Edition January 2023: previous edition December 2022: page updates May 2023
©Malvin Mitchell and Keith Baldwin
This introductory page has the links to the various sections of this History of Beckenham. There are also links to the Beckenham Place Park History and some pdf files on connected subjects. This part of the website is under development aiming to make exploring our History of Beckenham easier to access. Some illustrations may be missing until inserted later. To view the pdf document which has the illustrations but not the latest edits use this link A History of Beckenham (pdf) but the pdf is a large file and make take a little while to load. The file will scroll in a browser, can be saved, is currently about 10mb which is small for modern computers and smart phones etc.
Use your internet browser "find" or "search" tool for keywords such as ‘Langley’ ‘kelsey’ etc. also try spelling variations e.g. ‘Sympsons, Symsons or Simpsons, Beckenham, Beghenham, Beccaham, Bekynham, Bruyn, Brun etc. Queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
tip: your browser or pdf viewer will have a ‘find’ function to
search for keywords)
Several earlier and other histories of Beckenham only describe the main manors and estates or the most recent events. We aim to fill some gaps, correct some errors and cover some missed events.
Entitled “A History of Beckenham” because Beckenham has been written about by numerous historians but this account may reveal hitherto undiscovered aspects and change or challenge parts of some previous accounts which have perpetuated errors. Also, it cannot claim to represent a complete history as the amount of detail available from archives and other accounts is formidable. There will be regular updates shown by the edition date. Following on our work related to Beckenham Place Park we found the impact of events concerning the other parts of Beckenham and nearby parts of Bromley and Lewisham were of particular interest and we embarked on this account. Some writers whom we mention took the work of previous writers and added contemporary information. That process sometimes perpetuated errors or omitted available detail from archive records. We have reviewed information from earlier times and found it appropriate to amend some information and add a bit more substance to some accounts.
For the earliest events we were led to varying extents by the works of John and Thomas Philipot, “Villare Cantianum” 1659, Edward Hasted's “History and Topography of Kent” first edition 1778 and second edition 1797, Daniel Lysons “Environs of London” 1792/96. These certainly provided information, clues and leads. They were essentially brief summaries but were also the basis for many other histories of Beckenham written later. While reciting the work of these writers we are also correcting some obvious errors in that material and adding information gleaned from various archives and sources. Some writers have found misconceptions in all of these earlier works and we try to clarify any differences with substantiating evidence. Most writers have taken the main estates and written about them separately but as the evolution of one estate was often affected by overlaps, divisions and jointures with others I have attempted to merge the accounts into a timeline which enables relating transfers of property from one owner to another and relationships with other events. This also reveals in some cases more links between various people and places than hitherto realised. We also reveal events and facts unrecorded in many other accounts such as the small body of land connected to the Manor of Old Court in Greenwich which is mentioned as early as the 14th Century.
Some answers to outstanding questions only give rise to yet more questions in an apparently never ending process. I only discovered in January 2021 that it was Thomas Philipot's father, John, who wrote the survey of Kent and that Thomas had it published. They both lived in Eltham and there are charitable almshouses named after Thomas.
Philipot wrote about the Manor of Beckenham, the Manor of Foxgrove, Langley, and finally Kelsey or Kelseys. Hasted repeated the format adding Kent House. Lysons also followed this format. Later writers such as Robert Borrowman (1910) and Rob Copeland (1967) added more recent contemporary information but still relied greatly on Philipor and/or Hasted for early history which Inman, Tonkin, Manning and others continued. Len Hevey took a fresh approach revisiting documentary evidence and expanded and corrected the early history up to the 14th Century, citing Robert Borrowman 1910 as a post 14th C. writer but we question some of Borrowman's material obviously drawn on Hasted etc. Pat Manning published books on the Cator family as well as other publications. Copeland, Inman, Tonkin and others generally worked from Hasted and Lysons with added local records and reminiscences. We unwittingly adopted Hevey’s approach of revisiting source material initially having later become aware of his work some way into our investigations but this reinforced the validity of our approach.
The timeline from the Beckenham Place Park history formed the foundation of this account but more emphasis will be put on other areas until a more comprehensive picture emerges. Some caution has to be exercised as Beckenham had several spelling variations and which may apply to other places or people with that or a similar name. Another Beckingham is in Yorkshire sometimes spelt Beckyngham. Other names particularly of families are prone to spelling variations and aliases such as Brun/Brune/Bruyn and Rochelle/Rokele/Rokeley.
into the various people
mentioned does reveal some interesting stories of intrigue which would
lengthy to fully repeat here. A note on internet searching; we find
'googling' doesn't always return a result and you have to go to various
catalogues for searches. Although several archives have been searched this is not
as each person or place name would have to be searched in every archive. Some archive catalogues are better than others.
The Historians and Sources
The previous writers include:
John Philipot author, published by his son Thomas Philipot 1659 History of Kent “Villare Cantianum”. This is in some ways a genealogy of the gentry and directory of family seats.
Edward Hasted 1778 1st edition Topography and History of Kent and 2nd edition 1797/99, Similar to Philipot upon whom Hasted draws some information, it continues with genealogies and a directory information.
Daniel Lysons 1796 Environs of London, The Beckenham section is somewhat shortened compared to Hasted and this edition prompted the second edition of Hasted but Lysons refines some detail.
W.H.Ireland 1828 A New and Complete History of Kent, Continues the approach of Philipot and Hasted with additions. Ireland was described as England’s Topographer, I’m not sure why.
.Robert Borrowman 1910 Beckenham Past and Present. Borrowman was church warden and a local historian but drew on Hasted etc for some early history. His contemporary information is interesting as well as some other discoveries he included from parish records etc.
Rob Copeland 1967 Manors of Beckenham and other publications,
Nancy Tonkin and Eric Inman "Beckenham" circa 1990,
Len Hevey 1994 "The Early History of Beckenham" (from the Iron Age to 14th C.), and A History of Shortlands and History of Elmers End.
Eric Inman 1995 a series of articles on the History of Beckenham Place Park written for the Friends of Beckenham Place Park, and "Beckenham" co-written with Nancy Tonkin. Eric's account sparked some curiosity to research further.
Pat Manning 2000 Cators of Beckenham and Woodbastwick and other publications on Rivers, Churchyard Memorials, etc.,
Ian Muir, Beckenham History www.beckenhamhistory.co.uk
Bromley Borough Local History Society, Bromleag magazine and various resources.
The Gordon Ward Collection circa 1950 at Kent Archive.
Mother Mary Baptiste thesis research material at Bromley Historic Collections
G.W.Tookey research material at Bromley Historic Collections
With apologies to those we have omitted.
Some if not all of these writers drew, as we do, on the works of their predecessors and contemporaries. Hasted refers to Philipott, Lysons to Hasted, etc. Sometimes fiction is written as fact such as we believe some assumptions referred to later in this account. But I also indulge in a few speculative scenarios based on available evidence. However, some discoveries and corrections by one writer did not get picked up in other contemporary or later publications.
Some material in Bromley Historic Collections and county archives was at some time derived from other archives such as the British Library. Our rediscovery of some of this material has contributed toward our reassessments of the various aspects of Beckenham's History. It must be said that the research is not exhaustive as more records are available which could reveal untold detail in increasingly minute detail. Although some of the above writers knew of this material they may not have been so focussed on specific areas or timeslots in order to analyse the content. The archive catalogues searched include: The British Library, The National Archive, National Library of Scotland (maps), Bromley Historic Collections, Surrey Archive, West Sussex Archive. Some archives do not have an online catalogue i.e. Lewisham, Lincolnshire, etc. where we know some records are stored. British History Online, History of Parliament online and various other internet sources have made some research much more convenient. Digitized books on Google etc have also aided research. County archives have not been exhaustively searched due to limitation of time and access conditions.
The types of documents researched are wills, Post Mortem Inquisitions, feet of fines, Close Rolls, Patent Rolls, genealogy sources. These are in the form of transcripts in most cases and some transcription errors and spelling variations are evident. Wills vary in their informative content but can explain some famly tree details as well as property. The same goes for P.M.Inquisitions. Feet of Fines have often been taken to evidence the sale or transfer of a property but as very often the property in question returns to the original land owner the Foot of Fine (Final Accord) can often relate to a lease or enfeoffment. Transcripts are very often abbreviated but the suspicion is that viewing any available original document may be laborious as ancient handwriting, English and Latin would have to be dealt with. We have attempted to gather together transcripts of relevant documents from several sources and note that both variations in spellings or misreads of old text lead to disparities in the names of people and places.
In May 2020 we acquired a copy of Len Hevey's Early History of Beckenham which confirms some of our findings from independant research and also contains additional material which we will incorporate into the timeline but Len’s books are good reference works.
In October 2022 some material was recovered from G.W.Tookey’s collection (BHC) which shows he had conducted some detailed research into original documents, calendars of old records (Close, Patent and Fine Rolls etc) and at the British Museum, British Library and Maidstone Archives. He had not apparently published any works but had given lectures and exhibitions of his material circa 1950-60? Further inquiry into his material is ongoing but his account of the passage of Langley and Kenthouse is detailed and both marries with our assessment and adds more depth.
The Internet has also revealed sources as books become available in e-book form and various archives become electronically indexed. Google books and other versions include: Philipott’s, Hasted’s, Lyson’s, and Ireland’s histories, Collinson’s letters, Memorial of Humphrey Marshall and John Bartram, Life of Dr. Johnson, Hester Thrale, Lady D’Arblay, Memoirs of George IV and Memoirs of William IV, etc. Beckenham History and Bromley Borough Local History Society websites contain material. Some of this we would question but for the most part it contributes valuable information and personal recollections.
We aim to represent as accurately as possible the evolution of the town of Beckenham and its environs. Dated estate plans in the British Library, Kent Archive and Bromley Historic Collections have enabled the analysis of landholdings by landlords at specific dates. This has allowed for discovering detail which is not in the earlier written records. I doubt we will be able to relate everything in a fully comprehendable manner as the chain of events and occupation is not complete. Just as today it would be difficult to relate all transfers of property it is even more difficult from old archives. The small windows we have on the past add some colour to events.
I certainly started by accepting the previous accounts of others, but where prior information is proved to be wrong or doubtful we draw attention to it here. I say 'we' as I am reliant on leads and information from a fellow researcher Keith Baldwin. I should add that we are not attempting to entirely replace former accounts which all have a lot of information to offer. This account may even be viewed as a supplement to others.
As research evolved we discovered several maps only to find that earlier historians were aware of them and had made various studies. Notebly, Mother Mary Baptiste of Coloma College listed maps in her degree thesis. Her description is available on this Kent Archaeology link.
She described an intention to analyse the maps in one overall map for the mid eighteenth century but found the task difficult because of missing data. Maybe she was aware of Gordon Ward of Sevenoaks who also attempted to construct a composite map from information in several maps but seemingly did not discover all of them or did not complete the task. We reproduce parts of it in this history and his collection is at Kent Archive. Since most maps were to record the property of the landlord who commissioned the map there are gaps and overlaps where properties existed but were not mapped or maps have not been discovered if they existed at all.
The maps we have employed come from Bromley Historic Collections (BHC), British Library (BL), Kent Archive (KA), The National Library of Scotland OS map collection (NLS), and other sources such as Sir Charles Burrell and Richard Mason.
The main maps are;
Beckenham Manor 1623 redrawn 1768 (BL)
Foxgrove Manor 1720 redrawn 1766 (BL)
Burrell Kelsey maps 1723 and 1735 (Sir Charles Burrell)
Woolsey’s Farm 1735 (BL)
A Property at Penge (Pench) 1735 (BL)
Langley map 1735 copied 1820? for Gwydir sale, signature of Gwydir appended (KA)
Sympson’s Place (Hugh Raymond) 1735 (BHC )
Thomas Motley’s Old and New Farms at Elmers End, Thayers Farm and The Mead 1736 (KA)
Langley property Southern part belonging to Jones Raymond c.1750 (BL) copied from an earlier 1735? map and a northern section missing.
Foxgrove Manor reduced or core area 1776 (BL)
Plans of property of John Cator and Amy Burrell small exchange agreement 1777 (BL)
Kelsey, Eden Park areas assumed to be 1780 showing Cator property which
would be part of 1793 exchange with Burrell, Lord Gwydir. described as
damaged (BL) described as damaged but I believe it was separated to in which case the part transferred to Cator is missing.
Plan of Clockhouse belonging to Joseph Cator 1782 (BHC)
Burrell Estate (Langley, Simpsons and Kelsey) 1809 (BL)
Burrell estate book of leased properties 1809 (BL)
Cator Estate 1833 (BHC)
Cator Estate 1864 (Richard Mason)
Cator Estate 1864 updated to 1898 (BHC)
OS maps circa 1860 onwards (NLS)
Composite map created by Gordon Ward (Gordon Ward Collection KA)
Various Ordnance Survey Maps from 1799 to 1950's (BL and NLS)
The maps although having different publication dates allow for piecing together much of the parish but several gaps occur where property was owned by yeomen landowners. More work could be done collating small plans from deeds perhaps we will attempt that in the fullness of time.
The earliest detailed map is the 1623 Beckenham Manor map illustrating how the manor was divided between Sir Henry Snelgrave and Sir John Dalston of Cumbria. We only have the 1768 copy and regrettably only photographed parts of it from the British Library, a further visit to the library would allow completion of the task. Len Hevey made sketches of the map which he must have seen circa 1960. The early 18th century maps from several sources allow comparison of Kelsey, Foxgrove, Langley and Elmers End properties bearing in mind that documentary references explain land exchanges and disposals ie Thomas Motley acquiring Elmer Farm from Hugh Raymond in 1734 reflected in Motley’s map of 1736.
What is evident from the available maps is that several other maps were used as the source data ie 1623 Beckenham Manor copied in 1768, 1720 Foxgrove copied in 1766 etc and that those maps are either lost or evading discovery.In terms of reproduction of images we are limited by some copyright restrictions but thank various archives and individuals for waiving such restriction or allowing limited reproduction on a not for profit basis and partial image reproduction.
Some errors found in publications
Errors are unavoidable even if they are just simple typos or transcription errors. Some factual errors that we have found, without naming the publisher are listed here;
The daughter, Maud or Matilda de la Rokele brought Beckenham Manor in marriage to Maurice le Bruyn, not Isolda to William Bruyn. The husbands of Alice and Elizabeth le Bruyn sometimes are either omitted or in the wrong order. The passage of Beckenham Manor from the le Bruyns through to the St.Johns is wrong in some publications. Some errors relate to Langley as Len Hevey disputes any involvement of the Violets and John Style is now definitively identified as dying in 1505 with an accurate lineage. John Cator’s arrival in Beckenham is now found to be 1759/60 instead of the 1773 which is commonly quoted. Linnaeus could not have known John Cator but Cator’s father in law Peter Collinson did. The passage of Foxgrove Manor during the medieval has errors and its division post 1712 from Francis Leigh to Tolson and Tilly and their heirs is often unexplained or incorrect. Omissions also lead to some confusions, Kent House can be traced to long before the Lethieulliers acquired it. Piercy Brett’s occupancy of Clockhouse was probably short term and maybe only leasehold.
Of course the absence of records causes some conclusions to be drawn which may not be accurate.
Hasted’s record includes an appendix of errata; he observes that Kent House is a farm at the time of his writing in 1778 and makes other corrections. Having put a book into print it is probably out of date the day after publication which is one reason we have decided to keep this account as an internet based document permitting regular updates and corrections.
Note that landlords are often absentee and do not always indicate occupants of estates.
Some Landmarks in Beckenham's History
1100 - William de Insula (de Lisle) granted land in Beckenham land which had been Picot's and then Reginald Gahit to Christ Church, London
1150/60 - Some Beckenham and Clayherst land granted to Holy Trinity by King Stephen and Empress Matilda during "The Anarchy" when the crown was disputed between Stephen and Matilda.
1250 - Beckenham Manor Park, (The demesne lands around the manor, not Beckenham Place Park which occupies the land of Foxgrove Manor) was medieval and already established by the 1250s when mentioned in the land grant (in the British Library) by Sir Richard de la Rochelle to the Hospital of St Katherine next the Tower of London. In this grant the land included Beckenham Park, heriots and reliefs in the village of Beckenham, and the course of Hawk's brooks 'running from my park of Beckenham towards the land of the friars and sister of St Katherine with Hawk's brooks running from it. Rokeles are landlords.
1274 - Kent Hundred Roll, inquiry into Beckenham, first record of Foxgrove by name
1294 - Beckenham Manor; Post Mortem Inquisition; PHILIP DE LA ROKELE. His daughter Maud becomes heiress and ward of Richard de Chiggewell.
1300 - Beckenham Manor Inquisition to establish the age of Maud Rokele. Beckenham Manor passes from Rokele to Sir Maurice Bruyn by marriage to Maud/Matilda Rokele
1334 - Lay Subsidy Roll of taxation records payments by local landowners
1362/70 - (circa) Robert de Marny seizes control of Beckenham Manor as second husband of Alice Lacer, widow of William Bruyn,
1388 - Kenthouse seized into the King's hands, both landlord and lessee had died it seems.
1461 - Beckenham Manor divided between sisters Alice and Elizabeth Bruyn. The manor follows their respective husbands lines until the 17th C.
1484 – Beckenham Manor is seized by the King (Richard III) and restored to the heirs of Alice and Elizabeth Bruyn having been seized by William Brandon.
1500 – (circa) John Style d.1505 purchases Langley, inherited by his wife Elizabeth then to son Humphrey Style
1539 – The Reformation and beginning of parish records of baptisms, burials and marriages
1574 (circa) - Foxgrove acquired by Sir John Oliffe and will descend via his daughters marriage into the Leigh family of Addington and Hawley until 1712
1619 - Snelgrave and Dalston are subject to a case in the Court of Chancery regarding Beckenham Manor which probably results in the settlement of ownership as described in the 1623 map.
1623 - Map of Beckenham Manor for Henry Snellyer(Snelgrave) and John Dalston (only survives as a 1768 copy)
1639 and 1651 The St. John family purchase the two halves of Beckenham Manor
1659 – John and Thomas Philipott's Villare Cantianum, History of Kent published
1688 Kelsey is bought by Peter Burrell I
1712 Sir Francis Leigh of Hawley, landlord of Foxgrove dies, it passes by sale to Tolson in 1716
1720 Map of Foxgrove Manor (only survives as a later copy 1766)
1723 and 1735 Maps of the Burrell's Kelsey estate
1732 Hugh Raymond buys Langley and Simpsons Place
1735 a Map of Langley (referred to in archive and copied later 19th C)
1736 a map of Elmers End, Thayers Farm and The Mead in Beckenham High Street for Thomas Motley
1735/50 Jones Raymond's Map of the Southern part of Langley Place
1745 John Rocque produces a map of London and surrounding area which shows a ‘messuage’ on Stumpshill, described as Stoms Hill on his map.
1759/60 John Cator acquires the site of Beckenham Place Park mansion and some other fields in the Manor of Foxgrove and builds a fine stately house by 1762.
1766 redrawn map of Foxgrove Manor
1768 redrawn map of Beckenham Manor
1769 Andrews, Drury and Herbert’s map shows a house at Beckenham Place with a similar footprint to the current mansion on the site of the Rocque ‘messuage’.
1773 John Cator buys the Manor of Beckenham from Viscount Bolingbroke but the purchase is fraught with problems until 1780, very little of Manor of Beckenham land becomes or remains part of Beckenham Place Park.
1777 John Cator exchanges fields called Pill Crofts and Hop Ground adjoining his Stumps Hill house property from Amy Burrell, widow of Peter Burrell II
1785 John Cator closes roads crossing his estate and diverts the Beckenham to Southend road enclosing (enparking) his ‘park’. The lake may have been constructed at this time.
1793 John Cator exchanges land with Peter Burrell IV, Lord Gwydir to consolidate their estates, Cator effectively owns “North” Beckenham and Burrell most of “South” Beckenham
1799 An Ordnance Survey map drawing shows Bromley and Beckenham (Brit.Lib.)
1806 John Cator dies and his nephew John Barwell Cator inherits the Cator estates
1809 A map and estate book of the Burrell estates of Kelsey and Langley.
1820 Sir Peter Burrell IV, Lord Gwydir dies and the Beckenham estates of the Burrells of Langley, Kelsey and parts of Beckenham and Foxgrove Manors are sold.
1825 John Barwell Cator and trustees in the Cator family acquire a Private Act of Parliament which allows changes to the estates
1833 map of the Cator Estates
1840 to 1927 A series of tenants occupy Beckenham Place
1913 – Langley House fire destroys the house
1927 – The London County Council decides to buy Beckenham Place Park from the Cator Estate.
1929 – Beckenham Place Park Opened as a Public Park
1972 – Ownership of Beckenham Place Park passed to London Borough of Lewisham from the GLC
A Fuller History of Beckenham
There is certainly an imbalance in history accounts as they focus on more high profile personalities because their records are more easily found. Here we focus first on the places and then the people who passed through. The deeper we delve into detail then the more complex it becomes so some generalisations will be inevitable. Previous writers have tended to write about the main estates: Manor of Beckenham, Manor of Foxgrove, Langley estate and Kelsey estate. Then some histories consist of personal reminiscencies. Not much is known of events the further back we go but some individuals had connections with national events. If these are relevant I will include them. We have delved into various archives via online catalogues but only scratched the surface in many respects. But this has added some substance to the account. Various errors, potential errors or misunderstandings have been found in most accounts and if any are noticed in this version please bring it to our attention. Reviewing the transcriptions of old documents reveals that although a property appeared to ‘belong’ to a particular landlord it was often ‘held of’ someone else and was under a form of lease or enfeoffment. And then of course we can only get so far down the chain of occupation depending on surviving records.
