Cox's Walk is a rare survival of an C18th public walk. It was created by publican John Cox as a public path through the Fifty Acre Wood opposite his inn, The Green Man. With trees on either side, it became a short cut to the spa at Sydenham Wells, one of a number of fashionable spas in the area. In 1739 Cox's son discovered a mineral stream in the grounds of the inn and opened pleasure gardens. Cox's Walk was acquired by Camberwell Vestry in 1898 and since 1965 is owned by London Borough of Southwark. Today it leads from Dulwich to Sydenham Hill, running adjacent to Dulwich Golf Course and Dulwich Woods.
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In 1704 (c.1733? - conflicting dates: Candidate info has 1733, John Beasley has 1704) John Cox was given permission by the landowners, Dulwich Estates, to create a path through the Fifty Acre Wood opposite his inn, The Green Man, 'reserving for shade on each side half a rood of wood, unfelled'. As the fashion grew for taking the waters of the various mineral springs in London, Cox's Walk became a short cut to the spa at Sydenham Wells, now Sydenham Wells Park (q.v.). In 1739 Cox's son discovered a mineral stream in the grounds of the Green Man and provided pleasure gardens, a bowling green, sports facilities and other entertainments to attract visitors, among whom diarist John Evelyn is known to have partaken of the waters. John Rocque's map of 1745 shows Cox's Walk, a straight path running north / south across woods and fields.
From 1865 the railway cut across the southern part of Cox's Walk over which a brick and wood cantilever footbridge was built, from where in 1871 the French artist Camille Pissarro painted a view of Lordship Lane station. The present footbridge of the same design as the original dates from 1908 and crosses the now disused railway cutting, which is now part of Sydenham Hill Woods (q.v.). The footpath leading up Sydenham Hill south of the railway line, although given the name Cox's Walk, did not form part of the original public walk.
Cox's Walk was acquired by Camberwell Vestry in 1898 with responsibility later transferred to the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell, and in 1965 to London Borough of Southwark. It was scheduled for conservation under the London Squares Preservation Act, 1931. Today it leads from Dulwich to Sydenham Hill, running adjacent to Dulwich Golf Course and Dulwich Woods. Public walks predated the public park movement and this walk is still maintained as a public open space, a rare survival in London of an C18th public walk, although it has lost its old pleasure ground aspect, resembling more a country lane, a strip of grassland lined in part with oak trees.
The Green Man tavern later became a school run by Dr Glennie, attended for two years by Lord Byron, but the building was demolished in c.1826. At a later date The Grove Tavern was built on the site and still exists, now the Harvester.
J Bellamy Site recommendations for IOASS, York, 1984; W H Blanch, 'Ye Parish of Camberwell: its History and Antiquities, (E W Allen, London 1875); W Darby 'Dulwich Discovered', London 1966; B Green 'Dulwich Village', London, 1981; R Izaac 'Remarkable Antiquities of the City of Exeter', 1681; LB Southwark Local History Archives. Joyce Bellamy, Parks of the Dulwich Area notes, 2000; Darrell Spurgeon, 'Discover Sydenham and Catford', (Greenwich Guide-books, 1999); John Beasley, 'Southwark Remembered', Tempus Publishing, 2001; Andrew Duncan, 'Walking Village London', New Holland, 1997; John Wittich, 'London Villages', Shire, 3rd ed. 1987.