Above: A picture taken with the owner’s permission of the tower standing in the back garden of No 23 Liphook Crescent. The small turret is at the top of a spiral staircase, providing access to the top of the tower.
Sadly this large house is no longer standing but one remnant is still there which is one of Forest Hill’s unusual secrets. The house called Tewkesbury Lodge was built in the 1880s for a German gentleman called Herbert Charles Beyer. It stood on a large piece of land beside Honor Oak Road, almost opposite the western junction of today’s Tyson Road.
Herbert Charles Beyer became a very wealthy man. He had made a fortune, in the 1880s, manufacturing and selling corsets, before, as they say ‘the bottom fell out of the market’. Beyer had two children and built each of them a house, at either end of his property, called Hamilton Lodge and Havelock House.
Above: Map showing the house with its curiously shaped garden. Tewkesbury Lodge stood beside Honor Oak Road. Notice the Kent-Surrey boundary line drawn on the map.
The land on which Tewkesbury Lodge was built sloped upwards from Honor Oak Road and, as we can see from the map, the house was well set back from the road. The back garden had a curious ‘finger’ of land which was quite long and very steep, rising to the top of the ridge, where Liphook Crescent is situated today. The end of the garden extended to the Surrey-Kent county boundary.
Tewkesbury Lodge was demolished some time after 1900. Streets and housing now cover most of the house and its odd-shaped garden.
However, at the highest point in the original garden, which is at the NW extremity of the ‘finger’ of land, Beyer had a folly constructed from sandstone, in the form of an octagonal tower. This point was on a ridge of land and, standing at the top of the tower it was possible to see towards London and beyond. The view to the north would include buildings like St Paul’s Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament as well as the hills of Highgate in the background. Turning around at the top of the tower and looking SE would be views extending to Shooter’s Hill and looking due south you could see the North Downs.
If you take a walk along Liphook Crescent you can see the top of the tower through the houses by standing on the pavement. It stands in the back garden of No 23. Being a back-garden, the land is private but the owners can still climb the tower and enjoy the same amazing views today.