Boundaries and Rivers
We cannot address the history of Beckenham in total isolation from its neighbours as the constituent properties and their ownership often spread into neighbouring parishes or boroughs. Indeed the current borough boundaries evolved from earlier parish boundaries and even they can be confused by boundaries between lathes and hundreds. For example Langley and Kelsey spread into West Wickham and Hayes with parts even in Bromley parish. Some Kelsey property extended into Croydon and Surrey. Some property in Beckenham belonged to manors based elsewhere ie Old Court Manor in Greenwich had a small property which came down to Morden College along with Old Court land. Foxgrove Manor straddled the Beckenham, Bromley and Lewisham borders. The landlords of Beckenham manors and estates often held property in other counties and their Beckenham property may have been secondary to their other estates i.e. the Rokeles and Bruyns having property in Essex and Hampshire with Essex appearing to be of higher status. Penge was more associated with Surrey and Battersea but became attached to Beckenham especially after the inception of the Greater London Boroughs a significant chunk of Surrey became Bromley, Kent and the proximity of Kent House to the boundary became almost irrevelant. During the period of the Beckenham Urban District Council some parts of Hayes and West Wickham were ‘within’ Beckenham but that was superceded by the Greater London Council and creation of Bromley as the overall governing body. During these changes in administrative boundaries the council offices in the first place took over the Old Manor House opposite St. George’s and subsequently built a town hall behind what is now Marks and Spencer’s car park and that was demolished when the Greater London Borough of Bromley was established.
The range of maps available show that the parish boundaries moved slightly over time. The northern boundary of Beckenham Manor has become the boundary between Bromley(Beckenham) and Lewisham(Bellingham) but modern boundary changes such as are deemed by the Boundary Commission can modify current day boundaries as Beckenham Place Park which straddled the Beckenham/Lewisham boundary is now entirely in the Borough of Lewisham and parts of Downham with BR postcodes are now in Lewisham..
Rivers running through the area are not navigable and the only canal, the Croydon Canal which ran through parts of Sydenham and Penge was short lived and soon taken over as a route for a railway. The main rivers are the Ravensbourne close to the eastern boundary of the area and the Beck which runs through the middle of Beckenham. This latter river is arguably The Hawksbrook (Hawks Brook) which is mentioned in ancient documents and survives in the name of Old Hawksbrook Lane. The Ravensbourne has some minor tributaries of spring fed streams and the the Beck has several tributaries such as the Chaffinch Brook which when it joins the Beck in what is now Cator Park they both become the Pool River. The Boundary stream which formed part of the Kent/Surrey border also joins the Pool in Cator Park. The Pool joins the Ravensbourne near Catford Bridge and the Ravensbourne joins the Thames at Deptford Creek after the Ravensbourne and Quaggy merge near Lewisham railway station. 20th Century flood prevention has put several rivers into culverts and some earlier 19th Century land improvement for agriculture rerouted and straightened some stretches of rivers while land drainage ditches diverted ground water into the river network. There is a network of both named and unnamed drainage watercourses. Some are seasonal and some spring fed. From the map record we can see ponds and lakes which have either changed over time and in some cases dried up or filled in.
account may focus largely on
the early history of Beckenham which is more of a mystery up to 1900 as
later and recent history has probably been adequately covered in
other publications, not least those of Rob Copeland, Patricia Manning, Eric
Inman et al.
Maybe Beckenham has always been a bit of a backwater as it isn't on a major road to anywhere and this might have retarded its urbanization for longer than nearby places on major roads and perhaps made it an attraction for country retreats up until the 19th Century.
The A21 and A22 byepass it and radial routes such as the South Circular and A232 pass north and south of it. A Roman road which is said to have passed through the area from London to Lewes has not survived as a noticeable local road but its route is noticeable through some open spaces.
However some notable personages resided or held property in and around Beckenham from Religious Orders, Lords Mayor of London, Aldermen, Merchants, Large Landowners and Knights, Baronets or Peers of the Realm.
It is difficult to separate Beckenham from its surrounding neighbours as land ownership was not confined by parish boundaries. The same landlords would hold property near and far and what they held in Beckenham could often be a minor part of their property.
In the earliest times when all land was owned by the King estates were awarded for enfeoffment more often than not to knights who did service to the King. They in turn could enfeoff others by some form of lease and so on until one comes to the tenants who actually worked the land or carried out some form of craft. As time went by some people acquired a form of freehold property (fee simple) being yeoman. There were a few large landowners with tenant farmers and workers, also, some smallholdings and private houses, some of which were described as mansions or great houses. Below that was a level of Husbondmen or husbandman; the old word for a tenant farmer below the rank of yeoman. A husbandman usually held his land by copyhold or leasehold tenure and may be regarded as the ‘average farmer in his locality’. The words ‘yeoman’ and ‘husbandman’ were gradually replaced in the later 18th and 19th centuries by ‘farmer’. Either as gentlemen farmers owning their own land or tenant farmers. The county of Kent had a custom of gavelkind which meant that inherited property was divided among the sons and hence the properties became divided into smaller holdings. When the Styles acquired Langley they succeeded in ‘disgavelling’ the property so that it followed primo geniture.
In many cases the larger landowners were mainly absentee landlords leasing estates in smaller lots whereas some accounts have recorded them as occupiers. Several instances show the value of estates expressed in rental income. There are also instances of the smaller landowners leasing additional land from the larger estates.
Property was often held in a trust so that heirs could not dispose of the main body of their estates and wills would often prescribe that property was inherited ‘in tail’ by the next generation or most senior heir. This happened with the St. John’s of Beckenham Manor until Frederick St. John acquired an Act of Parliament permitting him to dismember the St. John estates. Also Jones Raymond, Peter Burrell and John Cator acquired an Act to exchange lands in 1759 which was carried out in stages upto 1793 and later John Barwell Cator acquired an Act to allow exchange, lease and development of the Cator estates in 1825. Lack of a full evidence trail often raises questions as to how particular landlords acquired property or how estates became fragmented.
We have relied here to a very great extent upon the transcriptions made of early documents by untold scholars often from Latin and in ancient handwriting. Sometimes errors were made in transcriptions but we can bring some attentions to likely errors. Several documents mention sums of money in pounds sterling or in marks. The value of a mark has been generally assumed to be 13shillings and 8pence since 1066. Some scholars have appeared to translate 1mark to 1pound. Some documents cite donations of 6shillings and 8pence (half a mark) or 3shillings and 4pence (a quarter of a mark) to churches for memorial functions like lighting of candles to saints or to the poor of the parish. So some form of tariff is likely to have existed. If my estimation is correct then £1 = 1.5 marks (13s/4d + 6s/8d). If 1groat was worth 4d then there would have been 40 groats to 1mark or 60 groats to £1.
With a small population recorded as 1,000 in 1801 which rose to 26,000 in 1901 development or growth was slow. The only way to estimate earlier populations would be through “Bills of Mortality” which were only calculated for London assessed from church baptisms and burials. A similar process for Beckenham would be difficult as the church registers are not fully transcribed and are in a poor condition. The transcription we have for burials is of unknown origin but from an earlier work in the late 1800’s and someone has put it into a spreadsheet which though not perfect is a solid foundation. But church registers only began in 1539 and anything before that date is only recorded in other documents. Robert Borrowman who made some assessment from parish records before those records became damaged would be worth re-reading for some enlightenment.
The burial register can give some indications dependent upon certain assumptions. For instance if the average lifespan is said to be 40 years then taking the total of 40 yearsworth of burials should give an indication of average population. From 1539 to 1578 inclusive total burials were 550. St.George’s was the only cemetery in the parish until the late 18th C. Average lifespan is said to have risen to about 50 years so if we take burials from 1701-1750 inclusive being 1249 that could make a reasonable comparison, do tell me if you disagree.
Another thing the burial records tell us is perhaps an indication of diseases. We find that some families suffered a number of deaths in a particular year. The Violets for instance had six deaths from March to May 1575 all being the children of Henry Violet but we don’t know their ages or whether Henry is the one buried in 1561. So much more could be revealed if births and marriages were available. We are thankful however for the work of others in producing the burial data in a useable electronic form. Again Borrowman found some information in wills with references to ‘pestilences’ which could be plague or smallpox.
The burial records also permit some investigation into family trees and wills alongside genealogy websites. The thus far absence of any transcription of christening or marriage records for Beckenham is hampering research to a large extent but some of the wills researched are revealing more about the yeomen and husbondmen at least where wills are present. This still leaves large gaps where no will existed or survived.
The large landowners were either long term family inheritors or people who had purchased estates as a means of ‘banking’ their wealth. Many if not most have been found to be absentee landlords and their Beckenham property part of much wider ranging estates. The estates did change hands fairly regularly and the landowners’ names are also associated with estates elsewhere so Beckenham was not by any means a sole family seat for many. The long term landowners included the Leighs of Addington who inherited Foxgrove Manor through intermarriage, the St. Johns/Lords Bolingbrokes of Beckenham Manor whose main base was in Battersea, the Brograves of Kelsey and the Styles of Langley. The Burrells arrived in the late 17th Century buying Kelsey and the Raymonds in 1732 who bought Langley. Wealth accumulated from business was often invested in land purchase which in turn generated rents and other income. The Cators made their presence felt from the mid 18th C and other names of note were Burrell, Raymond, Lethieullier, Batt, Brett, King, Motley, Austin, Hoare, Eden. Some family lines died out or merged with other families via female heirs and widows. In the medieval period widows could not hold property and they were 'married off' to suitors often chosen by the monarch. This may have been the case with Alice le Brun who was matched with Robert de Marny. Heirs who had not reached their majority would be placed under guardianship as with Ingram or Ingelram Brun.
Often the absence of an heir led to sale of estates as with the Styles of Langley whose female heiress married into the Elwills who then sold to Hugh Raymond, or heirs favoured other places and sold their Beckenham property as with Frederick St. John/Lord Bolingbroke in 1773 and the Burrells in 1820 after the death of Peter Burrell/Baron Gwydir, and the Cators gradually from about 1808. More than one landlord needed to sell estates to pay off debts as with the heirs of Francis Leigh of Hawley who owned Foxgrove at his death. The histories written by Thomas Philipot (1659) and Edward Hasted (1778 and 1797) relate the chain of exchange of ownership but these also miss some fine detail. Other significant landowners were the Tolsons, Motleys, Austins, Pughs, Willis, Humphrey and Lethieulliers. Maps and land deeds discovered show the patchwork of fields and estates with ownership almost jumbled in some cases. Large estates were divided into farms with for example Langley being divided into 4 or 5 farms with all but one being leased to tenants. In 1737 Thayers Farm and Elmers End Old and New Farms were owned by Thomas Motley who also owned a fine house and grounds in Beckenham village. Around this time the Lethieulliers owned Kent House Farm and the site of Clockhouse. A few generations later and the land was either left or sold to others.
We find common links with the South Sea Company or East India Company, sometimes both. These were sources of income and wielded significant power. Often the landowners were members of parliament not necessarily for Beckenham but for other areas ie the Burrells for Haslemere and Boston and Cator for Wallingford and Stockbridge. Being a member of parliament and a member of the South Sea or East India Company enabled them to influence decisions in favour of their interests. Some smaller land or property owners had businesses such as Dying and Tanning in London or Southwark, just as the Cators would start with a timber business. It is surprising how many landowners were in the legal profession and held administrative posts from Sherrif to Justice of the Peace. In the medieval period several knights were close to the monarch, from whom they derived their property and power.
Each century had its periods of turmoil both domestically and internationally which often impacted local affairs such as the Wars of the Roses, The Dissolution of the Monastaries, The English Civil War, the Great Plague, the Restoration of the Monarchy, wars between Britain and France, such as the War of the Spanish Succession, The 7 Years War, The war of American Independence and the later Napoleonic Wars. The social conditions bordered on the barbaric both domestically and internationally. Felons could be transported to the Americas up to the time of the American Revolution and to Australia thereafter or hung for quite minor offences. The working class, poor and slaves were all treated harshly. Felons could be transported into slavery and apprentices were indentured for 7 or more years into a situation of indentured ownership by their masters. The two World Wars affected the population with the loss of life among soldiers in the First World War, and both soldiers and civilians in the Second World War. In WW1 several buildings were used by the military and in WWII bomb damage was significant in the borough and at least 2 POW camps were established which themselves narrowly missed being hit by bombs.
Religion has not left any visible signs of turmoil although the parish church would have been Catholic prior to Henry VIII's split from Rome. After Henry VIII’s split from Rome the Protestant/Catholic divisions gave rise to recusant families who were subject to some fines and property confiscations and this affected at least one family in our researches, the Vaux’s or Vaus of Northamptonshire, also known as Lords Harrowden of Essex. They were landlords of Foxgrove for some time. Whether it was due to their noble status, we find that their prosecution was restricted to fines although of substantial value. Though some claims have been made that dissenters such as the Cators as Quakers suffered persecution, that persecution often was only in the form of fines for not attending the recognized Church of England or for not paying tythes or taxes and it seems that the nonconformists could in most cases afford the fines levied upon them.
The Law played its part in various land processes as the Court of Chancery commonly has records of disputes and settlements regarding Beckenham properties. Some comparisons brought up by this account show that Bolingbroke entered into a subterfuge with Cator amounting to thousands of pounds with no penalty whereas someone stealing a couple of window frames was transported for 7 years and others sentenced to death for theft of low value goods. Earlier in 1720 several notable persons committed large frauds and embezzlements under the South Sea Bubble affair and in most cases quite minor financial penalties were applied.
Beckenham was one of many places easily in reach of London but away from the pollution and dirt of the City of London and hence a place to have a country house. A long list of London merchants, aldermen, lawyers, sea captains took up residence. Admiral Sir Piercy Brett moved into Clockhouse in the 18th Century and John Cator’s brother Joseph moved in after Brett’s death in 1882. The village had large houses such as The Mead, The Ridge, Beckenham Lodge, The Manor House and a substantial Rectory. The mid to late 19th century saw the building of large villas with coach houses and stables.
Frederick St. John (Lord Bolingbroke) had married Diana Spencer but his debts and subsequent broken marriage led him to dispose of estates in Battersea and Beckenham but there is no evidence that the St.Johns ever resided in Beckenham though some resided in the Manor of Battersea.
Investing money in a landed estate which brought in rents from tenant farmers and house rents was akin to ‘buy to let’ as it is carried on today. Even the middle class and aristocracy often rented property as opposed to buying it. Many documents relate to leases of property although in isolation they may be seen as transfers, several releases of property are later reversed by a return of the property to the original holder. For example the Bruyns Beckenham Manor fell under the influence of Robert de Marny as he married the widowed Alice Bruyn, then it was transferred to the local rector or clergyman Martham, only to be returned to the Bruyns under Ingram Bruyn. The reasons for these transfers are mostly unknown but basically financial or enfeoffments for some service. The Fines or Final Accords which evidenced these transfers and leases often lack detail. Since we only have the ‘Foot of Fine’, the third part, then the other two parts which the buyer and seller or lessor and lessee have may hold more details?
For some background I would recommend ‘London Life in the Eighteenth Century’ by M.Dorothy George, which is probably out of print, as being well researched and probably used since as source material by other authors.
The Monarchs of England
As early documents usually cited the regnal year of the monarch in their dating system it helps to have some understanding of the order of Monarchs. It was never my strong suit at school so references to websites such as https://www.britannica.com/topic/Kings-and-Queens-of-Britain-1856932 or Wikipedia are useful. Also understanding that ‘year 1’ of the particular monarch is when they came to the throne as no dates cite ‘year 0’ which I didn’t grasp for some time so year 1 Richard III is 1483. This is sometimes confused by the month in which the monarch came to the throne as 'year 1' might run from any month in one year to the same month the following year but can only put us out by a matter of months. Apart from the dating system the impact on local history comes from the governance which comes down from the monarch. Examples being that lands were granted to prominant persons or confiscated and seized into the crown's possession. Some of our local landlords had significant positions in government and the royal court. On occasion the crown passed from one monarch to another through conflict which also affected local history such as the changes in possession due to the 1066 Conquest.
Pre-history to the Medieval Period
Evidence in the landscape shows that geologically the area was under a shallow sea 54 million years ago in the Eocene period as in some areas the Blackheath and Woolwich Beds or Harwich Formation of shingle emerge through the London Clay. In one area of Beckenham Place Park there is an exposed conglomerate (concretion) of the Blackheath Beds which is shingle cemented together with lime and sand. In other areas the London Clay is on the surface in varying depths covered with a thin layer of topsoil being leaf mould, loam or silt deposits. Some valleys have accumulations of silts forming meads and meadows. The geology would affect the later use of the land and economy. Clay soil has always been difficult to work for crops so often left for grazing or woodland. Valley silts and loams were probably favoured for arable farming. Locally there have been brick fields utilising clay and sand. Gravel pits and lime kilns were present all using the natural resources laid down geologically. The nature of the ground would affect the economy as some land was poor for agriculture such as Penge Common. Clay areas and woodland were a major source of fuel and building material. There are a few references to lime kilns which would need both chalk and woodland fuel for the improvement of soil. At least one lease agreement requires the lessee to manure and lime the land regularly. There are some records of landowners providing timber for naval dockyards. The Chalk is mostly several metres below the surface but the existence of lime kiln fields indicates that some chalk was available, maybe coming from the Chislehurst Caves or similar places where chalk is nearer the surface.
During the Mesolithic, Bronze and Iron ages there was probably occupation although not much by way of remains has been found. On the land of Langley Park, a Bronze Age metalwork hoard was found: it comprised four socketed axes, three winged axes, weapon fragments and copper ingots. There are hill forts and earthworks within walking distance at Keston, Halsted and Westerham, also some mention of flint tools found near West Wickham. An overview of this period can be drawn from Len Hevey's "Early History of Beckenham". He draws attention to Kingswood Glen, an area of woodland that was bequeathed to Beckenham Council in 1962 by its owners, two sisters, who stipulated it should be preserved and protected. Research undertaken over the years has established that the land had remained unchanged for up to 800 years and may once have been the site of an Anglo-Saxon hill fort, the ponds believed to be fire pits. Tree and plant species suggest it is ancient woodland and the park is designated as an important site for nature conservation.
During the Roman occupation of Britain a road passed through the Beckenham area en route from Lewes in Sussex to Londinium. Different projections for the route of the road exist and as Beckenham has been redeveloped several times I would have thought more evidence would have surfaced, literally. The visible evidence is found by scorch marks in Sparrows Den, West Wickham and on Langley Park Golf Course as well as across a sports ground adjacent to Langley Park School. An archaeological dig in Bellingham also revealed evidence of the surface. It seems to have been mainly of gravel construction probably as that was the most readily available material. It is perhaps logical or a coincidence that several ancient settlements are close to its route.
The Roman town of Novio Magnus is said to have been adjacent to what is now St. John’s Church near Wickham Court and straddled the London to Lewes Roman Road. The proximity of places such as West Wickham, Langley, Kelsey and Stone Farm, Beckenham Manor, Foxgrove Farm etc to the route of the road may be indicative of other Roman settlement along the road. Much of this may have disappeared as building materials were recycled and robbed out.
Roman remains exist not far away at Keston, Titsey and Orpington. In the area where the roman road is projected to have crossed Beckenham Place Park before the park was established there was a quarry or gravel pit and a lane called Limekiln Lane maybe indicating that there were lime rich deposits or chalk here. Whether these were part of the Blackheath Bed conglomerate or underlying Chalk near the surface we cannot say. I’m told the chalk would be about 100 feet/30metres below the surface. A property redevelopment in 2021 in the private road of Beckenham Place shows a deep dell on the position of the gravel pit or quarry. As much of Beckenham has been redeveloped more than once it is curious that so few historic remains have been found. The Roman road structure was said to have been mainly gravel and as the area is largely of gravel composition then over time the road may have fallen into disrepair, the course became obscured and diversions created around areas which may have become impassable. Also we have to consider the local waterways, although not considerable, would have required crossing with bridges or fords and this may have caused the road to deviate from the accepted Roman practice of building straight roads wherever practical. One source suggests the road crossed what is now Langley Park Golf course and may have gone through Kelsey Park. Certainly some aerial photos show the route of the road across some of this area. Some local roads though not straight do approximately follow these lines. Various landlords had roads diverted around their estates and the various stages of settlement and farming could have erased or buried many features. The course of the road is plain to see through Edenbridge and several other places but does not seem to have survived in any form through Beckenham.
The course of the Roman Road near Langley Park School across Old Dunstonians sports field, also visible at Sparrow’s Den and New Addington.
Any evidence we have for an ancient road system can be compared to the route of the Roman road and the roads on the earliest maps circa 1720-40. Before roads were metalled with gravel, cobbles or tarmac they would have increasingly meandered around boggy or subsided stretches in many cases. We can imagine the Roman road deteriorating through wear, erosion or subsidence and becoming disused while settlements along it still needed tracks, paths and roads. The 18th century saw several road diversions, installation of new roads and turnpikes and rerouting to improve transport links.
Part of the Gordon Ward composite sketch map showing the road pattern (Kent Archive)
Unfortunately, very little survives locally of any Ango-Saxon, Medieval and Tudor etc. One of the oldest structures is the lych gate of St. George’s. It is said that parts of the Old Manor house survive in the facade and interior of the building opposite the church which is now a restaurant. Even the church was rebuilt in the Victorian period after fire damaged the previous medieval incarnation but some old memorials remain. The Alms houses next to the church and the George Inn are dated to the 17th century. The Anglo-Saxon administration survives in the old maps as the Park is in the Hundred of Bromley and Beckenham which is in the bailiwick or Lathe of Sutton at Hone. We do have recourse to documentary evidence about Beckenham and surrounding areas in various archives certainly from the Domesday entry and documents related to land transfers and taxation. These will be inserted into the timeline where available or discovered. Thanks to Keith Baldwin for diligent research here.The Black Death introduced the bubonic plague here in the 14th Century and fairly regular outbreaks occurred which impacted the population. Other diseases such as smallpox, diptheria, measles etc were also serious and these kept the population in check regardless of wealth.
