A Forest Hill Walk

Route & what to see

site map london-footprints.co.uk

This 3 mile walk is linear from Penge East to Forest Hill Station. The final loop (which can be omitted) includes the Horniman Museum & Gardens. There is some overlap with the Sydenham Common walk.

Exit station on the down side and go along Lennard Road. First left into Maitland Road, continuing through Alexandra Recreation Ground.
This park was opened in 1891.

Exit at the far end and go left along Tannsfield Road then right at Newlands Park. First left at Tredown Road then right along Venner Road
The Croydon Canal was built in 1809 but in 1836 was bought by the London & Croydon Railway who replaced it with their track. A new road off Venner Road has been named Canal Walk.

Left at Sydenham Road
Between 1903 and 1979 there was a station booking hall on the bridge. The Greyhound (built around 1720) was Sydenham oldest inn but the site is being redeveloped for housing. The ladies' outfitters on Cobb's Corner was founded by Walter Cobb in 1860 and extended in 1902. In 1940 three quarters of the shop with its contents was destroyed in an air raid but business continued in the undamaged part. It was restored and rebuilt after the war, becoming a department store. In the 1920s doctors occupied the old parsonage which had been built for Charles English in 1848. It was replaced by Kirkdale Corner in the 1930s.

Continue along Westwood Hill
Old Cedars, built in the 18th century, is now a care centre. Hall Drive was the former drive to Sydenham Hall, the home of the builder Edward Strong the Younger. The house was rebuilt around 1805, became a school in the 1900s and was demolished in 1939.

Walk through the churchyard of St Bartholomew’s Church
This was designed by Lewis Vuillamy and built in 1827-32 but did not become the parish church until 1856. The first vicar Charles English has an unusual tomb depicting a church. Alongside the entrance path is a memorial to men killed whilst working on the construction of the Crystal Palace (see plaque).

Continue along Westwood Hill
Number 12 (marked with a blue plaque) was the home of the Shackleton family from which Henry practised as a doctor. There were 8 daughters and two sons including Ernest, who was to become famous as an Antarctic explorer.

Right along Jews Walk
Number 7 (marked with a blue plaque) was the home of Eleanor, daughter of Karl Marx. In 1898 she took her own life here by drinking prussic acid, having discovered her lover had secretly married.

Continue to the fountain
This commemorates Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The site behind this (now retirement homes) was once the telephone exchange. Prior to this it had been a public hall and earlier the Fir Lodge School, attended by Ernest Shackleton. St Bartholmew’s National School was replaced by the R C Church (1974).

Left along Kirkdale
For the Victorians this and part of Dartmouth Road was the main shopping centre of Sydenham and was known as the High Street (until 1936). The former Woodman pub is now an estate agents. The Kirkdale Learning Centre was built in 1861 to the designs of Joseph Paxton and Henry Dawson to house an institute and schools. Additions were made in 1905. The two weatherboarded cottages opposite (in poor condition) would have been some of the first buildings to have been built on Sydenham Common after its enclosure in 1819.

Go right into Charlcote Grove
Number 2 (then Charles Street) was the home of John Scott Russell, the civil and marine engineer. Brunel’s Great Eastern ship was built at his yard in Millwall and he also constructed The Warrior (berthed at Portsmouth). The 1851 census records Russell with his wife, five children and three servants at the address.

At the end you come into Baxter’s Field.
In 1867 George Baxter, who had developed a new colour printing technique, was killed by a horse drawn vehicle. This open space was named after him (see information board).

Follow the path that goes across (not around) the field. Exit then continue along Radlet Avenue. Take the first right into Round Hill and go into the side road opposite number 3
The church spire came from St Antholin in Watling Street, built by Christopher Wren in the 1680s. It was moved to Round Hill House (demolished in the 1860s) as a folly around 1850.

Return to Round Hill and continue to the end
Two large handsome houses of 1857 on the right hand side have been incorporated into the Courtside development.

Left along Dartmouth Road
Holy Trinity School was opened in 1874. The 1900 library is an attractive building. Next door, the former Girls' Industrial Home of 1891 (known as Louise House) is currently boarded up. The swimming baths of 1885 have been developed into a new leisure centre. All these were built on land which was granted to the vicar of Lewisham at the enclosure of Sydenham Common in 1819. The Bird in Hand was built c1819 and numbers 29-33 adjacent were originally cottages with canalside gardens, later enlarged and converted to shops. Number 18 (Wok Express) was the site of the The Empire Picture Playhouse which opened in 1910 and closed in 1914.  It had 400 seats and a tea room.
The Dartmouth Arms (also c1819) gave its name to the nearby station (until 1845).

Cross London Road
The charity shop was a former Sainsburys (see tilework in entrance). The Grade II listed Capitol Cinema opposite became a pub in 2001. It was designed in 1928 by John Stanley Beard
. It closed in 1973 and was used for bingo 1978-1996.

Right along Havelock Walk which exits into Davids Road. Go left here then left into Pearcefield Avenue.
This was the site of a pond which served the Croydon Canal.

Walk through the supermarket car park then continue along the pathway.
The wall to the left is decorated with motifs from the Horniman Museum.

Right at London Road. Walk along the frontage of the Horniman Museum buildings (see information boards) and enter the park beyond these.

Walk up through the park bearing right and exit into Horniman Drive. Right at Westwood Park. Detour left into Honor Oak Road.
Ashberry Cottage was built in 1780 for Mrs Jordan, the mistress of the Duke of Clarence, later William IV.

Return down Honor Oak Road and go first left along Manor Mount. Right at Davids Road
On the left is The Church International. The raised footway was the towpath bank of the canal. Post-canal buildings (numbers 3-13) include another church building. On the corner to the left is a former public lavatory. There are brickwork and information panels on the last section of wall alongside a cobbled ramp.

Cross to the station.
The station was rebuilt in 1972, having been badly bombed in 1944.

Retracing Canals to Croydon & Camberwell
The evolution of Forest Hill Station [
Sydenham & Forest Hill Local History [
Horniman Museum & Garden [


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