The Pond at Beckenham Place Park…

I walk in Beckenham Place Park most days and two things have alluded me.

A faded blue sign concealed discreetly behind bushes near the golf club,


promisingly suggests there’s a Ladies toilet next to the Gents in a public convenience kind of location.  I have wandered nonchalantly passed that place in the hopes of gaining entrance, each time I’ve been met by boarded up windows and a padlock on the door.


The nature guide on-line mentions the oldest pond in Lewisham, I have walked through these hundreds of acres over the two years I’ve lived here without noting a significant body of water.

I’ve found the river and the golf course, the manor house and the commons, the railroad tracks and the main road and the greenchain walk.

I’ve photographed the pedunculate oak, sweet chestnut, silver birch, ash, beech , wild pear, field maple, wild cherry, rowan, downy birch, common lime, Scots pine, sycamore, Norway maple and Mulberry tree that make up the spectacular woodlands.

I’ve dodged the holly, elder, blackthorn and stinging nettles lining the pathways through the trees and delighted in the beauty of bluebells in the dells and mushrooms on the forest floors.

I’ve seen the stock dove, wood pigeons, ring-necked parakeets, magpies, crows and woodpeckers and heard the tawny owl, nuthatch and sweetly singing blackbirds.

I’ve spotted foxes and grey squirrels foraging through undergrowth.

As I’ve walked  I’ve felt the history beneath my feet.  Locals with support from the Lewisham Group of the London Wildlife Trust campaigned successfully to preserve the park for people and wildlife.  The land so carefully conserved was originally part of the Manor of Beckenham founded in the early 11th century at the time of Edward the Confessor.

But I’ve never found the Ladies nor the oldest pond!

On Sunday as hubs and I were setting out on our walk together I told him about the oldest pond in Lewisham that lay still, stagnant and undiscovered.  I wondered out loud if he would help me find it.

He did!


Located in the west of the park the pond is fenced off because it is a dangerous and eerie place.  It appears on a map dated 1776 and is apparently very deep and silted up because of the the fallen leaves from the huddle of trees surrounding it.  The water is heavily rich in nutrients, low in oxygen and teeming with slugs and snails and other mini-beasts!

Common duckweed covers much of the surface in most summers and the pond is also home to some very rare plants and plentiful with micro-organisms.

We stopped for a drink to celebrate our success and on entering the club house I found the Ladies toilets, clean and warm inside the main building.  The sign outside deliberately misleading!

I can leave my beloved walk behind satisfied that the park holds no more mysteries.

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