A SQUARE BY SQUARE LOOK AT LONDON
TQ 50 73. This covers an area of woodland which once contained many deneholes. It is now middle class housing plus much woodland.
The boundary comes south west and crosses Old Bexley Lane to the west of West Villa. It follows parallel to Baldwyns Park behind the properties on the east side. It goes down the eastern boundary of the church and crosses TileKiln Lane to cut across the corner of Stable Close and continue southwards. It enters a wood still going south west and then turns north west, turns north and then reverts to north west. It follows a path through Joydens Wood going north west and when paths diverge goes straight ahead through the wood. It picks up another path but continues in a wiggley route towards Cavey’s Spring, which it does not reach. It continues straight ignoring paths to the edge of the wood.
Post to the west Mount Mascal
Post to the north Coldblow
On the Boundary
Baldwyns Park Road
Previously called Pot Kiln Lane it originally ran as far as the little folly cottage on the border. The Kent boundary runs down the back of the houses on the east side. The back gardens of many of the houses contain dene-holes, most now filled. It stands on the site of Stankey Wood - which Spurrell noted as being particularly prolific in shafts
Stankey Wood. the field area behind Baldwin’s Park Road is associated with the manor of Baldwyns.. Stankey Wood held a concentrated group of deneholes some with elaborate pillars - to increase the amount of chalk taken from a double trefoil denehole. In 1924 the Baldwyn’s Shooting Estate was broken up and the open shafts in the wood were plugged before the sale of plots. However several shafts have since reopened and been surveyed. After heavy rainfall in 1968 three shafts opened giving access to the underground chambers. The original number of shafts is not known but Spurrell noted over thirty in the 19th and from his map almost every house has a denehole under its garden. Shafts were filled with tree stumps and brushwood which rots so that in heavy rain there is a spectacular appearance of shafts. one owner has built a wishing well over the top of the shaft. The deneholes were probably those described by William Lambarde in his 'Perambulation of Kent' 1570 where he notes ‘sundry artificial Caves, or holes, in the earth, whereof some have ten, some fifteen, and some twenty fathoms in depth’. These shafts would have yielded a tonnage of chalk far in excess of that required for agricultural marl, to which should be added the output of the nearby group of Cavey's Spring. The excess chalk was probably used for building material and / or lime burning. .
6 denehole opened up after rainfall in the rear garden. Although one pillar had been completed no attempts had been made to join other chambers. it is apparent that the miners started an excavation intending a definite ground plan. Here they had extended a basic mine in order to avoid sinking a new shaft for the small amount of extra chalk needed.
12 denehole a shaft in the rear garden at a distance of only 6.7m from the rear of the house. The shaft had opened up under an ornamental fish pond, the concrete surround of which threatened to collapse and block the 1.015m diameter shaft. Again it would appear that this mine was either abandoned before all the pillars were completed, or the miners had obtained enough chalk for their needs without resorting to further excavation. The plan of this denehole is very similar to one described by Spurrell, which as far as can be determined. Lies approximately 25m west of this example.
17. A subsidence appeared in the vegetable garden. the shaft was found to be 0.99m in diameter and 8.84a deep to the junction of the Thanet Sand and Chalk. It had a basic double trefoil shape which had been modified. It would certainly have been a six pillared type had it not been abandoned, probably because of a roof fall in one of the primary chambers. It was sealed in November 1968
12 a shaft opened here in 1974 under an ornamental pond. This also appeared to have been abandoned
Shaft 5 unusual in this particular area in that it was of the simple double trefoil form with no attempt at Pillaring. It should be noted, however, that this shaft is located in the southern portion of the Stankey group, near a field bank, whereas the pillared deneholes lie at the northern end of the wood.
Turning circle. If the Channel Tunnel rail link had been built here, as originally proposed, it would have crossed the road about here.
Kent/Dartford side of the boundary
Site of a house called Broomhills. Demolished mid-1990s with its lodge.
Entrance to Joyden's Wood and Scout Hut Denehole opened up beside the public footpath between Cavey's Spring and Ferndell Avenue in March 1978. It was only a few metres from Spurrell's three chambered denehole. A pile of unwanted flints was found behind one pillar, indicating that the miners were concentrating on chalk extraction
Old Bexley Lane
At the boundary the road name changes to Dartford Road Stone in the brick wall roughly on the site of the boundary
Broomhills Lodge Groups of old pear trees
London/Bexley side of the border
Cavey Springs Wood. This small wood of less than three acres was once famous for its thirty deneholes, close together, destroyed in 1960s by the Electricity Board who pumped in slurry under pressure until they were completely filled. Over four hundred such borings were made to consolidate the undermined ground. C.E.G.B. heat units now occupy the site to cool the 275kv. Underground cables of a new switching plant. The public footpath through the wood was changed at this time to run north of the C.E.G.B. site and now roughly follows the old field bank. In 1966, the remaining shafts were found to be very unstable. In three of them there had been collapses. Only one, the 'Seven Sisters', still had its underground chambers. The original miners took care to keep individual deneholes separate for greater stability but later excavators did not follow their safety rule. in March 1978 a shaft that had escaped the filling operations reopened to a depth of 5.4 metres on the edge of the new path through the wood and on the other side of the old field bank.
At the boundary the road name changes to Bexley Lane
Coal duty marker made by Grissell. The parish boundary is just by the 1861 marker. Above the base is written ‘24&25 VICT CAP 42’ and there are two mouldings with the arms of the City of London. At the foot is the maker’s name ‘Regent’s Canal Ironworks London Henry Grissell 1861’.
11 denehole After a heavy storm in August 1977, a shaft appeared in the back garden of the Off-Licence. This was sealed in October 1977. The western lateral adits were much, much shorter than the eastern ones because of a another denehole nearby from which it was separated from this hole by only a metre or so of chalk. There were inscriptions were found on one of the walls, a number of which dated from the late 19th when the open deneholes were visited by interested parties.
16-18 This denehole was surveyed after it subsided in April 1978. The shaft had appeared 11.2m from the rear the houses on the fence line. One of the chambers was found to be shorter than the rest due to the presence of another denehole in the garden of number 18. The shaft was filled. 22-24 A shaft which had partly collapsed, probably due to a wartime bomb. A concrete reinforced raft now seals it. There were pick marks and a good degree of finish had been applied to the chalk walls. A minor roof fall had been 'dressed' with a pick to make it safe. Nothing was found down in the chambers to help date it.
Name acknowledges kiln area
Tile Kiln Lane
Medieval kiln from which this takes its name was in the stretch of houses on the left going west. The site was beside the lane in a field. There are no remains. It was used for firing red roof tiles. There had been manufacture of clay roof tiles here from 16th. Kiln owned by Lesnes Abbey previously and tiles made here until around 1700.
107 Oak Cottage was a lodge to Mount Mascal. It is exactly on the London:Kent border. Originally the lane went only to here.
Stone pillar 6' high marks the Bexley/Dartford border,
Coal duty post, hidden in the wood. Above the base is written ‘24&25 VICT CAP 42’ with two mouldings of the arms of the City of London. At the foot is the maker’s name ‘Regent’s Canal Ironworks London Henry Grissell 1861’
Compilation of this work has taken many years and numerous sources of material. However, for many item in this section I would like to thank, and refer readers for more detail, to the Kent Underground Research Group and the Chelsea Spelaeological Society.