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In the 18th century, Blackheath was the home of Greenwich Cricket Club and a venue for first-class cricket matches.
The pits are named after Sir John Vanbrugh, architect of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard, who had a house nearby, adjacent to Greenwich Park, now called Vanbrugh Castle.
In 1871 the management of Blackheath passed by Act of Parliament to the Metropolitan Board of Works.
Unlike the commons of Hackney, Tooting Bec and Clapham, Blackheath came to the Metropolitan Board of Works at no expense, because the Earl of Dartmouth agreed to waive his manorial rights.
A contemporary newspaper report said "the Kentish champions would have lost their honours by being beat at one innings if time had permitted".
It is not clear if the references to "honours" and "champions" meant that the Kent team, then managed by Edwin Stead, had claims to being the champion county.All Saints' Church, situated on the heath, designed by the architect Benjamin Ferrey, dates from 1857.