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Eltham Common Greenwich

Summary

Eltham Common and the neighbouring Shooters Hill Woodlands were once notorious haunts for highwaymen and other robbers; the site of a gibbet was in the north-west corner of the Common where criminals were publicly hung and their bodies left to decay as a caution to others. The land was purchased by the Office of Woods and Forests in 1812 and used by the War Department, although public access was permitted. In the early C20th Woolwich BC and the LCC applied to take over the site, but it wasn't until 1938 that nearly 13 hectares of the Common were acquired from the War Department as part of Green Belt legislation. Eltham Common consists of a roughly triangular area of grassland between junction of Well Hall Road and Shooters Hill beyond which is secondary woodland.

Basic Details

Site location:
Well Hall Road/Shooters Hill

Postcode:
SE9 ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Public Open Land

Date(s):
ancient

Designer(s):

Listed structures:
Local List: Christ Church, Christ Church School

Borough:
Greenwich

Site ownership:
RB Greenwich

Site management:
Parks and Open Spaces Department

Open to public?
Yes

Opening times:
unrestricted

Special conditions:

Facilities:

Events:

Public transport:
Rail: Eltham then bus. Bus: 161, 122, 89, 178, 486.

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/07/2005
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk

Further Information

Grid ref:
TQ430764

Size in hectares:
13.02

Green Flag:
No

On EH National Register :
No

EH grade:
None

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
No

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Yes: Common (CL40)

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No

In Conservation Area:
No

Tree Preservation Order:
Not known

Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Metropolitan Importance (excl north section)

Green Belt:
No

Metropolitan Open Land:
No

Special Policy Area:
Yes - Area of Special Character of Metropolitan Importance

Other LA designation:
Green Chain [Green Chain Walk]

Fuller information

Eltham Common and the neighbouring Shooters Hill Woodlands (q.v.) were once notorious haunts for highwaymen and other robbers; on the corner of the Common where there is now the police station was once the site of a gibbet where criminals were publicly hung and their bodies left to decay as a caution to others. However, it was apparently an unsuccessful tactic since it became the practice for robbers to charge for safe passage across Shooters Hill. The Common was used for archery, probably the origin of the name Shooters Hill. The land was purchased by the Office of Woods and Forests in 1812 and used by the War Department, although public access was permitted. In the early C20th Woolwich Borough Council and the LCC applied to take over the site, but it wasn't until 1938 that nearly 13 hectares of the Common were transferred as part of Green Belt legislation, the land acquired from the War Department. Eltham Common consists of a roughly triangular area of grassland between junction of Well Hall Road and Shooters Hill beyond which is secondary woodland with sessile oak, pedunculate oak, ash, silver birch, hornbeam and some beech. Christ Church, built in 1855-6, and adjacent primary school in the north-east corner on Shooters Hill, are now surrounded on three sides by woodland.

Sources consulted:

E Jefferson 'The Woolwich Story 1890-1965', 1970; Sue Swales, Meg Game, Ian Yarham, 'Nature Conservation in Greenwich', Ecology Handbook 10 (London Ecology Unit), 1989; The Parks Agency 'Commons, Heaths and Greens in Greater London. A short report for English Heritage', 2005.

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