Thames Tributary - River Cray flowing to Darent. Orpington

Cray Tributary to Darent, itself a Thames Tributary
The Cray rises in ponds to the south of Orpington and flows northwards

Post to the north St. Mary Cray

Aynscombe Angle
Previously called Chapel Yard and the site of a Bethesda Chapel converted from cottages.
Aynscombe House used to stand in the angle.
22 design of stylish road name lettering.
Barn Hawe house. This was originally an 18th house, formerly called Fearn Lodge, 1770 -1780, and then became a distribution centre for milk. It was the home of Thomas Moyser who in the 1840's was the owner of Orpington's butchers. Listed. Now Dairy Crest.

Bark Hart Road
Named for Bark Hart House. New road built 1938 on the line of an old farm road.

Broomhill Road
Named for hamlet of Broonhill
Carlton Parade
Mill at the rear , mentioned in Domesday. Colgates Mill in 1634 and later called Hodsoll’s Mill.

Church Hill
Stables, 15th from Orpington Priory
All Saints church. The medieval church is small and has become a small chapel in a building three times its size. There are some pieces of Roman tile and the original nave is very tall for its width and it may be Saxon. There is a Saxon sundial inscribed in runes, one of only three Anglo-Saxon runic inscriptions from South-East England, but with the Roman letters OR . . . VM and it is sited upside down. It was endowed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1173. The tower dates from a remodelling of c.1200 and has a ground stage, once used as a chapel. The outside of it was rebuilt in the late 18th in flint and brick. . A storm in 1771 badly damaged the tower, which then included a steeple. The shortened tower and replacement steeple were then struck by lightning in 1809, accounting for today's rather squat proportions. The current church was built in 1957-8, by Geddes Hyslop, in brick and flint. The porch was built by Rector Nicholas, who died in 1370 and asked to be buried there. The Rufford arms features in some places. There is a screen with a rood loft designed in 1916 by W. D. Garde. The reredos has a triptych by Brian Thomas, c. 1959. Monuments: Thomas Wilkynson 1511 brass of a priest; William Gee 1815; Richard Carew 1816; Richard Gee 1817; three Grecian tablets by Chantrey.
Churchyard. Ornamental gates.
Lych gate 1893. Gift of Alfred Brown.
Cemetery. War memorial and Garden of Remembrance for a special group of casualties of the First World War; ahead and to the left is the Canadian Comer, where fatally wounded servicemen from Orpington Hospital were buried. This area was added to the church yard from the grounds of Bark Hart house and dedicated for casualties from the Ontario Military Hospital.
Memorial to day-trippers - granite column: A memorial of Handcross Hill.
Vicarage. sold to the Metropolitan Water Board in 1951.
Priory. Built near the parish church before 1270, enlarged in 1393, and ‘greatly improved' in 1471 by Prior Selling. The land on which it stands belonged to Christ Church Canterbury. The lord of the manor was the Prior of Christ Church, and it was never a monastic establishment but effectively a parsonage. The first mention of it is in 1270, when it was a rectory owned by Hugh de Mortimer and the clergy-house for the rector of Orpington and a stopping place for the priors of Canterbury Cathedral. It is essentially a medieval flint Hall house, since renewed. There is a bay window at the dais end and a solar wing was added in 1393. One room has Elizabethan plasterwork. It was used as a rectory until 1640, and then leased. In the 17th Richard Spencer, added a timber framed extension. The Priory was owned by the Gee family for 200 years and bought by the Council in 1947 and is now used as the Bromley Museum and Orpington Library
Public Library, by Lord Mottistone, 1957-60. A spirited attempt to be modern and drop historicist hints at the same time.
Outbuildings. A long range of timber-framed fronts. Weatherboarding above flint and brick towards the road, but the original framing exposed on the Priory side. High central entrance for carts, with a room over it. Restored in 1974-5- early 17th queen-post roofs. Mostly date from the 16th though the central arch may be 15th. In the 17th it appears the loft was used for sleeping accommodation for farm workers and hay storage and the ground floor for stables. The end cottage was renovated by Dr Herbert Broom, one of the Priory's owners from 1865, who also built the flint wall on Church Hill. High on the gable end you can see a plaque with his initials and a clasped hand motif.
Walls. The 17th and 18th garden walls are also listed and the flint wall along Church Hill dates from 1856.
Bark Hart. The church extension of 1957 is on the site of Bark Hart house. It was designed by the architect Gedder Hyslop, uses knapped flints and traditional gothic style windows to help blend old and new buildings. Grass crosses and flint paving adding interest to the landscape setting.
Tunnel discovered when the extension was built thus was full of human bones.
Bark Hart. At the dissolution Henry VIII sold the manor of Orpington and the Priory to Sir Percival Hart in 1540. He built a house just south of the church on the foundations of an earlier monastic building. There are several legends telling how the house got its name, connected with the visit of Queen Elizabeth I in July 1573. There was a Tudor fireplace and various old walls.. Georgian front added to the house in 1709, leased to Herbert Howard in 1897 and he altered it. A lot of the grounds were sold in the early 20th and there was some bombing. The house was demolished in 1956 but a part of the estate brick walls remain along the headstone paved and decorated path . Site bought by the church for an extension,.
Footbridge to the Walnuts
Well near the church, filled in
Priory Gardens entrance gates donated by the Rotary Club of Great Britain on their jubilee 1905 – 1955
Arts and Crafts style building of multi coloured decorative brickwork, later the Probation Service Centre.

