Don’t be fooled, although a concrete jungle, Lewisham has some of the most picturesque green spaces and parks in London. And with quite a few to choose from, its been difficult to decide which ones to include in this blog! We’ve picked out 5 of our favourite parks in Lewisham that we think you must pay a visit and enjoy an autumn stroll or a summer sun-bathe in.
1. Manor House Gardens
Having grown up in Lewisham and seen how it has developed over the years, one thing in particular that’s taken me by surprise is how this quaint park in Lee has blossomed into a truly picturesque work of natural art. Manor House Gardens is the perfect park for families, friends, walkers, joggers…Whatever you’re doing, it is a great place to spend some time in the surroundings of its luscious features, which include a Fountained Lake, (complete with an authentic habitat for ducks, geese and even a famous park Heron!) a wild flower area, a cafe, a dog exercising area, and tennis courts. The park used to be an estate owned by various Barons and Lords up until 1900, when it came into public ownership. The Library, which overlooks the park, serves as a brilliant spot for reading or relaxing or with the view of the park to your side whilst you sink into a novel.
Fun Fact: The Gardens are home to one of London’s historic ice houses. The Manor House Gardens Ice house is thought to date back to 1773! After 1900, it was used as stabling for a local builder’s ponies, and during WWII served as an air raid shelter.
2. Ladywell Fields
Ladywell fields has become one of Lewisham’s finest green spots in recent years. Since undergoing enhancements in 2007/8, it now has a beautiful river flowing through the middle of its main field, where paddling and river dipping has become a popular activity in the summer. With large infrastructure surrounding the park, it creates a secret garden-like atmosphere, cutting you off from all the outside hustle and bustle. The park is long and stretches all the way to Catford. With a big focus on providing activities for children and teenagers, it has a children’s playground, a skate park, tennis courts, and an extensive adventure playground for the more daring types. Providing the get-go coffee and food while the kids play is the brilliant Ten Thousand Hands Cafe, situated slap bang in the middle of the park, with a brilliant outward view of the park and its surrounding features.
Fun Fact: Ladywell was originally a medicinal well - ‘Our Lady’s Well’ named after the Virgin Mary, which was based near the Fields, where the Cafe ‘Le Delice’ now stands.
3. Hilly Fields
Famous for its daunting incline, Hilly Fields is high up (pun intended) on our list of natural leafy must sees in the borough. Getting to the top is an achievement in itself, and when/ if you do make it, the view of the London skyline is more than worth the effort. Offering a wide, panoramic view of the City, Hilly Fields is a favourite to many Lewisham locals, and there are numerous activities and events happening all the time, from fitness classes to football games. There are tennis courts perched on the crown of the hill, alongside open ping-pong tables and a children’s play area. The stone circle is one of the park’s leading features, and despite not maintaining the same level of historical mysticism as the big rocks found in Wiltshire (Stone Henge), The Stone Circle was built to create a sundial in celebration of the Millennium.
Fun Fact: Brockley’s Hilly Fields rises to 175 feet above sea level.
4. Chinbrook Meadows
Chinbrook Meadows is a fantastic park located just beyond Lee in Grove park. Previously a fairly quiet park due to its slightly residential location, it has now become a favourite spot for many living around Lee and Grove Park. With restoration and developments made in 2002, the River Quaggy now flows naturally through the park and serves as a picturesque contribution to the already healthy surrounding greenery. The meadow is large and has many distinct features, including a vast, open field where football clubs play at the weekend. It also has tennis courts, a cafe, exercise routes and apparatus, and links up with the public footpath the Green Chain Walk, which makes it an ideal location for dog walking.
Fun Fact: Chinbrook Meadows hosts an annual dog show, showcasing dogs through a community driven event for friends and families. Since its opening year, the show has developed to become a day of festivities including live music, food, fun fairs and more.
5. Horniman’s Gardens
With everything from display gardens and bandstands, to sundials and totem poles, the Horniman Gardens is far from your average London City park. As the accompanying gardens to the famous Horniman Museum, it showcases many fascinating botanical displays which reflect the themes making up their anthropological collection in the museum. You will find New Zealand Flax (which was utilised to make fabric, rope and paper by the native Maori people zillions of years ago), Japanese Bamboo, Giant reed (used to make reeds for Saxophones, Clarinets, and other musical instruments) are just some of the fantastic plants on display. A fantastic day out for families and nature lovers, the Gardens and the museum provide an insight to our anthropological past and general history of the area through their multitude of displays and relics. Don’t miss out on this brain-feeding opportunity!
Fun Fact: The Horniman Gardens provide endless fun facts! I think the most eye-opening and fun of all these has to be that Hyenas, Lions and Hippopotamus’s all used to live in London around 55 million years ago…Mind Blown? How does this relate to the Horniman’s Gardens you ask? Well it doesn’t directly, but they do have some of the fossils of these animals in the museum, which is pretty impressive…
So there it is. Everyone has their own opinion and we'd like to hear from you. What is your favourite park(s) in Lewisham and why?