Showing posts with label dacres wood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dacres wood. Show all posts

01 September 2018

Woodcraft Folk Return to Forest Hill

A brand new Woodcraft Folk Group is starting in Forest Hill this September, 2018.

The Woodcraft Folk; an educational youth movement, was founded almost 100 years ago in Forest Hill by Leslie Paul.  A plaque is hung outside his former home on Bovill Road, SE23, so it is fitting and exciting that a group is established where its original roots lie.

The Forest Hill group will meet on alternate Saturdays at the beautiful Dacres Wood Nature Reserve. The group is aimed at families with children, boys and girls, ages 3-5 (older and younger siblings welcome) to learn about big ideas through fun activities like singing, camping, arts and crafts, music, nature play and games. Subjects covered include caring for the environment, sharing, cooperation, nature conservation and much more.

Our aim is to have great fun, but also to try to develop children’s self-confidence and build their awareness of society around them.

A free taster session will run in September. To book a place please email foresthillwoodcraftfolk @

Forest Hill Woodcraft Folk Taster Session (free). Ages 3-5.
Saturday the 15th of September, 10.00 - 11.30 am
Dacres Wood Nature Reserve, Honeyfield Mews, London, SE23 2NH

26 September 2015

Hedgehog Highways of SE23!

Did you know there are hedgehogs in Forest Hill that need your help? Tim Lund (Friends of Dacres Wood Nature Reserve) provided us with news about the plight of local hedgehogs.

This hedgehog was found in the daytime in August in Dacres Wood Nature Reserve, but hedgehogs are active mostly at night when they travel 1-2km in search of food. A neighbour of the reserve, who had seen hedgehogs with their young in her garden in the last year, first realised they were about when she heard a persistent scraping coming from one of her flower pots. Since then she has made sure her pots are kept upside down and, with the help of neighbours, made holes in fences to help them access other gardens.

In light of how the UK’s hedgehog population has fallen 30 percent in the last 10 years, this year’s Wild About Gardens Week — which is run by the Royal Horticultural Society — is focusing on hedgehogs’ neighbourhood needs. Making ‘hog holes’ between gardens is one of the best things we can do to help.

Our local nature reserves, together with the railway embankments and the gardens backing onto them, provide valuable habitats for wildlife that sometimes goes unnoticed. To support the plight of hedgehogs, the Forest Hill Society and the Friends of Dacres Wood Nature Reserve (FoDWNR) are asking local people to do what they can to help — whether by growing a diversity of plants, leaving wild corners alone, creating water sources with safe access (i.e., ponds with beaches or ramps), creating log piles (to attract hedgehog prey) or building shelters, and by avoiding the use of pesticides.

As for the hedgehog shown, sadly it was injured and did not survive. If you happen to come across any during the day, there are local charities that will try to help and then release them back into the wild.
For more info about Wild About Gardens Week (26th October-1st November), visit
• For more info about the FoDWNR, visit

05 May 2015

Dacres Wood: Spring Feast with Claudio Bincoletto

Photo by: Amy Murrell

Sunday, May 17th

You are invited to meet Claudio Bincoletto, farmer, chef, forager and environmental expert, on his visit to Dacres Wood Nature Reserve, and share in an experiment in sustainable local production of oyster mushrooms.

(Note – there is an entrance fee for this event)

10.30 – 12.00
Claudio will talk about his work, and how responsible foraging can help us all.  There will also be a nature walk and activities for children, let by Ema Felix of Secret Adventurers

12.30 – 2.00
Preparing and eating Risotto primavera and Wild herb frittata.  Claudio will be using wild herbs sourced from his allotment, but which can also be seen growing in the reserve and neighbouring gardens.  Only 20 servings will be possible, but guests are welcome to bring their own picnic as well.

2.30 – 3.30
Fungus workshop.  Claudio will be preparing recently felled sycamores for the production of oyster mushrooms by drilling them with c. 300 inoculated plugs.  There will also be opportunities to help our conservation volunteering for those suitably dressed.


  • Entrance £5 adults, children free
  • Risotto primavera £5 – limited to 20
  • Oyster mushroom plug sponsorship – £1 per plug
Plug sponsors will be entitled to a share of any mushrooms we produce – which can be expected to last from 2016 – 2018 – so please stay in touch!

