Not Greenwich Park, number 4: East Greenwich Pleasaunce
This series started to highlight other great green spaces in SE London that are open while Greenwich Park is largely closed for the Olympics. Well, just days after the cross-country, parts of the park are reopening today, but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring the rest of the area’s parks.
The first reason to visit East Greenwich Pleasaunce this weekend is that there’s a fete on. Dress up in 1948 (or 2012) styles and enjoy live music and more.
The second reason is that this highlights another part of Greenwich, a world away from the “royal” sloganeering seen a mile down the road. I’m a little biased towards the pleasaunce as it was my local park once upon a time – the trees next to the graveyard make a useful spot for a makeshift game of cricket, you know. In the late 1980s, it was a forgotten corner – things are different now.
The history behind this little park is simple – it used to be the cemetery for Greenwich Hospital, the naval home which occupied what later became the Royal Naval College. Opened in 1857, the remains of more than 3,000 pensioners were moved here in 1875. Later, it became a public park, but the graves remain.
Over the past decade or so, this little corner has had a revival in fortunes – aided by a new entrance opening up access from the Blackheath side of the railway line, the appearance of a cafe and the work put in by a dedicated friends group, together with Greenwich Council responding to the park’s needs, In short, it’s become the template in how to revive a local park.
Sadly, a successful community park is not enough for some – NOGOE’s photo diary says the “pleasaunce is fine for young children to play but it is not big enough for walkers and joggers and it is not pleasant getting there”. Those who find walking through the streets of Greenwich unpleasant are clearly tired of Greenwich. For the rest of us, there’s the fete this weekend. Enjoy.