My local Patch

The Tarn is a small park, which takes its name from its notable lake (tarn being an old term for a lake), which is fed by a small stream that runs into the River Quaggy. It is a surviving fragment of the C17th landscape of Eltham Lodge and in the north-west corner near the entrance is a brick ice-well with a domed roof dating from c.1760 that once supplied ice to the Lodge. The parkland originally belonged to Eltham Palace, which was built as a royal retreat in 1305. It was the birthplace of Edward II in 1316 when the estate included the moated manor house, a dovecote, deer park and a windmill. The estate was added to by subsequent monarchs and by Edward IV’s reign it incorporated three parks, Great Park, Middle Park and Horn Park, amounting to 1300 acres. During the Civil War the majority of the land was purchased in 1649 by Colonel Nathaniel Rich, who demolished most of the buildings; the deer were slaughtered and the parks stripped of trees.

Following the Restoration in 1660 it was incorporated in the new landscape of Eltham Lodge built for Sir John Shaw in 1664, and like most of the surviving parkland is now within the Royal Blackheath Golf Course. The lake was previously known as Starbucks Pond, probably after a family known to have lived in the area from the C16th to the late C17th, although the name for the lake seems to have persisted until 1903 when it appears as Eltham Tarn. The Tarn appears to have been leased from the Crown and from 1914-29 lease-holders were members of a family called Rocke. In 1933 the lake had become overgrown and stagnant.

In 1935 a remnant of woodland with the lake was acquired by the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich (now part of the Royal Borough of Greenwich) for a public park and the layout now included paths around the lake, which has two islands and a bridge. Tall trees block out the noise of Court Road traffic. A bird sanctuary was created on the north eastern side with a nature and butterfly garden at the western end of the park used for schools nature study. A Heritage Lottery Fund grant was awarded for restoration works in 2001. The Friends of The Tarn was set up in February 2008 and holds regular volunteer days; a new Butterfly Garden has been created on a neglected area where a wildflower meadow has been planted, with bird nesting boxes, a wildlife stack and bee homes.


The Tarn, Mottingham
The Tarn, Mottingham
The Tarn
The Tarn


Friends of the Tarn
Royal Borough of Greenwich
Public Transport: Mottingham Station (National Rail from Charing Cross and Cannon Street to Dartford)
Bus: 124; 126; 161 Alight Mottingham station

My bird list for Tarn Park and surrounding area (till Dec 2012)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) – escape
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – escape
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Osprey [sp] (Pandion haliaetus) – Flying over
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Harris Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) – escaped falconers bird
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Tawny Owl [sp] (Strix aluco)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea)
Eurasian Treecreeper [sp] (Certhia familiaris)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)


  1. You have an impressive and knowledgeable list of birds! I wondered if you could help with the reference to ‘Starbucks Pond’ – do you perhaps have a reference for this? I have seen this elsewhere but can’t find a source, and I can’t see the name on 19th century maps. Thank you

    1. Hi Candy
      I think I got it original from an old book on The tarn, which an elderly neighbour left me some years ago. I probably still have it somewhere and will have a look to see if I can find it.
      It is also mentioned on The Friends website ( :
      ‘During Oliver Cromwell’s rule, most of the deer were slaughtered. At this time the Tarn was actually called Starbuck’s pond and in May 1654, seven young men from Eltham including William and Thomas Starbuck were fined 2p each for playing cricket “on ye Lord’s day”.’

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