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Sue Godfrey Nature Park

Find out about the Sue Godfrey Nature Park.

Sue Godfrey and Roy Ramsey

The nature park opened in 1984 and was dedicated in 1994 to the memory of Sue Godfrey, a local resident and devoted environmental campaigner who made a huge contribution to the park and the nearby Crossfield Estate.

Two years later, the ashes of Roy Ramsey, another environmental campaigner, were buried here.


Sue Godfrey Nature Reserve is opposite St. Paul’s Church in Deptford. It has free open access all year and can be entered from all 4 sides.


A mixture of rough grassland, scrub and ruderal vegetation occupy the site. More than 200 species of wild flowers, shrubs and trees have been recorded growing here over the last 15 years. 

Some, particularly trees and shrubs, were planted, but the vast majority have made their own way here, often inadvertently assisted by people.  

There is a cosmopolitan range of plants here including: 

  • the wonderfully-named Shaggy-soldier (a small and rather nondescript member of the daisy family) from South America 
  • the more showy Michaelmas daisy from North America 
  • the uncommon Sulphur cinquefoil from the Mediterranean region 
  • Chinese mugwort 
  • Spanish bluebell 
  • Greek dock 
  • Canadian fleabane 
  • Guernsey fleabane (also known as Sumatran fleabane), which is actually a native of South America 

Plant communities such as this are a product of our interaction with the environment on a global scale, and reflect the history of London and Londoners. Part of Deptford’s industrial, imperial, trading and gardening past is woven into the fabric of this nature park.  


Such a diversity of plants supports a wide variety of insects, including butterflies and grasshoppers.


At least six species of butterflies breed on the site, including:

  • Large, Small and Essex skippers

  • Small tortoiseshell

  • Common blue 

  • Meadow brown

This is a good number for an inner London site, and is likely to increase in the near future.

Grasshoppers and crickets

The park has one species of grasshopper and one bush-cricket species. The easiest way to distinguish them is by the length of their antennae.

Grasshoppers have:

  • short, stout antennae.

Bush-crickets are:

  • slender and longer than the body.

The Common field grasshopper is a common and widespread species, varying in colour from brown to green and even vivid pink. Its song is the familiar chirrup which can be heard on the site from June to November. 

Roesel's bush-cricket is nationally less-widespread, centred on the Thames estuary, though it is currently expanding, perhaps as a consequence of global warming.  

While grasshoppers bury their eggs below the ground, bush-crickets lay theirs in grass stems.

Management and use 

Much  management is carried out by the Creekside Discovery Centre with help local volunteers and with occasional assistance from our nature conservation section. 

About 50% of the grass is cut every year. This prevents trees and shrubs from overrunning the site. The cuttings are removed to keep nutrient levels low; high nutrient levels allow a few vigorous species to dominate but at the expense of many others. 

Many of the wild flowers here are weed species, which require bare ground to grow. Trees and shrubs are coppiced periodically. This allows light to reach wild flowers, and produces dense regrowth which is ideal for nesting birds.


This area  became a nature park in 1984 after lengthy campaigning by local residents. 

For many years it was designated as temporary open space. Residents and environmental groups had to fight off many proposals for housing.

The Council owns the site, and we recognised its permanent value for wildlife in the Unitary Development Plan of 1996 and designated it as Local Nature Reserve in 2005.  

Objects from the past

The park contains clues to and reminders of the uses it was put to in the past.

The kerb stones and street lamps in the large field are left over from the lorry park.

If you look under the lamp post on the Berthon Street side, you will find a rose bush, which has grown from a seed deposited by a bird sitting on the lamp.

In the middle of the site is a wall made of pottery fragments and mortar. This is all that remains above ground of the Gibbs and Canning pottery works, demolished in 1967. There had been a pottery on the site since 1682.


Nature Conservation Officer