Around 50 years after John Julius Angerstein’s death, with the lease almost expired, the extensive land holding was sold, divided and eventually developed for housing, but the Georgian villa and immediate surroundings remained intact.

Belgian refugees occupied Woodlands during World War I and afterwards the villa was bought by an order of Catholic nuns, the Little Sisters of the Assumption. They added the brick building immediately west of Woodlands to house novices in the 1930s and created an artificial grotto in the gardens in imitation of the grotto at the Catholic shrine of Lourdes in France.

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The convent novices’ building, now Mycenae House, from the gardens

In 1967 the nuns decided to leave and Greenwich Council bought both buildings and the grounds.

Woodlands was renovated and opened in 1972 as the borough art gallery and local history museum. The novices’ building became a community centre, Kidbrooke House. It replaced a centre not far away in Shooters Hill Road that was threatened by the development of the Blackwall Tunnel approach motorway, the original Kidbrooke House, whose name was switched to the new centre. It was later renamed Mycenae House.

Meanwhile, to stem the rising costs of maintaining the Grade II* listed historic building, Woodlands, the council sought a suitable occupier and fresh finance to keep up the fabric. Woodlands and a strip of land in the south and southwest corner of the grounds were sold in 2007 on a long lease to the Greenwich Steiner School. A block of flats was built in the southwest portion, the sale of which provided funds for the lease purchase and renovation of the former villa.

Mycenae Gardens continues as a public open space, owned and maintained by the Royal Borough of Greenwich.


Sources

Neil Rhind, Blackheath Village and Environs 1790-1970, Volume 2,

In 1844 the tithe apportionment records that the ‘Woodlands House, Lawn and Pleasure ground’ along with various arable land, meadow and pasture was leased to the son of John Julius, ‘John Angerstein Esquire’ (Westcombe Park Conservation Area Character Appraisal March 2010, Greenwich Council)

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