About the Ridge
To go to the relevant section, please click on each subtitle:
1 Maps of the Sydenham Hill Ridge Neighbourhood Area and surroundings
2 Aerial Photograph of the Ridge and surroundings
3 Characteristics of the Ridge
With a peak of 112m above sea level, the Sydenham Hill Ridge forms the highest part of South London, over which it commands views on the Southwark side, and over Kent on the Lewisham side.
The character of the Ridge is suburban and densely green, with over half the SHR Neighbourhood Area benefitting from Sydenham Hill Woods, Dulwich Woods, Hillcrest Woods, and Wells Park. These are important relics of the Great North Wood which provide superb and valued amenities for the local community and for Londoners, but also need protection. It provides a natural home for many species; bats, birds, mammals, amphibians, and insects rarely found in other built-up areas of London. This nature corridor protects owls and woodpeckers, stag beetles and hedgehogs, foxes and squirrels. Parts of the Ridge are designated an Area of Outstanding Beauty, Special Character, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The Ridge is divided by its main road, Sydenham Hill, which marks the border between two boroughs, Southwark to the North-West and Lewisham to the South-East. On the Lewisham side there are underground streams and spring-fed wells. In the Victorian period, railway tunnels were built under the Ridge to carry passengers out of London and also to take people to visit the extraordinary Crystal Palace, originally built in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851, reconstructed on open land to the south of Sydenham Hill Ridge, where it survived until 1936, when it was destroyed by fire. Some lovely Georgian farmhouses still exist but the area was opened up to development following the arrival of the Crystal Palace and railways in the late 19th century. Generous Victorian villas, some by outstanding architects of the time, were established among the ancient trees. Some significant Modernist and Mid-century developments saw these excellent architectural and design standards continued in the 20th century. Later residential buildings, pursuing higher densities, have made it more difficult to maintain such high standards.
St Stephen's Church and Sydenham Hill Station were built in the mid-19th Century to service the new, large homes being built at that time on the Ridge. Some ten of these Victorian houses survive today, many divided into apartments. There is one pub, the Wood House, at the southern corner of Crescent Wood Road, which received its licence in 1860.
Unusually for a Neighbourhood Area, there is no high street, no school, no office buildings, and only one shop, on The Hillcrest Estate.
4 History of the Ridge and surroundings
5 Local Government Association Reports on the Ridge and surroundings
6 Photographs of the Neighbourhood Area
The Wood House
Licensed in 1860, note the electric vehicle charging points added in 2020