The works of Thomas Philipot and Edward Hasted revealed an ever changing web of ownership, intermarriage, selling and transfer of properties all over Kent. In some cases estates were handed out by the Crown only to be seized again when some misdemeanour took place e.g. The Boleyn’s having Hever confiscated by Henry VIII after Anne Boleyn’s alleged adultery and his subsequent award of it to Anne of Cleves when he repudiated her. And later, the St. Johns had a chequered history, with one being excluded from Parliament on the Restoration of Charles II, Another being convicted of murder but a pardon purchased from the Crown, Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke may or may not have been a landlord of Beckenham Manor, but he was attained for treason for supporting the Jacobites, exiled in France for some time and subsequently had his properties and titles restored to him which some might say was lucky for him. He however died without issue. Frederick St. John who sold the Manor of Beckenham lands to John Cator had a failed marriage with Diana Spencer and seems to have dissipated the St.John estates almost single handedly. The manors and estates around Beckenham had complex histories which are explained in the following timeline.
The Reverend William Rose had a Georgian rectory built to an Adam Brother's design but that gave way to a town hall and now a branch of Marks and Spencer and its car park which cover the site. He also had designed if not built sumptuous stables as he appears to have been a keen horseman at a time when horses were the equivalent of fast cars.
Perhaps the George public house in the high street is the oldest most complete structure locally and that passed through the hands of the Cator Estate and is listed in the 1825 Act properties along with the Crooked Billet in Penge.
Those are some of the unknowns which await the discovery of firm evidence.
Over the course of time some family names disappear and others take their place. Before the start of parish baptism, marriage and death records in 1539 we have to rely on other documentary evidence for records of names. Only the major personages got recorded for the most part such as large land owners or some of their tenants. To date the most informative records are the St.George’s burial records which have been transcribed by other historians and we can process the data quite easily. This was complicated by the fact that St.George’s records were damaged in storage during WWII. Some early registers such as muster rolls and tax rolls reveal some old names and we mention the Lay Subsidy Rolls which list several familiar names. The emergence of some names leads to recognition of smaller landowners and raises the question as to how yeomen landowners acquired their property as it was thought that ‘lords of the manor’ and other landlords owned all of the land.
Prior to 1539 the names are derived from various Court Rolls, Inquisitions and Fines. Eventually these names will have links to more extensive family information.
Rokele, Burghersh, Bruyn, Burrell, Raymond, Leigh, Snelgrave, Batt, Kempsall, (more to be added). But this 'Families' section may grow to warrant its own page via a link.
The early writers recorded Beckenham by referring to its major landowners and estates divided into Beckenham Manor, Foxgrove Manor, Kelsey and Langley. Philipot did not record Kent House although it had been documented in records since the 14th Century. It was briefly recorded by Hasted and Lysons but only from the late 17th Century when the Lethieulliers occupied it. Essentially these early writers only recorded the gentry and substantial estates. But those accounts overlooked substantial other properties around the district owned by yeomem or leased to husbondmen (tenant farmers). What has become more evident is the number of other properties of various sizes that existed alongside these major estates which we attempt to explain in references to ‘other properties’ in both the preamble and the timeline. If one takes the names of the landlords and searches for instance Philipot or Hasted's accounts for the rest of Kent we find that most large landlords held diverse properties often in several counties. Also, Philipot and Hasted as well as contemporaries and later writers were almost producing directories of landlords, their estates, lineages and locations. Along with the maps of Rocque and Andrews, Drury, Herbert these formed a who's who and A to Z of Kent. The brevity of early accounts overlooks some interesting detail which we and writers like Len Hevey have tried to include.
We have found that Philipot and Hasted also made some errors or wrong conclusions perpetuated by others which we attempt to identify and rectify here.
The land constituting the main estates was perhaps more fluid in ownership and was often exchanged or purchased between landlords. Several instances of exchanges and purchases are recorded and we wonder what other ‘movements’ of ownership occurred without any surviving record.
The numbers of land owning Yeomen and leaseholding Husbondmen or farmers is significant and where we find records of messuages, smallholdings and farms we will attempt to add them. They are often discovered in Feet of Fines, leases, wills and on some maps. The family names then appear in burial records in many cases after 1539.
I'll quote Philipot's and Hasted's passages but then I'll divide them into their relevant timeslots on the timeline. Hopefully this will put things into context and demonstrate which events were contemporary with one another. It will also correct or dispute some of their statements based on rediscovered evidence and the substantiated accounts by others. We have perhaps found more discrepancies than we anticipated.
We have to give credence to the early writers as they, in many cases, consulted landlords for access to deeds and family histories. But some errors could have occurred even now we find some families have slightly distorted or limited records of their own histories.
It bears repeating that the landholdings were interwoven by complex ownership of sometimes individual fields quite distant from the landlords’ base. So it is difficult and even impossible in some instances to clarify all property ownership especially when the land holding extends over parish or county boundaries as was often the case. The properties held by yeomen were intermingled with the larger estates and sometimes consumed by them in purchases as well as the smaller properties themselves being divided and leased. Often the resident landowner, yeoman or farmer would lease parts of other estates, for instance, in the 18th Century Beckenham Manor under Frederick St. John (Lord Bolingbroke) was leased to several neighbouring landlords and tenants including Cator and Burrell prior to his sale to Cator. Similar details can be found for the earlier Manor of Beckenham under the Bruyns who seem to have favoured Essex as a family seat for some of the time.
Several instances of apparent change of landlord have been discovered to be transfers within the same extended family which even if not by inheritance but by sale has influenced the transaction.
Feet of Fines or Final Accords which are thought to be evidence of sales of property are often used to transact leases with property eventually returning to the original landlord. Some writers including us have been confused by some of these documents. Other Feet of Fines can be put together to evidence a chain of exchanges.
the way we see several or even countless Court of Chancery cases
dealing with property issues which arose through inheritance, sales and
contesting of wills. We have added whatever documents we can find
the work of diverse people who have transcribed documents, produced
directories over the years and the subsequent transferring of data onto
internet. Some documents confuse matters as they imply land was
permanently but is subsequently returned to or reclaimed by the
rendering the document as a lease rather than a freehold transfer. As
property was held by grant from the crown then in some cases
reclamation by the
crown deprived the landlord of ownership.
Apart from a few insights we can't fully trace the occupancy of land as many landlords had tenants to manage farms. An undated map of Langley circa 1740-50 records some tenants and surrounding landowners and an estate book of 1809 of the Burrell etates shows leased occupancy. Material exists for the Cator estate circa 1860 through maps and records. Probably the full picture would hold so much munitiae as to be uninteresting but we will try to show a more comprehensive picture than hitherto published. As we research families from burial records and documents we discover the wills of people that describe land and tenants which are frustratingly difficult to accurately place but nevertheless insightful. Various records give some evidence occupation and tenancy such as court disputes, marriage settlements and indentures. By searching the main protagonists through The National Archive we can find numberous Court of Chancery cases relating to property but without getting sight of the documents it is impossible to unravel the details which might be quite tedious in most cases.
Along the way various purchases and exchanges of land changed the structure of the manors and estates. The most significant changes came during the 18th C. when the estates of Langley and Kelsey became merged under the Burrells. Foxgrove became divided between the Raymonds, Burrells and Cator. Then in the last decade of the century the exchange between Cator and Burrell effectively disolved the manors of Foxgrove and Beckenham although the epicentre of Foxgrove was in Cators possession and parts of Beckenham Manor were in Burrells possession. If the ancient manors and estates had any fixed origins at all then they had been redistributed to a great extent.
Charles Dickens probably got his Jarndice versus Jarndice idea from some of
events in the same way that Jane Austen used her experiences of her
family for her novels.
Several references have been dated by translating the Regnal Year ie '18 Edward II' is 1324. Edward II reigned from 1307-1327, 1307 is year 1. There are some discrepancies here as regnal years did not always run January to December but are based on the date on which the sovereign claimed the throne or was crowned.
The Manor of Beckenham
This Manor has a complicated history because of its transfers of ownership and division into two moieties or parts under the two Bruyn sisters and a subsequent rejoining by two purchases by the St.Johns circa1635-1650. Philipot even indicates that one moiety was divided further between Henry Parke and Ralph Warren but that is assumed by Lysons to be related to loans or morgages as the manor returned to the Tyrells.
Several ‘foot of fine’ records which were thought to relate to sales have been found to relate to leases so there is the probability of the property being leased to Parke and Warren.
During a particularly turbulent time in its history the manor was in the hands of John Martham the priest of St. George’s as lord of the manor under what appears to be a lease from the Bruyns and the Marnys. The widowed Alice Bruyn nee le Lacer took a second husband, Robert de Marny, and the manor subsequently returned to the Bruyns under Ingram or Ingelram Bruyn.
A comparison of Philipot, Hasted and Lysons reveals several differences and some modern day sources also bring some of their details into question i.e. Isolde (Rokele) is now thought to be of unknown family and Maud de la Rokele is the heiress who brought the Beckenham Manor into the Bruyn/Brun family. Eric Inman and and Nancy Tonkin’s publication ‘Beckenham’ is one of the publications recording this correction but their publication then mentions ‘Anne Boleyn’ instead of Anne of Cleves in another reference to Beckenham Manor. The Manor lands were also spread and divided geographically from near Beckenham Parish Church St. George's up to Rockhills which is now Crystal Palace Parade with other isolated fields and messuages. As Kelsey is thought to emerge as land acquired from the Bruyns it is certainly possible that Kelsey was once part of Beckenham Manor as it lies between the two parts or moieties and other dismembered parts of Beckenham Manor.
The Manor does not appear to be a primary residence of any of its landlords, probably being leased or let for much of its existence. The Rokeles had South Ockendon in Essex (Ockenden Rokele) and the Bruyn's apparently favoured Essex. The St.Johns based in Battersea had come from Wiltshire. Maybe members of the extended families resided at Beckenham? Certainly most of the landlords had other residences.We are also dependant upon the translations from Latin of early documents. Research is revealing that the descent of the manor via the Bruyns was complex and involved with several other manors in Essex, Hampshire and elsewhere. Although Beckenham Manor may not have featured very highly in state affairs it was connected with several events through its owners.
Various disputes about ownership drew in several families. Robert de Marny more or less seized ownership from the Bruyns after marrying Alice the widow of one Maurice Bruyn and later William Brandon did the same after marrying Elizabeth, one of the daughters of Henry Bruyn and a widow of Tyrell. Some of these protagonists were close to the crown and held high positions. Sometimes they fell foul of the crown and were attained for treason as with William Brandon under Richard III and Walter St.John under William and Mary.
Writers such as Robert Borrowman speculate that the odd outline of Beckenham Parish is due to the finding of a body which was claimed by the Parish when the most likely reason is that part of Beckenham Manor extended to Rockhills which is demonstrated on the 1623 map according to the 1768 copy. One reference describes one half or moiety of Beckenham Manor having 40 messuages giving some idea of the number of tenancies in the manor from farmsteads to smallholdings.
Philipott says: (dates inserted might be a 1 year difference)
“Bekenham near Bromley helps to give Name to the Hundred wherein it is placed, and of old time was held by Gentlemen, called in Latine Records de Rupella, in French de la Rochel, and in English Rokeley, and were in their original Etymologie extracted from Rochel in France, Richard de Rokeley died seised of this Mannor, in the fifth year of Edward the first,(1276) and was succeeded in the Possession by Philip de la Rokeley, and he held it likewise at his Death, which hapened in the 23 year of Edw. the first,(1295) and left it to his Sole Daughter and Heir Isolda de la Rokeley matched to William Bruin, by whom She had Issue Sir Maurice Bruin, Chamberlaine to K. Edw. the third, honoured with the Summons to Parliament as Baron amongst the Peers of this Realm, who by a Right derived to him from his Mother, was possest of this at his Death, in the twenty ninth of Edward the third,(1356) and transmitted a wide and spreading Revenue to his Posterity here, at Southokenden in Essex, and at Roumere in Hantshire, which last was given in Appendage to a younger Son, from whom the Bruins of Athelhampton in the County of Dorset, are lineally descended. But when after a fair continuance this Family had flourished at this Place, the Distaffe prevailed against the Speare, and Sir Henry Bruins two Daughters and Coheirs about the Beginning of Edward the fourth (1461), divided his Inheritance, each of them having a first and second Husband: Alice the eldest was first married to Robert Harleston of Essex Esquire, and after to Sir Thomas Heveningham; and Elizabeth second Daughter was wedded first to Thomas Tirrell of Heron in Essex Esquire, and after his Decease to Sir William Brandon Knight, who was Standard-bearer to Henry the seventh at Bosworth Field,(1485) where he was slain in asserting his Cause and Quarrel against Richard the third, and he had Issue by her Sir Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk (1484), the Flower and perfection of English Chivalrie in his Time, who sometimes kept his Residence at this place, (not as Proprietarie, but onely as Lessee, for the Sole Inheritance upon the Division of Bruin's Estate accrued to Tirrell;) and here entertained Henry the eighth, with all the Cunning Pompe of Magnificence, as he went to bestow a Visit at Hever, on his discarded, and repudiated wife Ann of Cleve (1540-45). But to go on, this Mannor as I said before, being annexed to the patrimony of Thomas Tirrell, Humphrey Tirrell his Grandchild to whom it descended, passed away one Moietie of it in the thirty fifth year of Henry the eighth (1543) to Ralph Warren, and the other to Henry Parke; Warren alienated his Proportion not long after to Bradbury, from which Family about the latter End of Q. Eliz.(1603) it came over by Sale to Serjeant Gent,(not traced) who gave it in Dower with his Daughter to Sir George Dalston of Cumberland,(married 11 Feb. 1605, Catherine (bur. 22 July 1614), da. of John Tamworth of Halsted, Leics.) (History of Parliament online) who in our Memory conveyed it to Sir Patrick Curwin of the same County, and he some few years since sold his Interest in it to Sir Oliver St. John of Batricksey in Surrey,(abt 1635) who upon his Decease (1639) gave it to his Son then Mr. Walter, but now upon the Death of his Nephew (1657), Sir Walter St. John Baronet, the other Moitie by Joan sole Heir of the abovesaid Henry Parke, came to be the Inheritance of Mr. Robert Leigh descended out of Cheshire, whose Successor about the latter End of King James (1625) alienated it to Sir Henry Snelgrave, from whom it descended to his Grandchild Mr. Henry Snelgrave, who not long since passed it away (1648 to the Evelyn brothers then in 1651) to Mr. Walter, now Sir Walter St. John Baronet, who lately hath exchanged the whole Mannor, for other Land with his Brother Mr. Henry St. John.”
can we add?
Hasted's account is different in several respects extending and perhaps correcting Philipot? It can be found at https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-kent/vol1/pp527-550 . And Hasted's second edition volume 2 includes some corrections to the entry in volume 1 which in turn raise some additional questions regarding accuracy.
situation surrounding the division of the manor requires some
explanation not least in which parts were the manor divided. One record
describes the widow of Bruyn holding one third of the manor which may
been divided between the two daughters but as widows often held all or
a property in dower then such property would pass to the heirs on the
death. Philipot describes the two Bruyn daughters as having two
while Hasted describes, more accurately, three each although he has
some in the
wrong order. Other writers put the husbands in different orders.
Post Mortem Inquisition can be taken as a correction and we record it
timeline. Philipot describes Dalston marrying a daughter of Sergeant
whereas Hasted and History of Parliarment state he married a daughter
of Thomas Tyrrel/Tirrel. The mention of one moietie being purchased by
Leigh has been traced to his burial in 1567 and a record refers to this
also leasing the other moietie of the Manor circa 1570. Complicated by
existence of other Leigh families or different strands of the same
Robert Leigh is not connected to the Leighs of Addington or the Leighs
Hawley branch of that family which acquired Foxgrove who descend from
Addington Leighs. In 1639 Henry Snelgrave
died in Beckenham and is buried in St. George's. His will mentions
properties in other counties. Circa 1659 Clement Harleston sold his
Oliver St. John
In 1648 and 1651 there are records in Surrey Archive for transfers of money and property between Henry Snellgrave (Grandson of Sir Henry) and Richard, George and John Evelyn the latter being the famous diarist. A case in the Court of Chancery shows John Evelyn as plainiff and Henry Snelgrave, grandson of Sir Henry as defendant. It appears that the Evelyns advanced money in the form of a mortgage and maybe Snelgrave was unable to repay
sold this part and Henry Snelgrave is included on the document probably
as having some share of the ownership in 1650 to two St. John brothers
Walter and Henry. Sir
St. John's part was left to his son, John who died young and it became
property of his uncle Walter St. John who also aquired the baronet
two halves of Beckenham Manor were thus joined under Walter St. John.
descended to Frederick St. John who exchanged the manor house and Court
for Woolseys Farm with Peter Burrell in 1757 and sold the rest to John
1773, but that is a simplification of events which will be explained in
timeline. The map of 1623 copied in 1768 is the best illustration we
the complexity of the Beckenham Manor properties.
There is certainly more to discover or explain.
The early assessments of the 'de la Rokeles', Rokell or Rokeleys have been revised from Philipot and Hasted’s as Maud de la Rokele was married to Sir Maurice le Brun/le Brune/Bruyn and not Isolde de la Rokele. Isolde was married to Maurice's father William le Brun and no one knows her family name but she is described as of the 'House of Queen Eleanor' as a Maid of Honour (source: Sir John Maclean 1876). Another name attributed to Philip de la Rokele is Philip de Rupellis. As well as the manor of Beckenham, Matilda(Maud) carried the manor of Okendon in Essex to the Bruyn family. The biography of Maurice le Brune would indicate very little direct contact with Beckenham except as landlord so leases and tenants would be of more interest. Manors with alternative names such as Wokyndon Rokell or South Wokyndon are mentioned and Hasted connects Rokele with several Kent manors.
Later we find that another Maurice le Bruyn married to Alice le Lacer assigned his property to Robert de Marney, de Marney later married Alice when she was widowed and de Marney had a reputation for riding rough shod over anyone connected with him. See History of Parliament for his entry which describes his ruthless nature. But Beckenham Manor and other land return to Ingram Bruyn and his heirs circa 1400.
We take issue with several details of both Philipot and Hasted such as the omission of the manor passing through the hands of the Evelyns although briefly and detail about John Cator's acquisition in Hasted is wrong in several respects ignoring or not discovering that Cator arrived in Beckenham before 1760 and that Beckenham Place is not based in Beckenham Manor but mostly in Foxgrove.
Lysons in his Environs of London in a very brief summary quoting largely from Philipot and Hasted states:
The manor of Beckenham was held of King Edward the Confessor, by Anschil. When the survey of Doomsday was taken Ansgot, of Rochester, held it under Odo, Bishop of Baieux. Richard de la Rokele died seised of it in 1276 . His son Philip left a daughter and sole heir, Isolda , married to Sir William Bruyn; from whom this manor descended to Sir Henry Bruyn, who died in 1461, leaving two daughters, coheirs. Alice the eldest had, by her first husband John Berners, Esq. a son, who died without issue; upon which, a moiety of this manor was inherited by John Harlefton, son of her second husband . Clement Harleston sold it, in 1530, to Robert Legh, Esq., whose descendant of the same name, in 1610, aliened it to Henry Snelgar, or Snelgrave, Esq. (afterwards knighted). About the year 1650, it was sold, by his grandson Henry Snelgrave, Esq. to Walter St. John, Esq., in whose family the manor became again united.—Elizabeth, second daughter of Sir Henry Bruyn, married, to her first husband, Thomas Tyrrell, Esq. whose descendants inherited the other moiety of this manor; one of them, whose name also was Thomas, left a daughter and sole heir, married to Sir John Dalston, by whom she had two daughters. Catherine, one of these coheirs, married Sir Henry Curwen. About the year 1650, Sir Patrick Curwen, his son, sold a moiety of the manor of Beckenham to Oliver St. John, Esq.; from whom it came to Sir Walter St. John, Bart. already possessed of the other moiety. The manor, thus united, continued in the St. John family till the year 1773, when Frederick, the late Viscount Bolingbroke, sold it to John Cator, Esq., the present proprietor, who resides in an elegant mansion, which he built soon after his purchase of the estate, and called Beckenham-place. It stands on an eminence, and commands a beautiful, though not a very extensive prospect.
And from this we can find Robert Leigh the elder dying in 1567 and buried at St.George's Beckenham and trace his descendants through Nicholas Leigh to the next Robert Leigh. Some dates by Lyson are estimates and some information incorrect from other sources and we have found more accurate and supplementary information which is placed in the timeline. John Cator’s involvement is much oversimplified requiring fuller explanation as we do in our timeline.
Ultimately the early history of Beckenham is a brief overview in the accounts of Philipot, Hasted and Lysons which have often been repeated in other accounts. We attempt to put a bit more meat on the bones.
The Manor of Foxgrove
On re-investigation of evidence available today from archives, catalogues and calendars we have discovered additional information and some errors in early accounts. We shouldn’t judge them too harshly as Philipot and Hasted were covering the whole of Kent and relying on some land owners for records and deeds. However, later accounts which repeated their chain of events are also erroneous.
We commence with Philipott’s account with original spellings (f for s etc.). I have inserted dates in the account based on Philipott’s timeline references to monarchs.
