King James I’s London – 3. Golf on Blackheath

When King James I came south to take up the throne England, he is known to have brought that peculiarly Scottish game of golf with him and it is believed that it was at Blackheath, above the then Royal Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, that his courtiers first played the game.

According to the Royal Blackheath Golf Club, now located some way to the south of Blackheath in Eltham (the club moved there is 1923), documentary evidence shows the earliest players included James I’s son Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, who is known to have gone golfing in 1606. The club itself notes that while it is generally accepted it was established in 1608, no documentary evidence to support this has yet been unearthed (records prior to 1787 are missing).

The first course at Blackheath – which has played a significant role in several events including as a rallying point during the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 –  apparently consisted of five holes, each of which was played three times.