Greatness - Bat and Ball
Post to the north Greatness
Sevenoaks Allotment Holders Association. They manage a large site with 220 plots
Bat and Ball Road
This is a modern road built from the Bat and Ball junction to the station and continuing north in the gap which was once formed between the main line and the sidings to goods sheds.
Bat and Ball Station. The station dates from 1862 and now lies between Sevenoaks and Otford on South Eastern Trains. It was built by the London Chatham and Dover Railway and opened as ‘Sevenoaks Bat & Ball’. In 1950 it was renamed ‘Bat & Ball’. There is a station building, Station Master’s House and waiting room. It was originally the terminus of the Sevenoaks branch line from Swanley to Sevenoaks. The name derives from the Bat & Ball Inn, which no longer exists but which stood some distance away at the junction of Seal and Otford roads. A turntable stood south of the station on a site west of Chatham Hill Road.
Sevenoaks Junction. This stood north of the line which then ran forward to sidings.
Sidings. These stood east of what is now Bat and Ball road and ran to a goods shed, cattle pen and coal yard. The site of those sidings is now trading units on the east side of Bat and Ball Road. R.White, lemonade merchant, had a depot here.
Sand pit. This lay east of the railway sidings and was reached by a sidings itself a junction to the north of Sevenoaks Junction and in the square to the north.
Tramway. This ran from the gas works to the north west of the station (in the squares to the north and west) and joined a complex of sidings to the west and north of the station.
30 The Rifleman. Greene King House. Not clear if it is still open
St. Johns Medical Practice
Chatham Hill Road
This road provided the access to Bat and Ball Station until Bat and Ball Road was built and this road blocked. It is said to have been called Chatham Road because the rail line was once owned by the London Chatham and Dover Railway.
St John’s Ambulance, this is in old iron church bought here in 1884 by the local Roman Catholic Church from their Granville road site
Sevenoaks Community Centre. This has three halls and a busy programme. There are plans to build a bigger complex with council facilities and a conference centre here.
Probably named for Goldings Brewery which was nearby in Cramptons Lane,
Sand pit. This was on the west side of the road and developed after 1870. The site was later used for a garage and workshop for Davis’s Blue Star Garage and when this closed it became housing.
Sewer vent pipe on the corner with St James Road
This led to Greatness House which was at the end of the lane (and would have been partly in the square to the north)
Greatness House. This was built by Peter Nouaille near the mill pond in 1763. It was described in 1829 as having stabling for 10 horses, a green-house, and an ice-house, as well as two gardens and fifty acres of land surrounding the house, with a ‘handsome piece of water well stocked with fish, Nouille sold it in 1828 to the Filmer family. It was later used as a boys school known as Lonsbury College for ‘sons of the gentry’. The house was destroyed by a film company in the early 20th who blew it up in a war propaganda film.
Silk mill. This was sited at the junction with Mill Lane. This was established here by Peter Nouaille a French Huguenot formerly based in Spitalfields. He was a crepe manufacturer from France who married Elizabeth Delamore of Greatness. By 1766 there was a factory here with over 100 workers, many of them French and where they mostly made crepe. Peter Nouille was the first recipient of a ‘Captain Swing’ letter in England in.1790. He died in 1809. The mill continued but demand fell by 1828 when it closed. The mill was powered by a mill race and pond which runs along the west side of Mill Lane to mill ponds on the south side of the Seal Road.
Abacus Furniture Project. Reconditioned second hand furniture. This appears to be on the site of the silk mill.
Congregational mission. This dated from the late 1880s and was used for the immediate local area. It is now in office use.
Greatness Hall. Large building next to the pub, with which it clearly had an associated use. Now housing.
This road follows the line of a previous path through the woodland. This was laid out for John Pratt, Earl of Camden as a path to his house at Wildernesse.
Hillingdon Avenue Open Space
Sevenoaks Hospital. This is on both sides of the road. It opened as Holmesdale Cottage Hospital in 1873 on a site near the corner with St. John’s Hill. The hospital was built to the plans of J M Hooker in 1872 and remodelled in the 1920’s. With the inception of the National Health Service in 1948 the hospital expanded and in the 1960s a new maternity unit was built which is now the outpatients department. Other new units have also been added since.
St.John’s Lodge. This was the home of the Nouaille family after the sale of Greatness House. It was later incorporated into the hospital site.
Greatness Mill. A mill at Greatness is first noted in 1406 and by 1632 the local manor was being paid an annual rent for ‘Gritneys mill’. There are also records of a 17th fulling mill and house owned by Godhelp Cooper. Fulling mills were owned here by the Jeffrey brothers. There is no evidence where these mills were but they were likely to have been either on the site of the silk mill or where the extant mill buildings are.
