Bear Fighting on Blackheath?

Rebecca says:

I am an American who is living in Blackheath Standard and I love walking down to Greenwich on Sat and Sunday afternoons. My question is this, I have been told that the green dug out areas before you get to Blackheath Green in front of the Blackheath entrance to Greenwich Park were originally dug by Elisabeth I to hold bear fights in and I was wondering if you knew if that was true or not?

Hmmm. The Phantom is unconvinced.

I’ve heard many tales about the bumps and dips that cover Blackheath but never that one before. Blackheath is honeycombed with holes and is really quite unstable. There have been collapses throughout history – some bigger than others – and the last one was very recent indeed – 2002, when the A2 disappeared into a big old chalk pit. I intend to get onto Black (heath) Holes soon, but for now, if there was a bear pit there, I can’t think that it would have been anything other than temporary – perhaps for one of the fairs that were held there. Neil Rhind doesn’t appear to mention it in his seminal work The Heath – though I could have missed it, I guess.

It could even be a dried-up pond, if it’s right next to the gate. I think there was more than one there.

More research needed, I think, but for now I’m not buying that there was a bear pit there.

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