Ladywell is a small district of South East London, England, located in the London Borough of Lewisham between Brockley, Crofton Park and Lewisham. It has a good provision of green space including Ladywell Fields and Hilly Fields which borders Brockley. The main high street is called Ladywell Road, and in 2013 was given a face lift with £800,000 of Transport for London funding. The pavements were widened, short stay bays created to help local businesses and shoppers, and trees were added. Ladywell Village has a range of retail outlets including a number of cafes, a patisserie and a delicatessen.
The name Ladywell was in use by the 15th century, and maps dating to this period show the site of the original Lady well, in front of the area later to be occupied by the Freemason's Arms (now 'La Delice patisserie') and Ladywell railway station. The well was probably a holy well dedicated to Virgin Mary and was six to seven feet deep and surrounded by an iron railing. It was in use until the 1850s until it was covered over as part of the construction of sewer works. The coping stones of this well were later uncovered during work to underpin the railway bridge, and rescued by a signalman. In 1896 they were incorporated as part of the fountain that stood in the grounds of the Ladywell Public Baths, a local landmark built in red brick in 1884.
Until the second half of the eighteenth century there was only one dwelling in LadyWell 'The Bridge House Farm', however, the opening of Ladywell Station in 1857 brought expansion to the area. Church Grove and the terraces to either side of it in Ladywell Road were built in the following year, which also saw the opening of Ladywell Cemetery, Railway Terrace, Prospect Place, and Mercy Terrace.
Another well is located nearby at what is now 148 Ladywell Road. This was a mineral spring, the waters of which local people drank for medicinal purposes.
Much of the development of Ladywell occurred in the late-19th century following the opening of Ladywell railway station in 1857. The public park Ladywell Fields opened in the 1890s.
Ladywell House was the vicarage built in 1693 for Dean George Stanhope, the vicar of Lewisham and Deptford. Stanhope was a friend of the writer Jonathan Swift, Swift visited Ladywell House in 1711. The house was extended in 1881 and 1895, and is now used by the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
In recent years there has been controversy over Lewisham Council's decision to close the Ladywell Swimming Pool and Sports Centre to build a school. Many local residents felt that a school is not needed in this part of Lewisham, that it will increase already high levels of congestion and that closing the pool many years before building a new one will deprive the area of healthy leisure facilities. This controversy led to the area electing Green Party councillors to all of its three council ward seats, although all three were lost to Labour in 2010 and although, in turn, one of Labour's councillors has since resigned, forcing a byelection. The Labour candidate again beat the Greens into second place.
Designated in 2010, the area consists mainly of late Victorian suburban residential development which was built by the local developer Samuel J. Jerrard. In the conservation area, external changes to elevations visible from public viewpoints require planning permission. These include:
- Changes to windows, doors, chimneys and other material alterations.
- Alterations to the roof of a house.
- The addition of a porch. This would include infilling an open porch.
- Construction of any building within the grounds of a house where this would be visible from any public viewpoint.
- Putting down a hard surface, for example a drive, or replacing an existing drive.
- New boundary treatments like gates, walls and fences and the demolition of the original.
- The painting of the exterior of a dwelling house or building within the grounds of the building.
Through the 1880s and 1890s Jerrard built up long stretches of Vicars Hill and the newly laid out streets Algernon Road, Algiers Road, Ermine and Embleton Road, taking advantage of the topography and the good transport links to London.
His houses are generously sized and are stylistically distinctive as a group. Many of his other houses in the area are protected within the Brockley conservation area.
Jerrard’s development in Ladywell survives nearly complete, including its rich architectural detailing. It constitutes the core of the conservation area, supplemented by some later infill development of the late 19th and early 20th century that completed his streets.
The conservation area also encompasses the commercial core of Ladywell along Ladywell Road, known as Ladywell Village, which contains some of the oldest houses and pubs of the area and Edwardian shops that were constructed at the turn of the century in response to the rapidly increasing community around them.
The Council recommends a number of improvements that could be made to the benefit of both the character of the area as well as the value of individuals’ properties:
- reinstatement of painted timber windows to the original design. These will in most, but not all cases be vertical sliding sash windows
- reinstatement of original style doors, such as the Victorian glass and timber panelled doors that can be found on most of the Jerrard properties,
- the removal of later porch additions,
- removal of render or pebbledash where not part of the original design,
- reinstatement of terracotta chimney pots, chimney stacks or ridge tiles where missing,
- reinstatement of slate roofs,
- repair or reinstatement of any other architectural detail where lost,
- front garden improvements such as the reinstatement of stock brick walls with stone copings; planting of shrubs, lawns and hedging to hide wheelie bins, and the repair or reinstatement of York stone or tile paths,
- re‐siting of satellite dishes to inconspicuous locations such as the rear garden,
- reinstatement of traditional shopfronts and removal of internally illuminated signs.
- Birthplace of Rolling Stones' bassist Bill Wyman.
- Burial place of Ernest Dowson poet and decadent buried at Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries
- Henry Williamson, author most notably of Tarka the Otter brought up in Ladywell. No 21 Eastern Road has a blue plaque to commemorate that he lived there
There are two local societies. The Ladywell Village Improvement Group and the Ladywell Society
Other close stations:
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- Bradford, Charles Angell, The Lady Well, Lewisham (1896)
- (2011 reprint) British Library, Historical Print Editions, ISBN 9781241317676
- A Ladywell Walk london-footprints.co.uk
- George Stanhope, and Moll Stanhope Jonathan Swift's 1710-1713 London letter-journal. Swiftiana
- Journal to Stella, Letter 26 Chelsea, June 30, 1711, point 14.
- Foord, Alfred Stanley (1910), Springs, streams and spas of London: history and association. T. Fisher Unwin.