Your contributions, and any donations, will go to support the work of the Friends of Dacres Wood.
Other local groups will be joining us, so join us to find out more about your local community.

01 April 2015

Woodlands — Springing Back to Life!

Three of Forest Hill’s natural assets are relatively small pockets of woodlands located next to the railway line running between Honor Oak Park and Sydenham stations. These sites are open to the public, albeit on limited days in two cases, and are managed by dedicated groups of volunteers. Now that spring has arrived after winter’s lull, activities — as well as plants — at these sites are starting to show signs of renewed life.

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve (DRNR) abuts the west side of the railway line between Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park stations, and has been run by the Friends of Devonshire Road Nature Reserve (FDRNR) for 15 years now, who have been awarded a Green Pennant year after year.

Since October, the Friends have been doing tree and brushwood removal around the edges of the reserve’s meadows, and improving paths. Starting this spring, guided school visits — or ‘Muddy Boots’ sessions — will be offered to primary school children.

The Friends are in desperate need of someone to help run their website and with publicity, as well as to volunteer in general; for more info, see contact details below or attend the Friends’ annual general meeting on Sunday 22nd March.

DRNR is open to the public on the last Sunday of each month (currently between 2-5:30pm). 170 Devonshire Rd, SE23 3SZ.
For more info:

Albion Millennium Green (AMG) is situated on the west side of the railway line between Sydenham and Forest Hill stations. It is managed by the Friends of Albion Millennium Green, who organise a range of arts-related activities and plantmanagement work days throughout the year. After a winter break, work days, which occur on the second Saturday of each month, will start again in March.

At the Friends’ annual general meeting held on 21st February at Forest Hill Pools, activities and achievements in a very productive year were highlighted, including:
• Work carried out by volunteers that resulted in a Green Flag Award being awarded again.
• The AMG’s owner, the Albion Millennium Green Trust, a charitable trust, being revitalized at its AGM in November with the election of a new board of trustees.
• Also in November, the Friends being successfully awarded a Forest Hill Assembly grant for a much-needed 10-foot storage container, in order to securely house equipment and materials.

AMG is accessed year-round from Albion Villas Road, SE26 or the path adjacent to the railway line. For more info:

Dacres Wood Nature Reserve (DWNR) abuts the east side of the railway line between Forest Hill and Sydenham stations, and is run by the Friends of Dacres Wood Nature Reserve (FoDWNR) committee.

Having closed for the winter months, the Friends group is planning to re-open the reserve to the public on 28th March for regular last-Saturday-of-the-month open days. A variety of outdoor sessions and activities, including nature trail days, will then be offered in the spring for pre-school children and school children aged 5-plus.

The Friends group is looking for more volunteers to help on open days, plan and run events, or even join the committee.

DWNR is situated behind Homefield House, Dacres Estate,Dacres Road, SE23 2NZ. Its main entrance is at the end of Honeyfield Mews, which is off Dacres Road and just south of Catling Close. For more info:

Article by John Wysocki, Newsletter Editor

27 May 2014

If you go down to Dacres Woods today you're sure of a big surprise

On Saturday, 31st May 2014 the Friends of Dacres Wood Nature Reserve are hosting a teddy bear's picnic as part of an open day.

From 1pm-4pm you could hunt for teddies, make a sculpture, share a picnic with your teddy or just go for a tour of the nature reserve.

All you need is a teddy and picnic (and even those are optional)

visit for more information

10 March 2013

Shackleton Plays Truant in ‘Dacres Wood’

by Jan Piggott, assisted by Steve Grindlay.
Reproduced with permission from the Sydenham Society Newsletter

As you may know, Ernest Shackleton passed his schooldays in Sydenham, as commemorated by the Blue Plaque on the large house on Westwood Hill next to St Bartholomew’s Church, now called ‘St David’s’, but which was originally ‘Aberdeen House’ [to know more, type Shackleton into the Sydenham Town Forum—].

