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Ashburnham Triangle

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A conservation area in south-west Greenwich, consisting of nine streets and some later cul-de-sacs, bounded by Greenwich South Street, Blackheath Road and Greenwich High Road. John Ashburnham, who came from a Sussex family of ‘stupendous antiquity’, acquired the land here as part of a substantial inheritance in 1755. His new possession included the Chocolate House, which stood on the brow of Blackheath and had gained its name from tastings of drinking chocolate held here when the beverage first came into fashion. The mansion was renamed Ashburnham House in 1820. From around this time the family laid out streets and housing to the north-west of South Street, with the scheme gaining full momentum nearer the middle of the century. Much of the little estate consisted of tasteful stuccoed terraces, together with several pubs, including the Guildford Arms and the Ashburnham Arms. In the 1880s the Ashburnhams began to sell off the estate in stages and Ashburnham House was demolished to make way for further development. Blackheath high school opened on Catherine Grove in 1904. The school was converted to apartments just under a century later and three new houses were built in the former playground. Most of Ashburnham Triangle’s original housing has survived unspoilt, although the triangle was one of last conservation areas to be designated in Greenwich. Through traffic is kept out of Ashburnham Retreat so that it can serve as a children’s play street.
click for area map (opens in a new window)
Thriller writer Edgar Wallace was born in 1875 at 7 Ashburnham Grove, which now displays an unofficial plaque. A biography harshly calls the area a ‘London slum’. Wallace’s unmarried, show business parents offered him up for adoption when he was only nine days old.
Postal district: SE10
Further reading: Diana Celia Rimel, Tony Lord & Pat Ward, Ashburnham Triangle, Ashburnham Triangle Association, 1994

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