Philipot’s account: Foxgrove is the last place of Account in this Parish, it had in elder times Proprietaries of this Sirname; for I find John de Foxgrove paid respective Aid for it in the twentieth year of Edward the third (1346), at making the Black Prince Knight. After this Family succeeded Bartholomew Lord Burwash, and he held it at his Decease, which was in the twenty ninth year of Edward the third (1355). and from him it descended to his Son Bartholomew Lord Burwash, who in the forty third year of the abovesaid Prince (1370), passed it away to Sir Walter de Paveley, and in his Family it remained untill the latter End of Richard the second, (1399) and then it was conveyed to Vaux of the County of North-Hampton, and there made its abode untill the latter End of Henry the sixth (1461), and then it was alienated to John Grene Esquire, and he died possest of it in fourth year of Edward the fourth (1464); and in this Family did the Title reside, untill the Beginning of Henry the eighth (1509), and then it was demised to Beversea, and Humphrey Beversea, I find held it in the eighteenth year of Henry the eighth (1526), and his Descendant passed it away to Luke Hollingworth, and he about the Beginning of K. Edward the sixth (1547), sold his Interest in it to Alderman Sir Jo. Oliff of London, and he dying (1577) without Issue Male, Joan (his daughter) matched (1563) to John Leigh of Addington Esquire, was his sole Heir (1577), and in Right of this Alliance, did it come down to Sir Francis Leigh (d.1644) late of East-Wickham; whose Widow Dowager the Lady Christian Leigh, is now in Possession of it. (1659 she died in 1660)…….end of quote.
Philipot starts with a reference to John de Foxgrove about 1346. The Lay Subsidy Roll of land taxation for 1334 shows a John Foxsegrove under the Lathe of Eyllesford (Aylesford) but not the Hundred of Beckenham. Whether even at that time Foxgrove was under absentee landlords has not as yet been established but is most likely given that the landlords had wide ranging estates which included Foxgrove. However, we find an earlier reference to Foxgrove in the Kent Roll for 1274 and a jury witness also named John of Foxgrove who may have been the father of the 1347 'John de Foxgrove' given the time between the two? Like all the manors and estates of Beckenham Foxgrove was widely spread and divided, centred upon Foxgrove Manor farmhouse but reaching beyond Kelsey and Langley to West Wickham, almost to Southend, Lewisham with parts at Plaistow, Bromley. It may have begun as one property and acquired additions over time but we cannot be certain apart from some exchanges in the timeline.
Manor of Foxgrove 1766 amended for Jones Raymond acquisitions from a 1720 original (courtesy of British Library)
Before any mention of the name “Foxgrove Manor” the property is identified as being held by Robert Aguillon and Henry de Clyf. At this point Len Hevey’s Early History of Beckenham” is worth reading as he made research similar to ours. After the first recording of the name of Foxgrove it is said to be held of Robert Aguillon. Then Bartholomew Burghersh ‘held it of Thomas Bardolf’ implying that Bardolf was the higher possessor and leased the property to Burghersh? It does however remain in the Burghersh estates and descends to Walter de Paveley, probably in connection with family intermarriage and heredity as the two families are linked by the marriage of Maud Burghersh to Walter de Paveley probably around 1320. At this point Philipot has the order of descent through the families in the wrong order. There is a question as to how Foxgrove passed from the Paveleys to Sir Thomas Green or Grene. Around 1375/79 a Walter Paveley left property in his will to ‘his companion’ Elizabeth who is not fully identified and she may dispose of property through her heirs and assigns. But in 1399 a Thomas Hakkethorp quitclaims Foxgrove to Margaret Despencer who is daughter to the last Bartholomew Burghersh and married to Nicholas Vaus. This appears to be the mechanism by which Foxgrove enters the Vaus or Vaux family. There are some unrecorded ‘relationships’ in the earlier accounts as we find several intermarriages and connections with families based some distance from Kent. In Foxgrove’s case the Vaus/Vauxs, Pavelys, Grenes are of Northamptonshire. For that and other reasons it is difficult or impossible to identify actual occupants of premises. Some clues in documents allow us relate names to burial records from St. George’s after the beginning of records circa 1540.
to this, as Hasted recounts after repeating Philipot up until
the Lady Christian Leigh, Francis Leigh 1651-1711 directed that
other land at Plaistow be sold by his Will but in fact the will does
it be sold, only that some of his estate is sold to settle debts and a
subsequent Chancery case in 1716 directs that Foxgrove is sold. Hence,
Tolson was said to have bought the land but he had died before 1716 so
likely that Tolson’s brother Lancelot acquired Foxgrove to join
Bromley land (at Plaistow?), and it descended by complicated means to
nephew, Lancelot Tolson Tilly. But we find Hasted's account to be
inaccurate or too brief. The will of Francis Leigh and subsequent
at a different conclusion.
What further detail can we add? Foxgrove existed before John de Foxegrave and whether it derived its name from a person or John derived his name from the name of the manor is debatable. Earlier than the name appearing in the 13th Century (1274) certain coincidences have led us to believe that “Claihurst or Claiherst” was the original site of Foxgrove. Claiherst appears as a family name in the 14th Century Lay Subsidy Rolls. The references that survive mentioning John de Foxegrave start in 1274 before Philipot's reference as a witness in the Kent Rolls which describe Foxgrove thus “Then they say that a certain land called Foxgrove [Beckenham parish.] in the village of Beckenham is of the lord king’s fee and now John Malemains holds that of Sir Robert Agillon (Aguillon) by the service of a fourth part of one knight’s fee, but from what time or how it was alienated they do not know”. And a John de Foxesgrove also mentioned in the Lay Subsidy Roll in 1346 connected with Aylesford in the Hundred of Ruxley. The Book of Aid mentions John de Foxgrove and John or Joan de Rokesle being taxed in Beckenham and associated with Foxgrove whether by assumption or actual connection. John de Rokesle (Ruxley) was lord of the manor of Lullingstone. The time gap probably indicates two successive 'Johns of Foxgrave/Foxgrove. We have Henry de Clyf associated with the manor some time earlier. He is also mentioned in the Lay Subsidy Roll.
Foxgrove has been described as a 'Manor' it is believed to have
been separated from the Manor of Beckenham and I have not found any
a charter establishing a 'Manor'. Also the land of Foxgrove manor
of Beckenham, Bromley and Lewisham parishes In several instances
described as 'held of' other parties implying leases so apparent
ownership are often followed by the property returning to a prior
Burghersh/Burwash family held wide ranging properties. Similar to
Manor the owners may not have been locally resident. Where documents
discovered they are recorded in the timeline. John Grene appears as a
lawyer/sheriff/escheator. We find Foxgrove held by Thomas Grene 2
(1378) and a document describing rents from Foxgrove to be paid to
parties by his Feoffees. His son or descendant Thomas Grene 21 Henry
had let it to Walter Fitz for a rent. We can trace the family tree of
Oliff through his daughter Joan who married Sir John Leigh of Addington
went down through the Leigh family. John Oliff’s will states he
Foxgrove from Reynold Hollingworth and not Luke Hollingworth. Francis
will of 1711 did not specifically say to sell the estate but the
named did not deal with the probate and his wife Frances Leigh was
probate. Francis directed that his bequests and debts be settled and
remaining property be passed to his son also named Frances. A Court of
case of 1716 directed that Foxgrove be sold to pay his creditors and
raises a question as to whether Foxgrove passed to John Tolson in
later to his brother Lancelot Tolson of Plaistow(Bromley). John Tolson
1713 perhaps before Foxgrove was sold. Lancelot Tolson left Foxgrove to
nephew at his death in 1727 but the nephew Lancelot Tolson Tilly
was only 11 years of age so the estate was in trust until he was 21 or
23 years old. Lancelot Tolson Tilly died aged 25, shortly after
gaining his inheritance and left the Foxgrove estate to his parents
turn left it in three or more parts. To Lancelot Tolson Tilly’s
widow Elizabeth who in
turn left her part to Joseph Grove her uncle. Another part was left to
Brydges (married to Reverend Edward Timewell) and eitheer a third part
and Edward Brydges or they would inherit if Deborah Brydges died
The timeline will explain more fully. For those interested in genealogy
complex story and this branch of the Leigh family is connected but
the branch at Addington. The wills and bequests of the Tillys certainly
me and I am discussing the processes with another researcher. Mary
several woodlands to St.John Humphrey and it appears that upon
the lease that the heir under Mary Tilly’s will then sold some or
woodlands to John Cator as in 1759 Cator was able to exchange some of
woods with Burrell and Raymond and apparently keep the rest which form
Beckenham Place. It remains the case that some land acquisitions of
cannot be dated other than by his assets listed in the 1825 Private Act
Cators creation of Beckenham Place Park probably included some small
outside of Foxgrove Manor being nearer Southend Village. As Foxgrove
Cators became leased from the early to mid 19th C. then it was
between tenants of Beckenham Place and the farmers of Foxgrove Farm
certain parts were long leased to builders and property speculators.
Today what is left of the Manor of Foxgrove is covered by Beckenham Place Park perhaps accounting for about 150 acres and the remainder in built development and Foxgrove Cricket and Tennis club.
Langley Place or Park and Farm
Langley lies astride the parish boundaries between Beckenham, Hayes and West Wickham but the main house was in Beckenham. In early times West Wickham was just called Wickham (Wykham) but to differentiate more definitely from East Wickham near Bexley the 'West' seems to have been added perhaps because one local family, the Leighs, were of East Wickham and Addington as well. Langley later became paired with Sympson’s Place in Bromley under the Styles and Sympson’s extended into Beckenham. In the earliest days of Langley several members of the Langley or Langele family are recorded. Some sources say that the Style family may have resided at Red Lodge and the dates of the other houses within Langley aren’t known but look more Tudor or Georgian from available prints or photographs. Also the buildings went through alterations and rebuilds.
As most estates were subdivided between leases to tenants the same was true of Langley, certainly from records in the 18th Century and the earlier records describing mostly absentee landlords. Langley Farm was a later division or development probably after 1793 when the Burrells consolidated their holdings in the area which then became Langley Court in the 19th Century but the earliest map of Langley belonging to Jones Raymond circa 1740 shows Langley House and the surrounding fields described as Langley Farm whereas when the Burrells acquired more land in the area in exchanges with John Cator the Burrells created the later Langley Farm on the site of a messuage called Cuts Croft.
Langley Park from Hasted 1778
Shows the avenue which look like oak trees but have been described as chestnut. The foreground of the house has two obelisks and wings on either side which appear to be Tudor towers and ranges of buildings. The building differs significantly from the later one which burnt down in 1913 evidencing rebuilds by the Burrells.
The earlier historians got a few things wrong understandably in trying to record the whole of Kent. Closer inspection of evidence leads us to make some corrections and seek the work of other researchers who have traced wills and family trees. Len Hevey has disputed the involvement of the Violets in the transfer of Langley. He states that Ralph Langley d.1453 and property was transferred in 1461 to Stephen Fabian and then to his son in law Henry Fincham from whence it passed to John Style. As Fincham had been appointed an alderman of the City of London but excused because he did not have sufficient wealth to be able to perform the role then it is questionable whether he possessed Langley as well as Kent House. Keith Baldwin’s investigative skills have brought up references to the will of an Edmund Style d.1563 who was cousin of Sir Humphrey Style d.1555 which fills in some family tree blanks. Also John Style’s will of 1505 mentions family members such as in-laws and uncles. John Stile also mentions Guy Wolstan, James Yarford who would marry his widow, uncles John Style and Henry Bolle. These are best explained in the work of Anne Sutton in a publication of the Suffolk Archaeological Society where she produces a family tree and a description of the family’s activities as part of research into London Mercers. Some spelling variations of names occur in the tree and documents such as Welstone/Wolstan Bolle/Bulle. John Style’s will mentioned Ipswich which is the home town of the Styles and Bolles. Of course Suffolk was the epicentre of the wool trade which also propagated the wealthy mercers originating from there. Of some interest is the mention that Bridget, Florence and Humphrey children of Edmund Kemp are committed to the care of Humphrey. (to be investigated).
The recent (October 2022) delving into G.W.Tookey’s research material reveals that he disputed and proved the descent of Langley from Ralph Langley to the Style family and could not discover a link to the Violets. We transcribed his account of Langley herewith:
ACQUISITION OF THE LANGLEY ESTATE BY THE STYLE FAMILY. (G.W.Tookey)
In 1453 the Langley estate was in the hands of Ralph Langley By his will of that year Ralph Langley left small sums to Beckenham Church including 3s.4da. for the ‘new bells' and 6s.8d. for making up the road between the church and the well (which was in the dip in the Bromley Road). He directed that his dwelling-house should be divided in half to provide accommodation for his wife Alice and his daughter after his decease, and that subject to the legacies and his wife's right of dower his estates should be sold for charitable purpose He must have died between 1453 and 1461 because in the latter year all his lands were sold to Stephen Fabian citizen and draper of London by a deed to which the Rector of St. Michael's Crooked Lane London was a party. Stephen Fabian's interests in Beckenham in the latter part of the 15th century are well authenticated by contemporary documents which have become available for study. The old historians do not mention him at all, but say that the Violet family took over the Langley estate on the death of Ralph Langley. It is possible that some of the Langley lands went to the Henry Violet who died in 1505 holding property in Beckenham, but there is no documentary evidence that he was the substantial successor to the Langley property. Stephen Fabian died before 1500. His son-in-law Henry Fincham, who married Elizabeth Fabian, succeeded to much of his property, and there were various dealings between Henry Fincham and John Stile and others in the years 1500-1504 relating to lands in Beckenham, some of which dealings involved litigation. The transfer of the Kent House estate from the Fabian and Fincham family to John Stile is well documented, but no document directly affecting the main Langley estate can be identified, unless it be included as a part of the very large estate referred to in a grant of 6th October 1501 (789D). John Stile acquired other property in Beckenham and Bromley during the years 1500-1504, including Simpson's Place (on the: river at Bromley South) and Land +in the Tootswood area. It is possible that .the house at Langley was at this time of no great significance, compared for example with Kent House, and that it was John's son Humphrey who built the Tudor period mansion and chapel, the remains of which can be seen in the engraving in Hasted's Kent, The first documentary reference to a Style ‘of Langley’ is contained in a deed of 1548 (ref. 788J) signed by Humfrey Style and describing him as 'Humfridus Style de Langley in Parochia de Bekenham in Com.Kant ‘miles filius et heres Dne Elizabeth Yarford',
In the year 1510 when according to Borrowman Langley was sold by the Violett family to John Style, the latter was already dead and his son Humfrey was only about 11 years old. (end of Tookey’s article)
We may be able to add more upon further investigation of Tookey’s research, some of which we rediscovered independently and some needs revisiting particularly at Kent (Maidstone) Archive.
This family tree illustrates the early origins of the Style family but or our purposes the line of Humphrey Style is truncated at his first wife Bridget and doesn’t mention his second marriage to Elizabeth Peryn. The repetition of family names can confuse matters as Sir Humphrey Style d.1555 had sisters Bridget and Florence and a wife named Bridget. His sister then names her children Bridget, Florence and Humphrey.
Philipot said of Langley: Langley in this Parish is a second Seat of eminent Account, which was in elder Times the Possession of John de Malmains, who obtained a Charter of Free-Warren to his Lands in Bekenham, in the twelfth year of Edward the second,(1319) which was renewed to Henry de Cliffe, to whom they accrued by Purchase from Malmains, in the third year of Edward the third;(1330) but stayed not long in the Tenure of this Family, for before the going out of Edward the third,(1377) I find the Propriety invested by Sale in Langley, to which Family the Foundation of that House owes in part its Original, on which they ingraffed their own Name, which hath flourished under that Title ever since, though the Family be withered away and gone, the last of which Name at this place was Ralph Langley, who with Roger Twisden, Stephen Monins, Edward Monins, John Edingham or Engham, Richard Edingham, John Berton of Cotman in Shouldon, John Berham, John Betenham of Shurland in Pluckley, and others, Gentlemen of prime Rank in this County, were summoned to appear before Robert Poynings and John Perry, in the twelfth year of Henry the sixth,(1434) to disclaim the Title of the House of York, and this Ralph died in the year 1451, and ordered Langley and other demeasns at Bekenham to be sold for the discharging his Debts, the purport and Effects of which Will were accordingly performed, and his Estate at Bekenham and Langley, passed away by Sale to John Violett, whose Successors enjoyed it until the Beginning of Hen. the eighth,(1509 but Stile owned it at his death in 1505) and then it was conveyed to John Stiles Esq; (d.1505) who much inlarged the House with a supply of Buildings, and from him is it by Descent devolved to be the instant Possession of his Successor Sir Humphrey Stiles Knight and Baronet.(d1552)
Hasted said a bit more about Langley over a hundred years later but it can be confused with Langley near Maidstone but we find that the Domesday entry which Hasted quotes with the mention of a fishery relates to Seal near Sevenoaks and the fishery must be on the river Darenth or consisting of fish ponds.
Hasted's entry: LANGLEY-PARK is a seat of eminent account in this parish, which was formerly accounted a manor, and in the reign of the Conqueror was part of the vast estate of Odo, bishop of Baieux, and earl of Kent; and is thus, if I mistake not, described in the general survey of Domesday, taken in that reign: (regretably Hasted did mistake it)
Goisfridus de Ros holds of the bishop (of Baieux) Lasela. It was taxed at 7 shillings. The arable land is . . . . . . . In demesne there are 3 carucates, and 31 villeins, with 14 borderers having 16 carucates. There are 10 servants, and one fishery producing fourscore and 10 eels; wood for the pannage of 55 hogs. The whole manor was worth, in the time of King Edward the Confessor, 30 pounds, when he received it 16 pounds, and now 24 pounds, what Goisfridus held; what Richard of Tonbridge held in his lowy was rated at 6 pounds; what the king held of this manor, 22 shillings. Brixi Cilt held it of King Edward.
This place afterwards came into the possession of the family of Malmaines, who were settled at Waldershare in this county, in the time of the Conqueror. John de Malmaines obtained a charter of free warren for his lands in Begenham, in the 12th year of King Edward II which was renewed to Henry Malmaines, of Cliffe, in the 3d year of King Edward III.
It appears by the Book of Aid, in the 20th year of King Edward III that Nicholas Malmains held half a knight's fee of the king in Begenham. He died, in the 23d year of that reign, possessed of much land in this county; before the end of which, the property of this manor was transferred by sale to Langley, a name most probably taken from this place, though the family itself has been long since extinct. These Langleys of Beckingham were, most probably, a distinct family from those of Knowlton in this county, who were originally descended from a family of that name in the county of Warwick.
last of this name here was Ralph Langley, who died in the 30th year
of King Henry VI. and by his will directed Langley, with the rest of
demesnes in Beckenham, to be sold for discharging his debts; in
which it was passed away by sale to John Violett, who bore for his
arms, Gules, three coronets, or, whose descendants enjoyed it
beginning of the reign of king Henry VIII when it was conveyed to John
alderman of London.
He was the son of William Style of Ipswich, was afterwards knighted, and of the Drapers Company, and dying in 1500, was buried in Allhallows Barking church, London. He married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Sir Guy Wolston of London, by whom he had Sir Humphrey Style, of Langley, who was one of the esquires of the body to King Henry VIII and sheriff of this county in the 35th year of the same reign. He died in 1557, and was buried in Beckenham church. He procured a grant from Sir Thomas Wriothesley, garter principal king at arms, reciting, that not being willing to bear arms in prejudice to the other branches of his family, he had petitioned for a coat, with a proper difference, which the said king at arms, in 1529, granted, under his hand and seal, viz. Sable, a fess engrailed between three fleurs de lis, within a bordure or, the fess fretted of the field.He procured, with others, an act of parliament in the 2d and 3d years of king Edward VI for the disgavelling of his lands in this county.
By his first wife, Bridget, daughter of Sir Thomas Baldrey, he had three sons; Edmund, born at Langley, in 1538; Oliver, who was sheriff of London, and ancestor of the Styles, of Watringbury, barts. and Nicholas, who was knighted.
From Edmund Style of Langley, esq. before-mentioned, eldest son of Sir Humphrey, descended Sir Humphry Style of Langley, eldest son of William, who was gentleman of the privy-chamber to king James, and cupbearer to king Charles I. and was created a baronet, by privy-seal, on the 20th of May, 1627. (fn. 26) But though this branch was the elder to those of Watringbury, yet these last were the senior baronets, being created April 21, 1627, anno 3 Charles I. He died in 1650, and was buried in the vault at Beckenham church, and leaving no issue, his title became extinct, and he was succeeded in this estate at Langley by his half-brother, William, the eldest son of William Style by his second wife, Mary, daughter of Sir Robert Clarke, one of the barons of the exchequer.This William Style of Langley, esq. was bred a barrister at law, and was of the society of the Inner Temple. He married Elizabeth, sole daughter and heir of William Duleing, by whom he had two sons, and two daughters, and dying in 1679, was buried in this church.
