Lewisham Council - Wetlands in Beckenham Place Park

Wetlands in Beckenham Place Park

There are number of wetland areas in the park.

The five areas of wetland in Beckenham Place Park are all of very different character: the ancient pond on the western edge, a tiny ornamental pond in the walled garden, the River Ravensbourne in the east, a small stream or ditch crossing the golf course, and the former lake in the middle which is now largely filled in.

The ancient pond appears on a map from 1776 - whilst it is apparently very deep it is now heavily silted up. The water is highly eutrophic (rich in nutrients and therefore low in oxygen) due to fallen leaves from the surrounding trees. Emergent vegetation includes bittersweet, a few clumps of yellow iris, and also trifid bur-marigold, which is very rare in Lewisham. Common duckweed covers much of the surface in most summers.

Rare beetles

The invertebrate fauna is not diverse, but includes two nationally notable beetles, Cercyon convexiuscula and Anacaena bipustulata, which are specialists of muddy pools clogged with leaf litter. The very rare (Red Data Book category 1 'Endangered') weevil Rhinincus albicinctus has been found  at the edge of the pond and is known from only two other sites in the UK. The water scorpion, which is scarce in Lewisham, still occurs occasionally.

The River Ravensbourne follows a presumably more or less natural meandering course. It is at a much lower level than the surrounding ground of The Common, because the land around it has been raised. The river bed may also have been deepened.  Further south, an embankment separates it from the adjacent Summerhouse Field.

The river bed is mostly gravel, and supports patches of curled pondweed. The eastern bank is largely wooded, with areas of tall herbs; butterbur, a rare plant in London, is frequent in the south.

The lake and wetland

A sizeable lake once stood in the centre of the park, between the Ash Plantation and Summerhouse Wood. Part of this has been filled in to extend the golf course, and nearly all the rest of it is now the wet woodland described above. Only at the extreme west end of the woodland is there any open water, and this area is only seasonally wet and heavily vegetated with reed sweet-grass.

There is a tiny ornamental pond in the walled garden to the south-east of The Homesteads. Frogs and smooth newts have been reported breeding in this pond.​​​

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