Thames Tributary, Darent - Otford

Thames Tributary Darent
The Darent continues northwards through Otford turning north west. Once, the course from Otford to the Thames was navigable to shallow craft

Post to the north Shoreham
Post to the west Otford
Post to the south Otford

Bubblestone Road
The road is named after the Bubblestone Stream which flows from this area south west into the Darent. There is however also a story of a strange stone dug up in the Middle Ages with odd writing in it and called the ‘Babel Stone’.
5, 7, 9 the front gardens are enclosed by walls which were part of the main fa├žade of the palace

Colet’s Orchard
On a site on land next to the walled garden of Colet’s Well. Developed as a cul-de-sac of bungalows in the early 1960s,

Cow Lane
Park Farm: The outline of the Tudor park can be shown in the field boundaries. Was once within Otford Manor’s Great Park.
Houses, originally part of the farm

High Street
The east-west route through the parish, and is the remains of a prehistoric trackway linking Dover with central England. Now part of the North Downs Way and part of the Pilgrim’s Way
The pond overflow, hidden under the road which once trickled in an open stream down the High Street to the millstream. Little 'bridges' gave access to the houses.
2 Woodman a farmhouse until the 1860s
4 Otford Pharmacy, medieval hall house
10 Crown 16th
11 tranquil garden with 'mature trees, ferns, grasses and shrubs, 3 summerhouses and a pond, with seats in secluded corners
20-24 Otford Poor House
Beckett House
Bridge over the Darent. Flooding in 1968 brought it down and a Bailey bridge erected by Royal Engineers was here for some years.
Bridge House. Millstream beside it
Broughton Manor. Late medieval house, for many years the home of the Polhill family. The earliest record of the property is 1287. By this date there is reason to suppose that the river Darent had already been diverted to provide power for a mill - by tradition a silk-mill - and that a house stood on the island between the main stream, which now flowing under the iron bridge, and the mill stream flowing under the stone bridge.
Old Parsonage, 15th
Bull Inn, fireplaces and panelling from the palace. Formerly a Tudor dwelling, retains a weather-boarded barn
Village Memorial Halls.
Church Hall, designed free by Sir Edwin Lutyens for his brother Reverend William Edward Lutyens, the then incumbent of Otford church.
Friar's Pool, weather-boarded house which was formerly the laundry.
Holmesdale Villa
66 Horns public house, formerly three 16th cottages
Houses 19th semi-detached and terraced houses.
Library 1980
Methodist Church 1935
30 Old Forge restaurant.
Track from the forge to the golf course and a path onto the river,
Otford Gun Room, angling tickets for the Darent
Pickmoss a timbered hall house Tudor and part conversion,
Pickmoss, cottages
Primary School
School 1872 and adjoining Headmaster's House now the Parish Office and Heritage Centre built in 1871.
The Grange in the 17th this was a tannery taking its share of the millstream flowing beside 18th, a former vicarage
Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity 1985

Leonard Avenue
Terraced houses from c1860. Bomb sites from the Second World War with modern replacements
Surgery 1968. Otford Solar System. Saturn is outside on a pillar.

Mill Lane
Millstream. The ‘New Cut’, was excavated to channel water to the mill, but divided the flow through the village
Mill, There was a watermill in Otford in 1541 although it could originally have been much earlier. The last mill on this site was a corn mill with two waterwheels – and it is thought that this had been the case for some centuries. It was the highest mill on the Darent to have two wheels. The breast shot waterwheel remained in 1930 One waterwheel was of wood construction, driving three pairs of French Burr millstones and one pair of Peak millstones. The machinery was all wooden. The second waterwheel was of cast iron, driving two pairs of French Burr stones with cast iron machinery wooden structure incorporating two wheels. Its last occupants were specialists in fine timber paneling. Above the wheels was a machine-shop, its grinding, sawing and planing machines actuated by pulleys and belts Above this was a cabinet-maker's workshop. Their works can be found in Leeds, Chilham and Herstmonceux Castles and Stephen Arthur Baker, a cabinet-maker employed to fix the panels, always left his signature on their reverse. Replaced after a disastrous fire in 1924. A mill stone is left in a wall near the site.
Troutbeck, a much altered polygonal house dating from 1905. 3-acre garden surrounded by branches of the River Darent. Combining the informal landscape of the river, a central pond and small meadow with structural planting. King box and yew. Knots and topiary shapes