Of the sons, the second, but only surviving son Humphry, succeeded his father at Langley, in whose time there were several coats of arms, as well of this family as of those they had intermarried with, painted in the windows of this house, but dying without issue male, his only daughter and heir, Elizabeth, carried it in marriage to Sir John Elwill, bart. who died in 1727, without issue by her. This family of Elwill was of Exeter in Devonshire, who bore for their arms, Ermine on a chevron engrailed, between three eagles displayed gules, three annulets or, and were advanced to the dignity of a baronet, in the person of Sir John Elwill, in the 8th year of queen Anne's reign. He was twice married, but left issue only, by his second wife, the daughter and heir of — Leigh of Egham, in Surry, by whom he had two sons, Sir John above-mentioned, and Edmund, who succeeded his brother in title and in this estate of Langley, and in 1732 transferred his property in it, together with the house, called Langley-house, the park, and also the north and south isles of the parish church of Beckenham, to Hugh Raymond of Great Saling, in Essex, esq. who settled them on his only son, Jones Raymond, esq. in tail general; remainder to his eldest daughter, Amy, who married Peter Burrell, esq. and her issue male. On his death his son, Jones Raymond, esq succeeded to this estate, and kept his shrievalty for this county at Langley in 1738, in which year he died, and was succeeded by his son, of the same name, who died unmarried in 1768, on which it descended, by the intail before-mentioned, to his sister, Amy, before mentioned, whose husband, Peter Burrell, esq. in her right, became possessed of it. He died in 1756, having had by her, who survived him, four sons and two daughters. Mrs. Burrell, his widow, afterwards resided here, and died in 1794, on which this seat descended, together with her other estates in this parish, to her grandson, sir Peter Burrell, bart. since created lord Gwydir, of whom a full account has already been given, and he is the present possessor of this seat, with the park and grounds belonging to it. (end of Hasted)
What can we add or even dispute? Firstly, that all of Philipot’s and Hasted’s events are difficult to trace. The Kent Roll of 1274 records a Ralph Langel and the Lay Subsidy Roll of 1334 records several Langele and Langley’s dating the presence of the family name well before Philipot and Hasted’s dates of 1319 onwards. After the Langley or Langele family John Violet cannot be traced or confirmed but the will of Henry Violet of 1505 mentions land in Beckenham which might be anywhere. John, the first Style to inhabit Langley is said to have died circa 1529 but we find two wills for ‘John Stile or Style’ one died in 1505 and we see Langley and Bekynham(sic) in the text. He would appear to have acquired Langley before he wrote his will and also some of Kent House by way of repayment of a debt in 1501. A will for Sir John Stile dying in 1529 at East Greenwich(Deptford) does not mention property in Beckenham, he mentions a son Richard and a late wife Kateryn and a Dame Elizabeth. Langley has been connected to Sir John Stile who was ambassador to Spain and Ireland for Henry VIII but we are now as certain as we can be that John Style d.1505 is the one in question supported by his wife’s subsequent marriage and her will naming her son Sir Humphrey Style and two daughters, Bridget and Florence. The codicil of the will mentions land in Beckenham, Bromley, Lewisham, Battersea and Tottenham as well as the City of London. When John died in 1505 his children were very young, Humphrey being about 4 years of age so his wife Elizabeth then married James Yarford who was a stapler and an alderman and mayor of London at one time. A stapler was an agent in the wool trade and a source of wealth at the time. Elizabeth and James took possession of Langley and Symson’s Place as John had left his property to Elizabeth during the childrens ‘nonage’. At what point Humphrey took possession is debatable, Yarford died in 1527 and several events happened in 1529 which could indicate Humphrey taking control but Elizabeth still left property to Humphrey in 1548. Langley descended through the Style family with some complication as a later Humphrey Style died without issue and his half brother William possession. There was apparent closeness within the family as wills refer to ‘my dear brother’
I remind you that we are not trying to disprove Philipot and Hasted but to restore accuracy to the record. Those early writers faced more challenges in finding records than we do. We may end up just presenting the available evidence and some possible scenarios and we find certain discoveries make us re-assess events. In any case land ownership is proving more complex than the early histories convey. Althought the Langleys and Langeles paid tax it was apparently on moveable wealth and not land so they may have been enfeoffed to Malmaines and de Clyf. Any documentary evidence will be referred to in the timeline.
When Hugh Raymond purchased Langley and Sympson’s Place in 1732 Langley Farm was shown as being centred on the main house of Langley and other parts of the estate were leased as farmsteads. What became Langley Farm later was based on a field called Starve Acre and other fields which was part of estates belonging to Foxgrove Manor. As Foxgrove Manor was divided and some passed through the ownership of John Cator eventually the site of Langley Farm house was constructed next to Starve Acre on a messuage formerly called Cuts Croft. This was probably after 1793 land exchanges between Burrell and Cator. As parts of Langley were leased what became Langley Farm was more autonomous and HENRY HOLLAND 1745-1806 may have built Langley Farm on land leased from the Burrells. He is another contender for architect of the Beckenham Place Mansion but probably too young in 1760. He married Bridget Brown, eldest daughter of ‘Capability’ Brown (real name Lancelot). Henry’s eldest son, Lancelot Holland, married Mary Peters and they lived at Langley farm with their 15 children from 1828.
The coloured picture shows Benham Park in Berkshire constructed under the direction of Henry Holland in collaboration with his father-in-law ‘Capability’ Brown in 1775.
The black and white pictures show examples of the interior from The Life and Architecture of Henry Holland by Dorothy Stroud.
In Borrowman’s book of 1910 he describes Langley after the death of Goodhart in 1903 “who died in 1903 at an advanced age. Since that date the mansion has been untenanted “and will no doubt, ere long, share the usual fate of mansions near London, and be demolished. He goes on to describe “a large rambling building in a bad state of repair with rooms of all sorts of shapes and sizes. The greater number of the principal rooms were very lofty and well lighted. The North East corner or higher portion of the building was evidently of a different date to the other which is much lower and covered with white stucco. The porch which is on the west side was insignificant and the carriage drive approach was also mean compared with the size of the mansion. Although the dining room and library were fine rooms, the principal room was undoubtedly the drawing room a magnificent apartment about 45x30ft with frescoes round the upper part of the walls representing the arts and sciences. There was also a fine marble mantlepiece. An organ, stated to have formerly been in the parish church, used to stand in the library, but it was sold with the furniture on the death of C E Goodhart. From some of the upper windows and from the roof, fine and extensive views were obtained of the park and the “vista” of trees extending from the east front of the mansion to Hayes Lane near Pickhurst Hill.”
The 1809 Burrell estate map shows Langley after Repton's suggestions are apparently mostly ignored? The avenue looks intact but long ponds near the house have either been partly filled in or abandoned. Some evidence of them still exists. The only lakes or ponds were on the earlier maps already and not sweeping river vista is evident. The old road from Wickham Green looks abandoned and a track from Red Lodge to the avenue is shown plus the newer roads at the left of this image. Some alignment of trees from Wickham Green toward the house indicate either the old road or even close to the alignment of the Roman Road.
The 1838 Tithe map shows Langley in a high degree of detail. A small Ice House was to the south of the house just below the bottom of this map extrac and next to a long water feature which would have been the source of ice. The Tithe returns are numbered to identify the house and outbuildings. The house next to ‘860’ and the other buildings just described as Farm Yard and Buildings. Everything including Langley Lodge is owned and ‘in hand’ by Emanuel Goodhart.
Langley main buildings 1838 tithe map Langley in relation to Langley Farm 1809 Burrell map
Langley Ponds and Roman Bath
The Jones Raymond map and the ‘Second Schedule’ map dated to a copy of 1735 show a pond south of Langley house with a long canal toward the house which feeds three long ponds of varying lengths, the longest running west to east was about 500 feet in length. A bathhouse or cold bath, the term 'Roman Bath' seems to have been applied later, was probably to an 18th or 19th Century folly but shown on 19th Century ordnance survey maps between the southern pond and the the canal. We cannot say whether the Styles, Raymonds and Burrells were aware of the Roman Road running close to Langley as it was most likely already buried and no contemporary roads follow its course. But certainly during the occupation by the Goodharts it was referred to as the Roman Bath and was seemingly remodelled at least once. As already stated, the diarist John Evelyn, a keen gardener, describes several garden water features as Canals, they being long narrow stretches of water. The bath is said to be fed by a spring and the old maps show several ponds and streams in the area being the Beck and/or Hawksbrook, pond at Wickham Green and around Langley House. Water sheds off of the hills of Addington and Spring Park (aptly named) and the Beck runs through High Broom Wood and passes to the west of Langley House. There is some confusion as to what people refer to as the Roman Bath, either the pond or the bathhouse.I would regard the bathhouse as the Roman Bath as it resembles in some ways the Fridgidarium which was part of ancient Roman baths.
Second Schedule map rotated to align images
Langley House and Langley Lodge top of map, ‘bath’ feature at bottom just right of woodland. The Burrell map excludes the canal and long ponds ner the house as though they have been abandoned and possibly partly filled in and drained.
Tookey Collection photograph, the plunge pool in the bathhouse.
Langley Farm and Langley Court
As already said, the circa 1740 Jones Raymond map of Langley shows Langley House as the epicentre of ‘Langley Farm’ and some of what land became the later Langley Farm was partly in the possession of the Tolson Tilly’s as part of Foxgrove Manor. As property was exchanged after Mary Tilly divided Foxgrove between various kinfolk, some came into the possession of John Cator and some to Jones Raymond. Some Beckenham Manor land in the possession of Frederick St. John also became Cator’s after 1773 including parts close to Langley Farm. When Jones Raymond died in 1768 his property came down to his sister Amy Burrell who was by that time widowed from Peter Burrell II. So Amy and her son Peter Burrell III were still exchanging land with Cator from 1759, some in 1777 and the rest in 1793 after Amy’s death in 1789. Peter Burrell III had died in 1775 which might have prompted the small exchange with Cator in 1777? So in 1789 Peter Burrell IV (Baron Gwydir) inherited the whole. We believe the Burrells had carried out alterations and rebuilds of Langley House and also leased Eden Park so Langley Farm was created out of some lands acquired from about 1759 onwards.
Much later after the Burrell 1820 estate sale Langley Farm was rebuilt as Langley Court eventually becoming the Wellcome Foundation.
It is necessary to compare the 1838 Tithe map showing Langley Farm with the map of the northern section of Langley described as the ‘Second Schedule’ from Kent Archive ref; U1435/T20 described as Including conveyance by trustees of Lord Gwydyr with map annexed 1826, and conveyance to Emmanuel Goodhart of Langley Park; 1829; the conveyance of 1826 having two Maps annexed, one contemporary, the other a copy of an original dated 1735.
This latter map does not show the buildings of Langley Farm but comparison with the tithe map puts Langley Farm in a field named Starve Acre and further comparison with a map from the British Library shows a messuage called Cuts Croft in this approximate position which is shown on the 1720/1766 Foxgrove map and the 1780 Burrell map.
Foxgrove map 1766 compared to Burrell map 1780, Starve Acre belonging to Cator, Cuts Croft to Jones Raymond and later the Burrells
As the Burrells had acquired all this property in various purchases and exchanges then following the sale of the Burrell estates Emanuel Goodhart leased the farm covering 96 acres to Lancelot Holland.
Part of the ‘Second Schedule’ map courtesy of Kent Archive
The names of Tolson Tilly, St.John, Lethieullier and Maudlin(Morden) can be seen on various fields as annotated prior to John Cator acquiring some as part of his acquisitions from Foxgrove Manor and Beckenham Manor. For explanation as to how Tolson Tilly acquired the lands you will need to follow the descent of Foxgrove Manor.
Langley Farm mid 19th Century (courtesy of Beckenham History)
Langley Farm was sold by the Burrells as part of the 1820 sale of the Kelsey and Langley estates. The farm was demolished and Langley Court constructed
Langley Court image courtesy of Beckenham Heritage Group
The Burrell Chapel
Robert Borrowman described the chapel in his 1910 Beckenham Past and Present, estimating that it might be the oldest building in Beckenham. Whether the Burrells build it is in question as a Chapel is described as being built by the Stiles of Langley, but that may have been one of the wings of the building in the image we have of Langley from Hasted. However, here is an image of the building
I assume the log décor is a more recent addition.
Is part of the Langley Park estate and due to the discovery of panelling which has ended up in the Philadelphia Museum of Art may be dated to 1529 and the Style family although this is subject to some discussion. The actual origin is debatable but it may be a lodge built by John Style and added to by his son Humphrey Style. The name is memorialized in the name of Red Lodge Road and is in West Wickham Parish as the Langley estate extended into Beckenham, West Wickham, Bromley and Hayes. This piece of provenance for the panelling describes the Lodge.
“Red Lodge was the name given to a small house which occupied a site in the fields near Wickham Green on the borders of the Langley Estate - the Frithwood of medieval times - which belonged to the manor of West Wickham. Translated into 20th century parlance, that means a site to the north of St. Mary's church in The Avenue and in the garden of St. Mary's vicarage. When Lord Gwydir, owner of the Langley Estate, died in 1820 his estates were broken up and sold at auction. The sale catalogue of the Langley Estate contained "Lot 1, Pt Item 322, Gamekeeper's House, Yard and Garden la Or 35p (acres,roods,perchers) ", in fact, Red Lodge.
Frithwood is difficult to define since other woods are called Frith which can apparently mean refuge or safety. Possibly Frith Wood covered a much larger area at one time like the Great North Wood.
Red Lodge was purchased, together with Langley House, by Emmanuel Goodhart. The Goodhart family occupied Langley House until 1903 when the then owner, Charles Goodhart, died and left the property to seven heirs, none of whom was inclined to live there. Possibly the estate was in a trust or 'in tail' for descendants as Charles' father Emanuel had put in his will that property was 'for the use of' which could imply it was intended for property to follow the family line.. The reason is given that because London or urban development was rapidly encroaching on the neighbourhood. In 1910 Langley House became the clubhouse for the new Langley Park Golf Club. Red Lodge continued life as a farmhouse where Victor Stock was the tenant farmer in 1921.
Gordon Maxwell wrote The Fringe of London (1925) in which he mourned the passing of the Langley Estate. "Another of the big country estates that lie on the Kentish fringe of London is in its death throes, its throat being cut by the housing shortage. This is Langley Park, Beckenham, and although but 12 miles from the heart of London, anyone wandering there today will still be in the heart of the country. Fine old trees, pleasant meadows, ponds half-hidden amongst the greenery, and woodland groves, are all that meet the eye of the rambler, over what is certainly one of the finest estates in the Home Counties." Gordon Maxwell also wrote about the Bath House which Emily Hall of Ravenswood had visited in 1877. “The Bath House, about a quarter of a mile from the site of the mansion, is also worth inspection. Here is a stone—built bath, after the Roman fashion, fed with spring water. Close by are the remains of the old Ice House where ice from the ponds was stored underground in winter for use in summer.“ Gordon Maxwell continued - "A small farm - Red Lodge Farm - near the Venison House, [referred to earlier in the text as a "memory of the days ... when Langley Park was one of the finest deer-parks round London“] is a delightfully picturesque little place, whose farm-yards extend to the woodlands that cloak one end of the estate. By the courtesy of the bailiff I was able to inspect the farm-house. Some of the upper rooms contain some very fine 16th century oak panelling, which proves this house to be the oldest existing building on the estate. It is a charming little place, which I sincerely hope will be left with enough land to preserve its quaint beauty. Sadly that wish was not be fulfilled for Red Lodge was sold soon after. The ancient oak panelling was offered to a granddaughter of Charles Goodhart, Mrs. Frederick McCormack- Goodhart, of Langley Park, Maryland, U.S.A., but she was obliged to decline the offer not. having the appropriate space in which to erect the panelling. It was sold in 1923 to E.H.Budd of Reading who, in turn, sold it to Acton Surgey Ltd. The Pennsylvania Museum of Art (now the Philadelphia Museum of Art), was able, with finance provided by an American, William L.McLean, to acquire the panelling which is now on display in the museum. The Revd. Sir Henry Denny, rector of St. John the Baptist church, West Wickham, inspected the oak panels before they were removed. He wrote to the Beckenham Journal on 15 September 1928: "They cover the walls of an upper room and are evidently in their original condition ... The date 1529 appears repeatedly as do also the following badges, the Tudor Rose, the Prince of Wales feathers, the fleur-de-lis of France and the pomegranates of Aragon - but I could discover no armorial bearings. Round Medallions bear heads, some of which may be portraits of Royal personages." The Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin of November 1936 elaborated : "The panels which form the Wainscot have each a wreathed branded medallion. In the vertical panels this forms the central feature of an arabesque design, with vases, leafy stems, pairs of dolphins, scrolls or cornucopias and occasional birds ... A further romantic interest is given to the room by the suggestion advanced by the Revd. Sir Henry Denny of West Wickham that it may have served as a trysting place for Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn — the presence on the panelling of the royal badges with absence of private armorial bearings, has been taken to suggest that the house was a royal hunting lodge where the king used to stay on his visits to Wickham Court. Efforts were made to save Red Lodge and the Revd. Sir Henry Denny argued that it should be scheduled for preservation and used as a local museum. But all to no avail. Red Lodge was demolished sometime between 1947 and 1954. These latter dates are deduced and confirmed from available map and aerial photo evidence.
If we review the details of Red Lodge we might come to different conclusions. No dating evidence apart from the panelling is recorded. The print of Langley in Hasted's history of Kent shows what appear to be Tudor wings to a perhaps later house. We might conjecture that the panelling was removed to Red Lodge when Tudor buildings were demolished? Red Lodge would be a very modest sized building even by Tudor standards for royalty. The earliest visible record we have of Red Lodge is the circa 1750 map of the estate then belonging to Jones Raymond and it is shown as a farm leased to a Richard Cooper. On the subsequent 1809 maps drawn for Lord Gwydir(Peter Burrell IV) it is shown as a gamekeepers cottage and later described as having a 'venison house' presumably for the butchering of deer from the park. The Goodharts acquired the lodge along with much of the Langley estate in 1820 and it was sole by them around 1910.
Red Lodge prior to demolition,
Kelsey or Kelseys and Kelsey Park
We can dispute some information about the origins of Kelsey as the connection with the “de Kelseys” as mentioned by Philipot and Hasted is discounted and later writers have said that the Kelshulles leased or purchased some land from the Bruyns of Beckenham Manor which became Kelsey. Wills were written by John Kelshyll in 1432 and William Kelshulle of Beckenham in 1439. One is annotated “alias Converse or Conuerse” and both are described as ‘in Latin’. William Brograve left a will in 1503 but frustratingly no transcripts of the wills are available and any copies found will be referred to in the timeline. The references which appear in other accounts about the purchase of some fields and the building of an oratory cannot be confirmed and no one has provided sources for these references. In 1475 William Brograve is plaintif in a Chancery case versus Thomas Horne about the use of some land called ‘Grovelond’ and in 1487 William Brograve acquired land in Beckenham, Bromley, Chislehurst, Hayes and Lewisham which can be traced back to earlier landlords which he most likely added to any land he had acquired from Kelshulle. Both the Kelshulle and Brograve families seem to have emerged from Hertfordshire and places which are just a few miles apart. Both families were Aldermen of the City of London which could have led to property deals. Statements about manor houses is also difficult to confirm as the earliest maps indicate houses and I’m tempted to put the description of manor houses down to fancy rather than fact. Most people will relate Kelsey to the current Kelsey Public Park which is really a small section of the grounds to the original estate. The extent of the Kelsey estate at one time stretched from Shortlands to Penge although not in one contiguous estate. In 1553 it passed from John Brograve to Henry Brograve in a Final Accord (Foot of Fine) and was described as; Manor of Kelsys with 6 messuages, 400a land, 100a mead, 200a past, 300a wood in Beckenham & Hayes. £600. It can be visualized in the Burrell estate maps of 1723 and 1735. It was to some extent intermingled and overlapping with neighbouring estates of Beckenham Manor, Foxgrove Manor, Langley and Elmers End Farms. References to Burrell extending a small estate have little foundation as he appears to have purchased the aforementioned 1000 acres and made small additional purchases. In 1768 Kelsey joined Langley under the widowed Amy Burrell (nee Raymond) and her son Peter Burrell III. In 1768 a lease of a newly erected house from Peter Burrell III and his mother to R.H.A.Bennet who had married Elizabeth Amelia Burrell in 1766 may relate to a building on Kelsey Lane which is or becomes Kelsey Cottage. A later lease describes the messuage of Kelsey (Mansion) being reserved for Amy Burrell although Bennet has the lease for much or all of Kelsey grounds.
The 1623/1768 Beckenham Manor map showing John Brograve’s Kelsey house just above Court Mead.
Kelsey 1723-35 showing the house on what is now Kelsey Park Road/Manor Way. The road had a dog-leg bend and a later straightened section became Kelsey Lane. The house on Mr Gatton’s may have become The Flint House occupied by Henry Alexander Bennett after a later rebuild. I assume the depiction of the lake in Kelsey as a rectangular is accurate and would later be landscaped in an informal outline.The lower pond is depicted as a canal as was the earlier fashion similar to water features in Langley. Closer inspection of the buildings of Kelsey shows what could be a mill either side of the river as it exits Kelsey.
Burrell Kelsey map of 1735. Penge Common to Shortland (kind permission of Sir Charles Burrell of Knepp Castle)
After reciting the following accounts of Philipot and Hasted we can discuss a few points:
Philipot wrote of Kelsey: Kelseys lies likewise in this Parish, and may justly exact our Notice; by Deeds written in a Character that hath an Aspect upon the Reign of Henry the third, John de Kelsey, William de Kelsey, and others of that Sirname are represented to have an Interest in this Seat, and from hence it is probable the Kelseys of Surrey did derive their first Extraction, however by the Injuries of Time they have been in succeeding Generations cast under the umbrage of an obscurer Fortune: But I return, After this Family had deserted the Possession of this place, which was before the latter End of Richard the the second (1399), I find the Brograves stepped in, and by purchase became Lords of the Fee, a Family which in very old Deeds writ themselves Burgrave, and sometimes Boroughgrave, though now a more easie Pronunciation hath melted it into Brograve, which represents the Etymologie of the Name, to have been in its Original perfectly Saxon. In the year 1479, there was a License granted (as appears by the Records of Rochester) to William Brograve by the then Bishop of that Diocess, to erect an Oratory or Chapple at his Mannor-house of Kelseys, the Vestigia or Reliques of which are yet obvious to an inquisitive Eye, and from this William did the Title and possession in an even Current come down to Mr. Thomas Brograve, who being not many years since deceased, his Widow Mrs. Martha Brograve now in respect of Jointure, enjoys the present Possession of it.(1659).
But having about 130 years more information Hasted quoting Philipot to a great extent and adding genealogies says;
is a seat of note in this parish, which as early as the reign of king
III. had owners of that name, as appears by deeds written in a
seemingly of that time, wherein John de Kelsey, William de Kelsey, and
of that surname, are described as having an interest in this seat.
After this family
had deserted the possession of this place, which was in the reign of
Richard II (1377-99) the Brograves (sometimes written Boroughgrave)
purchase become owners, and resided at it.
