The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 8 Commons and Open Spaces

Blackheath Common

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Going westward, the next large space is Blackheath, whose history is wrapped up with that of Greenwich, the beautiful Greenwich Park having once been part of the Heath. It is high ground, for the most part bare of trees, and with roads intersecting it-one of them, the old Roman Watling Street. The wild, bare summit of the Heath was a dangerous place for travellers, and many was the highway robbery committed there in times past. It is of very large extent, some 267 acres, and has been effectually preserved for public use, for some thirty-five years, since early in the Seventies. The Heath has played its part in history-gay scenes, such as when the Mayor and aldermen of London flocked, with a great assemblage, to welcome Henry V. after the battle of Agincourt, or more ominous and hostile demonstrations, as when Wat Tyler collected his followers there, or when Jack Cade, some seventy years later, did the same thing. A few fine old eighteenth-century houses still stand on the edge of the Heath, and an avenue, "Chesterfield Walk," perpetuates the name of one of the distinguished residents. Morden College, at the south-east corner of the Heath, is a fine old building of Wren's design, founded by Sir John Morden, for merchants trading with the East who, through unforeseen accidents, had lost their fortunes.