Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ladywell

Me and Clare joined in on the Lewisham Walking Festival on Tuesday but tagging along on a walk around Ladywell.

I just fancied a walk around some semi-local environs as well as wanting to see the site of the actual Ladywell. There’s been some debate amongst locals interested in things like ‘healing wells’ about the actual location of the Ladywell so I thought I’d been shown by experts.

First, though, we started in Ladywell and Brockley Cemetery, they used to be separate but the wall between them was knock down in the seventies when Deptford borough was absorbed into Lewisham. We visited the grave of Sir George Grove; editor of Grove’s A Dictionary of Music and Musicians is buried (one for Neil there) and a mournful statue of a young girl which is a monument to a Victorian teenage girl murdered in Eltham.

It was paid for by public subscription which struck me as a bit more tasteful than putting flowers on the site of her murder. She’s tiny, for the pregnant seventeen year old she’s supposed to represent

The Victorians were into permanent statements like statues, I suppose, while we’re into some strange cross between sentimentality and morbid curiosity. I noticed some harden wax from a melted candle of the ground, either an offering, like Kitty Jay's Grave in Devon or the mark of that strange, graveyard dwelling nocturnal pack of creatures: the lesser-spotted morbid teenage drinker.

Can’t find a picture of the monument on the web; there were also some brilliant modernist graves, mostly in the Brockley section, that were a relief from all the cracked and sombre (but still breath-taking) Victorian angels. Once I’ve got a new battery in the camera I’ll head down there and take a few photographs to show anyone who’s interested. I’ve notices that photographs of graveyards are popular.

Local shop keepers and police chiefs were honoured and flora and fauna was admired. It dawned on me that Clare and I were just about the youngest people on the walk and probably the sanest. I think all small-interest groups have got a particular level of eccentricity among them. Friendly bunch though, the Ladywell Society; they meet once a month in the waiting room of Ladywell Station to discuss local history and issues, which all seems impossibly arcane to me.

We stopped at the grave of the poet Ernest Dowson, who I’ve been trying to find for ages, and I was pleased to see that lavender and wild flowers were growing from his dilapidated grave and a rosary had been hung from the broken headstone. The bloke giving the walk said there are often offerings left on his grave.

We left the cemetery are the Ladywell end and walked down the hill toward the Ravensbourne. The names of the streets to our right were shown to be named after relations of the developer who put these houses up in Ladywell. Hence names like Francemary Road, Arthurdon Road and Elsiemaud Road. The developer himself gave his name to Chudleigh Road.

A plaque on 148 Ladywell Road describes a well, now dry, that was visited for “medical purposes until the 19th century”. It’s in the back garden, apparently.

This, though, is not the ‘Ladywell’. That, too, has dried up and the picturesque wall and little roof, in true well style, has been knocked down and now replaced by an exact replica. It sits in the car park of a training centre run by Lewisham council and can be found just off Slagrove Place, on the left after the old workhouse gates.

Go and have a look….

3 comments:

Neil-NewX said...

What about supposed location of the well under Ladywell station? As with Camberwell, there may have been a number of different wells and springs at different times.

Skitster said...

It's possible, a site with wells often has quite a few; Clerkenwell is covered in em.

Lewisham Local History published a short article on the Ladywell, I've got a copy for you at home, which may talk more about.

Chris Wood's has located a possible spring on Endwell Road: when there's a drought there a slightly greener patch of grass at the Brockley end of the road,

Anonymous said...

Hi Skitster;

do you know anything about the an old factory that used to be in Courthill road, Longbridge Way road. SE13
Just behind the fire station in Ladywell.

This site was developed by Ideal Home as a showcase residential home in 1978, now manage by Action homes on Lewisham high street. I need to know what was made at the factory.

Much appreciated, Leslie you can email me at lesliev01@aol.com