The public park is former parkland of the manor of Charlton. The manor house survives as a fine example of Jacobean domestic architecture with remnants of its formal gardens. From 1767 - 1925 it was owned by the Maryon Wilson family, who then gave it to Greenwich Borough Council and Charlton Park was opened as a recreation ground in 1929. It is partly separated from the grounds of Charlton House by a brick ha-ha of 1847. The north boundary wall dates mainly from the C17th and there is a notable Lime Walk aligned with Charlton House. The park is now dominated by sports pitches but there are a number of newly redesigned gardens, including a Japanese-style herb garden, and the adjoining pond garden.
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Excavations have revealed that there was a settlement in Charlton during the Roman occupation (now the site of Maryon Park q.v.), and Charlton was known as Cerletone at the time of the Domesday Survey. Charlton retains its village character with the parish church of St Luke's (q.v.), and manor house, Charlton House, which still survives with remnants of its formal gardens. Prior to the dissolution of the monasteries the manor had been owned by Bermondsey Abbey but was then placed in secular hands, and was purchased in the early C17th by Sir Adam Newton, tutor to Henry, Prince of Wales, son of James I. Newton built a new mansion on the site of an older building in c1607-12, and Charlton House, probably designed by John Thorpe for Newton, has been described as "the only Jacobean mansion of the first order remaining in the precincts of London" (Pevsner).
Some of the original parkland remains as Charlton Park, which opened as a recreation ground 1929, partly separated from Charlton House Grounds by a brick ha-ha of 1847. The north boundary wall of the park dates mainly from the C17th. The park is now dominated by sports pitches but there is a notable Lime Walk aligned with Charlton House and a number of semi-mature lime trees are along the north side. The park is surrounded by railings with perimeter planting of limes and on Cemetery Road is a brick and tile-hung lodge.
After Newton's death in 1630 the estate passed to his son and later owners included Sir William Ducie who repaired the house in 1659; Sir William Langthorne, an East India merchant, lived there from 1680. A map of 1745 shows the property's landscape with three avenues laid out from west to east in the park and a sequence of parterres by the house. The northern edge of the estate was bounded by Hanging Wood. In 1767 the Maryon Wilson family acquired the property, and remained the owners until 1925, when they gave Charlton House to Greenwich Borough Council. The house has been used as a library and a community centre, and the stables as an area housing office. To the rear of the house is a paved courtyard with 2 brick archways, and other remnants of the former gardens are found to the south-east of the house, two walled gardens and a flower garden along a formal vista. The gateway of 1612, restored in the C19th, is on the original boundary of the grounds before the enclosure of the village green took place in 1829. A fair is held in the grounds of Charlton House, a revival of Hornfair, at one time held on the village green.
Charlton Park was winner of the Green Apple National Gold Winner 2004 award for its contribution to the local community. Within the park are a number of newly redesigned gardens, including a Japanese-style herb garden, and the adjoining pond garden. There is a special focus on the sensory nature of these gardens for visitors with visual or physical disabilities.
Spurgeon, D, Discover Greenwich and Charlton, 1991.