Court Road
Orpington by Pass built 1926.
61 V2 At tea-time on Monday, 27 March 1945 - a golden afternoon of spring sunshine - the final V2 rocket on English soil landed. It gouged a hole 40 feet across and 20 feet deep in the garden.
63 V2 At tea-time on Monday, 27 March 1945 - a golden afternoon of spring sunshine - the final V2 rocket on English soil landed. It gouged a hole 40 feet across and 20 feet deep in the garden. The owner was out shopping in Petts Wood at the time of the incident. There was no avoiding hearing the crash. On her return it was to find her home gone. "I had a lovely garden before,” she said, "But they filled the crater with rubble and I can’t grow anything there now."
69, V2 Monday, 27 March 1945 a police-inspector was listening to a radio programmed about the war being all over when the house fell on top of him. He managed to extricate himself
100-106 January 1945 V2 hit houses causing at least eight deaths and the houses were destroyed.

Goodmead Road

Gravel Pit Way
Roadway to Gravel Pit Farm

High Street
Was this built on the line of a watercourse – and why the church is away up the hill a bit.
Civic Centre
College of Further Education
75-73 Arts and Crafts shop's from the 1890's, demonstrations of the variety that makes up an attractive village character
85 Anchor and Hope. Although of Kentish weather boarded appearance, the pub dates from 1930, but there has been a brew house and tavern on this site for at least 400 years and it may have been the priory brew house. The old pub was demolished in 1939 and had 19th origins, but was itself a conversion of two cottages. Tithe barn and cowsheds at the rear demolished in the 1880s.
89 a Victorian shop which retains some interesting decorative cast iron brackets.
91 a mid 19th locally protected building
97 Barclays Bank,
99 National Westminster Bank. Until demolished in 1870 there was a butchers shop here and further back it was a site with a sinister past – the location for the village stocks and gibbet.
101-93 handsome proportions and details form a fine matching group either side of the junction of Church Hill. Banks occupied the comer buildings for many years,
105 Artichoke pub
107-109 Stringers a wedding and birthday cake shop once "Stringers" birthday cake shop from 1848 until the 1940's.
Boots built on the site of the stables of Mayfield.
College of Further Education, 1970-3; an eleven-storey slab in red brick
Cottages timber boarded
Council offices. post war 1952
Harvest Moon a couple of doors before the Walnuts northern entrance, this was the High Street's first new pub for many years, although disguised by a thoughtful, traditional frontage.
War memorial. Inspiration for the triangular Portland stone memorial with three rampant bronze lions, designed by Vernon March, came from memorials standing in military cemeteries in France and Flanders. The memorial stands on a small roundabout at the junction of High Street, Sevenoaks Road, Station Road and Spur Road.
Post Office
George and Dragon
Semi-detached houses all built as a group between 1900 - 1905 to the designs of local architect and land owner, George St. Pierre Harris (1853-1939). The connection between the Harris and old Aynscombe family names is preserved here
Sports centre, 1975, in purple brick, is by the Bromley borough architect, Aneurin John
Walnut trees. Two are all that remain of the fine mature avenue that once led to the main estate house and that gave the shopping centre its name when built in 1963.
Walnuts. Built on the site of Court Lodge Farm. Included a barn built with timber salvaged from the Great Fire of London. The Vinson family built a house here called Walnuts. Demolished in 1930s. A typical redevelopment scheme of the 1970s. First comes the shopping centre partly under cover, the usual jazzy affair, and 1970-3 by Alun Jones, Ward & Partners. But further in things get better. Thought has clearly been given to the grouping of all these separate elements.
White Hart pub dates from 1913 and replaces an earlier pub building of the same name. An old photograph shows the brief period with the two pubs side by side. An ale house has been associated with this site for many years. In 1840 Mrs Poole owned the pub.
White Hart Meadow. Behind the pub. Fair held there. Here William Cook first showed the Buff Orpington hen in 1894.
Garage opposite the Priory Pond built in 1912 where the Orpington Car was built.

