Cottage for Rent
Been wondering what all the scaffolding was around Blackheath Gate Lodge? Wonder no more, my friends. Rebecca has just told me that it’s to be rented out to make more cash for the park, which can’t be a bad thing.
I went to Knight Frank’s website for a poke around, but annoyingly they’d second-guessed that nosey Phantoms would be skulking about and there’s nothing more to be seen of the place on the website than what you could get just by walking past. No photos (apart from something much like the one above but without the scaffolding,) not even a floorplan, though it does mention three bedrooms, a modern kitchen and a bathroom with a roll-top bath, which I’m guessing is not the one that AD Webster put in a the back in 1899.
Bizarrely, considering he actually lived there, Webster makes no mention of the place in his book. Perhaps it wasn’t particularly interesting to him – it was only built in 1851, which would have made it barely fifty years old, and it might have been considered a bit of an old-fashioned eyesore. It was built in sugary mock-Tudor by John Phipps, and, by the sleek Arts & Crafts times of the late 19th Century, it was probably thought a bit ugly, with its Gingerbread House bargeboards, patterned bricks and curlicues.
AD Webster spends his time moaning instead about the the demolition of the Keeper’s Lodge (and orchard) which it replaced. It’s a bit weird to think of residential houses in the main body of the park, but this one was right up by Queen Elizabeth’s Oak – and not insubstantial at that – from the picture it looks like a farm.
But that’s for another day. Back to the Lodge at Blackheath Gate.
Of course I’ve been trying to peer inside for years, with very little luck. But it is possible to apply a spectral eye to knots in the fencing around the large garden at the back. I’ve always coveted that garden – it’s practically empty, except for a couple of roses and a swivel clothes line. It’s just crying out to be made lovely again.
Sadly, I suspect that, at the prices they’re asking – £1,295 a week – anyone renting will not be considering it a long-term enough thing to create gardens. The Telegraph reckons it will suit “a country-loving banker.” I’ll look forward to one of those.
Whoever does get it will have their own private access to Greenwich Park when no one else is allowed in – it would certainly be a wonderful thing on New Year’s Eve, to be able to stand on One Tree Hill and see the fireworks – but I’m not sure it wouldn’t also be ever so slightly creepy at times – a place with so much history, with so many ghosts.
Not that that’s something that would bother a Phantom, of course. Darryl Spurgeon describes the lodge as “a fantasy building.” I suspect it will remain just that for most of us…