A large and apparently typical neighbourhood recreation ground, Rectory Field is actually a private sports ground with cricket and rugby pitches, and tennis and squash courts. The Rectory Field conservation area is a small clutch of roads east of the field. The formidable Blackwall Tunnel approach road separates the conservation area from much pricier neighbours to the west, Blackheath and Greenwich. A short distance south of the Thames Flood Barrier and the Dome, Rectory Field appeals to single people and young couples who work in Canary Wharf.
"The actual conservation area is a small pocket of roads on the east side of the recreation ground, mostly with small cottagey homes," says Andrew Donald, who moved into the area 20 years ago. "The pattern is a couple who work in Canary Wharf, buy a house in Rectory Field and move when they have children. It is a conservation area so they can't extend, and the gardens are too small."
Andrew lives with his partner, June, in a three-bedroom terrace with a decent garden just north of the conservation area. "Houses here are larger and were built later than the homes in the conservation area. I'd been renting in Deptford and I knew this area because I'd attended Thames Poly in Woolwich. I wanted to live in Greenwich or Blackheath, but couldn't afford it. Even now, taking on something bigger or nicer would mean a chunk of change. I can't see it happening."
Nor does he feel compelled to move. "Access to Greenwich and Blackheath is easy, and we go to the pubs on Royal Hill. There are lots of open spaces here, too," he says.
The Rectory Field recreation ground is owned by the Blackheath Cricket, Football and Lawn Tennis Company. "We rent facilities to groups engaged in four sports: tennis, cricket, rugby and squash. There's also a nursery school," says Tony Bratton, a general manager of BCFLT.
"The sports are played at a very high level, national division two for rugby, for example, and Kent premiership in cricket. I doubt that anyone would move here for the tennis or cricket, but rugby players get a small wage, and some of them have relocated into this area because of these facilities."
What properties are available?
Two-bedroom period houses predominate in the conservation area, but large three-storey houses and conversion flats and modern blocks are available on neighbouring roads. A two-bed split-level conversion flat with bay windows on Charlton Road is for sale at £229,000 at Winkworth.
What about houses?
Depending on size and condition, conservation-area houses generally cost between £235,000 and £310,000. A plain-fronted two-bedder on Hassendean Road is £299,995 at Felicity J Lord. On Sherington Road, just north of Charlton Road, a three-bedroom two-reception red-brick period house is £299,995 at Meridian Estates. To the south in neighbouring Kidbrooke, five-bed semis sell for £750,000.
How's the transport?
Rectory Field is just east of the A102(M)/A2, providing quick access to the Blackwall Tunnel, the City and Kent. Westcombe Park is the closest, and Charlton is the most convenient national rail station, serving Greenwich (which connects with the Docklands Light Railway) and London Bridge. Buses provide a quick link to the Jubilee Line at North Greenwich.
What about shopping and other amenities?
At Blackheath Standard, a shopping precinct that takes its name from the local pub, Sparkes, an organic butcher, and Apple & Orange, a greengrocer, are very popular. The Spanish tapas bar and restaurant Chu & Cho in Charlton is very busy, especially when Charlton Athletic are playing at home. The North Greenwich retail park has several superstores and a multiscreen cinema.
How about real open-to-the-public parks?
Although use of the athletic facilities in Rectory Field is restricted, local residents can become social members and prop up the bar. Nearby are numerous well-equipped recreation grounds and large parks, notably Greenwich and Blackheath to the west, and Charlton Park, Woolwich Common, and Maryon Wilson Park - with its small zoo - to the east.
How do the schools perform?
Our Lady of Grace Catholic primary on Charlton Road and Sherington Primary on Wyndcliff Road both enjoy above-average results, the former exceptionally so. Blackheath Bluecoat Church of England Secondary School is, however, substantially below par. The general area contains many excellent independent schools.
And one for the pub quiz
How does the Blackheath Cricket, Football and Lawn Tennis Company figure in the Jack the Ripper saga?
Montague John Druitt, one-time honorary secretary and treasurer of the BCFLTC, is a Jack the Ripper suspect, despite having attended the BCFLTC monthly meeting on 19 November 1888. Mary Jane Kelly had been killed 10 days earlier, and Ripper sleuths note that he had not fled after her murder.
Estate agents: Felicity J Lord, 0845 225 8638; John Payne, 020-8858 6101; Meridian Estates, 020-8858 5628; Peter James, 020-8858 2555; Winkworth, 020-8852 0999Reuse content