Homefield Rise

Horsecroft Road

Juglands Road
Juglands is part of the Latin name for walnuts

Kynaston Road
A suburban side road, which parallels the main Orpington By Pass, Court Road. It runs from Bournewood Road to Ramsden Road.
Denehole. According to local memories there was a shaft or well running down what is .now the North end of Kynaston Road. A denehole is a mysterious hole, which commonly appears in the North Kent chalk.
86-88 V2 attack at teatime on Monday, 27 March 1945 – an afternoon of spring sunshine - the final V2 rocket on English soil landed squarely between Court Road and Kynaston Road. It gouged a hole 40 feet across and 20 feet deep in the gardens of 86-88 Kynaston Road. Thousands of people would have heard the crash. Two small boys were saved from death because they had gone into the Anderson shelter at 96 Kynaston Road to clean it out. The sole fatality at the scene - and the last civilian in Britain to be killed by enemy action - was Mrs. Ivy Millichamp, aged 34, at 88. At 84, a married couple a man was struck in the throat by an iron bolt from the bench at which he was working. The wound involved months of treatment and convalescence. Two old age pensioners at 82 were badly injured when the roof of their bungalow flew off. The old lady never got over her head injuries.
Mayfield. Also called Little Orpington. This was a manor used where courts were held. It was held in the 16th by Sir George Hart and a house was built in 1750. An avenue of yew trees ran parallel to the High Street and the house was demolished in 1930s. Some of the stable buildings, plus an archway, are included in Boots

The first reference is 1032 as Orpedingtun – the farmstead of Orped, a name which means ‘active’ or ‘bold’. Also thought it might mean ‘rising springs’. It has been a settlement since the earliest times. Saxon Earl Eadey, treasurer to the King, gave it to the Monastery of Christ Church at Canterbury, and later became Archbishop of Canterbury. It is now middle-class commuter land. The first estates for commuters were built in the 1920s. Between 1931 and 1939 the population of the Urban District nearly doubled. By 1961 the population was 50,277.
Commodore Cinema. Closed 1982. Demolished. January 1945 V2. Damaged along with the fire station, and about 40 shops.

Perry Hall Road
Perry Hall Farmhouse.listed

Precista Close

Priory Gardens
From 1777 a nurseryman, James Petty recorded plants bought for the gardens and in 1882 the gardens were described as being laid out "...after the antique style...” Between 1919 and 1941 they extended in the Arts and Crafts style and used for amateur dramatics. The estate of Cecil Hughes, publisher and landscape artist was purchased for use as a public park in 1947 by Orpington District Council.
Lower Pond supplies water to the Cray outlet. The river runs for nine and a half miles from its source in Orpington to the Thames. There is a wooden footbridge across the lakes and the ornamental waterfalls. This part of the park was improved during the 1960's to incorporate the pure water springs from an 'aquifer' which forms the source of the River Cray. The lake supports a variety of wildlife
Henrietta spring was one of the Ponds which was the main source of drinking water. Failed in 1901.
Gates - the imposing 18th century main entrance gates, which were originally at the High Elms Estate in Downe.
Parterres. Formal gardens created by Cecil Hughes and cut into an ornamental arrangement of flower beds of early 17th century origin with large box hedges at each comer. There is also a pleasant garden pavilion suitable for a brief rest
Church Hill entrance gates

Vinson Road
Vinson were a local family
Chalk well


Michael said…
An interesting trip through history that you have provided. I enjoyed reading it.
Anonymous said…
Orpington ponds are north, not south, of Orpington.
Edith said…
Yes you are right - and that's a very silly mistake on my part - I've sat at the lights at the main road there often enough - why did I think the town was the other way round! Oh dear!
jbarfam said…
I was brought up in Orpington. I remember the DeneHole ( may have been more than 1) in a field boundary behind Goddington Park towards Chelsfield. I went down it as a child before some scouts were overcome by fumes ?? and it was closed up. A significant hole remained but no access to the underground passages. I always believed it was a flint mine from prehistory.
Regards James Barclay

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