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Borough: Greenwich
Oxleas Woodlands, Castle Wood, Jack Wood, and Shepherdleas Wood
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Oxleas Wood  
Shooters Hill Woodlands includes Oxleas Wood, Jack Wood and Castle Wood, as well as Sheperdleas Wood now part of Eltham Park North and Eltham Common. These include areas of ancient woodland at least 8000 years old dating from the Ice Age. Trees from here were used in Woolwich and Deptford Dockyards for ship-building, and may have been used for ships which fought in the Battle of Trafalgar. The woodlands today are dominated by tall oak, hazel and sweet chestnut trees; ash and silver birch also common, with some wild service trees, hornbeam and hazel.

Shooters Hill follows the route of the old Roman Watling Street, a roadway important for almost 2,000 years. The area was notorious for highwaymen from at least the 14th century up until the 19th century. Henry IV had the woods along the road of Shooters Hill cleared as protection for travellers. This may be the origin of the name Shooters Hill, although it is also suggested it may refer to its use for archery practice in Henry VIII's reign, or be derived from two Old English words 'shaw' meaning a wood and 'tot' meaning a hill.

Bodies of convicted highwaymen were hung on gibbets along the road to deter others. Samuel Pepys referred in a diary entry of 1661 to a journey when he saw 'the man that hangs upon Shooters Hill and a filthy sight it was to see how his flesh is shrunk to the bones'.

The woodlands came into local authority management in the 20th century. Castle Wood was owned by Mr Probyn Godson. After his death in 1920 the newly formed Shooters Hill Preservation Society invited subscriptions to buy Castle Wood, collecting 6,000 by 1921 with LCC contributing 10,000; it opened to the public in 1925. Further east of Castlewood is Jack Wood, purchased in 1925. . Oxleas and Sheperdleas Woods were purchased in 1936, the latter being added to Eltham Park North. Falconwood was acquired in 1936. It was laid out in the 1950s and incorporated into Oxleas Woods. Oxleas Meadows to the east of Jack Wood was originally the site of Wood Lodge, a large house demolished in the 1930s. Under the meadows an underground reservoir was constructed.

Shooters Hill was a beacon site for many years, where fires were lit to pass messages across the country before telephones were invented. Severndroog Castle was built in Castle Wood in 1784 for Lady James, the widow of Sir William James. She had it built in her husband's memory. Sir William went to sea at the age of 12, and worked for the East India Company,using his ship to protect the Company's property against pirates. In 1755, he successfully captured a private fortress on the island of Severndroog, off the coast of Malabar, in the Indian Ocean, and the Castle is named in memory of his victory.It is a tall triangular tower, designed to stand on top of the hill, and give spectacular views in every direction. It has become damaged in recent years and is to feature as one of the buildings in the 'Restoration' series on BBC TV in the summer of 2005.

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