At the edge of the North Downs where the Pilgrims' Way crosses the river
Darent. Site of Romano British villa. Means Otta’s ford – a personal name, It may be a contraction of Otterford, possibly derived from Offa who fought a battle at here 776. In the Saxon period Otford became the administrative centre of the area Because of its strategic position on the Darent and the Pilgrim’s Way as well as its central position in the Vale of Holmesdale, with an open aspect to the south.
Battle 775 where Offa; King of Mercia defeated Aldric and Jutish Kentish forces. Offa gave Otford to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The re-establishment of Kent as an independent kingdom implies that the battle was won by Kent as the Chronicle does not note the outcome. Said to have taken place near the river and to be the reason for the high local incidence of tetanus.
Otford Palace To the south of the Green are the remains of Otford Palace, the Tudor north range being the only ruins still standing of an estate originally given to the Church by a king of Kent in 821. An archbishop's palace was known to exist here in Norman times and in Domesday the Manor of Otford is owned by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Manor House was kept as a retreat for the Archbishop one of whom as Thomas a Beckett, it.Becket is said to have cursed the local blacksmith. Archbishop Winchelsea died here 1313. It was enlarged in 1501 by Archbishop Dene but the red-brick remains are those of the expensive palace built by Archbishop William Warham in 1514. He used brick, something not seen here since the Romans. His building was modelled on Wolsey's Hamoton Court. The octagonal Tudor tower remains and the complex was built round a single vast courtyard to be used for spectacular events. The first floor would have been of timber galleries. Guest rooms looked out onto gardens, but the whole was squeezed onto the original moated site. Wareham’s successor Thomas, Crammer, wrote the 39 articles here and Erasmus visited. Cranmer was obliged to surrender the palace to Henry who found it 'damp and rheumaticky’ and preferred Knole. Only a year after Henry's death in 1547 roofs had been stripped of lead, and chambers and galleries had timbers rotted to imminent collapse and 200 missing door keys. Thereafter, the palace deteriorated rapidly. In the 16th it was sold to pay the army’s wages.  The ruins are the western side of the gatehouse, the north-west corner tower and the galleries between. The galleries are now dwellings and the gatehouse a Girl-Guides meeting hall. In September 1939, evacuees from London's East End, had meals provided in the gatehouse hall where 'three enormous boilers were installed It has been used as for hop pickers.
Great New Park East of river and north of the village. Medieval Deer park. Henry VIII preferred Knole which was drier
Otford Hospital. In existence before 1228 for lepers. Attached to the manor house and essentially an almonry for travellers.
Castle House once the bailiffs' residence for the archiepiscopal manor, and an important farm. Tudor with outbuildings and fields, woodland, lake and stew ponds fed from Becket's well. It has a medieval stone-built subterranean conduit house fed by a spring, which supplied piped water to the moated manor

Pickmoss Lane
Formerly Worth Lane
Footpath alongside to mill
Wall erected from the palace ruins, its maintenance is obligatory today under a conservation order.

Pilgrims Way West
Otford Solar System – Uranus is at the junction with Rye Lane
Recreation Ground
Scale model of the Solar System which claims to be "the largest scale model in the world”. Models of the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth all on pillars. Mars is not on a pillar and is by the football pitch. Jupiter is on a pillar.

The Green
Chantry. By the church gate. This was previously Church Gate Cottages. Originally built in the 15th as the village Court Hall, where courts were held on a three weekly rota and all male tenants had to attend. It has high quality timber, plain with no smoke blackening – thus it was an unheated building. It has a large upper room and smaller waiting rooms and a lock up downstairs.
Colet's Well 18th was built on the site of a Tudor mansion.
Corner House - formerly Mount View, an 18th rebuild of an earlier timbered farm house, with an earlier boundary wall
Pond. It is spring-filled and was ceded to the village In the 1960s by the owners of Colet’s Well...It is in middle of a roundabout with ducks and water lilies. It has the only 'listed' duck pond in the country. It was the main source of water for the village up to the early 20th. The ducks get a food allowance from the parish council, and stocked with splendid carp and goldfish.
Pond House, pair of 18th semi-detached houses
St. Bartholomew’s church. Dates from 1050 but there was probably a place of worship previously. Possible Sarson stones in the walls. It is sited for easy access from the Pilgrim’s Way. The church developed a cult around St.Bartholomew said to help human fertility. It has had several restorations, but keeps a massive Norman tower. Victorian Restoration by Street who removed a timber arcade. The exterior walls are a guidebook to the geology of the valley. There are at least four different materials in the rubble that the walls are made of- sharp, dark flints and whitish blocks of clunch from the chalk downs and dark brown slabs of ironstone from the Lower Greensand around Sevenoaks, and pieces of reddish tile, presumably cannibalised from Roman buildings or refuse heaps. Lepers squint. Tudor windows. High in the chancel roof is a 16th helm made in Greenwich. Rare 16th vestry. Candelabra - - and draught- reducing box pews. Arms of William of Orange. Memorials to the Polhill family.
Graveyard. Richard Church's brother is buried here.
Council housing early 20th


Anonymous said…
Wonderful information about the history of Otford. Totally fascinating to me as my grandmother was born in Otford in 1876. I never knew that Otford had so much incredible history.Such a beautiful village.

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