An ancestor of this family was Sir Roger Brograve, who lived in the reign of Edward I. and was of Warwickshire, who bore for his arms, Argent three lions passant guardant gules; from whom descended William Borgrave of Beckenham, to whom, in 1479, licence was granted by the bishop of Rochester (as appears by the records of that church) to erect an oratory, or chapel, at his manor house of Kelseys, the ruins of which are not now even to be traced out.
At length, a descendant of this name and family, John Brograve, some small time before the year 1688, conveyed this estate by sale to Peter Burrell, esq. who was the ninth son of Walter Burrell, esq. of Holmstead-house, in Cuckfield, in Sussex, whose ancestors are said to have been originally seated in Northumberland as early as the reign of king Edward I. but Randulphus Burrell, son and heir of Randulphus, having married Sermonda, daughter and coheir of Sir Walter Woodland of Devonshire, anno 19 king Edward II became in her right possessed of a great estate in that county. His direct descendant, John Burrell, was a man of eminence in the reign of king Henry V. and left several sons, of whom Walter, the eldest, succeeded him in his estates; and Gerardus, the youngest, settled at Cuckfield, in Sussex, anno 1446, being vicar of that church, and archdeacon and residentiary of Chichester. He died in 1508, leaving his estate to his nephew, Ralph, who settled at Cuckfield. Thomas, his son, by Dorothy Weston, his wife, had Ninian Burrell, esq. of Cuckfield, who married Jane, daughter of Henry Smith of Surry, afterwards remarried to Peter Courthope, esq. of Danny, in Sussex, and died in 1614, leaving several sons and daughters.
Of the sons, Walter, the eldest, married Frances, daughter of John Hooper of Stockbury, esq. in this county, by whom he had nine sons and three daughters. Of the former, Peter Burrell, esq. the ninth son, purchased the manor of Kelseys, some few years before the Revolution, as mentioned above. He afterwards settled here, and married Isabella, the second daughter of John Merrick, esq. of Essex, by whom he had six sons and four daughters. He died in 1718, and was buried in this church, leaving only two of his sons, Peter and Merrick, and three daughters, surviving; of whom, Frances married Richard Wyatt, esq. of Egham, in Surry; Isabella married Thomas Dalyson, esq. of Hampton, in this county; and Anne married Richard, brother to Sir Hugh Ackland, bart. of Devonshire.
Merrick Burrell, the youngest son, was of West Grinsted-park, in Sussex, and was created a baronet in the 6th year of George III to him and his heirs male, and in default of such, to his nephew, Peter Burrell, esq. of Beckenham, since deceased, and his heirs male. On Sir Merrick Burrell's death, s. p. the title of baronet descended to his great nephew, Sir Peter Burrell, the present baronet, since created Lord Gwydir, as will be farther mentioned below.
Peter Burrell, esq. the eldest son, succeeded his father in this estate, and resided at Beckenham. He served the office of high-sheriff of this county in 1722, and died in 1756. He married Amy, eldest daughter of Jones Raymond of Langley, esq. (should read Hugh Raymond of Langley) in this parish, by whom he had four sons and two daughters. Of the former, Peter Burrell, esq, the eldest son, succeeded him in this estate, and was of Beckenham; Raymond, the second son, died young; and William; the third, was bred to the civil law, commenced Doctor of Laws, and was chancellor to the bishops of Worcester and Rochester. He married Sophia, daughter of Charles Raymond of Valentine-house, in Essex, who was created a baronet in 1774, with remainder, in default of issue male, to William Burrell above mentioned, and his heirs male by Sophia his wife, which title, on his death, descended to Sir William Burrell, bart. above mentioned, who died in 1796, leaving his widow surviving, and by her two sons and one daughter. Of the two daughters, Amelia married Tobias Frere, esq. and Isabella died young. Peter Burrell, esq. married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of John Lewis, esq. of Hackney, by whom he had one son, Peter, and four daughters, of whom Elizabeth-Emelia married Richard Henry Alexander Bennett, esq. of Cambridgeshire; Susanna married lord Algernon Percy, second son of the late duke of Northumberland, now lord Lovaine; Frances Juliana married Hugh earl Percy, now duke of Northumberland; and Elizabeth, the fourth daughter, married Douglas duke of Hamilton. He died possessed of Kelseys, in 1775 (ownership held or shared in dower by Amy Burrell nee Raymond), being succeeded in it by his only son and heir, Peter Burrell, esq. of Beckenham, who was afterwards knighted; and at length, on the death of Sir Merrick Burrell, bart. succeeded to that title by the limitation of the patent. He married in 1779, the lady Elizabeth Priscilla Bertie, eldest sister of Robert late duke of Ancaster. on whose death, s. p. she succeeded to the title of Baroness Willoughby of Eresby, and in her own right and person to the office of Lord Great Chamberlain of England, the office being executed by her husband Sir Peter Burrell, knt. and bart. who was, in May 1796, created Lord Gwydir of Gwydir, in Carnarvonshire. By her he has a son, Peter Robert, born in 1782, and other children, and is the present possessor of this estate. He bears for his arms, Vert three plain shields argent, each having a bordure ingrailed or. (end of Hasted's)
So what more can we say of Kelsey? The connection with the ‘de Kelseys’ is now refuted. Some previous writers have stated that Kelsey was part of Beckenham Manor that was sold to one Kelshulle but we have not rediscovered the firm evidence for this if there is any. The search continues for copies or transcripts of any documents and as with Langley and Foxgrove, the separation from Beckenham Manor if there was any is vague. Suggestions that Kelshulle purchased some meadows from the Bruyns might relate to a small transfer of land considering that the Kelsey estate was extensive. The name Kelshulle is quite common in records for the City of London ie one John Kelshulle is a Master Tapicer in the mid 14th Century ie a maker of tapistries or similar cloth. Others are fishmongers and the one that has been associated with Beckenham has been described as a fishmonger. So far we cannot say whether leaps of faith are responsible for the story. Two wills were written by William Kelshulle (alias Convers) in 1432 and John Kelshyll the elder of Beckenham in 1439 but transcriptions and/or translation from Latin is so far unavailable. One will states that Kelshulle is also known as Convers and this following earlier dated reference as well as others can be seen on British History Online; circa 1377
“Note: that Thomas Convers was chamberlain (camerarius) to lord Bartholomew Borwasch (Burwash/Burghersh) and was therefore called Thomas Chaumbyr and his son William was apprentice to William Kelshull and therefore called William Kelshull and he lived in the parish of St. Michael Crokydlane in 12Hy.IV.”
The reference is potentially interesting as Borwasch or Burghersh/Burwash held Foxgrove Manor for a time around 1355. So can we consider that parts of Kelsey were at one time part of Foxgrove? Given the intermixing of the various estates it is not impossible.
to apply some benefit of the doubt to the creation and passage of
evidence is confirmed. The transition from Kelshulle to Brograve is
clouded and there are some interesting references to the actions of the
Brograve family and their dealings with other local personages. There
transcripts of wills for members of the Brograves, Henry in 1574 and
1629. The Brograves leased much of the estate to tenants as did the
landlords. Often the tenant farmers of husbondmen were the true
Beckenham. The relatively few members of
the Brograves who were buried in St.George’s reflects that the majority
family resided elsewhere. The Brograves took out some loans in one or
generations and the later generations failed to repay debts which had
connection in their decision to sell to the Burrells. Documents related
legal procedure to recover the loans gives some insight to the affairs
Brograves and their tenants. We have evidence which later results in
to Peter Burrell in 1688/1690. The intermarriage of Burrells and
explains the merger of Kelsey with Langley. The
error regarding Amy Raymond's father,
being daughter of Hugh Raymond and not Jones Raymond who was her
perhaps connected with Hasted's error regarding Langley and Foxgrove
believes there were two Jones Raymonds when in fact there was only one.
Although Hasted's background information is interesting it does not
complex land acquisitions and exchanges whereby Kelsey, Langley and
Foxgrove and Beckenham Manor came into Burell ownership from Hugh
Langley and the Tolsons of Foxgrove including the involvement of John
was moving into the area from circa 1757. The timeline attempts to
these transactions. From the time that Kelsey was seperated from the
Beckenham by Kelshulle (if that is the case) then to the Brograves, it
passed to Burrell from whom it descended to the fourth Peter
Gwydir on whose death in 1820 it was sold to Edward Grose Smith then to
Hoare family of banking renown. Having become rejoined with parts
Beckenham Manor, Langley and Foxgrove under the Burrells the sale of
'Gwydir' estates divided the ownership of Langley, Langley Farm and
1838 Tithe map and returns allows a snapshot of the division but
some questions. Not least that the 18th Century saw several bequests,
exchanges described in the timeline.
Kent House and Farm
Kent House is recorded from the 13th Century and acquired the name because the Surrey border at Penge was nearby and this was the nearest house on the Kent side of the county border. Some have said erroneously that it is the first house in Kent from London. Where records have been discovered it is mentioned in the timeline. Hasted only mentions it after it became the property of the Lethieullier family and Philipot didn’t mention it at all possibly because no one of high enough status was known to have resided there. However it was the property of several tradesmen, aldermen and merchants. In 1871 Thomas Covell was farming Kent House as a tenant of the Cators. Edwin Covell was later a tenant of Beckenham Place but in 1871 was resident at Beckenham Lodge (See Beckenham Lodge paragraph).
Philipot does not mention Kent House but Hasted writes this brief account:
"KENT-HOUSE is situated on the very edge of this county, towards Surry, and seems to be so called either from it’s having been once the outer bounds of this county, or from having been formerly the first house on the entrance into this parish within this county, from that of Surry. It was for some generations in the possession of the family of Lethieullier; the first of whom was Sir John Le Thieullier a Hamburgh merchant, who had raised himself by his industry in trade, and settled in this parish. He devised it at his death to his son, William Lethieullier, of this parish, esq. who by his will gave it, with his mansion and other estates in Beckenham, to his second son, Manning Lethieullier, esq. whose son, John Greene Lethieullier, esq. alienated it, in 1776, to Thomas Lucas, of Lee, in this county, esq. who died possessed of it in 1784, leaving his widow surviving, who re-marrying John Julius Angerstein, of Charlton, esq. he is, in her right, at this time possessed of it."
To address Hasted’s account firstly, in Hasted’s appendix of errata he states that Kent House is occupied as a farm at the time of his writing or publishing. Sir John Lethieullier certainly acquired Kent House in 1709 from John Reynolds. Lethieullier also had substantial other property in Lewisham such as a large house near Lewisham church, St. Mary’s and property at Bromley and Wickham. Subsequent family wills describe property in Essex, Suffolk and elsewhere whether acquired by John Lethieullier or accumulated through family intermarriage is too complicated to investigate here. Manning Lethieullier describes Kent House occupied by a Mr Bolt and a subsequent advertisement by John Green Lethieullier to sell the estate describes rental income. If the Lethieulliers did reside at Kent House it wasn’t full time and they had several other properties such as the Manor House at Lee. They are also credited with building Clock House circa 1710-1723 which was a residence for some of the Lethieullier family. Subsequent to John Julius Angerstein acquiring it by marrying Thomas Lucas’s widow Elizabeth, Kent House was acquired by John Barwell Cator from the Barings in 1829.
Earlier records can be found relating to Kenthous (sic) Kenthouse and Kent House at the National Archive and elsewhere and these have lead to more research. Len Hevey believes it was originally part of Beckenham Manor like Foxgrove and Langley and over time these parts became separated from the Manor. As it is possible or likely that certain villagers had freehold property since before Domesday and the Crown and Church weren't recorded in Domesday then the earlier ownership of land is still a mystery in many respects.
put together a chain of owners or occupants possibly from 1324 and it
mentioned by name in 1346 that “Master Henry de Clyf, clerk, deceased,
granted by his deed to Henry de Seccheford, now deceased, and Alice his
hold a messuage, 140 acres of land called Kenthouse in Beghenham,
Kent, of him, rendering 40s. yearly to him, so that if Henry and Alice
die without an heir of their bodies, the messuage and land should
Hugh son of John de Balne, and Master Henry granted by his deed to Hugh
40s. yearly, Hugh has released to Alice, who now holds the messuage and
the said 40s. rent and all his right and claim in the messuage and
Witnesses: Sir Maurice le Brune, Sir William le Brune, knights, John de
Huntyngfeld, Peter Godesone, Andrew de Seccheford, Hugh le Hatter of
John le Mazon of Beghenham. Dated at Beghenham on
after St. Mark, 1346.
Memorandum that Hugh came into chancery at Westminster on 27 April and acknowledged the preceding deed. (BHO)”
A record from 1503 indicates a family called Fabyan held Kenthouse with land in Beckenham, Lewisham and Battersey probably from as early as 1469. Certainly the Style family are associated with Kent House in 1501 and 1624 seemingly acquiring it in a legal process arising from an unpaid debt. Before that, in 1346 Henry de Clyf and in 1384 John Leeg is mentioned as the manor of Kent House. From 1691 a bundle of records in Lewisham Archive describe a chain of exchanges and the Lethieulliers acquired Kenthouse in 1709 and are thought to have built Clock House circa 1716/30. Kent House passed through the Baring banking family and John Barwell Cator acquired it in 1828. The 1838 Tithe describes it as a farm occupied by Michael Mathew Senior, tenant of John (Barwell) Cator. In 1861 Edmund King an Army Contractor and Merchant occupies Kent House and the farm is occupied by Charles Ansel a farm labourer. Kent House would have begun to dissolve into urban development along with other Cator Estate property and by the 1880’s there are references to houses and roads on the site of Kent House Farm but the 1881 census shows John Langlands, widower, as farmer of Kent House Farm employing 23 men and 2 boys with some extended family and a cook/housekeeper and maid.
Census for Kent House Farm 400 acres?
Some writers have said Kent House was the first house outside the boundaries of London but its proximity to the Kent/Surrey border is the real reason for its name as described by Hasted. It has been compared to Kent Hatch and New Cross which were other places on the county border prior to county boundary changes. The County Boundary used to extend to where Kings Hall Road and Parish Lane meet on the junction of Kent House Road very close to Kent House and Farm. An 1860’s Ordnance Survey map shows Kent House still as farmland with New Beckenham Station annotated as “closed”. By 1894 New Beckenham Station has been moved to its current position, Alexandra Park is firstly established as an athletics ground and cycle track. A few houses are on Kings Hall Road but the Farm buildings and much associated land is still open. The priority for the Cator estate seems to have been to lease Copers Cope Farm property first.
Evidence for possible boundary changes is the extension of the Beckenham parish boundary in the region of Penge which diverts from a line following a watercourse called the Boundary Stream which flows into the Pool River in Cator Park. The stream is now mostly under culverts. Robert Borrowman describes an anecdote whereby the parish boundary was diverted when a body was discovered at Rockhills and only Beckenham parish would claim and bury the body but that may be a red herring as what looks like an extension in the parish boundary is in fact a boundary of an outlying part of Beckenham Manor as shown on the 1623 (1768 copy) Beckenham Manor map.. Penge was in Battersea parish and four boroughs meet at the top of Crystal Palace Parade. In earlier times London did not extend south of the Thames until the metropolis grew into Greater London by encompassing villages which became its suburbs. Kent House will be found referred to in the timeline.
Hasted had only recorded Kent House from the time it came into the possession of the Lethieulliers. It passed through a few owners until it was acquired by the Cators in 1828 and was leased to various farmers or occupants of the house until housing development covered the area. As Kent House Farm and Copers Cope Farm were joined along the course of the Pool River under the Cators it looks like some tenants farmed both together and it is probable that at this time the rivers and streams were straightened to improve drainage and farmland. Also, the Kent House Brickfield became established.
Penge Common and Crystal Palace
Much of the information about Penge Common is clouded in mystery but we can gather as much material as we can find and hope a clearer picture emerges. The Kent Surrey border seperated much of Penge from Beckenham and Penge was in the parish of Batricksey (Battersea). Before the dissolution of the monastries the land belonged to St. Peter's, Westminster Abbey and was leased to tenants. One such tenant or leaseholder was Henry Rydon d.1531 whose will described his lease from the Abbot of Westminster and says "To Robert my sonne my leas or Covent seale with the yeres conteyned in the same I hold and have of my Lorde Abbott priour and covent of Westmynster of the manor or lordeshippe of Battersey for terme yeres and if he die or he come to 21 yeres then to Henry my sonne at 21." and "I will that Robert Ryden my sonne when 21 all my lands as well free as customary in Battersey and Wannesworth in Surrey. I will also that Henry Rydon my sonne when 21 shalhave all my lands, tenements, etc. in Westerham, Bromeley, Beckenham and Lewisham for ever."
Since a lot of it was waste or land unfit for much agriculture is became common land or access allowed for gathering firewood, feeding pigs etc. At the dissolution the land became the property of the Crown and in 1627 was made the property of the St. John family. Oliver St. John had married Joan Rydon (Roydon) so had perhaps taken on occupation of the leased lands.
1763 Frederick St. John sold the Manor of Battersea to Lord Spencer. On the Beckenham Manor map we have parts of Beckenham Manor on land adjacent to Penge and the Common with farmland and property which became Penge Place. The most detailed map evidence so far is John Rocque's 1749 map and Carey's 1779 map both of which display some differences as well as some similarities. Subsequently there is the Ordnance Survey surveyor's drawing dated 1799 which is a draft but supports some Rocque and Carey detail. We should consider how close the ties are with Rydon and later, Oliver St. John who married Rydon's daughter and whether they held sway over the propeerty. In the late 18th C a John Morgan occupied Penge Place and it appears that it was during his lifetime that the name was adopted. Morgan's property was sold to Scott which in turn was bought by John Barwell Cator circa 1820? The most detail we have is perhaps in the 1825 Cator Private Act of Parliament which lists property in Penge and Battersea and some documents in Bromley Collections which list the same field names as the 1825 Act.
In 1794 John Morgan the then owner of Penge Place attempted to enclose Penge Common. He died in 1803 and the property passed to John Scott. Scott then sold his property of Penge Place and the soil of Penge Common to John Barwell Cator in 1813. Various disputes arose between Cator and Scott and the Croydon Canal Company regarding monies unpaid by the company. The Penge Common enclosure act was passed in 1827 but settlements of compensation were still being sorted out in 1837 and a court case decision was made in 1843 regarding John Barwell Cator's suit against the Croydon Canal Company which had become insolvent circa 1822 but was in receipt of monies after the London and Greenwich Railway gained an Act for constructing a railway on the old canal route.
Rocque's 1749 and Carey's 1786 maps which are schematically similar.
origin of the name Thayer’s
Farm in the vicinity of Clockhouse, Beckenham had puzzled me for some
shows that in 1644 Giles Thayer, farmer of Thayer’s Farm was fined over
the Parliament, for not paying a 10penny tax on his team of horses.
appeal pleading that he couldn’t afford the fine and had been unable to
tax his fine was cancelled. The tax had
not been paid because the then Rector of Beckenham, Dr Skynner,
for collecting the tax had been sequestrated from his parish,
because he was not following Puritan doctrines being applied during the
War and Cromwell’s time in office. This evidence is gleaned from a
called Connected Histories: May 17. 133. Petition of Giles Theyer to
Committees for the Parliament. That he being possessor of a team in
obliged to disburse £5. 3s.4d. to redeem his team of horses, they being
for non-payment of the l0d. tax levied on that parish; the deficiency
caused by inability to collect the sum assessed on Dr. Skynner, late
that parish, who was then under sequestration. Order having been passed
Committee that money disbursed for taxes unpaid of lands in
be allowed out of the rents from the tenants or upon account by the
of Sequestrations. Petitioner being a poor man prays that order may be
for repayment to him of the said sum, which he cannot afford to lose.
133. I. Ordered that Daniel Shetterden shall repay the money advanced by Giles Theyer. Dorso,
133. II. Receipt by Giles Theyer for £5. 3s. 4d. received of Daniel Shetterden. 18th May 1644.
133. III. Ordered, that as the above-named sum was omitted to be allowed to Mr. Shetterden upon the passing of his former sequestration accounts, the same be allowed to him out of such sequestration money as is now in his hands.(end).
Several clergymen were sequestered from their parishes during the Civil War and Republic. Works such as John Walker’s (1674–1747) biography relate the sufferings of the clergy.
The burial records for St. George’s show a few generations of Thayers with spelling variations or transcription differences, several males bearing the name Giles, the first one dying in 1642 could have been the father of the one subjected to the Parliament fine.
9 Feb 1642
24 May 1644
Marie d of Giles
8 Jun 1648
Katharine d of Giles
6 Sep 1653
6 Aug 1654
Judy d of Giles
14 Oct 1687
Mary d of Giles
15 Apr 1688
Giles s of Giles
11 Dec 1696
Samuel s of Giles
18 Dec 1696
Valentine s of Giles
12 Jun 1715
1 Oct 1734
20 May 1737
10 Sep 1740
9 Jun 1786
John s of Giles
St. George’s burial records go back to mid 1500’s so I assume these were the earliest Thayers in the district and the origins for the name of the farm.
In 1710 we find Gyles Thayer, son of Gyles Thayer (d.1715?), Farmer of Beckenham being bound apprentice joiner in London to master joiner Joseph Palmer. This may indicate that farming had become unprofitable or a lease on the farm is expiring?
Apprentice Indenture, Ancestry.co.uk
In 1734 a document now in Lincolnshire archive as part of the Ancaster papers (ex-Burrell) shows that Hugh Raymond of Saling Hall, Essex who had acquired Langley and Simpson’s Place sold parts of what became Elmers End Farm and Thayers New Farm to Thomas Motley. The document describes Elmer Farm and land which had been leased to John Thayer by Sir John Elwill, husband of Elizabeth Stile. Elwills heir had sold the property to Raymond in 1732. This property around Elmers End, Backs Lane and Thayers Farm is described as having been part of the Simpson’s Place estate. Since we find nearly all the estates had outlying and remote properties attached to them this is indeed feasible. It further raises questions as to how or whether the Elmers owned Elmer Farm or were leaseholders or feoffees. See 1734 for more detail.
