Lewisham // is a district in South London, England, located in the London Borough of Lewisham. It is situated 5.9 miles (9.5 km) south-east of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.
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It is most likely to have been founded by a pagan Jute, Leof, who settled (by burning his boat) near St Mary's Church (Ladywell) where the ground was drier, in the 6th century. As to the etymology of the name, Daniel Lysons (1796) wrote:
"In the most ancient Saxon records this place is called Levesham, that is, the house among the meadows; leswe, læs, læse, or læsew, in the Saxon, signifies a meadow, and ham, a dwelling. A Latin legal record, dated 1440, mentions a place in Kent as Levesham which may refer to Lewisham.
It is now written, as well in parochial and other records as in common usage, Lewisham."
"Leofshema" was an important settlement at the confluence of the rivers Quaggy (from Farnborough) and Ravensbourne (Caesar's Well, Keston), so the village expanded north into the wetter area as drainage techniques improved. In the mid-seventeenth century, then-vicar of Lewisham, Abraham Colfe, built a grammar school, primary school and six almshouses for the inhabitants. On 5 September 1711 William Legge, the Earl of Dartmouth became the (hereditary) Viscount Lewisham  The village of Lewisham was originally centred further south around the parish church of St Mary, towards the present site of University Hospital Lewisham. The centre migrated north with the coming of the North Kent railway line to Dartford in 1849, encouraging commuter housing. Lewisham was administratively part of Kent until 1889, and formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham in the County of London until 1965.
Lewisham's High Street is particularly long and wide for a London suburb. The town centre was hit by a V-1 in 1944 with over 300 fatalities. It devastated the high street, which was not restored to its former glory until the mid-1950s. This horrific event is commemorated by a plaque outside the Lewisham Shopping Centre (opened in 1977). The plaque is situated on the pavement outside the Marks and Spencers store in the main shopping precinct. However, following reports that the memorial was being worn away by pedestrians, Lewisham Council made an agreement with the store to place a new plaque on a wall alongside the shop. The Sainsbury's store in Lewisham Shopping Centre was briefly the largest supermarket in Europe. The store still exists today and is small by modern standards. The area at the north end of the High Street was pedestrianised in 1994. It is home to a daily street market and a local landmark, the clock tower, completed in 1900 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The police station, which was opened in 2004 to replace the station in Ladywell, is officially the largest in Europe. There is also another large police station in nearby Catford. There is planned regeneration of Lewisham town centre. There is a single skyscraper adjacent to the shopping centre which used to be owned by Citibank until they moved to the Docklands. At the end of Lewisham High Street and the start of Rushey Green, stands the 2006 Kaleidoscope Centre designed by van Heyningen and Haward Architects. This new PCT centre provides state of the art facilities and treatment specifically for children and young people in the area.
Almost all of the SE13 postcode district, which is associated with Lewisham, is within the London Borough of Lewisham, except for the Coldbath Estate and part of the Orchard Estate along Lewisham Road, which are covered by the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
Lewisham Cricket Club was one of the most prestigious London sides during the Victorian era. They played at Lewisham Cricket Ground from 1864, which lay north of Ladywell Road until its closure in the latter part of the 19th century. Lewisham Swimming Club was also very successful with several of its members representing England in water polo and other gymkhana events. The club still meets at Ladywell Swimming Baths, one of the public swimming pools in Lewisham which include Downham Health and Leisure Centre, the Bridge in Sydenham, Forest Hill Pools, now open after refurbishment and Wavelengths in Deptford.
In 1977, the Battle of Lewisham (actually in New Cross) saw the biggest street battle against fascists since the Battle of Cable Street in 1936. Over 10,000 people turned out to oppose a National Front march which was organised on the back of increasing electoral success at that time.
Sixth form and further education providers in Lewisham include Christ the King Sixth Form College, Lewisham College. Lewisham is also home to Goldsmith's College and the Laban Dance College (part of Trinity College of Music) and Prendergast Hilly Fields Sixth Form.
Lewisham is a major local transport hub, lying on the A20 road towards Dover and at the start of A21 to Hastings, with its own large bus station alongside the railway station for National Rail and (the southern terminus of the) Docklands Light Railway services. London Overground lines run into the north of the borough at New Cross station and New Cross Gate station - once part of the London Underground East London Line, these stations became part of the extended London Overground network in 2010.
Lewisham rail crash
Lewisham is also the site of one of the worst disasters on British Railways in the 20th century. On 4 December 1957 a crowded steam-hauled passenger express headed for the Kent coast overran signals at danger in thick fog near St. John's station and crashed into a stationary electric train for the Hayes branch line. The force of the impact brought down an overhead railway bridge onto the wreckage below. An electric multiple unit about to cross the bridge towards Nunhead managed to pull up in time. 90 passengers and crew died in the accident.
