|Forster Memorial Park||Lewisham|
The land for the park was given to the people of Lewisham in 1919 by H W Forster, later Lord Forster, first MP for the Borough of Bromley and Governor-General of Australia from 1920-25. The Forsters had lived at Southend Hall since the early C19th and had a large estate in what was then a rural area. Mr Forster donated the land in memory of his 2 sons, killed in WWI, and Forster Memorial Park was opened in 1922 by his daughter. The park was expanded in 1937 when land to the north was purchased from the Forster Estate Company. The central area of grassland, now predominantly used as playing fields, is surrounded by ancient woodland and it could be a landscape of some antiquity.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
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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.
From the C19th until 1914 the Forster family lived at Southend Hall, which was near the junction of Whitefoot Lane and Bromley Road, and their land stretched to the east either side of Whitefoot Lane; they also acquired land in Bellingham. The Forster family chapel was built in 1824 and served the Southend parishioners before St John's was built in 1928, the land for which was also donated by the Forsters. Until WWI Southend was still largely undeveloped and was surrounded by trees, sports grounds and allotments. After the war Mr Forster gave part of his estate to the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham for a public park in memory of his two sons, Alfred and John, who had died in the war. Welcomed by the council as much-needed public open space in an area rapidly being developed with new housing, the park was opened in 1922 by his daughter, the Hon. Mrs Lubbock. Soon the large LCC Downham Estate (q.v.) would surround the park. In 1937 the park was expanded to almost twice its size when an area to the north was added following a deal between the Forster Estate Company and the London County Council.
The central area of grassland is surrounded by ancient woodland and it could be a landscape of some antiquity, a field that was cleared leaving the woodland around as shelter, and some ash and hornbeam show signs of past coppicing. The park has some areas of formal bedding, a rockery, some decent oaks and flowering cherries, with vestigial oak woodland running north/south. Since 1999 LB Lewisham's Environmental Task Force has been restoring the ancient woodland to a more natural state by removing inappropriate planting, with funding from the Downham Pride SRB. The park, which at one time had a paddling pool and pitch and putt, now provides a skate park, BMX track and new playgrounds.
John Archer, Ian Yarham, 'Nature Conservation in Lewisham', Ecology Handbook 30, London Ecology Unit, 2000; LB Lewisham, 'Parks historical trail'; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Darrell Spurgeon, 'Discover Sydenham and Catford', (Greenwich Guide-books, 1999).