Blackheath’s name derived from Blachehedfeld or ‘dark coloured heath’ (1166)
The myth is that Blackheath was used as burial pit for the 1665 Plague and the Black Death of mid-14th century.
The Roman Road crosses the northern edge of the heath.
It marks a series of revolts from Wat Tyler’s Peasant revolt of 1381, to Jack Kade’s Kentish rebellion in 1450, to Cornish rebels defeated in the Battle of Deptford bridge in 1497.
The Roman Road, or Watling Street, was a favorite point for highway men.
There are pits which is the site of old gravel works now known as the Vanbrugh Pits, after Sir John Vanbrugh, architect of Blenheim Palace who had a house nearby. After the extraction of gravel, sand, and chalk, pits were filled with bomb rubble from World War II, then covered with topsoil and seeded with rye grass
There is a church on the common called All Saints Church, designed by Benjamin Ferrey from 1857.
‘The heath itself is not common land, but manorial waste. The freehold, previously held by the County Council of London under the Metropolitan Commons Act of 1886, is now retained mostly by the Manor of Lewisham (owned by the Earl of Dartmouth) and also the Royal Manor of Greenwich (owned by the Crown Estate). The heath’s chief natural resource is gravel, and the freeholders retain rights over its extraction.’
Cricket used to be played on the heath from the 1820’s. And there is kite-flying too. British Military Fitness runs evening classes in winter months.
The common land is 85.58 hectares or 211.5 acres. There are four ponds and acid grassland supporting plants such as Common stork’s bill, Fiddle dock and Spotted medick. In 1859 animal species included natterjack toads, hares, common lizards, bats, quail, ring ouzel and nightingale. The bats remain as do the ring ouzel.
Events include Guy Fawkes night and the start of the marathon.
All that history in the very soil under your feet!
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