Ladywell Fields is a public park formed from three historic fields, through which the Ravensbourne river runs. 'Ladywell' derives from the medicinal well recorded here in the C15th, which was named after the nearby parish church of St Mary, the fields forming water meadows attached to the church. In 1889 the area between the Ravensbourne and the railway was purchased by the LCC and Lewisham District Board of Works, with further land purchased in 1891 and 1894, and it was opened as Ladywell Recreation Ground. Because the area was liable to flooding the river channel was straightened and enlarged, weirs were added, and the meadows were drained and landscaped.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
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The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
In 1086 the Domesday Book refers to 'the 30 acres of meadow in the Manor of Lewisham', part of which is now Ladywell Fields, formerly 3 fields. The fields are named after the medicinal well first recorded in 1472, whose site is now beneath the access road to Ladywell Station, called 'Our Lady's Well' after the parish church of St Mary's (q.v.). A second mineral well was to the west of the original site of the spring. The well's properties were apparently particularly good for treatment of eye complaints. The well house of the spa still existed in 1842, coping stones of which were taken to form the back of the fountain in the grounds of the old public baths, re-instated in front of Ladywell Baths. By the C19th these fields were water meadows attached to the nearby parish church. The Ravensbourne River that runs through the area rises at Kestons Ponds and reaches the Thames at Deptford Creek, joined just south of Catford by the River Pool. This stretch of river was the site of numerous snuff and flour mills, and a moated farm house, Priory Farm, which was demolished in 1877 when the moat was filled in.
The area between the Ravensbourne and the railway was purchased by the LCC and Lewisham District Board of Works in 1889 for £21,880; further land along the Ravensbourne River was purchased in 1891 and 1894. It was laid out as a public amenity with rustic footbridges and riverside planting and opened as Ladywell Recreation Ground. There are a good number of mature trees, including a fine field maple in the south, a hybrid black poplar and a mature elm on the river bank, which has a Great Tree of London plaque.
In 2007/8 there were improvements to the northern field to divert the river into the main area of the field and in 2010/11 further enhancements were carried out to the middle and southern fields to open the river up.
John Archer, Ian Yarham, 'Nature Conservation in Lewisham', Ecology Handbook 30, London Ecology Unit, 2000 and Lewisham Walk 2 leaflet; LB Lewisham, "Parks historical trail"; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Darrell Spurgeon, 'Discover Sydenham and Catford', (Greenwich Guide-books, 1999)