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Monday, June 17, 2024

Our neighbour’s home is covered in Virginia Creeper – it’s become a local landmark with tourists stopping to take photos outside it


Neighbours living next to a house covered in Virginia Creeper say the ivy desperately needs be brought under control – as the local landmarks starts to attract tourists who gawk at the plant covered home as they pass by.

The semi-detached house in Bromley, south east London, was bought by Michael and Teresa Lye in 1984 and even then it was covered in the plant. 

Mr and Mrs Lye paid £24,000 for the property almost 40 years ago and it has since become one of the most famous homes in the area. However, residents of Downham now believe it is time the ivy got the chop. 

Originally, when the houses were built in the late 1920s, other homes were covered in Virginia Creeper which was provided by the council –  allegedly upon the request of a member of the royal family who opened the estate. 

But over the years owners have opted to remove the plant with the exception of the Lyes where the plant has since consumed the entire brickwork – to the extent where only the windows are visible. 

Michael and Teresa Lye paid £24,000 for the property almost 40 years ago and it has since become one of the most famous homes in the area. However, residents of Downham now believe it is time the ivy got the chop

Michael and Teresa Lye paid £24,000 for the property almost 40 years ago and it has since become one of the most famous homes in the area. However, residents of Downham now believe it is time the ivy got the chop

Originally, when the houses were built in the late 1920s, other homes were covered in Virginia Creeper. But over the years owners have opted to remove the plant with the exception of the Lyes where the plant has since consumed the entire brickwork

Originally, when the houses were built in the late 1920s, other homes were covered in Virginia Creeper. But over the years owners have opted to remove the plant with the exception of the Lyes where the plant has since consumed the entire brickwork

Originally, when the houses were built in the late 1920s, other homes were covered in Virginia Creeper which was provided by the council - allegedly upon the request of a member of the royal family who opened the estate

Originally, when the houses were built in the late 1920s, other homes were covered in Virginia Creeper which was provided by the council – allegedly upon the request of a member of the royal family who opened the estate

Mark Philpot (pictured), 59, said he thought the property looked strange among all the other more brutal homes. He joked: 'It probably attracts a load of bugs! I think something like that probably would look nice in a little village but it's a bit out of place in Downham as it's very concrete'

Mark Philpot (pictured), 59, said he thought the property looked strange among all the other more brutal homes. He joked: ‘It probably attracts a load of bugs! I think something like that probably would look nice in a little village but it’s a bit out of place in Downham as it’s very concrete’

In 2022, Mr and Mrs Lye (pictured) told MailOnline that the gargantuan plant that encases their home had 'accidentally' helped insulate their home during the cost of living crisis

In 2022, Mr and Mrs Lye (pictured) told MailOnline that the gargantuan plant that encases their home had ‘accidentally’ helped insulate their home during the cost of living crisis 

It was even growing inside the home when the Lyes moved in. Mrs Lye, who sadly recently lost her husband, said they kept it on the outside because it helped insulate their home – and hopefully made soaring energy bills in recent years cheaper. 

But locals do not share Mrs Lyes love for the vines and they believe the home should be stripped back to brick.

Mark Philpot, 59, said he thought the property looked strange among all the other more brutal homes.

He joked: ‘It probably attracts a load of bugs!

‘I think something like that probably would look nice in a little village but it’s a bit out of place in Downham as it’s very concrete.’

However some living nearby still like it and claim it has become something of a local tourist attraction in the south London suburb.

One local who wished not to be named said: ‘I think the owners have become local legends. I always see people taking pictures and slowing down to have a look.

‘I like it – it’s a good landmark.’ 

Neighbour Eric Sands, 90, has a long affiliation with the area and says he wasn’t keen, but he did sympathise with the Lyes.

He said: ‘My family moved here 88 years ago and all the time I’ve been an old man it’s been like that.

‘They’re the owners so obviously they can do what they like. I’d imagine it’d be very difficult to take it all off now as it’ll pull all the tiles up.’