Greatness Mill building. The extant mill buildings are those marked as a ‘corn mill’ on maps since the 1870s with a similar footprint to current remains. There is no evidence of an early mill on the current site but archaeological evidence in the foundations indicate an 18th date. The mill was owned and worked by George Harris for over 40 years and auctioned at his death in 1927. It was burnt down in 1928 but rebuilt and milling continued until 1935. It was then used as an upholdstery workshop. It is now being redeveloped as housing.
Mill ponds. Mill ponds lay north and south of Seal Road then joined to a mill race which ran down the west side of Mill Lane down to the current mill site. The pond north of Seal Road exists at the top of Mill Lane. By 1936 this mill pond and race were used as a boating pond, swimming pool and lido. This use is said to date from the 1870s. The mill race was subsequently filled in and its line is now a path between houses.
Ponds and sluices serving the site of the northern mill used as the silk mill appear to have been on the east side of the lane, and are shown on 19th maps, but have since been filled in.
42-63 Cottages – Peter Nouaille built two rows of cottages in Kent ragstone for the workers in 1763. There was a pediment over the centre cottage. These appear to have been adjacent to the mill and were demolished in the 1950s. There was also a school for the children, many of whom worked in the mill.
Scout Hut. This is headquarters for the 4th St, Johns scout Group. Their site is on what was part of the gardens of Greatness House, and the area they call “The dip” was the area of the fishpond serving the estate. There is an air rifle range on what was once the ice house.
Council houses – the earliest council houses in Sevenoaks were built here in 1914 on land purchased from the Filmers
Greatness Park. Playing fields on land bought by the council from the Filmer family. This is used for sporting facilities in particular Sevenoaks Town Football Club
Quakers Hall Lane
National School. This was the original buildings of St. John’s Church of England Primary School. It was a mixed school later divided into three boys, girls and infants and opened in 1865. It was gradually enlarged and eventually moved to another site and then again to another one. The buildings were demolished in 1978.. It is now Old School Court
Seal Hollow Road
This was originally called Locks Bottom Road and is an ancient track following a river valley
A25. This was the major route running to the south of London until the construction of the M25 which largely parallels it.
104 Elephants Head Pub. This pub probably dates from the 1870s but is now a vet.
Chapman’s Ford. Near the top of Mill Lane
Millpond Wood. Mixed woodland set on a hillside criss-crossed with wide pathways. Some large sweet chestnut, Scots pine and beech trees. It is owned and managed by Sevenoaks Council. The former mill pond which once lay across the road from Mill Lane had apparently gone by the early 20th and now appears to be the site of a close of houses.
Bowl barrow. This is in Mill Pond Wood and is an oval mound surrounded by a ditch which is no longer visible. It was partially excavated in the 1890’s when traces of a cremation burial were discovered.
Cemetery. This cemetery dates from 1906, and belongs to the local authority. In contains 16 War Graves, of which eleven are in two small special plots. In the cemetery is the listed Kraftmeier Mausoleum which is in Art Nouveau style incorporating a barrel vaulted roof.
St James Road
Sandpit. There was sandpit on the south side of the road, and indeed some houses east of Golding Road appear to be lower than the road surface.
St.John's Church. In the early part of the 1800s, a community began to develop in this area, the Rector of St. Nicholas saw that a chapel of ease was needed and thus the church was built. It was dedicated in 1858 built of Kentish ragstone on land donated by the Marquis of Camden. In 1878, It is described, by Pevsner as ‘cheap’’. It became a parish in its own right. It was planned to build a bigger brick church in 1900 but this never happened except for an extension and a chapel. A parish room next door was built in 1910. It is a church in the Catholic tradition where Mass is celebrated every day..
75 New Inn. Demolished and replaced with flats
87 Castle Inn. This dates from the 1870s
123 Church building. This is marked as a Methodist church on old maps. No sign of life there now.
143 Railway Tavern. Demolished and now a supermarket
168 Bat and Ball Pub. The pub after which the area is named. It is now a studio and offices. It is said to have St.John’s well in the pub yard.
St |John’s Field. This was in the north west angle of the Bat and Ball crossroads and is thought to be the most likely site for a medieval hospital dedicated to St John the Baptist. This had probably begun in the Saxon period as a shrine alongside the road dedicated to St John the Baptist and near a spring at the foot of St John’s Hill. Sometime between 900-1050 a chapel was built at Greatness and a hospital was set up adjacent to this by 1289. It may have been a hospital or a hostel for travellers, and was still extant in 1534. It was suppressed at the dissolution and stones from its building were used by the Culpepper family to build themselves a house at Riverhead.
Our Lady of Greatness. There was a shrine, or a well, in this area associated with this cult.
Archaeological database. Web site
Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Web site
Historic England. Web site
League of Friends of Sevenoaks Hospital. Web site
Megalithic Portal. Web site
Pevsner. West Kent
Rayner. Sevenoaks Past
Sevenoaks District Council. Web site
St.John's Primary School. Web site
Sevenoaks History. Web site
Wessex Archaeology. Web site
Woodland Trust. Web site