Among those who were born in the London Borough of Lewisham, or have lived within the borders of the borough are:
- Danny Baker (broadcaster) lived in Deptford
- Ginger Baker (drummer of Cream) born and brought up in Lewisham
- Natasha Bedingfield (singer/songwriter) brought up in Lewisham
- Rosa May Billinghurst (suffragette) lived in Lewisham
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (pastor and theologian) lived in Sydenham
- Kate Bush (musician) lived in Brockley and Lewisham
- James Callaghan (politician) lived in Blackheath
- Sir James Clark Ross (explorer) lived in Blackheath
- Jim Connell (socialist) lived in Crofton Park and Honor Oak
- Henry Cooper (boxer) grew up in Bellingham
- Ernest Dowson (poet) lived in Catford and Lee
- Gabrielle (musician) lived in Brockley and Honor Oak
- W. G. Grace (cricketer) lived in Sydenham
- Malcolm Hardee (comedian) lived in Blackheath and Lewisham
- Frank Harper (actor) grew up in the borough and attended Malory School in Downham
- George Julian Harney (Chartist) lived in Deptford
- Will Hay (comedy actor) lived in Crofton Park
- Sir Isaac Hayward (politician) lived in Deptford
- Keely Hazell (page 3 girl & model) born in Lewisham
- Frederick John Horniman (collector) lived in Forest Hill
- Leslie Howard (British actor) lived in Forest Hill
- Jessica Hynes (actress and comedienne) born in Lewisham
- Glenda Jackson (politician) lived in Blackheath
- Alex James (bass player in Blur) went to university in New Cross, Goldsmiths
- David Jones (poet) lived in Brockley
- Frank King (cricketer) born in Lewisham
- Elsa Lanchester (Anglo-American actress) born in Lewisham
- Jude Law (actor) lived in Lewisham
- Neal Lawson (politician) was born in Lewisham
- Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (designer) lived in Blackheath
- Marie Lloyd (entertainer) lived in Lewisham and New Cross
- Eleanor Marx (politician) lived in Sydenham
- Alexander McQueen (designer) born in Lewisham Lewisham
- Spike Milligan (comedian) lived in Catford, Crofton Park and Honor Oak
- Kwes (record music producer) was born and brought up in Lewisham
- Laila Morse (actress & sister of Gary Oldman) lives in New Cross
- Edith Nesbit (writer) lived in Blackheath, Grove Park and Lewisham
- Gary Oldman (actor) was born in New Cross and grew up in Deptford
- P Money (Grime Artist) born and brought up in Lewisham
- William Page (historian and general editor of the Victoria County History) lived in Lewisham from 1875 until he emigrated to Queensland in 1881
- Mica Paris (musician) lived in Lewisham
- Gladys Powers (centenarian) was born in Lewisham
- Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, lived in Deptford
- Maxi Priest (musician) was born and raised in Lewisham
- Jack Penate (musician) was brought up in Blackheath
- Luke Pritchard (musician) was born in Lewisham
- Louise Redknapp (TV presenter & wife of footballer Jamie Redknapp) was born in Lewisham
- Kieran Richardson (footballer) currently playing for Sunderland lived in Lewisham
- Ignatius Sancho (writer and campaigner) lived in Blackheath
- Charlene Soraia (musician) was brought up in Sydenham
- Dame Cicely Saunders (Founder of Hospice movement) lived in Sydenham
- Sir Ernest Shackleton (Antarctic explorer) lived in Sydenham
- Timothy Spall (actor) lives in Forest Hill
- Jason Statham (actor) lived in Sydenham
- Doris Stokes (spirit-medium) lived in Lewisham
- Doveton Sturdee British Admiral of the Fleet was born in Lewisham
- E. W. Swanton (writer) lived in Forest Hill
- David Sylvian (musician) lived in Lewisham
- Kieron Toner (former TV presenter, economist and author) Lived in Downham
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu lived on Brownhill Road Catford
- Terry Waite (humanitarian) lived in Blackheath
- Max Wall (comedian) lived in Lee
- Barnes Wallis (engineer) lived in New Cross
- Ian Wright (footballer) lived in Lewisham and Brockley
- Shaun Wright-Phillips (footballer & son of Ian Wright) grew up in Brockley
- Bill Wyman (musician) lived in Sydenham
- Maxwell Confait, Colin Lattimore, Ronal Leighton and Ahmet Salih lived in Catford
- Sid Vicious (musician) was born in Lewisham
- Cesar Laser (musician, songwriter, singer, and BGT star) born in Transylvania and currently resides in Lewisham
- Leland Lewis Duncan (photographer, writer) born in Lewisham
- Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)". Greater London Authority.
- Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP 40/717; http://aalt.law.uh.edu/AALT1/H6/CP40no717/bCP40no717dorses/IMG_1931.htm; second entry; Walter Wheler, husbandman, as defendant in a plea of debt
- 'Lewisham', The Environs of London: volume 4: Counties of Herts, Essex & Kent (1796), pp. 514-36. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=45489. Date accessed: 3 October 2007.
- "News Shopper". News Shopper. News Shopper newspaper. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
- Lewisham London Borough Council - Lewisham town centre regeneration
- '1997': The Battle of Lewisham URL:http://libcom.org/history/articles/battle-of-lewisham-1977. Date accessed 21 February 2008
- Lewisham Local History Society
- The Battle of Lewisham - an article on london based website libcom.org
- Lewisham Law Centre
- Lewisham cctv
- Lewisham at Surbubia
- Lewisham Photographs
- Lewisham Voices
- Lewisham Council
- Lewisham Forum
- 90 Years of Life in Lewisham
- Lewisham Councillor Mike Harris