Brockley Green Chain: Part 1

So, section 1. If these sections had names, this would probably be called ‘Classic Brockley’, as it showcases two of the area’s best-known green jewels in the SE4 crown – namely, Hilly Fields and Brockley Cemetery.

Our route starts at Brockley’s beating heart – the station. (Obviously if you live locally then you can tailor this to suit your actual starting location.) Head up one of the roads leading off Brockley Road, through the conservation area to the north-west corner of Hilly Fields. This beautiful open space has a proud history, having been common land before becoming a common-or-garden public park. Formerly a slim section of Deptford Common, it has played host to suffragettes’ rallies and was saved from rapacious housing developers by legendary campaigner Octavia Hill, among others.

Our route takes in a generous circle of the park, past the Grade II-listed Prendergast girls’ school and the millennium stone circle, before dipping down – enjoying the extensive views southwards out to Kent – past the meadow grassland to Adelaide Avenue. Here we turn right, then left at the main road to reach the cemetery.

This is actually two graveyards lying next door to each other – one (Brockley) for the historic borough of Deptford, the other (Ladywell) for Lewisham. They were established on land belonging to the Earl of Dartmouth in 1858. Today they are partly overgrown, a haven for wildlife, and a joy to walk through.

Many of the gravestones illustrate Deptford’s strong historic associations with the river Thames, with a variety of naval and merchant trading links mentioned. This is a great illustration of Brockley’s origin as an area of farming and settlement spreading down from the Deptford riverfront – previously we faced northwards and had a decidedly nautical air about us, whereas now our sense of identity is drawn east and south-east, to today’s centres of commerce and governance in Lewisham and Catford (such as they are). Oh for the days of old, eh. Let’s restore our historic river links. (Deptford is very fashionable these days, you know, Guardian-readers.)

After meandering through the cemetery we emerge onto Ladywell Road and pass the site of a former medicinal mineral spring (between Francemary and Phoebeth roads) before paying our respects to the site of the original Lady Well by the station.Those in need of a pit stop can call into the Ladywell Tavern for fine ales and a warm welcome, and then we press onwards …


Friends of Hilly Fields
Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries
Ladywell Tavern