Archive for the ‘Greenwich Country Lanes’ Category

Country Lanes (4)

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Langton Way, SE3

I know – this doesn’t look very lane-y at all – something that Joe agreed when he sent me this pic. And in many ways I don’t really know how to describe Langton Way – it’s not a ‘made’ road (of course by that I mean it’s not properly tarmac-ed, not that it’s been ignored by the Mafia…) it has no footpaths and there’s much greenery involved. It’s also tucked away behind Shooters Hill Road and both ends of it look very countrified. It doesn’t give the impression of a ‘planned’ street, rather a back lane that has grown.

I’m guessing that 99% of the houses/cottages along it used to be people’s back gardens, sold off over the years as building plots. I would also guess any remaining full-length gardens have their days very definitely numbered.

Some of the places were clearly built a long time ago, perhaps they are old outbuildings or small servants’ cottages. Others are much more recent; some are still going up – Joe was most impressed with the local – or perhaps less so – scaffolding company:

N.B. If you’re thinking of calling them, do bear in mind that it’s a Tatooine dialling code and calls may cost more than advertised from a mobile…

Part of what makes the lane charming is the differences in architectural style, ranging from really rather lovely, through cool and innovative to frankly horrid.

It’s a nice walk-through on a sunny day – probably better as a walk than a drive – the road is very uneven. I wouldn’t mind betting that’s exactly how the residents like it – while it’s a truly bumpy ride, it’s never going to be much of a rat-run alternative to the parallel A2.

I like Langton Way well enough, but I can’t help rather wishing it still looked like the neighbour that bisects it. I’m surprised (but delighted) more building hasn’t gone on along Angerstein Lane.

Hell – there are even some original Victorian/Edwardian outbuildings along there, which I hadn’t noticed before as they’re opposite one of my favourite front gardens and I’m usually rubbernecking the other side of the road, but clocked last time I went along there.

Are these carriage houses and/or stables – or, perhaps, early motor vehicle garages? I particularly like the very high arched bit in the middle – a tack room, maybe? Pigeon loft? I’ve no idea, but I love it.

Whatever they are, I’m delighted that they remain more or less as they were built down this leafiest of leafy lanes, quietly reminding us of Greenwich gone by…

Country Lanes (3) Westgrove Lane

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Another lovely Country Lane today, this one slightly more ‘official’ than some – it’s actually got a name. Westgrove Lane’s pretty old – it joins up Point Hill with Westgrove and, eventually the top of Grove Lane. It has a lovely collection of houses – from red brick Victorian through charming Arts & Crafts,

all the way to the Amazing See-Through House, which I did take a picture of, but will be kind enough not to use today since you really can see absolutely everything, all the way through it to the view the other side. Still – I guess if you live in a glass house you can’t be exactly shy…

Lots of lovely little features – don’t forget to look up at the roof tops as you walk down it, especially on the big red Victorian one on the left. What’s up there? Not telling…

But another fab lane, n’est ce pas? Who needs to actually live in the country when you can have the best of both worlds..?

Country Lanes (2) Diamond Terrace

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

This is one of those lanes that looks like you shouldn’t be allowed up there – and yet, once you get past the first few feet, it opens out into a substantial road in the middle, with some stunning Georgian/Victorian houses on it (I particularly like the one with the Regency wrought iron balcony outside it.)

Diamond Terrace has three exits, the southern most one of which, that’s a footpath only, is my country lane for today, full of lush country flowers (yeah, ok, weeds) and cobbledy cobbles. There’s a fantastic grey-painted cottage halfway down, that I am convinced if you just showed a picture of it to someone, they’d believe was in the middle of Devon or something. Railings, flagstones, tulips and cherry blossom.

Long-term readers may remember the spooky tunnels that run underneath Diamond Terrace, including the one that was fancifully grotto-fied Regency Times and later used as an air raid shelter. Sadly I’m still waiting for my invite to one of the exclusive cocktail parties the present owner apparently holds from time to time ;-)

Ah, well. I’ll console myself with some lovely greenery. Ahh…

Angerstein Lane Revisited

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

I had a tip-off that the gorgeous adopted garden in Angerstein Lane which marked the very first of my Favourite Front Gardens series.

Deep in the middle of the lovely, leafy pathway between St John’s Park and Shooters Hill Road it’s easy to miss if you’re unfamiliar with the area. The owner of the tiny, low-lying cottage has quietly adopted a piece of what is, frankly wild land, turning it into a dappled oasis of beauty.
It doesn’t photograph very well (well -okay – it probably does – but I’m no photographer as you can see from these shots) so you have to see it for yourself. It’s currently full of forget-me-nots, punctuated by tulips, but this jumble of cottage garden classics is clearly for all seasons. I can already see paeonies poking through and ferns uncurling for later in the year.

This is a wonderful example of a gardener without a garden finding a way, somehow, anyhow, to express himself. It shouldn’t work – when he first took it over it must have just been a bit of scrubland that looked far too overshadowed by trees and the giant houses surrounding it (I’m assuming the cottage itself was originally outbuildings servicing the posh piles) – but it’s a lush little corner of greenery that, for my money, can hold its own with Greenwich Park’s grand herbaceous border.

Angerstein Lane should really also go in the new Country Lanes series – a leafy, lovely way to slip from Greenwich to Blackheath – albeit a bit of a trek for people in West Greenwich. A trek well worth making, I promise.

Countryside Greenwich (1)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Given the sunshine’s not going away (though it was bloomin’ chilly last night, wasn’t it – I had to wear my extra-thick 18thC nightshirt and keep my tricorn on in bed…) I thought I’d start the first in a new occasional series – Countryside Greenwich.

Amazingly, all over town – just away from the main roads – there are any number of little lanes which, if you had been taken there blindfolded, you’d swear were in the middle of the countryside. Little unmade roads, overhung with leafy trees, back-lanes with high hedges, often concealing some enormous houses that the rest of us don’t even realise still exist. Sadly I don’t know – and am not aware I have ever met – anyone who lives in them.

Some of them are more glamorous than others – but in this series I’m going to celebrate ‘em all – we need to look after our little secret streets. Shady hollows, narrow “roads” not wide enough to take a bike, hilly paths over the heath and passageways that look as though they’re private roads. They’re often not.
Some are marked on the map, some aren’t. If they have names or directions, I’ll give you them, if they don’t then I may try to work out how to use the GPS thingy on my mate’s phone.

We’ll start gentle today. Most people know this one – after all, it’s one of the official entrances to the Park. But I love going through Crooms Hill Gate as it feels ever-so-slightly ‘naughty.’ Up in the South-West, just north of the corner, the iron gate leads through the old wall into Swanky Greenwich.

This is the view to the right – looking down someone’s drive. I remember that house being up for sale not so long ago and enjoying not a few little fantasies about living there. There’s not much to be seen that way – too leafy.

But look at the official path – how cute is that?

I took this pic in May last year, just after a rain storm and it was just – well – perfect. I love the fact that this is official – and yet somehow secret too. It meanders round to the top of Crooms Hill beside some lovely old houses, all red brick and stucco, past high walls and iron grilles that offer tantalising half-views of secluded gardens and Other People’s Lives – always fascinating…

Of course, sometimes (very rarely but it does happen) we get a chance to peek inside OPLs – and the house on the right as you come out of this little lane does occasionally open its grounds for charity. I’ll let you know if I hear it’s happening this summer…

I’ve been building a list of little secret country lanes for some time now – but if you know of a particularly fabulous Greenwich pathway, I’d love to hear about it…