Blackheath: A middle class estate of the 18th and early 19th centuries

by Neil Rhind

Towards Suburbanisation

Holly Hedge House

Whether the success of the late 17th century villa scheme encouraged others is hard to say but Blackheath’s next tentative step towards suburbanisation came in the late 1680s when George Legge, Baron Dartmouth (1648 - 1691) and his aunt, Susannah Graham (1617 - 1699) granted development leases for a number of plots on the far west side of the Heath, butting the highway of Blackheath Hill.

Many of the Dartmouth Encroachments houses survive in part today (Nos 21 & 23, 22, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36 Dartmouth Row, and Dartmouth House) although alterations and redevelopment of the plots started as early as the mid 18th century. This encroachment still defines the west edge of Blackheath.

It was during the period approximately 1690 to 1740 that there was a considerable amount of development on the northwest corner of the Heath. Crooms Hill had long boasted houses; indeed, some say it was being built up in the 15th century; but in fact most of it was erected on the garden ground of larger mansions at a much later date. Some houses were put up on part of the waste of the highway or the Heath, such as the Manor House of 1695 (which survives) and its neighbours (which do not).