In 1736 the farm belongs to Thomas Motley and partly let to William Lewin. So where the later Thayers lived, worked and died is a mystery. It’s possible they remained as labourers on the farm. John Thayer, son of Giles dying in 1786 and buried at St. George’s is the last record, “Thares” is either a misread/transcription/variation error. The drawing up of the map may have related to Motley’s acquisition of the property but it is contemporary with other maps drawn around this time such as the Burrell Kelsey estate maps 1723 and 1735 and the Foxgrove Manor map 1720. I believe that undated maps of Langley are circa 1738 as well. So the dates of the maps may have been to clarify local land ownership given the complexity of interlocking and overlapping boundaries, exchanges, inheritance and marriage settlements.
There is still some mystery as to how the farm came into Motley’s possession but in 1734 Motley purchased land from Hugh Raymond called Elmer Farm consisting of what became parts of Elmers End Old and New Farms and Thayers (new) farm which abutted Thayers (old) farm. The land transfer describes Thayers Farm as having been leased latterly to John Thayer by the Elwills (heirs of the Stiles) in 1726 for 21 years but John appears to have surrendered the lease or ceased to pay rent or perhaps is employed by Motley.
Motley is shown as occupying Thayer’s Old Farm (fields 1-8 on the left of the map) and Lewin occupied the new farm. There is a slight shading difference as well as the field numbers. It is probable that Motley did not farm but occupied the house while labour was employed from within the village where later census records (1840/50) show there was a good supply of farm labour. Not much can be found about the Lewins apart from burial records, they may have worked both parts of the farm.
Kent Archive; Thomas Motley 1736, spelling variation “Thayre”. Land bounded by Lethieullier, St.John and Weston
William Lewin apparently died in 1743 and an unnamed relative died in the workhouse in 1792 aged 75. Four Lewins died in infancy between 1723 and 1734. Feasibly, the Lewen dying in the workhouse in 1792 may have been another Thomas and the infant deaths all fall within a similar time period 1723-34. The workhouse mentioned is probably Beckenham workhouse which was situated near The Hall, Bromley Road (Clay Hill), a small institution no more than a cottage with a field shown on some maps.
14 Feb 1716
23 Jun 1726
4 Apr 1792
24 Jan 1686
27 Sep 1825
16 Dec 1734
4 Oct 1730
31 Dec 1743
10 Feb 1681
LEWIN d. 5.2.1681
27 Nov 1727
18 Jun 1723
Problems with accessing Beckenham births and marriages prevent a fuller account. We know that Thayer’s Farm descended from Thomas Motley to the Austin family through intermarriage. Thomas Motley’s daughter married Francis Austin and their son, Francis Motley Austin went on to acquire the estates of the Lennards of Kippington near Sevenoaks and other property through his activities as a lawyer and advancing a mortgage to the Lennards which they were unable to repay. The Austins and Lennards were cousins through intermarriage. Francis Motley Austin married Elizabeth Wilson, daughter of Sir Thomas Wilson of West Wickham (d.1774). The Austins were related to Jane Austen who visited the Sevenoaks property but is not known to have visited Beckenham. Austin and Austen are just spelling variations. Thomas Motley also owned the “Old” and “New” farms at Elmers End and the mansion house in the High Street whose grounds covered Thornton’s Corner, called The Mead in 1736 with extensive formal water features which later were re-landscaped to be the informal grounds of Village Place. A series of maps give a good idea of the structure of the village from 1623 but it is probably that several lowly dwellings are omitted until we get to the Burrel estate maps of 1809. Francis Motley Austin died in 1815 and the Cator Estate map of 1833 shows Thayers Farm still owned by “G. Austin Esq.”. Francis Motley Austin and Elizabeth Wilson had nine children by my estimation, one named George who may be the G.Austin on the 1833 map. As F.M.Austin had immense wealth and properties maybe George got Thayer’s Farm as part of his share. References to Thayer’s Farm in archives are elusive but we have a few.
Bromley Historic Collections; Cator estate 1833
Very faintly, the G.Austin property is annotated in pencil “Thayers Farm L.Wilson” at an unknown date, which I take to be Cornelius Lea Wilson of Village Place but no supporting evidence so far. The confluence of the Beck/Chaffinch and Pool rivers in the woodland above is now in Cator Park, Kings Hall Road. That woodland is numbered “100” indicating it is Cator property acquired from St.John/Bolingbroke as part of Beckenham Manor lands by John Cator in 1773.
1837 Thayers Farm is
acquired by Albemarle Cator from the Forster and Austin family
others. The complexity associated with the long list of names defies
explanation except that they may be trustees of the property’s
Bromley Collections ref 989/4/1/2 of 2/12/1837 describes; Conveyance of
Farm, Beckenham between Sir John Cholmeley, of Easton, Lincolnshire;
John Campion the younger, of Itchen Abbots, Hampshire; Samual Forster,
Lincolns Inn, Middlesex, esquire and Henry Forster, of Southend, Kent,
in the Royal Artillary (1st part);
Henry Goodford, of Chiltern Cantels, Somerset, esquire; Stephen Cholmeley, of Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, esquire; the Reverend John Thomas Austen, of Aldworth, near Reading, Berkshire, Clerk and Thomas Phillip Waite, of Louth, Lincolnshire, esquire (2nd part);
The Reverend Richard Stewart Evelyn Forster, of Carlton, Lincolnshire, Clerk and Catherine, his wife (3rd part),
and the Reverend John Brownrigge Collisson, now residing at Charmouth, Dorset, Clerk and Sarah, his wife (4th part),
and Albemarle Cator, of Beckenham Place Park, Kent, esquire (5th part).
In consideration of the sum of £2000 paid to the 1st parties and £2000 paid to the 2nd parties, the property is conveyed to Cator. Includes a map of the property.
And this lease looks like it is to give Cator immediate possession? Bromley Collections ref 989/4/1/1 dated 1/12/1837 Lease of Thayers Farm, Beckenham from Sir John Cholmeley, of Easton, Lincolnshire; William John Campion the younger, of Itchen Abbots, Hampshire; Samual Forster, of Lincolns Inn, Middlesex, esquire; Henry Forster, of Southend, Kent, Captain in the Royal Artillary; Henry Goodford, of Chiltern Cantels, Somerset, esquire; Stephen Cholmeley, of Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, esquire; the Reverend John Thomas Austen, of Aldworth, near Reading, Berkshire, Clerk; Thomas Phillip Waite, of Louth, Lincolnshire, esquire; the Reverend Richard Stewart Evelyn Forster, of Carlton, Lincolnshire, Clerk, and the Reverend John Brownrigge Collisson, now residing at Charmouth, Dorset, Clerk to Albemarle Cator, of Woodbastock (Woodbastwick) Hall, Norfolk, esquire, for a year at the annual rent of a peppercorn.
Some question arises regarding the descent of the property from Francis Motley Austin to G.Austin Esq. and then to this group of trustees including Austins and Forsters. The Rev. John Thomas Austen eludes tracing so some research into the Forsters is necessary. F.M.Austin had married Margaret Wilson, daughter of Sir Thomas Wilson of West Wickham which prompts a search for connections with Cornelius Lea Wilson which has not emerged so far.
Bromley Historic Collections; Cator estate map 1864 (revised to September 1889)
Note the meanders in the Chaffinch and Beck have been straightened probably as land improvement, drainage and changes in field boundaries.
This map (1864/1889) shows Thayer’s Farm as numbered plots within the Cator Estate confirming that it had been acquired by the Albemarle Cator. Roads and railways which resemble closely today’s layout are shown. A report which accompanies the 1860’s Cator Estate map may reveal the acquisition and any tenants (Bromley Collections 989/7/1). At that time the Cators were either long leasing land (99 years) to builders or to speculative property developers for ground rents as the estate report describes as well as leasing agricultural properties such as Copers Cope and Foxgrove farms. Shaded parts of the estate map indicate leases. Certain gaps in the record remain undiscovered. As the area became carved up by roads and railways what is now Cator Park once covered part of Thayers Farm as a recreation ground but that was reduced to facilitate building on Kings Hall Road. What used to be Cyphers sports ground was part of the farm
The building of the railways took place in the mid 19th C. so there must have been some long term upheaval and the map shows a bridge or access between part of Clockhouse grounds and the house. The Chaffinch River is mostly in a culvert through this area now.
In 1886 we find the Cators leasing land to a local builder; Bromley Collections ref. 989/6/89/1 04/11/1886 Duplicate agreement between Albemarle Cator, of Woodbastwick Hall, Norfolk, esquire and Alfred Moss, of High Street, Beckenham, Kent, builder in relation to a piece of ground on the north west side of Thayers Farm Road. Cator agrees to let the property to Moss for 90 years at the annual rent of £5 for the 1st year, £13 for the 2nd year and £20 12s 6d thereafter. Moss to commence building works within 3 months and to expend £1000 within three years in erecting 5 pairs of semi-detached houses.
This latter Albemarle Cator would be the son of the one who purchased Thayers Farm in 1837 who died in 1868. This latter Albemarle Cator died in 1906 and the estates descended to his son, John Cator (1862-1944).
On 01/07/1896 Duplicate agreement between Albemarle Cator (a person of unsound mind, so found by inquisition by Thomas Henry Burroughs) of Woodbastwick Hall, Norfolk, esquire and Alfred Moss of High Street, Beckenham, Kent, builder in relation to two pieces of ground on the north east side of Thayers Farm Road and one piece of ground on the north side of Chaffinch Road, Beckenham, Kent. Cator agrees to let the property to Moss to hold for 90 years at the annual rent of £10 for the first year, £25 for the second year and £40 thereafter. Moss is to commence building work within four months and to erect houses. Includes a map of the property.
On the 3/7/1896 Moss’s wife Selina is included in the agreement, perhaps because Moss is ageing but it relates to a different part of the property, south east as opposed to north east. Counterpart lease of a piece of ground on the south east side of Thayers Farm Road, Beckenham, Kent beyween Albemarle Cator (a person of unsound mind, so found by inquisition by Thomas Henry Burroughs) of Woodbastwick Hall, Norfolk, esquire (1st part); Alfred Moss of High Street, Beckenham, builder (2nd part) and Selina Moss, his wife (3rd part). In consideration of the costs incurred through erecting the property, Cator demises the property to Selina Moss for 90 years at the annual rent of £5.
This shows that the Cators are long leasing land for building and I assume Moss is sub-leasing or renting out property. The houses built are in many cases the houses that still stand in Thayers Farm Road and adjoining roads. Albemarle Cator (the second) was thought to suffer from porphyria.
OS 25inch revised 1897 (National Library of Scotland archive) and satellite image
These images show Alfred Moss’s developments in Thayers Farm Road and Chaffinch Road, the development of Barnmead Road with the already disused loop line. Minimal development of Kings Hall Road thus far in 1897. Cator Park was called Kent House Pleasure Ground with a layout much the same as today’s. We know that many houses built in the mid 1930’s were the first houses built on Cator estate land with deeds signed in the name of the John Cator who died in 1944. What might be regarded as land almost resembling farmland is the allotments between the railways and the grassed area of the ex-Cyphers ground.
The complexity of transactions in the process of urbanization makes it impractical to go further with this account but I’m sure others will fill in gaps in the record. I assume householders on the property will have deeds recording the Cators, Moss and other developers. The leasehold status of property has over time become freehold and Thayer’s Farm only survives in the name of the road and surviving records.
With thanks to the various sources including Ian Muir for burial records and Keith Baldwin for research. British Library, Kent Archive, Bromley Archive and National Library of Scotland for images and records.
Elmers End Old and New Farms
Not to be confused with the “Elmers End Farm” which was at Upper Elmers End and part of the Eden Park estate for a time. The origins seemingly go back to a moated house which was in what is now South Norwood Country Park. Only the ghost of the moat is visible from aerial photographs. Some remains were found by archaeologists dating it to the medieval period. Len Hevey’s publication on the history of Elmers End is viewable on the Bromley Borough Local History Society website resources. Len Hevey wrote; The earliest known documentary evidence of the district is found in four deeds from the reign of Henry III (1216-1272), which refer to the lease of land from Ralph Aylmer and his son Richard, to others. In one of these, Richard Aylmer leased ten acres to William Wodegrove, for anannual rental of 21d; and as the following extract from it shows, the location is precisely defined, and the place in which it lay is destribed as Westhurst; “Be it know that I, Richard, son of Ralph Aylmer, have given, conceded, and by this deed confirm to William Wodegrove 10 acres of my land with its motes, hedges, and forelands, and everything else pertaining thereto lying in a place which is called Westhurst in the parish of Beckenham and extending in length from east by the land of Lord Richard de Rupella, Lord of Beckenham, and extending in length from towards west as far as lands of said William. And in breadth between land of William de Bosco on the south and the way which leads from the house of William Pikenot towards Penge on the North.” William Wodegrove had land adjoining west of this site which would be probably in what is now South Norwood, Croydon, Surrey. Len Hevey goes on to describe the Eylmers paying taxes in the 14th Century. Pikenot is also mentioned in taxation and other references. While we might nitpick a few of Len Hevey’s details it is broadly a good description of the situation but he omits the passage of Elmers End from Thomas Motley through the Austin family.
Records are scarce regarding the Elmers or Aylmers of Elmers End especially regarding the descent of the property between the 14th and 18th Centuries. The National Archive has a record from 1357 for Debtor: Thomas Aylmer of Kent of Beckingham. Creditor: Thomas Fermbaud, knight [held part of a fee in Battlesden, Manshead Hundred, Beds] for Amount: £40. Before whom: Simon Fraunceys, Mayor of London; Andrew Aubrey, Clerk. When taken: 19/05/1356 First term: 02/06/1356 Last term: 29/09/1356 Writ to: Sheriff of Kent Sent by: Henry Picard, Mayor of London; Thomas de Brisworth, Clerk. Endorsement: London' Coram Justic' de Banco in XV Trinitatis. 1357 Apr 20.
Another 1357 record describes Thomas Aylmer as Chamberlain(secretary) to Bartholomew de Burghersh who is linked to Foxgrove Manor and another possible link is between the Elmers or Aylmers and the Carew/Carreus who have been connected with other land dealings.
The family name disappears from the district before burial records begin in the 16th Century. A recent (2022) viewing of a 1734 document in Lincolnshire Archive shows that Thomas Motley got land called Elmer Farm from Hugh Raymond of Langley and it appears from the list of fields in the transfer that Motley divided some between both Elmers End Old and New Farms and some were attached to Thayers Farm. It raises the question as to how and when Hugh Raymond came to possess it which was as part of his purchase of Langley and Simpson’s Place in 1732 which is described in the document as Raymond acquiring it from the Elwills who had inherited from the marriage of Sir John Elwill to Elizabeth Stile.
The Motley map’s illustration of a site called La Motes may indicate an old family name or just that the site was two concentric motes. Part of the land is now in Croydon, Surrey and the county boundaries did move over time but land ownership was not particularly influenced by county boundaries. Similar to Thayers Farm, Thomas Motley's map of 1736 illustrates these and how they were related to neighbouring landlords: the St.Johns, Burrells, St. John Humphrey. The name Elmer was in earlier times often spelt Aylmer, Eylmer Ailmer. It is a family that appears in references as early as 1308 regarding the taking of timber to repair the church and early tax rolls in 1328 and 1345 as well as some archive documents but it was not recorded in the Kent Roll of 1274 unless the name Wymer is a transcription error. We haven’t been able to find how Motley acquired the land but like other landlords he also had property elsewhere. As Motley acted as trustee on several Lethieullier wills and transactions it’s possible that he acquired land from the Lethieulliers perhaps parts of Kent House Farm? What we can add to Hevey’s account is the descent of Elmers End Farms to Francis Austin, Motley’s son in law, and Francis Motley Austin, Motley’s grandson, which then passes to Ambrose Austin who is apparently no relation to the two Francis Austins.
This picture of a cottage or quite substantial 3 storey building gives a idea of the earlier appearance of buildings with timber frame for the most part with weatherboarding can perhaps explain how so few old buildings remain in the area along with lack of desire to preserve them.
Elmers End New Farm in 1905, it would be nice to think this is at least in part some of Thomas Motley's property.
Monks OrchardMonks Orchard sits at the southernmost part of Beckenham parish on the West Wickham borders and is largely ignored by early historians. It is reputed to be called so because back in 1552 it was in the ownership of a family named Munke of Addington. Apparently there was a reference to Monksmeade circa 1662 and a 17th Century (1661/2?) plan held by Surrey Archive of Monks Copps and Meade with three houses shown, Thorogoods House and Monks Gate on the road at the bottom of the map and a house near “Paddox and Furse”. Land abutting Monks are annotated Rogers Lands, Brucombs Land, Shorlie Hoath (Shirley Heath?) and Comm Land (Common Land?). We cannot say whether Rogers and Brucomb were owners or tenants. The plan shows land on the same footprint as the 1809 Burrell map but changes in farming practices and buildings are reflected in the different field pattern etc.
part of the Monks Meade, Monks Orchard map from Surrey Archive. North toward the left margin. Most likely the map accompanied a transfer of property.
Much material is held by Bethlem Museum of the Mind including the full 72 page sale catalogue from 1920 which shows it by that time to have straddled the county and parish boundaries to include 1540 acres in Beckenham, West Wickham, Croydon and Addington consisting of a mansion, several farms, 3 public houses and a golf course.
It originally formed part of Addington Estate which as we show elsewhere had close links to Beckenham through Aguillon, Bardolf, and Leigh. Latterly John Cator also owned parts of Chelsham & Farleigh. It was from Sir John Leigh of Addington’s decendants that Barlow Trecothick purchased the estate in 1768. When he died Barlow left the estate to his nephew James Isles on the insistence that he adopt the surname and arms of Trecothick. James Isles was originally from Boston Massachusetts and Barlow Trecothick died owning Long Island.
The estate remained intact until 1802 when James Isles Trecothick got into financial difficulties after suffering losses on his estates in Grenada. His creditors agreed to allow him two years to sell his estate and settle his debts. The estate as a whole was firstly offered for sale at £109,500 by the trustees William Coles & Westgarth Snaith but there were no takers, it was then divided into 22 lots. The mansion and park became the subject of a court case (Coles v Trecothick 1804) and Thomas Coles (father of William Coles) bought the property which in 1807 he then sold to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
We have not found details of the sale but it is evident from the Surrey Land tax and Jury Qualified Freeholders lists that some leaseholders chose to purchase the freeholds. One of these was John Smith MP (designated as such in 1805) who bought Coldharbour Farm(aka Spring Park) assessed at £328. His tenure was short, Coldharbour is recorded as being held by Charles Thelluson in 1800 and in 1807 John Smith is supposed to have sold Monks Orchard to Lord Gwydir (Peter Burrell) to extend his Langley Park estate.
In 1803 Lord Gwydir owns land valued at £148 leased to Joseph Cooper who, in 1802 had held land valued at just £70 from James Trecothick and which in 1800 can be seen to be distinct from Coldharbour. This could be Monks Orchard, which looks likely as the tenant, Joseph Cooper and latterly John Turner, is the same as on Ham Farm, but this throws doubt on whether John Smith ever had Monks Orchard in addition to Spring Park.
In his History of the Monks Orchard Estate 1957 G W Tookey claims that when Lord Gwydir died Park Farm and Ham Farm were sold to John Maberley (of Shirley Park) for £6000 and £10500 respectively. We have not seen the post 1819 Surrey land tax returns to corroborate this but have determined that the subsequent owner was Paul James Le Cointe who was included in the Jury lists of 1820-1824 as of Park Farm. He died in 1825 and his widow immediately sought to sell the estate described as 235 acre estate with newly erected mansion (circa 1823) but it failed to sell until the middle of 1828, fetching £13,900 at auction.
The purchaser was Henry Alexander but the estate (now called Wickham Park) was again offered for sale in 1834 stating that £35000 had been spent on improvements within the last 13 years.
Park Farm leased by the Burrells encapsulates most of todays Monks Orchard/Bethlem Hospital compared to circa 1900 OS map showing old county boundary and satellite image showing that the northern boundary includes a little of what was Eden Park Farm.
Clockhouse or Clock House is thought to have been built around 1720 for the Lethieulliers when they occupied Kent House Farm and it survived into the late 19th Century being demolished in 1896 but the stable block remained until 1926. Some dating evidence may be that the clock and bell which were removed to Beckenham Place were dated 1735 which may indicate either the building of Clockhouse or just the addition of the clock and bell tower to the stable block. It had a few fields around it and on the 1736 Thomas Motley map covering Thayers Farm the neighbouring land is annotated as “William Lethieulliers gardens”. It may then have passed to William’s son Manning Lethieullier. Manning died in 1752 as did his brother Samuel. Whether Manning occupied Kent House and Samuel Clock House is unclear but after 1752 Samuel’s widow Sarah Painter married Stephen Holland thereby becoming Mrs Sarah Holland. The 1769 Andrews and Drury map indicates that Mrs Holland occupied Clock House and as Mrs Sarah Holland dies in 1779 after having become widowed from Stephen Holland it would allow Clockhouse to become vacant for Piercy Brett either after Sarah was widowed in 1768 or at her death. Most likely after her death as she leaves substantial money and property and states that ‘her house in Beckenham’ is left to Erasmus Warren. We need to establish whether this was Clock House and whether Warren sold it to Brett or Cator. Brett’s will does not mention a Beckenham property but does leave a house in London. It then came into the hands of Joseph Cator in 1782 after Admiral Sir Piercy Brett, the former owner or occupant had died in 1781. Brett may have moved in for a short period and perhaps under lease? No record of a purchase has been found either by Brett or Joseph Cator but we have the map of the house and grounds which is in Bromley Historic Collections. On Joseph Cator's death in 1818 it was left in trust to Joseph’s sons William and Bertie Cornelius. Joseph’s wife Diana was a joint executor of his will and may have lived at Clockhouse until her death in 1829? But by 1838 the Tithe map and returns show it had been absorbed into the Cator estates under John Barwell Cator being leased until its demolition. On the 1838 Tithe it is described as owned by John (Barwell) Cator but unoccupied. Both William and Bertie never resided at Clockhouse as they had careers in the army and navy respectively. There is some possibility a pre-existing building was on the site indicated by the 1623 Beckenham Manor map, possibly an earlier farmstead but this is one of the many outstanding unknown details. The Lethieulliers lease much of their property in Beckenham, Penge, Lewisham and elsewhere in Kent and they refer to dwelling houses in Lewisham and Beckenham. One such house may have been on the site of Village Place or even Clock House but references to fields called The Ridge and Bun Hill are vague and not seen on any available maps, only intimated at in some documents.
