What's it all about?
Ladywell takes its name from a spring. In 1472, it was recorded to bubble up from the slope at the northern end of what is now Ladywell Fields. The ‘lady’ is a reference to St Mary, to whom the local church is dedicated. Springs were often rich in minerals that gave them healing powers, and this one was believed to help those with poor eyesight. Ladywell has a village character – with its own baker, greengrocers, pub and post office – while benefiting from the train station, which whisks you to London Bridge in just nine minutes. With Hilly Fields and Ladywell Fields only five and three minutes’ walk away respectively, the area makes a great base for families and young professionals alike.
- Along with Ladywell Fields, there was another spring just above the present high street at 148 Ladywell Road, which is marked by a plaque.
- Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman was born in Ladywell.
Architecture and property
Victorian and Edwardian homes dominate, as most properties were built following the arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century. There is very little modern housing in the area, aside from a few small blocks near the station built in the past 10 years. The Ladywell conservation area covers the development, designed by Samuel J Jerrard, in the 1880s and 1890s. These generously sized and distinctive houses have rich architectural detailing, such as Italianate and Gothic stucco, and stone and terracotta details.
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Eating: Le Délice on the corner of Ladywell Road opposite the station, is great for a quick coffee or a delicious crêpe. For cool eats and drinks, the Model Market in Lewisham is only 15 minutes’ walk away. Open from spring to autumn, it features street food and drink, and a rooftop area to watch the sun go down. Also in Lewisham, Sparrow is the brainchild of Terry Blake and Yohini Nandakumar, who met working at the famous St John restaurant in Smithfield. There’s also the family-run Ladywell Tandoori Indian restaurant on Ladywell Road, which has been a fixture for decades. Or try Mamma Dough across the road for sourdough pizzas with seasonal toppings.
Drinking: The Ladywell Tavern has a good range of beers, an excellent menu of seasonal food, a beer garden and live music and DJs on some nights. On Lewisham High Street, the Fox & Firkin serves up ales alongside regular live music. Suttons’ Radio in Lewisham is the latest offering from the trendy Antic pub chain, while in Catford there’s the Catford Constitutional Club and Bottle Bar and Shop, where the staff will mix you cocktails and then bottle them up for you to take home.
Entertainment and culture
There’s a wealth of quality theatres within easy reach of Ladywell, such as the Broadway Theatre in Catford, the Greenwich Theatre, The London Theatre in New Cross, The Albany, Deptford and Blackheath Halls. The Brockley Jack pub has a studio theatre upstairs. On top of this, the Curzon cinema chain will soon be taking over the old Ladywell Playtower public baths, just down from the station.
Hilly Fields Midsummer Fayre has been organised by the Brockley Society for 44 years. It is very much a community event, with maypole dancing, a coconut shy, children’s train rides, a farm and circus workshops, along with plenty of food and drinks stalls. Ladywell Fields Summer Festival is a smaller but very friendly community event, with live music, bouncy castle, face-painting and stalls.
- Heckstall & Smith butchers, opened in 2015, has proved a big hit with its carefully selected free-range and rare-breed meats. Staff are on hand with advice on what to choose and how to cook it.
- Pop in to the smallest library in London at Lewisham Micro Library, housed inside an old red telephone box on the corner of Loampit Hill and Tyrwhitt Road.
- The Larder general store and deli was opened in 2014 by local mums Katherine and Cynthia. It offers fresh bread and goodies from Coopers Bakehouse, Boulangerie Jade, Olivier Favrel’s Bakery and Bread Ahead. There are cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy and Mons Cheesemongers, and fresh fruit and veg from Chegworth Valley Farm in Kent.
- Ladywell Village Cycles was established in 2012, servicing bikes of all kinds from behind the barbers on Algernon Road. They also do custom builds for the serious biker.
Hilly Fields is considered one of the best parks in London. Cited on a dome-shaped hill, there’s a fantastic playground featuring an old manual water pump to keep the large sandy area wet. Nearby is an adult gym, popular tennis and basketball courts, and even a park run every Saturday morning. The café is always popular and has a mud kitchen behind to keep the kids busy. There’s even a stone circle and sundial, dreamed up by local artists in 1997. Below the station, Ladywell Fields boasts open spaces, a meandering stream, playgrounds, tennis courts and a café. Redeveloped in 2008, it won ‘best new space’ in the London Planning Awards 2011.
A £800,000 facelift of Ladywell in 2013 created wider pavements, short-stay parking and new roadside trees. Apart from this, the area has seen little major development, which has preserved the village feel.
Rail: Ladywell has five trains an hour direct to London Bridge (nine minutes), four to Charing Cross (22 to 37 minutes) and six to Cannon Street (21 to 25 minutes).
Bus: Ladywell is served by the 122 Crystal Palace to Plumstead, 484 Camberwell to Lewisham and P4 Brixton to Lewisham buses.
Tube: There is no tube in Ladywell, with the nearest options being the DLR at Lewisham and Greenwich.
Road: The South Circular passes through nearby Catford, and the M25 is half an hour away.
Cycle: The quiet roads in the area make cycling a good option. The Waterlink Way, which connects up London parks and green spaces, passes through Ladywell Fields.
Getting away: By train, St Pancras International can be reached in 29 minutes, Gatwick in 50 minutes and Heathrow in 70. Gatwick is about an hour’s drive.
For state primary schools, Holbeach, Gordonbrook, St Mary’s CE and St Saviour’s RC in Lewisham are all considered decent options. Covering primary and secondary, Trinity Church of England School is also sought-after, while the co-ed Prendergast Ladywell and Prendergast Hilly Fields for girls are also in the area. Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College covers primary, secondary and sixth form levels.
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