Blackheath has a druidic past. There are many connections in the area with Druidic orders and secret societies. The danger here is that as soon as you type the word “druid” into a search engine, all manner of crazy things appear, “did we land on the moon?” etc etc. So take all of the links below with a pinch of NaCl. But, once you have seasoned your palette, dive in and enjoy:
This one in particular sounds magnificent – the idea of a secret society formed in Blackheath: http://www.angelfire.com/weird2/obscure2/druid.html
The Ancient and Archaological Order of Druids was merged in 1966 with the Literary and Archaological Order of Druids to form the Universal Druidic Order, the new organisation being based in Blackheath, London. This merger occurred under the guiding hand of Desmond Bourke the head of the Ancient and Archeaological Order and subsequently the Universal Druidic Order.
Unfortunately, these druids don’t seem too hot on technology for some strange reason… When you try to find out more about Desmond Bourke, there are slim pickings: he lived in Broad Walk, Blackheath (according to an obscure French book “Les druides” by Michel Raoult), but passed away in 2005.
However, there is more great stuff about Pagan London in general, and Blackheath specifically, at the rather wacky Fantompowa website. Greenwich may have received its name by association with The Green Man, a wonderful pagan symbol if ever there was one, also the name for the Blackheath highway man’s hostelry of choice.
There is also a section about the Maze of Maze Hill, which is described as a kind of labyrinth for initiation ceremonies, which may also have been duplicated on Blackheath common.
With my limited delving about, it is almost impossible to know how much of this is romanticised Edwardian/Victorian fantasy about our pagan origins (see the print at the top of this post), and how much has a grain of truth… Especially with headlines like Churchill’s Druids and Britain’s Satanic Prime Minister screaming out from the search results… But it is a great photo of the young Winston: