Sydenham Park, SE26

Place Name

Takes its name from the nearby Sydenham Wells Park. The park is laid out on the site of mineral springs that were discovered in the 17thCentury, becoming a popular spa whose visitors included King George III. The spa’s success led to the building of larger houses, and wealthy people began to settle in the area. The park’s fate was by no means certain. By the late 19thCentury developers had begun encroaching on the green and Ormanton Road was continued through to Wells Road (now Wells Park Road). A public campaign to save the land from being built over by housing development succeeded and the park was opened to the public in 1901. The name Sydenham was first recorded in 1206 as Chipeham and is thought to reference the village or settlement of a man or woman called Sipa or Cippa. By 1315 it was written as Chippenham and later as Sipheam and in 1560 as Sypenham. John Field in Place-Names of Greater London writes that in 1690 the p changed to a d making it Sidenham “[which] almost certainly took place because of a copyist’s error – and may explain JK Wallenberg’s joke that it means ‘the drunkard’s settlement'”. However, John Coulter in Sydenham and Forest Hill Past writes: “Modern inhabitants can take comfort from the thought that Sipa would almost certainly have lived at what we now call Catford. For the history of Sydenham begins with Place House, which stood between the Pool River and Catford Hill.” By sometime around 1762 it was Sidnum.


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