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Rumour has it that Blackheath is called so because of all the dead bodies lying beneath it from the Black Death. Although the heath may be a mass burial ground for both the Black Death and the Great Plague victims (we're going to explore this in a blog so bear with us), the name existed long before these contagions swept across London (and the world).

Blackheath wasn't recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Instead, it fell under the Hundred of Grenviz, which had seven places recorded within it[1]:
















Blachehedfeld – 1166


The first recorded mention of Blackheath was in the 1166 Pipe rolls as Blachehedfeld, (the annual financial records of the Crown). The name is from the Old English spoken words of 'blæc' and 'hǣth' which mean a 'dark or black heath field.'[2]

Blakehetfeld – 1226

Recorded in the Assize Rolls of Kent

Blakehatfeuld –1227

In 1227, the groom to the Earl of Gloucester was murdered at a 'stone cross' in Blakehatfeuld. The Pleas to the Crown (meaning the crime was significant enough to be of concern for barons to deal with but not great enough for the king to deal with) noted this, which can be seen below in the original text against its translation.[3]

Plea to the Crown Blackheath History of Blackheath's Name
Plea to the Crown Blackheath

1279 – The Hundred of Greenwich became the Hundred of Blackheath in 1279.[4]

Hundred of Blackheath.png

La Blakehethe - 1301

'Grant by the said Ranulph to Sir John the abbot, and the convent of St. Peter's, Ghent, of the said rent from the said land adjoining the heath called 'la Blakehethe,' and abutting on the high road from London to Derteford.'[5]

Blake Hethe – 1373

In 1373, John Northwode, a mercer for London (textile merchant/trader) died in a wrestling match on the Heath.[6]

John Northowode Blackheath

Blakehethe – 1415

Mentioned in the Gesta Henrici Quinti (The Deeds of Henry V) in relation to his return from Agincourt and being welcomed on the heath.[7]

Blackheath's Name in 1415



[2] Mills, A.D. (11 March 2010). Dictionary of London Place Names. Oxford.

[3] Churchill, Irene Josephine. A Handbook to Kent Records: Containing a Summary Account of the Principal Classes of Historical Documents Relating to the County, and a Guide to Their Chief Places of Deposit. London: Printed for the Records Branch by Mitchell, Hughes and Clarke, 1914. Print. Kent Records; Vol. 2.

[4] Richardson, Henry S. Greenwich: Its History, Antiquities, Improvements, and Public Buildings. By Henry S. Richardson. England: Simpkin & Marshall; [etc., Etc.] 1834, 1834. Web.

[5] A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds: Volume 3. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1900. Deeds: A.4701 - A.4800 Pages 96-107 A. 4757

[6] Fabyan, Robert, Henry Ellis, George Woodfall, Joseph Mawman, and Thomas Payne. The New Chronicles of England and France, : In Two Parts;. London:: Printed for F. C. & J. Rivington; T. Payne; Wilkie and Robinson; Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and; Cadell and Davies; J. Mawman; and J. Johnson, 1811. Print.

[7] Gesta Henrici Quinti = The deeds of Henry the Fifth Taylor, Frank, 1910- | Roskell, J. S. (John Smith), 1913-1998 1975 | Oxford : Clarendon Press | xlix, 206 p

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