Even two years ago the house still attracted attention from passersbys. Mr Lye said: 'Every week, somebody will stop. 'There was a lady out there the other day. I said, 'It's a pound a picture'. She said, "What?!" I said, 'I'm only joking, don't worry'

Even two years ago the house still attracted attention from passersbys. Mr Lye said: ‘Every week, somebody will stop. ‘There was a lady out there the other day. I said, ‘It’s a pound a picture’. She said, “What?!” I said, ‘I’m only joking, don’t worry’

However some living nearby still like it and claim it has become something of a local tourist attraction. One local who wished not to be named said: 'I think the owners have become local legends. I always see people taking pictures and slowing down to have a look'

However some living nearby still like it and claim it has become something of a local tourist attraction. One local who wished not to be named said: ‘I think the owners have become local legends. I always see people taking pictures and slowing down to have a look’

Another local said: ‘It’s not my thing, green just isn’t my colour. To be honest I think that look is more laziness than planned.

‘I’ve been here 26 years and it has always been like that – it’s definitely not my sort of look though.’

And another was slightly more cutting, saying: ‘It’s completely odd. It looks weird. It’d look better if they just gave it a trim or took it off the upper parts of the house.

‘It needs cutting back – I’m surprised the council hasn’t made them.’

Virginia creeper is also known as five-leaved ivy and is an aggressive deciduous climbing plant.

While it is not advised to grow ivy on houses, Virginia Creeper is less likely to damage brickwork.

However there are some setbacks to allowing it to grow rampantly.

Building surveyor Brien Walker from Snow Walker, a specialist period homes building surveyor, said: ‘Virginia creeper is not generally considered to be damaging to traditional house materials per se, but as with most things that is all a matter of degree.

‘This level of growth will probably trap water underneath on the flatter surfaces and probably excessively dry out the vertical ones….so moisture retention, or conversely the lack of it, could well damage the surfaces even if the plant does not.’

In 2022, Mr and Mrs Lye told MailOnline that the gargantuan plant that encases their home had ‘accidentally’ helped insulate their home during the cost of living crisis. 

Virginia creeper is also known as five-leaved ivy and is an aggressive deciduous climbing plant. While it is not advised to grow ivy on houses, Virginia Creeper is less likely to damage brickwork. However there are some setbacks to allowing it to grow rampantly

Virginia creeper is also known as five-leaved ivy and is an aggressive deciduous climbing plant. While it is not advised to grow ivy on houses, Virginia Creeper is less likely to damage brickwork. However there are some setbacks to allowing it to grow rampantly

Another local said: 'It's not my thing, green just isn't my colour. To be honest I think that look is more laziness than planned. I've been here 26 years and it has always been like that - it's definitely not my sort of look though'

Another local said: ‘It’s not my thing, green just isn’t my colour. To be honest I think that look is more laziness than planned. I’ve been here 26 years and it has always been like that – it’s definitely not my sort of look though’

Neighbour Eric Sands, 90, has a long affiliation with the area and says he wasn't keen, but he did sympathise with the Lyes. He said: 'My family moved here 88 years ago and all the time I've been an old man it's been like that'

Neighbour Eric Sands, 90, has a long affiliation with the area and says he wasn’t keen, but he did sympathise with the Lyes. He said: ‘My family moved here 88 years ago and all the time I’ve been an old man it’s been like that’

The late Mr Lye said speaking in September 2022 said: ‘We think it acts as natural insulation.’

His wife added: ‘This room is nice and warm. Go in any of the rooms – it’s warm. That’s why we’ve got a fan in here. In the winter we are toasty.

‘My daughter comes up and says, “You got the heating on?”.

And I say: ‘No, of course we haven’t got the heating on’.’

Despite this, the couple still admitted at the time that they were ‘dreading’ their energy bills. 

Even two years ago the house still attracted attention from passersbys. Mr Lye said:  ‘Every week, somebody will stop.

‘There was a lady out there the other day. I said, ‘It’s a pound a picture’. She said, “What?!” I said, ‘I’m only joking, don’t worry’.

‘And she asked, “Don’t you get all the creepy crawlies coming in the windows?'” And I said, ‘No, the wife sleeps with her mouth open so we’re fine’.’

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