He was the son of Dr Henry Shackleton, who settled here as a General Practitioner, but was also a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, in Classics, and originally a small landed proprietor, of Kilkea House, County Kildare in Ireland. He practised homeopathy. Ernest was the second child, and had eight sisters (who attended Sydenham High School) and a brother. In the back garden Dr. Shackleton had a famous rose garden, and the young Ernest built a switch-back railway from the drawing-room window right across the lawn; he also liked to play on the roof of the house. Later the house would be decorated with pennants by his sisters on his return from the Antarctic. He explored the radius of a day's journey on his bicycle all around Sydenham.

Shackleton kept up loyally a friendship with the manager of the bookstore at Sydenham railway station, Charles Lethbridge, and wrote to him during his first Antarctic expedition (with Scott on the Discovery) on 20 September 1902. He and his sisters in his early days belonged to the Band of Hope, a children’s Temperance Society group, who regularly sang songs about the evils of alcohol outside the Sydenham pubs. From ‘Aberdeen House’, starting at the age of thirteen in 1887, for three years he walked over the hill to and from Dulwich College. At the College he ‘did very little work’ according to a contemporary, ‘and if there was a scrap he was usually in it’. His form positions, usually low, very likely indicate impatient boredom; however, the single high results in Mathematics and English that he gained twice reveal his exceptional intelligence.

Dr. Shackleton reluctantly let him join the mercantile marine after his sixteenth birthday in 1890; later, he was to say that for all the good points of Dulwich his first year at sea was a better school: he had the leisure to read for hours on end, and memorised long passages of poetry; he was saved from the sea (pulled by his hair) and went through a hurricane. Returning to the Great Hall of the College as the man of the hour in July 1909 after the return of his Nimrod expedition, to give the prizes, he declared that he had never been so near to the prizes as he had been today. The Dulwich boys used to call him ‘Mick’, ‘Mike’ or ‘Micky’, as he retained traces of an Irish brogue.

A significant further detail of local interest about Shackleton’s youth was given by Hugh Robert Mill in in his Life of Shackleton (1923): ‘The story of these days would not be complete without a paragraph of secret history, the revelation of which is no longer an indiscretion. Mike was addicted to playing truant from school, and we may assume that he was versed in the art of plausible excuses both at school and at home. He was the leader of a sworn band, other members of which were Arthur Griffiths (‘Griff’ for short’), Ned Sleep and Chris Kay. With such names they could not help playing at the hunt for hidden treasure on desolate islands, the chosen haunt being a strip of private wood adjoining the railway.

Many a long day they spent there, cowering in a hollow under the root of a great tree, speaking in whispers, for might not the next lair hide the lurking shapes of Ben Gunn, Black Dog, old Pew, and even Long John Silver himself?  – in that wood in those days time and space, fact and fiction were a continuum of romance. All things there were held in common by the four, and the properties in the drama that was being lived included a revolver with cartridges, an air-gun, a flute, a concertina, and the hull of a large model boat, the rigging and altering of which gave rise to lengthy discussions and very unsatisfactory results. Food was stored up also, for missing school meant doing without dinner, and there was a box of the cheapest cigarettes on the market, which Mike smoked with the best of them, and once when cash was available a bottle of cooking sherry was smuggled in for a grand carouse. This Mike would not touch, and the others long regretted their rashness. All the talk was of adventure, and many a rousing tale of the sea did Mike read aloud to his comrades, all of whom resolved to be sailors; and remarkable as it may appear, all four grew up to follow the sea’.

Mill’s source for all this seems to be from Shackleton himself, who was his friend, as the passage contains many details only found in his book, but confirmation that the strip of private wood was what is now the Dacres Wood Nature Reserve with the pond on Silverdale comes from a book of reminiscences written by ‘Griff’ himself, called Surrendered: Some Naval War Secrets, published in 1918, in which he states that ‘the safest haunt’ of their truancies, selected by Shackleton himself, was ‘a deep hollow in the SSilverdale [Dacres] Woods, where the thick undergrowth obscured all vestige of trespassers. Books on ships and sails found their way into the lair. Sails and flags were stretched taut to the spars of the model ship. Arguments and reference to nautical works occupied weeks and weeks before the little model passed muster. An old wooden box was installed in the hollow to act as a table, where the model was secured for close inspection – and it became the imaginary vessel of their travels’. The lads, Griff wrote, decided to run away to sea, and set off to London in quest of a ship, but the mate smiled at them and said they were too young. Later they were ‘not deserted by the growing call of the sea, and one by one exchanged school caps for the smart badge and buttons of sea service’. The ‘cheery lads’ all worked in full rigged ships. Shackleton left in the Houghton Tower, a ship of the White Star Line, for Valparaiso in 1890. The three others eventually became officers in ocean liners.
One fascinating element of this truancy is how closely their activities appear to have been a boyish rehearsal for the real drama when Shackleton was marooned on the ice during the Endurance expedition after the ship sank, with music (instead of the flute and concertina of Dacres Woods) from Hussey's banjo (now preserved in the National Maritime Museum); when it was suggested to discard the banjo on account of its weight, Shackleton insisted it must be kept, as ‘vital mental medicine’ for the group. The men on the ice took part in smoking and feasts from dwindling stores; they had with them an arsenal, and books; they discussed sails and other nautical matters, and talked about literature.

