’s but­ler, Gre­go­ry Bal­lard, in an arrange­ment wit­nessed by Geof­frey Chaucer.

West­combe remained farm­land through­out the Mid­dle Ages, but its sub­se­quent his­to­ry was dom­i­nat­ed by two 18th-cen­tu­ry prop­er­ties sit­u­at­ed imme­di­ate­ly south of present-day Mycanae Gar­dens.

Woodlands, Mycenae Road
Wood­lands, Myce­nae Road*

A grand house called West Combe (also known as West­combe Park, House or Manor) was built in the 1720s and stood for around 130 years. West Combe boast­ed 50 acres of plea­sure grounds and its ten­ants includ­ed the gen­er­al and colo­nial admin­is­tra­tor Clive of India and the banker Alexan­der Bar­ing.

In 1774 the wealthy and well-con­nect­ed mer­chant John Julius Anger­stein built a vil­la called Wood­lands. Anger­stein was the first chair­man of Lloyd’s of Lon­don, devised a ground­break­ing scheme for a nation­al lot­tery and acquired paint­ings that formed the nucle­us of the Nation­al Gallery col­lec­tion. Wood­lands lat­er became home to the Yarrow ship­build­ing fam­i­ly and then to the Lit­tle Sis­ters of the Assump­tion. Much altered over the cen­turies, the house served as the borough’s local his­to­ry library until the facil­i­ty moved to Wool­wich Arse­nal in 2003. It is now home to Green­wich Stein­er School.

Neigh­bour­ing Mycanae House is a com­mu­ni­ty cen­tre and event venue.

Dur­ing the 1850s and 1860s land to the south of West­combe Park Road was laid out as the Van­brugh Park estate. The suc­cess of this project, and the open­ing of the sta­tion in 1876, prompt­ed the sale of West Combe’s exten­sive grounds for the build­ing of mid­dle-class hous­ing. How­ev­er, despite grand aspi­ra­tions and an archi­tec­tur­al com­pe­ti­tion, sev­er­al decades elapsed before all the plots were tak­en up.

After the Sec­ond World War ris­ing prop­er­ty val­ues encour­aged infill­ing by pri­vate house­builders, while the munic­i­pal author­i­ties demol­ished sev­er­al prop­er­ties to make way for coun­cil flats. Sub­se­quent pres­sure from preser­va­tion soci­eties has pre­vent­ed fur­ther debase­ment of the area.

Founded in 1904, Westcombe Park rugby club moved to Orpington in 1936, and to its present home at Goddington Dene in 1990.

Postal district: SE3
Population: 12,875 (Blackheath Westcombe ward, 2011 census)
Station: Southeastern Trains (zone 3)
Websites: The Westcombe Society and Westcombe Woodlands
See also: Maze Hill and Shooters Hill

 

* The pictures of Glenluce Road and Woodlands, Mycenae Road, are both adapted from original photographs copyright Stephen Craven at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence.