Beechgrove was near Cox's Walk, opposite Lammas Green. A stretch of garden wall along Sydenham Hill survives. The house was built about 1862. The first occupant, William Patterson, was an East India merchant and he called his new house “Singapore”. After a couple of years he decided “Beechgrove” was more appropriate. Patterson lived there until his death in 1898.
The next two occupants have entries in the Dictionary of National Biography. By 1911 Samuel Herbert Benson had moved from London Road, Forest Hill to Beechgrove. Benson had been invited by John Lawson Johnston (another local person) to become the advertising agent for Bovril. He is regarded as the originator of modern advertising campaigns by using advertisements to engage potential buyers rather than merely informing them. His company was eventually absorbed by Ogilvy & Mather who were, allegedly, the inspiration for the advertising agency in the television series “Mad Men”.
Benson was followed at Beechgrove by Sir William Watson Cheyne who lived there from 1919 to 1921, a distinguished surgeon who was assistant to Joseph Lister and, later, President of the Royal College of Surgeons. During his time at Beechgrove he also served as an MP.
In 1922 Frederick Aubrey Norris moved into Beechgrove. He was an engineer whose firm, F A Norris & Co, made iron staircases, particularly fire escapes. In 1930 Norris moved to Eliot Lodge, Kirkdale and Miss Rose Ellis moved into Beechgrove. She had moved out by 1932 when Lionel Logue and his family moved in. In time Logue’s children left home, his wife died, the house became too large and expensive to maintain and, in April 1947, Logue moved to a flat in Knightsbridge.
The house seems to have been unoccupied until, on 17 June 1952, it opened as Beechgrove Home for the Aged Sick, run by the Red Cross to provide nursing care for patients who had been discharged from hospital but still needed medical care. When the Home closed in 1960 the house remained unoccupied again until it was demolished in 1983.
Several sources suggest that the folly in Sydenham Hill Woods was once in the grounds of Beechgrove. This was not the case. It was in the grounds of Fairwood, the house immediately to the south of Beechgrove. Fairwood was built in about 1862 and the first occupant was Alderman David Henry Stone, Lord Mayor of London. Shortly after moving to Fairwood he commissioned James Pulham & Son to build the folly. Pulhamite garden ornaments are now highly regarded and a number have been listed by English Heritage. There are at least two other surviving examples hidden away in gardens along Sydenham Hill.
Beechgrove now is little more than an overgrown pile of rubble although a section of the garden wall survives to its full height along the boundary with Fairwood and remains of the greenhouses can be seen along the boundary with Lapsewood to the north.