Forest Hill, London: Wikis


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Coordinates: 51°26′45″N 0°03′11″W / 51.4457°N 0.053°W / 51.4457; -0.053

Forest Hill
Forest Hill is located in Greater London
Forest Hill

 Forest Hill shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ354736
London borough Lewisham
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SE23
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Lewisham West
London Assembly Greenwich and Lewisham
List of places: UK • England • London
The electoral ward of Forest Hill (red) within the London Borough of Lewisham (orange)

Forest Hill is a suburb and electoral ward in the London Borough of Lewisham, situated between Dulwich and Sydenham in southeast London, England. The area has enjoyed extensive investment since plans to extend the East London Line to Forest Hill were unveiled in 2004.



Like many London suburbs, Forest Hill was only sparsely populated until the mid-19th century. The name Forest Hill came from 'the forest with a big hill', which was coined by a developer in the 1790s, and referred to the remaining area of Forest on Sydenham Hill which was originally part of the Great North Wood.

A canal, the Croydon Canal, was constructed through the area in 1809 but the large number of locks (28) meant it was not a commercial success, and it was bought by the London & Croydon Railway Company who constructed their railway along the same route, opening it in 1839. The retaining wall of the footpath opposite the station outside the pub is about the only physical evidence of the canal which still exists.

When the Crystal Palace was moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham, large homes were built on the western end of Forest Hill.

In 1884, what would become London's oldest swimming pool was constructed on Dartmouth Road.

The tea merchant Frederick Horniman built a museum to house his impressive collection of natural history artifacts. He donated the building and its gardens to the public in 1901 and this became the Horniman Museum.

As its population grew, two large secondary schools were built in the area - Forest Hill Boys and Sydenham Girls on the brink of Forest Hill.

Now in the 21st century, Forest Hill has a large residential population and the area is becoming increasingly desirable as a peaceful, leafy suburb with good transport links into the centre of town, and slightly lower-than-average property prices.

Amenities and entertainment

Forest Hill is home to the celebrated Horniman Museum. Despite a leaning toward anthropological and cultural collections, the museum is also home to a newly opened (July 2006) aquarium and one of the most varied collections of taxidermy in the northern hemisphere. It also houses one of the finest collection of musical instrument in the British Isles. Contained within its accompanying gardens is an animal enclosure, flower gardens, and a Grade II listed early 20th century greenhouse. Views from the gardens stretch out over central and north London.

The Hob Public House, opposite Forest Hill station, is a live music and comedy venue. Home to the E.D. Comedy Club, it has attracted acts such as Bill Bailey, Phil Jupitus and Mark Lamarr. Recently renovated, The Dartmouth Arms has been named by The Times newspaper as "one of London's very finest gastropubs".

View from the top of Forest Hill. The skyscrapers of the City of London can be seen in the distance.
Looking south.

Forest Hill Swimming Baths were closed in 2005 due to health and safety concerns surrounding its roof and plumbing. An intrusive survey in October 2006 suggested that a full refurbishment would cost £5.5 million. Lewisham Council green-lit the renovation, pledging to fully renovate whilst retaining the building's Victorian character and original features. Latest proposalsno longer honour this pledge and invite suggestions incorporating the site with the adjacent Louise House, one-time industrial school and children's home, into a completely redeveloped leisure centre. Following a successful and widely supported campaign from local group 'Save The Face Of Forest Hill', Louise House was designated a Grade II listed building by English Heritage,[1] and this will have to be allowed for in any plans for redevelopment. Mayor of Lewisham Steve Bullock continues to support the project.

Forest Hill Library was built in 1901 to an Arts and Crafts design by local architect Alexander Hennell.[2] It is one of over 500 Grade II listed buildings in Lewisham Borough.[3][4] It was refurbished in 2008.[5]


With a range of architectural styles spanning the late 19th and 20th centuries, Forest Hill was described by Sir Norman Foster as "a delightful pocket of South London". Of particular note are The Capitol Cinema, the Horniman Museum, and classic art deco mansion blocks Forest Croft and Taymount Grange.


Forest Hill railway station is located on the South Circular Road (A205), and is served by frequent trains to London Bridge. It will also be linked to the East London Line which is to be extended south to West Croydon by 2010.

