It is hard to imagine that the busy townscape of South London was once a great wood, stretching almost seven miles from Croydon to Deptford or that, scattered through the suburbs, from Dulwich to Norwood, a number of oak woodlands have survived since before the Norman Conquest. These woods were intensively managed for a thousand years, providing timber for construction, furniture and shipbuilding, and charcoal for London's blacksmiths, kilns and bakeries. Now they afford important green space, a vital habitat for small mammals, birds and insects.
In The Wood That Built London, historian C.J. Schuler draws on a wealth of documents, historic maps and environmental evidence to chart the fortunes of the North Wood from its earliest times: its ecology, ownership, management, and the gradual encroachment of the metropolis.