The Newsletter is published three times a year and is automatically sent to all members. It aims to keep local residents and others updated on matters that affect the Society or matters that the Society is being consulted on.
If you are not yet a member and would like to see a copy of our Newsletter, paper copies are available on a first come first served basis in the Society's office which is open Monday - Thursday from 9.30am - 2pm and is situated in The Old Bakehouse behind Age Exchange, 11 Blackheath Village. Call first to check 020 8297 1937.
Alternatively, you may download the last three editions:
Winter 2016 newsletterFinal Newsletter PDF December 2016.pdf opt
Autumn 2016 newsletter Autumn 2016 newsletter
Spring 2016 newsletter Spring 2016 Newsletter
Autumn 2015 newsletter Autumn 2015 Newsletter
Walking the Heath
This book, written in collaboration with Society Committee member, Roger Marshall, is a new illustrated guide to Balckheath which will appeal to seasoned walkers but will be equally useful for those wanting a strong around the Heath's 112 hectares. With over 70 pages, it contains more than 60 illustrations. Copies at £7.50 can be bought at local bookshops, or direct from the Society office. An order form is on the flyer here Flyer Walking the Heath
Guardians of the Heath
Members who have not yet been able to collect their book can contact the office to arrange a suitable time. The office is normally open Mondays - Thursdays 9.30 - 2.00
Additional copies are available from the office priced at £6.50.
The Blackheath Society applied for and won an "Awards for All" Lottery grant, to design and produce a Village Trail has been distributed to members, schools, libraries and the public at large. From an original idea by Neil Rhind, our local historian, this trail is designed to encourage individuals and groups of all ages to discover and further research Blackheath's very rich and diverse history.
The trail is currently out of print but a re-print is planned for this year.
Blackheath “graveyard of popular rebels’ hopes”
Blackheath features several times in a book published last year tracing the course of English rebellions against the law of the land during the last 1,000 years. The English Rebel: One Thousand years of Troublemaking, from the Normans to the Nineties by David Horspool, (Penguin/Viking 2009), examines four occasions when rebels massed on the Heath before moving on to attack London.
The first was the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381 led by Wat Tyler, Jack Straw and John Ball. Some 10,000 rebels camped here on 12 June, the day before the great medieval feast of Corpus Christi. In the 14th century Blackheath was still far enough from the City for chroniclers to describe it as three leagues (nine miles) away. But the number of rebels was disputed. “Whatever the real figure, the chroniclers’ exaggerations (of up to 100,000) only emphasise the impression that was clearly felt at the time of a vast and terrifying force of angry men encamped threateningly outside London.”
The second was Jack Cade’s rising in 1450, which started in Kent and spread across the country, with rebels camping on Blackheath, this time on 11 June. Horspool says this looked like a dead ringer for the Peasants’ Revolt, with a younger and weaker king (Henry VI) replacing a colossus (Henry V) on the throne, and the rebels again complaining they were paying for the government’s financial failures. Henry sent two Archbishops and dignitaries to negotiate with them on the Heath. This got nowhere, so the next day a royalist detachment marched to Blackheath, only to find the rebels had left. Cade was beheaded at Cheapside and his body dragged through the City.
The third was 1497 when a tax Henry VII was raising to deal with a threat of war from Scotland started a rebellion in Cornwall, where the people felt this had nothing to do with them. The Cornish rebels marched on London but were defeated at Blackheath, which Horspool then called “the graveyard of popular rebels’ hopes.”
The fourth occasion was a brief reference to the rising led by Sir Thomas Wyatt in 1554 against the Catholic Queen Mary’s proposed marriage to Philip II of Spain. Wyatt’s men marched from Kent to Blackheath “as Tyler, Cade and the Cornishmen had done before. Could he expect any different result?” There was fierce fighting in London but the answer, of course, was no. Wyatt was later executed on Tower Hill.
The book is a fascinating read for anyone interested in tracing the rebel spirit in English men through the ages, and its final Blackheath reference is amusing. Horspool says that after the execution of Charles II in 1649, a sense took shape that alternative ways of arranging society, of living and being governed, might flourish. He mentions a group of diggers who occupied two areas of common land in Surrey and planted vegetables for all “as the modest first step in a programme of economic and agricultural revolution.” Of course, they were forcibly removed.
“The sites of these two proto-Communist experiments are now respectively occupied by a private golf course and the dream homes of Chelsea footballers. This was not the first place of rebellion: Blackheath, where Tyler, Cade, the Cornish and other rebels had gathered, became the first golf course in England when the game was imported by James I.” John Bartram
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