Old Keeper’s Cottage 


From A.D. Webster, ‘Greenwich Park - Its History and Associations’, 1902


Close to Queen Elizabeth’s Oak, there is a stone slab with a round metal fitting for a water pump. Slightly further away is a water trough. These are all that can still be seen of the Old Keeper’s Cottage, demolished in 1853.

Until the introduction of the role of Park Ranger in 1690, the park keeper was a prestigious royal appointment that conferred rights over the park in return for making sure it was looked after. The park keeper would have employed someone to maintain the grounds and keep the deer healthy, and it was they who lived in the Old Keeper’s Cottage.

The Old Keeper’s Cottage was first referenced in 1653 and appeared on a map in 1675. It initially had one house and a small out-building with a private garden. The grounds were gradually extended until they covered a relatively large area with space to keep animals and grow fruit. There were two conduit houses (water systems) within the grounds as well as the water trough.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, Robert Eagleston occupied the cottage with his wife, four children, brother-in-law, and a maid. They would offer drinks and snacks to visitors of the park, which they could enjoy inside Queen Elizabeth’s Oak, equipped with seating for 15 people.

The cottage was removed in 1853, and the keeper was rehoused in the new lodge that still stands next to the Blackheath Gate. In 2010 a community archaeological excavation of the site took place, which was able to establish that the Old Keeper’s Cottage was built around the start of the seventeenth century and used materials from a previous building.

A second community dig over the years 2014–2016 located the brick walls of several buildings within the cottage enclosure.