Newsletter latest edition August 2023. Also see the links on the Newsletters Archive page. This is probably the last Newsletter we will publish but the website may have various updates.Winding up of the Friends of Beckenham Place Park;
From June to 20th July 2023 a voting process took place among members of the Friends to either bring forward volunteers for committee posts or decide to wind up the Friends activities. Of the votes returned over 90 percent voted for winding up along the lines of the options recommended by the remaining committee.
The funds managed by the Friends will be put in the hands of London Borough of Lewisham Nature Conservation department for disbursement on the following items and this will be outlined in the final Newsletter.
A total of £11,630.00 divided among the following purposes
£3277.40 pertaining to grants received for the maintenance of the Ancient Pond
£2912.60 as Sensory garden grant funds
£5440.00 as Friends funds for Lewisham Biodiversity Partnership awards generally described as the Ken White Fund.
The pond and garden funds can be accessed by the Park Lead Ranger and Head Gardener for any necessary works
The Biodiversity Grant scheme usually takes place annually for £2,500 divided between successful grant bids. The funds donated by the Friends may be in addition to this annual sum either as an increased amount or perhaps one or more additional rounds of funding for open spaces groups.
This website will remain for a few years as a record of achievements and as an educational resource or virtual visitor centre to ensure that information we accumulated remains accessible.
A BIG THANK YOU to all the members, ex-committee and supporters of the Friends over the past years since we created the Friends group in 1995 and before when we were part of the Save BPP Campaign to prevent large areas of the park being taken over by a tennis centre and increased golf facilities. Although we supported the retention of the historic 18 hole course which became publid in 1933 the options presented circa 1992 would have severely restricted public access to the park.
See the History links for updated history information.
Our research into the History of Beckenham Place has uncovered several aspects Beckenham's history as well as some nearby Bromley and Lewisham facts. These will be added to regular edits and are held on this site in .pdf format. Did you know John Evelyn the diarist briefly owned part of the Manor of Beckenham with his two brothers from 1648-1650? Frederick St.John/Lord Bolingbroke had leased Beckenham Manor to the Burrells, Raymonds, Cator and Thomas Motley and others circa 1768. Some early historical facts by Hasted and other writers have been found to be wrong or at least challenged. Scandals, intrigue and even murder are included in the story. We are now producing the history pages in .pdf format and with a good browser or pdf reader you can search the articles for "foxgrove" "Langley" "Kelsey" "Cator" "Burrell" etc.
Visitor Centre Closure: the visitor centre was closed on the 8th March 2020 as the room had to be vacated by mid March before Covid lockdown began and unconnected with it.
The Visitor Centre has been run by the Friends since 1995 and been in the Mansion since 2000. The centre was run voluntarily and has been the only interpretation and awareness facility for park visitors during that time.
The Friends have, as well as running the visitor centre, organized a program of walks and events, carried out conservation work and maintained the Sensory Garden. We have facilitated fund raising for the Sensory Garden (about £25,000), a Nature Trail and park signage.
Most recently about £50,000 has been raised for restoration of the Ancient Pond and installation of a path and pond dipping platform.
Thank you to all our visitors, members and volunteers who have enabled the Visitor Centre over the past years and hope we can find a way to continue into the future.
Lewisham Open Spaces Forum a group made up of representatives of park Friends groups, for example Friends of: Chinbrook Meadows, Ladywell Fields, Telegraph Hill, Blythe Hill Fields, Hilly Fields, Sydenham Wells, Home Park, Mayow Park to mention a few. The Forum will address issues and problems arising in park use and management. See the Forum page and newsletters.
Beckenham Place Nature Trail: The trail was established before the recent works in the park but the leaflet may help visitors find their way around The leaflet is on this link pdf file and on our pamphlets page via 'Events' page, or use this easy to print file for directions. Also a .kml file of waypoints which will work with smartphone, google earth and tablet map and gps apps to show the waypoints for the nature trail. Also, a .gpx file of the route so that you technofiles can have all the electronic aids available. I like the Maverick Android mapping app. We are working on a version that wont display upside down on a digital screen.
Contact us at email@example.com
About the Park (see other pages for full history etc.)
The first time or occasional visitor to BPP may not appreciate its true extent. The Park lies on the Lewisham/Bromley border strictly speaking between Downham, Bellingham, Beckenham and Shortlands.
It was acquired from the Cator Estate by the LCC circa 1927, passed through the hands of the GLC and then on to the London Borough of Lewisham. A 'well kept secret' from many Londoners, the park has been thought of as a private golf course or private house and grounds as it is not widely publicised. It does lie on the Green Chain Walk and Capital Ring. A railway bisects the park and the only routes joining both parts are the bridge north of woodland called the Ash Plantation or by leaving and re-entering the park in the viscinity of Ravensbourne Railway Station or bridge near Beckenham Hill Station. Hence the railway effectively divides the park into West and East.
Beckenham Place Park is the surviving nucleus of what was once a large estate of park and farm land.
The history of the park and its environs is extensive and is covered in other Friends publications and the About and History pages on this site. Information is available in the Friends of BPP Visitor Centre (see navigation hyperlink). Various references to Beckenham Place Park, The Cator family and the history are on the internet and other publications, all are subject to some correction as varioius assumptions have been made. We attempt to seek accuracy where possible. The best references have been written by Pat Manning and the late Eric Inman. Even these are updatable by more recent discoveries enabled by records appearing on the internet.
The park's life as a public recreation area began around 1927/29 when the park was purchased by the London County Council and London Borough of Lewisham to satisfy a need for public open space in the area as the large housing estates of Bellingham and Downham were being developed.
The historic and 'listed' buildings in the park include The Mansion, The Stables and Homesteads (and Garden Cottage), Southend Lodge (gatehouse). See the About the Park page and other pages of this website for more information.