Notable residents

(in alphabetical order)

  • Danny Baker (Broadcaster)
  • Home decor personality Linda Barker
  • Dame Doris Beale, Matron-in-Chief of Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS) for three years during the Second World War was born in Forest Hill on 9 August 1889.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) the German Protestant theologian and Christian martyr killed by the Nazis, briefly lived and preached in Forest Hill.
  • Kate Bush (singer/song-writer)
  • James Callaghan (Labour Prime Minister)
  • Raymond Chandler Mystery and thriller writer, author of The Long Goodbye and The Big Sleep. Born in the USA, but educated at Dulwich College. Probably lived with his mother at 148 (now 138) Devonshire Road, Forest Hill from 1909 until he returned to America in 1912.
  • Sir James Clark-Ross (polar explorer)
  • Ernest Dowson (poet)
  • Desmond Dekker, Don Letts, and Peter Perrett (of The Only Ones, in its 1970s musical heyday).
  • Irish-born television, film and stage actor Michael Gambon, currently famous for portrayal of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movie franchise lived at Forest Croft in Forest Hill in the early to mid 1960s.
  • Gabrielle (singer/song-writer)
  • Sir Isaac Hayward (politician)
  • Vince Hilaire, one of the first black players to establish himself in English football was born in Forest Hill on 10 October 1959 and went on to have a distinguished career with local club Crystal Palace.
  • Tea merchant Frederick John Horniman (1835-1906) lived in Forest Hill. A keen traveller, he accumulated a large collection of items relating to local cultures and natural history. This became so large that he built a special museum for it, donated to the public in 1901.
  • British film actor Leslie Howard (1893-1943) was born in Forest Hill on 3 April 1893
  • John Illsley, bassist from Dire Straits
  • Glenda Jackson MP (politician & actress)
  • Richard Jefferies, the naturalist and author, lived at 20 Sydenham Park (a Blue Plaque indicates the house)
  • David Jones (painter & poet)
  • Hollywood actor Boris Karloff was a resident of Forest Hill.
  • Tom Keating the famous forger lived in Forest Hill.
  • Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen (TV presenter)
  • Walter De La Mare Poet and novelist, author of Songs of Childhood, The Listeners and Other Poems, The Return, etc. In 1877 the family moved to 5 Bovill Terrace (now 61 Bovill Road), Forest Hill. C. 1887 they moved to 57 Brookbank Road, Lewisham.
  • Infamous fraudster Andre Thierry Michauld operated in Forest Hill, although it is not known whether this was his primary residence or one of many probable London residences used throughout the 1990s.
  • Singer Millie lived in Forest Hill at the time of her major hit My Boy Lollipop
  • Spike Milligan (comedian & writer)
  • Mica Paris (singer/song-writer)
  • John Parris world renowned cue maker.
  • Henry Price CBE was a Conservative politician who represented Lewisham West between 1950 - 1964. He founded the "Middle Class Alliance" and in 1954, London County Council sought a compulsory purchase order for his home in Forest Hill to build council housing.
  • Luke Pritchard, lead singer of The Kooks, was born in Forest Hill
  • Arthur Rhys Davids, World War I ace fighter pilot was born in Forest Hill
  • Musician Francis Rossi, lead singer and guitarist of Status Quo, was born in Forest Hill on 29 May 1949
  • Silvena Rowe (Television celebrity chef)
  • Actor Timothy Spall is a current resident of the Forest Hill area.
  • Gavin Stamp (Architectural critic)
  • Doris Stokes (medium)
  • British broadcaster, journalist and cricketer E.W.Swanton was born in Forest Hill on 11 February 1907
  • Jackie Trent the singer/songwriter lived in Forest Hill when she first had success in the 1960s
  • Terry Waite (Archbishop's Envoy)
  • Max Wall (comedian)
  • Ian Wright (footballer)
  • There is no evidence to support the claim of a private plaque that Dorothy Jordan, mistress of the Duke of Clarence, later William IV, lived in Forest Hill

Nearest places

Primary schools

  • Kilmorie School
  • Dalmain School
  • Perrymount School
  • Horniman School
  • Fairlawn School

Secondary schools


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Forest Hill, London SE23 - Forest Hill Library". Retrieved 2009-12-30.  
  3. ^ Option
  4. ^ "Lewisham Council - Statutory register - listed buildings". Retrieved 2009-12-30.  
  5. ^ "Lewisham Council - Forest Hill library project". Retrieved 2009-12-30.  

External links



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