Well – they’re all just south of the river…
Ham and Petersham are the leafier parts of the leafy London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, with Petersham being especially so.
Lewisham is rather less leafy – but not lacking all greenery and an area subject to much change – as with many parts of London at the moment.
Ham and Petersham are clearly very well to do and both would appear to be parts of the country or a country town. There is quite a substantial German population because there is a very well known and high quality German school in Ham. Ham Church (St Thomas Aquinas) is a church of the Southwark Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church – but looks for all the world like some Scandinavian Protestant Church. I notice they have a German Mass on Sundays.
My photograph entitled off Ham Common – which may perhaps look a bit dull – is of Langham House Close – a small block of flats built in the mid 1950s and designed by James Stirling (1926-1992) and James Gowan. The flats are Grade II listed and James Stirling – a former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects is the person after whom the Stirling Prize is named. I have met a resident who witnessed them being built and has lived in them since the first day – and still lives there happily.
Montrose House in Petersham was for many years the home of a well known chap from Bermondsey, who made his name initially with a record Singing the Blues, released in 1956. (At the age of 13 or 14, I was good imitator – but fame and fortune somehow eluded me…) Over the years the high garden wall has been the subject of many car accidents because of the sharp bend and a number of the locals clubbed together to buy some of Mr Steele’s land and attempted to get the road bend straightened out, though there are still some mishaps.
Over in Lewisham – the contrast with Catford High Street could not be greater – though Catford is very much an upcoming area for people wanting to buy their first home, and in the direction of Lewisham – just off the main Lewisham High Street are many lovely large Edwardian villas. I have not been inside Catford Theatre but understand it is wall to wall Art Deco – and all Grade II listed. Oprah Winfrey is one of the sponsors of the theatre.
Closer to Lewisham Station the entire area is being rebuilt – called Lewisham Gateway ; another area of contrast to Ham and Petersham.
I have taken one photo through the railings of Lewisham Station of the work being undertaken to re-channel the Quaggy and Ravensbourne Rivers – both tributaries of the Thames. The Quaggy flows into the Ravensbourne, which in its turn flows into Deptford Dock – and then into the Thames. (I have a photo in my May posting of the statue of Peter the Great just where Deptford Dock runs into the Thames)
Finally I have two pictures of two rather beautiful alms-houses – one in Lewisham and one in Ham. Why don’t we build almshouses – or a modern equivalent – today?