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Dulwich Upper Wood Nature Reserve Southwark


Dulwich Upper Wood was once part of the Great North Wood within the Manor of Dulwich. The area developed rapidly following the Great Exhibition of 1852 when Crystal Palace was re-built at Sydenham Hill with large Victorian houses built on the slopes. After Crystal Palace burnt down in 1936, its railway fell into disuse and the area declined. In addition WWII bombing destroyed Victorian houses on the east side of Farquhar Road, their gardens become overgrown and reverting to woodland. In 1981 the site was created as a nature park by the Ecological Parks Trust, now the Trust for Urban Ecology. The wood is largely mixed oak woodland with a number of ancient oak trees and various trees from the Victorian gardens are also present.

Basic Details

Site location:
Farquhar Road, Dulwich

SE19 ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Public Open Land

(ancient woodland, C19th), 1980s


Listed structures:


Site ownership:
LB Southwark, leased to Trust for Urban Ecology

Site management:
Trust for Urban Ecology/Friends of Dulwich Upper Wood

Open to public?

Opening times:
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 6 times, most recently in 2017.

Special conditions:



Public transport:
Rail: Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace. London Overground: Crystal Palace. Bus: 2, 3, 63, 122, 157, 202, 227, 249, 322, 358, 410, 417.

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Further Information

Grid ref:

Size in hectares:

Green Flag:

On EH National Register :

EH grade:

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

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:

In Conservation Area:

Tree Preservation Order:
Not known

Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance I

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:

Other LA designation:

Dulwich Upper Wood Nature Reserve

Photo: Candy Blackham

Click photo to enlarge.


Fuller information

Once part of Great North Wood that stretched from New Cross to Croydon, Dulwich Upper Wood was part of the Manor of Dulwich, which belonged to the Abbot of Bermondsey until Henry VIII's dissolution of the Monasteries in 1542. The Manor lands extended from Herne Hill to the southern tip of Sydenham Ridge. In 1605 the Manor was purchased by Edward Alleyn, founder of Dulwich College. The area changed rapidly following the Great Exhibition of 1852 when Crystal Palace was re-erected here on the ridge of Sydenham Hill from Hyde Park. The High Level Railway Station was built, and roads and houses began to be rapidly developed. These included 8 large houses with gardens along the east side of Farquhar Road, in what is now Dulwich Upper Wood. In 1936 the area declined after Crystal Palace burnt down; the railway fell into disuse and was eventually demolished, prefab houses built on its site. Some of the Victorian houses on Farquhar Road were bombed in WWII and others became neglected and were eventually demolished. By 1960 most of the gardens were overgrown and only one house, No.18 Farquhar Road, was inhabited. The basements of the old houses are still visible in the wood.

In 1981 the Dulwich Society, GLC and LB Southwark entrusted the management of the site to the then Ecological Parks Trust, now the Trust for Urban Ecology, as a nature park. When Spinney Gardens Housing Estate was built in 1986, the link road cut through the southern section of the wood, and the separated southern tip now has a small nature garden. Since 1988 improvements have been made to enhance the wildlife value of the site and its educational facilities including provision of disabled access, an Outdoor Resource Area, a habitat demonstration facility in one of the former basements, and a pond/marsh area. The wood is largely mixed oak woodland with a number of ancient oak trees over 300 years old to the north of the site. Various trees from the Victorian gardens are also present, together with numerous sycamore and other native trees.

Sources consulted:

Site information board; John Archer, Bob Britton, Robert Burley, Tony Hare, Ian Yarham, 'Nature Conservation in Southwark' Ecology Handbook 12, London Ecology Unit, 1989; history on Urban Ecology website

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