The estate

Vanbrugh Park Estate is set on seven acres with a mixture of dwelling types: an eight-storey tower block containing 64 flats, low-rise terraced houses, and maisonettes arranged over garages.

Residents are a mixture of owners and tenants, bringing a diverse group of people together. Some of the first ever residents and their descendants still live here, a testament to the positive community – something that was originally intended by the architects.

History

Vanbrugh Park Estate is one of the lesser known housing estates designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, a practice renowned for designing the Barbican Estate and Golden Lane Estate, considered some of the most important architecture in London. VPE (their second housing estate project) shares many stylistic similarities such as the semi-circular curved motifs, purposeful use of light, and approach to community living.

Geoffry Powell, Christopher Bon and Peter Chamberlin, 1953 © RIBA Collections

Vanbrugh Park Estate in 1965: northern block of mews flats seen from pool at base of tower block © Architectural Review November 1965

Vanbrugh Park Estate in 1965: south-east view of flats, overlooking the pool and stepping stones © Architectural Review November 1965

Vanbrugh Park Estate in 1965: interior of living room in three-bedroom house, showing central stove and chimney in staircase well © Architectural Review November 1965

Vanbrugh Park Estate in 1965: access terrace of mews flats © Architectural Review November 1965

Vanbrugh Park Estate in 1965: four-bedroom houses, using excavated basement area to provide an extra bedroom and WC © Architectural Review November 1965

Golden Lane Estate, 1962. Photo by H de Burgh Galwey © Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Collections

Barbican Estate, 1982. Photo by Martin Charles © Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Collections

Vanbrugh Park Estate in the 1960s © Iqbal Aalam

Vanbrugh Park Estate in the 1960s © Iqbal Aalam

Vanbrugh Park Estate in the 1960s © Iqbal Aalam

Vanbrugh Park Estate in the 1960s © Iqbal Aalam

Suffragette Emily Davison was born at Roxburgh House, 13 Vanbrugh Park Road West in 1872, where VPE now sits. Emily was known as one of the most passionate fighters of her cause for a woman’s right to vote.

Like many parts of London, the area was bombed in the Second World War. The Borough of Greenwich commissioned the scheme to build Vanbrugh Park Estate in the late fifties, requesting a mixture of dwellings, and one of two sketches proposed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon came to fruition. Simple, but functional materials were used to save on costs, like the breeze-block exterior; this was so that more could be spent on the communal areas such as landscaping. Careful consideration was taken by the architects to respect the surrounding areas, including the blind-wall terraces facing the Heath; it was meant to reflect Greenwich Park's own wall using similar brickwork. The estate was completed in 1963.

Postcard of Vanbrugh Park, from Running Past, a local history blog

Bomb damage to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, 1945 © IWM (D 24700)

Stratheden Parade and The Royal Standard, October 1940, from Blitzwalkers history blog

Location

VPE lies between Blackheath, Westcombe Park and the south-east side of Greenwich Park. Both Maze Hill and Westcombe Park stations are equidistant, taking you to London Bridge and the City in around 30–35 minutes, while Blackheath station gets you into central London in around 45 minutes. North Greenwich (Jubilee line) and New Cross (London Overground East London line) are both short bus rides away. With the A2 being so close, getting out of London by car is easy.

There is plenty to discover in the area: Greenwich Park for nature, the history of Shooter’s Hill, and the many independent shops and cafes in Blackheath Village and the Royal Standard.

There’s a lot to love about Blackheath – here’s just a few of our local favourites.

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park is a few minutes’ stroll from Vanbrugh Park Estate. One of the oldest Royal Parks of London, it’s a great place to go for a run, discover various flora and fauna, and take in the skyline views of London. Of course, there’s also the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum and Ranger’s House to explore.

Cutty Sark pub

The riverside pub is a hidden gem along the Thames. Well over 200 years old, the Georgian public house offers quality British food and a good selection of wine and craft beers. In the summer, you may need to get there early nab yourself a table outside, but it’s well worth it.

Blackheath Farmers’ Market

For high quality seasonal British produce, Blackheath Farmers’ Market is one of the best in London. Open every Sunday from 10am till 2pm behind Blackheath station in the car park.

Ottie & the Bea

Ottie & the Bea is an independent children’s store just off the Royal Standard. A beautifully curated selection of kids’ toys, books, partyware and accessories, the shop often holds community events such as book clubs and workshops with illustrators and authors.