Steve Grindlay has cleverly established the ages and addresses of the other boys, so that we can imagine them covertly converging on the Silverdale Woods on school days: Arthur ‘Griff’ Griffith (not Griffiths), born in Sydenham on 12 July 1873, lived at Elmcroft, 15 Recreation Road, on the corner of Silverdale, from 1881 to 1890, on the other side of the road from the Reserve, but not many paces away; he was not a pupil at Dulwich College. Ned Sleap (not ‘Sleep’), born at Belvedere in Kent, on 1 July 1870, lived also in Silverdale, at Birch Tor, from 1881-2, and then at 'Homestead', Recreation Road, (either no. 1 or 2) from 1884 to 1891. They then moved to Longton Grove; he was at Dulwich College for four terms only, from September 1884. Chris (actually Christol) Kay, the son of a General Practitioner, was born 17 September 1871. He was at Dulwich College for only one year, in 1880-1. The Kays lived at 48, Crystal Palace Park Road, from 1880 until about 1885 and then moved to 'Darley House', Venner Road, where Dr. Kay had his surgery, until 1891. In the late 1890s the address of 'Darley House' was changed to 14 Sydenham Road; later the house was the Midland Bank, then HSBC, and is now an estate agent. Steve surmises that they probably all met when they attended the small preparatory school, Fir Lodge, which was on the corner of Jews Walk and Kirkdale, though the records have not survived. Shackleton, conspicuously the youngest, was said to be the leader.

10 October 2012

Bring and Take Day at Dacres Wood

Sunday 28th October 2012 - 1.00 pm – 4.00 pm
(access via a Honeyfield Mews between Catling Close and Homefield House, near the junction of Dacres Road and Silverdale) see

Swap unwanted items for something you need – typical items include CDs, DVDs, small electrical items, bikes, lamps, plants, kitchenware, books, clothes, toys

Items should be in good condition and easy to carry home.

There will also be a van for the collection of WEEE Waste – this is electronic waste that no longer works, eg broken kettles, hairdryers etc.


A Forest Hill Society event in conjunction with Friends of Dacres Wood Nature Reserve

15 September 2011

'Bring and Take' day - Saturday 24th September

The Forest Hill Society is organising a 'Bring and Take' day on Saturday 24 September 2011, 11.00am to 3.00pm, at the Dacres Wood Reserve Field Centre, off Dacres Road SE23.

BRING: usable items you no longer need
eg bicycles, push-chairs, books, toys, CDs, DVDs, tools, small items of furniture, musical instruments, good‑quality clothing, electrical goods, kitchenware etc

TAKE: items you will find useful

This isn’t a swap so you don’t need to match a Bring item with a Take item. Bring and Take whatever you like but remember, the more items people bring the more there will be take away!

Please note: Items you bring should be in good working order.

In addition, Lewisham Council are providing a van for the collection of WEEE waste (electrical and electronic equipment), so if you have any electrical items that no longer work you can bring them along to be disposed of properly.

How to find the Dacres Wood Field Studies Centre:
Entry to the Field Centre is off Dacres Road, between Catling Close and Homefield House, near the junction of Dacres Road and Silverdale. An unmarked driveway leads directly to the Field Centre from Dacres Road. Parking is available on Dacres Road and other nearby roads.

The Nature Reserve won't be open but the Forest Hill Society are organising an Open Day on Sunday 23 October 2011.

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