Clockhouse print 1782 Joseph Cator Clockhouse some time after the building of the railway and clock removed to Beckenham Place (courtesy Beckenham History)
Some 19th Century tenants can be traced on census records such as 1871, Francis Barry a Portuguese Merchant and Consul for the Republic of Portugal with his family and several servants. Eventually Clockhouse and its grounds were sold to the Beckenham Council by Albemarle Cator for a nominal sum and the Technical Institute, Library and swimming pool now occupy the site.
Stone Farm, Wickham Road.
The first definitive evidence is the 1766 copy of the 1720 Foxgrove Manor map which shows Stone Farm as belonging to the Tolsons in 1720, they having presumably bought it from the Leighs who previously owned Foxgrove Manor. Stone Farm was part of Foxgrove Manor and after changes of ownership it was moved, renamed and then renamed again. A family named Stone are in St.George’s records from about 1700 but we have no evidence that they are connected to the farm. The Farm was originally adjacent to the lake in Kelsey Park and its fields extended toward Clay Hill and Langley. John Cator acquired it from an heir of the Tolson Tillys, Joseph Groves, circa 1758 and exchanged small parts of it with the Burrells and Raymonds for other land in 1759. Cator exchanged the rest with the Burrells in 1793 and the Burrells apparently absorbed the part adjacent to the lake into Kelsey Park. The land was rearranged and a new farm house built at the junction of Wickham Road and Hayes Lane called Home Farm. This was later renamed Stone Farm so although the farmhouse and buildings were moved and rebuilt the fields constituting the farm to the east of Wickham Road remained much the same. Robert Borrowman describes how in making excavations for new houses on the side of Wickham Road in 1898 some brickwork remains were found of a building of some extent being about four feet thick and going down about six feet. A map assumed to date to 1780 which shows Cator owning Stone Farm and and house called Barnfield House on it could well be this structure. We can only guess.
The Tithe map of 1838 shows the then owner as Emanuel Goodhart and occupant is William Rogers junior after the 1820 Burrell estate sale. One map showing the farm buildings near the site of what is now the Chinese Garage associates the buildings with Nabhalter Farm on the edge of the Langley Farm and Place estates after the sale of the Burrell estate in 1820. In the following map (note that north is toward the right) Chancery Lane is to the right edge and Wickham Road runs to the Langley area on the left. The road junction just to the left of The Stones Farm is Hayes Lane junction where the Chinese Garage is today, before South Eden Park Road and Stone Park Avenue were constructed. A lot of the fields not marked ‘Jones Raymond’ or ‘Burrell’ belong to John Cator in 1766 from his purchase of Stone Farm circa 1758 from Joseph Groves. The blank areas are Kelsey and Beckenham Manor lands for the most part. When Cator exchanges land with Burrell in 1793 all of this becomes part of the Burrell estates. It does demonstrate how fragmented and interlocked properties were. By the time of the 1861 census Stone Farm is occupied by Michael Mathews who had earlier farmed Copers Cope Farm which by now is possibly repossessed by the Cators for the purpose of building leases?
Home or Stone Farm repositioned by the Burrells, farmhouse was near what is now Chinese Garage roundabout
Woolseys Farm, Later named Shortlands House and became Bishop Challoner School
This was on and around Clay Hill, the site of what is now Bishop Challoner's School in Bromley Road. The first pictorial descriptions of it are on the 1723 and 1735 Burrell estate maps held in the British Library and at that time it was under the land holdings of the Burrells of Kelseys. On a separate map of 1735 it appears to be leased to someone believed to be Buxton although the map is faded and the writing difficult to read. An earlier burial record 1666 for Thomas Bedford is shown as “of Wolsees”. Clay Hill was a crossroads on Bromley Road with what are now Scotts Lane and Court Downs Bridge Road. Records recently discovered in Lincolnshire Archive (2022) show that Peter Burrell acquired Woolseys Farm in 1705 on a 500 year lease. Prior to that in 1693 Isaac Loader of Deptford, Co. Kent, anchorsmith leased it to Samuel Shephard, Citizen and distiller of London but Shephard defaulted on payment of his mortgage so Loader sold/leased it to Burrell. This changes our earlier assumption that Burrell acquired it from the Brograves along with Kelsey. Now we are seeking evidence for Woolseys earlier evolution. It could be that it can be traced back to Richard le Lacer who’s daughter inherited it along with lands in Bromley and she carried it in marriage to Maurice le Brun. It was then perhaps disposed of by sale as it did not constitute part of Beckenham Manor. All this is still being researched.
From 1735 the site changed landlords a few times becoming part of Raymond estates after the Raymond and Burrell families intermarried. The 1766 Foxgrove Manor map shows Woolseys Farm under Jones Raymond, whether by some arrangement between Jones Raymond and Peter Burrell who were brothers in law, but in 1759 Peter Burrell exchanged it with Frederick St. John (Bolingbroke) for the Beckenham Manor house and grounds. Then John Cator acquired as part of the purchase of Beckenham Manor land from Frederick St. John/Lord Bolingbroke in 1773. It was leased to George Grote and subsequently John Barwell Cator sold it in the early 19th Century. From a farm it became upgraded to a large house with associated farm. It was a hotel for a time before becoming the school. The Shortlands, Clay Hill, Clayherst (pdf) document will have more information.
The Lincolnshire archive documents describe 42 acres although additional land is referred to. By 1825 it was in the possession of John Barwell Cator and leased to George Grote. The description of Grote’s leased property describes 146 acres. We also have to take into account the changes in farming practice which led to field boundary changes and alterations to drainage.
The area of Clay Hill and Woolseys Farm from the 1833 Cator Estate map. Frustratingly a key to the field numbers and names has not been found.
John Barwell Cator sold the property in the 1837. Shortlands House with 100 acres is owned by Mrs Palmer in the Tithe of the following year. 18 acres sub-let.and it descended via a chain of occupants and purposes being a hotel at one time and now a school. The building retains some old parts but numerous alterations and rebuilds have taken place. The land has become suburban development.Beckenham Place Park
Map evidence indicates that a 'messuage' existed on Stumps Hill before 1749 according to Rocque's map. The 1766 Foxgrove map shows John Cator as landowner of the site of the house and some fields. Cator’s father in law, Peter Collinson wrote a note in his catalogue of plants in which he records a visit to Beckenham Place in 1762 which had been built between 1760 and 1762. The house was then called Stumps Hill and in Cator’s letters to correspondents he refers to his house at Stumps Hill. Collinson’s note and letters to friends record how he admires the grounds and planting around the house.
In 1762 Cator did not own all of the subsequent parkland and the remaining park contains little if any of the Beckenham Manor land acquired from Frederick St. John in 1773. Complex purchases and exchanges are described in the timeline along with several questions and facts regarding the Cators and the other landlord families.
Cator could not acquire the original manor house to Beckenham Manor because it had been exchanged between Frederick St.John and Peter Burrell II for other land in 1757 so Cator used his Stumps Hill house as his residence as Lord of the Manor.
In Hasted's History of Kent which we have found to be incorrect in several respects he briefly describes Beckenham Place as the seat John Cator as Lord of the Manor of Beckenham and states that it was built in 1773 on the purchase of Beckenham Manor from Frederick St. John. But Cator had acquired land which was part of Foxgrove Manor from the late 1750's and his exchanges of various plots of land with Jones Raymond and Amy Burrell brought him into possession of the site of the current Beckenham Place mansion.
In 1825 the historian W.H.Ireland describes Beckenham Place as having been much improved by Cator's heir John Barwell Cator.Details of the features within Beckenham Place mansion can be found in Cultivated Leisure by David Love.
Copers Cope Farm
Copers Cope Farm occupied a substantial part of what were described as the Beckenham Manor demesne lands and as such most of it is included in Beckenham Manor for its chain of landlords. The 1623 Beckenham Manor map shows the area as a series of fields in the Manor. The demesne lands of the manor may have consitituted a 'deer park' and this is perhaps supported by the names fields like 'Spring Park'. The St.John's who acquired the Manor leased the manor properties to others perhaps creating the farmstead for leasing and the house is described as 'late 17th Century' in the English Heritage description of its grade II listing. In 1765 John Cator is described as being one of the local landlords leasing manor land from the St. Johns perhaps including Copers Cope Farm. After 1773 when John Cator had purchased the manor property he probably leased the property. By 1825 it also encompassed some fields hitherto part of Foxgrove Manor. The area of the farm within those demesne lands is thought to have been a deer park and some parts were called Spring Park possibly because some springs were present there in the viscinity of Stumps Hill. The farmhouse still survives on the corner of Southend Road and Copers Cope Road. It is sometimes referred to in records as Cokers Coke, Cokers Cope or Coopers Copse. The original field pattern shown on the 1623(1768 copy) Beckenham Manor map was later altered to that which appears on the 1838 Tithe map. The occupant in 1825 was John Philips on lease from the Cator Estate but by 1838 Michael Mathews senior held the lease. This entry from Bromley Collections describes the lease conditions in 1850 "Agreement between John (Barwell) Cator of Beckenham Place, Kent, esquire by Peter Cator as his agent (1st part) and Michael Mathew of Beckenham, Kent, farmer, in relation to farm and lands called Copers Cope Farm in Beckenham. Cator agrees to let the property to Mathew from year to year at the annual rent of £528 when the average price of a quarter of wheat and a quarter of barley shall amount to 88s. The rent is to increase by £1 a year for every shilling above the average prices. Includes map and schedule of lands."
As the area was gradually given over to built development after the 1825 Cator private act of parliament obtained permission for such development a road pattern was laid out and with the building of St.Paul’s church in Brackley Road it developed into the area of ‘New Beckenham’ originally with large villas on 1 acre plots leased from the Cator Estate. Various ups and downs of the housing market led to the establishment of some large sports grounds owned by banks and insurance companies but now those open spaces are under threat of development. These sites were designated as Metropolitan Open Land but are increasingly falling prey to developers.
The Manor of Old Court
A small part of Beckenham came under this manor which was based in Greenwich. A small parcel of land identified on some maps as belonging to Morden College and said to include Langley Farm are described by the archivist of Morden College but it looks like the site was limited to a plot betwee Cocapaniers Wood and Little Cocapanniers Wood.
Various records such as Close Rolls Henry VIII: Grants, Ric. Long, King's servant. Lands in Greenwich, the "Queen's lands" in East Greenwich, West Greenwich, Dexforde (sic Deptford), Levesham, Kedbroke, Charleton, Wolwyche, Beknam, and Chesselhest, Kent, forfeited by Hen. Norres.
The Manor of Old Court was acquired by Sir John Morden in 1699 and apparently the Beckenham land was exchanged for property in Lewisham between Peter Burrell/Lord Gwydir and the college trustees in 1813. The land in question is probably mostly in the Wickham Way/Park Langley area today.
We have not so far discovered any maps or detail of the extent of Old Court apart from this 1389 Foot of Fine for an unnamed property which seems to match other descriptions;
(685) Morrow of the Ascension 13 Richard II Querant: Thomas de Bland Deforciant: Hugh de Midelton and wife Elizabeth 7 messuages, 280 acres land, 8 acres meadow, 40 acres wood and 28s rent in Estgrenewych, Leuesham, Kettebroke, Eltham, Chesilherst, Charleton, Beckenham and le Lee. To hold to Thomas and his heirs. Warrant against the heirs of Hugh. Thomas gave 200 marks. (Kent Archaeology)
See also 1399 and 1414. The impression we get is that the property was a collection of disjointed fields and woods which would be similar to the make up of the other estates and have been subject to renting out to tenant farmers or husbondmen. Further information is being sought but this link holds a good explanation of the passage of the manor. Sources; https://enderbywharf.wordpress.com/early-history/ and accounts in Hasted and Lysons.
The Manor of East Greenwich was extensive and became divided and parts ended up in Morden’s possession. Samuel Travers map of 1695 http://www.royalobservatorygreenwich.org/devblog/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Greenwich-map-1695-97-Travers.jpg illustrates the parts retained by the crown which now encompass Greenwich Park, the Naval College, The Queens House and Maritime Museum etc.
Like many of the Manors we have researched there was considerable ‘satellite’ property attached which could be some distance away from the centre of the Manor.
The early village would have been dominated by the Parish Church and Manor House opposite. We might imagine a house with its estate establishing a family chapel and the evolution of a settlement. An estate with farms obviously requires labour so some accommodation for people and livestock would be involved. Some documentary evidence could even imply that the Rector of the Church, Martham for one, did occupy the manor house for some time but this needs conclusive evidence. The mix of estates and the number of farms would require a good number of people and the early population of Beckenham has been stated as about 1000.
Church records would be the most comprehensive record via births, deaths and marriages after 1539 when records began. Unfortunately the baptisms and marriages part of St. George’s records were damaged during WWII but some transcriptions are in Bromley Historic Collections. Various property documents reveal names of small property owners, leaseholders and tenants. As well as the estate landlords some names cropping up are Willis, Pugh, Grote, Batt etc.
The available maps from 1623 onwards illustrate some buildings but maybe only more dominant houses were shown. The maps had more to do with recording property ownership than accurate representation of landmark details. Some land ownership documents refer to 'closes' which could be groups of workers cottages or hovels. It seems the term 'hovel' was a bonafide description of a lowly residence. Although the village was small there was a correspondingly small 'workhouse' at Clay Hill and the almshouses next to the church for the impoverished. The Parish system provided some poor relief but if anyone falling on hard times was from a different parish then measures were in place to remove them to their home parish which had responsibility for them.
several large houses called Grete (Great) Houses or mansions as well as
manor house. The Mead was owned by Thomas Motley near Thornton's
Corner in 1735 and evidence suggests he acquired it from Hugh Raymond
circa 1734. Raymond in turn got it with Langley from Sir John Elwill's
heirs who had acquired it through the marriage of Sir John Elwill to
Lady Elizabeth Style so the Styles could have had this site from as far
back as the 16th Century (1501 ish.
Another large house was on the site of the Greyhound Public House or
public conveniences and on the Kelsey map is called Ship House.
The early house associated with Kelsey was nearer
village than the later mansion and is shown on both the 1623
Beckenham Manor map as John Brograve's and on the Kelsey 1735 map.
Village Place was also on the High Street nearly opposite the
Way junction and was perhaps called the Warren when it passed through
ownership of the Lethieulliers but this was a later build, perhaps
early 19th Century. Beckenham Lodge once owned by the
was near the War memorial/Barclays Bank site with its own grounds. Some
landowners owned significant portions of the village and of the two
houses, The George was owned by the Beckenham Manor landlords and the
Tuns was owned by the Kelsey landlords and leased to victuallers. The
'Wood House' had the appearance of a saxon hall with one main room
which had been later divided and whether a copy or a
building that predated the Manor house we will never know as it was
away with most of the old buildings of Beckenham.
The estate maps of the Burrells dated 1809 and the Cators dated 1833 and 1868 show a lot of detail of the village and surroundings before large scale development took place. The writings of Borrowman, Copeland, Inman, Tonkin and Manning are the best sources of information about the 19th century village. As one works backwards the details become harder to define.
The picture galleries on beckenhamhistory.co.uk have a good collection of old photographs and postcard images.
The Village on the 1623 Beckenham Manor map (1768 copy)
With a rotated copy to match orientation north uppermost of modern maps
1735 Burrell Kelsey map (Knepp Castle)
Andrews Drury and Herbert map 1769
Several errors on this map e.g. the Ravensbourne river is shown flowing to Kelsey Lake, Thayers Farm is shown as Nottelly Farm, Pickhurst Green shown as Pickect and the road layout is distorted.
But certain information is discernable such as the residences of the Burrell family and the footprint of properties. Probably the names of residents was because they subscribed to the maps printing
1809 Burrell estate map, The Village
1833 Cator Estate map village section
1860’s Ordnance Survey
In the late 18th Century William Rose the Rector had a Rectory built to the designs of the Adam Brothers. His 'living' from the parishes of Beckenham and Carshalton plus family wealth must have been considerable as he also had designs for a substantial stable. Our thanks go to David Love for this article about the Rectory. Robert Adam came up with a very elaborate paladian design but two later versions of the plans played down the design to something much plainer. It appears that the design for a stables was not acted upon. The Rectory had considerable gardens and glebe land (see https://maps.nls.uk/view/102343453). Whether Rose's fortunes affected the project or other circumstances we cannot say. Some of the clergy that followed Rose did not choose to live in the Rectory, Frederick Chalmers, Rector was in occupation in 1871 but the Reverend William Cator chose to live in a house in The Avenue in the 1881 census and the Rectory was occupied by St. Mary’s School under Louisa Pace (Gentlewoman) with her three daughters acting as schoolmistresses. The school catered for children boarders from families as far afield as Edinburgh, Cornwall, Shanghai, Hong Kong and six children from one family in Bombay (Mumbai) , The Rectory was eventually demolished to make way for a new Town Hall for Beckenham which in turn was demolished to make way for the current Marks & Spencer and car park.
Robert and James Adam office drawings © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London - And as built circa 1900 and Adam fireplace
Opposite and to the south of the Church was the Beckenham Manor house and grounds with a large lake. It had been exchanged by Frederick St. John with Peter Burrell III or Woolseys Farm (Shortlands House) in 1759. The Burrells later sold it to Henry Hoare.
The Wood House
Borrowman describes it as the oldest building in the village prior to its demolition. It was possibly on the site of or adjacent to The Mead which was in the possession of Thomas Motley in 1735 or The Mead is to the right and was later named The Manor House. Whether the Wood House was modelled on an old Saxon hall is debatable but like so much of Old Beckenham it passed into history without much regard. Probably it would have become a ‘listed property’ along with a few other buildings had it survived.
The Old Wood House (courtesy of www.beckenhamhistory.co.uk)
A good description of the Beckenham workhouse is made by Robert Borrowman (1910) as he had access to Parish minutes. He describes the building and its establishment and some details of its management and occupants during its active period. The building was on the corner of what is today Bromley Road and Oakwood Avenue with an adjoining field for the growing of crops to support the inmates. The house and adjoining field are said to have been provided by the Stile family although the map illustration is from the Burrell 1809 map afte Stile property had passed to the Raymonds and thence to the Burrells. The 1766 Foxgrave Manor map shows that Henry Kempsall, yeoman had property here so perhaps Kempsall provided the land. Kempsalls are mentioned in Borrowman’s book and were at one time church wardens and parish registers (registrars).
The Beckenham Workhouse position on the Burrell 1809 estate map
The workhouse was closed when a new establishment was built at Farnborough for the whole of Bromley. Although the Poor Law provided for a poor rate legislation under either Elizabeth I or George 1 may have prompted the building of the workhouse, its establishment is unknown. Borrowman describes its operation from 1776 to July 1836 and the building was subsequently offered for lease by the overseers. In 1801 John Cator is accused of influencing the church wardens in resisting the setting of a poor rate.
A similar institution was established in West Wickham and research prompted by Kate Hollis caused us to look closely at the Burrell 1809 map which shows a “W.Wickham Parish” property at Wickham Green. This is supported by references and material in Kent Archive which describe the next landlord of Langley, Emanuel Goodhart, rerouting a fence and water supply used by the poor and later purchasing the redundant “new” workhouse at Wickham Green and three cottages from the Bromley Union in 1839. Bromley Union had established a new workhouse for the whole borough of Bromley at Farnborough.
W.Wickham Parish site next to Langley Park boundary fence 1809, The earlier 1750’s Langley Map showing a small plot not belonging to the Raymonds
Wickham Green was probably a bit of waste or common land adapted for the purpose of the workhouse. This picture of Wickham Green from Beckenham History may indicate the type of buildings that the workhouse resembled?
The first evidence I saw of an orphanage in Beckenham is from the1871 Census which describes it as No.8 High Street and the matron is Harriet Flora West assisted by three servants, a cook, a nurse and a housemaid. 33 orphans are listed but their birthplaces vary, mostly from the Middlesex parts of London and Poplar, 1 born in France as a British subject, but none shown with Beckenham as their birthplace. More research perhaps in conjunction with the North Surrey District School at Anerley https://www.workhouses.org.uk/NorthSurreySD/
This appears to show that Bromley and Beckenham orphans may not have been accepted at this institution?
In 1885 “The Home of Compassion” lies next to The Rectory (demolished for Beckenham Town Hall 1930s, now M&S Car park). The numbering has now changed (60, High St is Lloyds Bank). This places it nicely next to St George’s Church.
In the 1950s the Children’s Home was in Bromley Road (now demolished) between Chancery Lane and Crescent Road. It was still run by the church.
The census (1881?) enumerator’s route confirms this location. “Brook House” and “Gordon House” are at the end of the lower High Street (1885 Directory) before the turn up Church Hill at Thornton’s Printing Works.
The George Inn
The George Inn gets mentioned in some early records and members of the King family were 'landlords' although the freehold probably belonged to the Lord of the Manor being Bruyn's, St. John's and then John Cator. The 1838 Tithe returns show John (Barwell) Cator as landowner and Wm Cauleutt as tenant/landlord
The George Inn in 1912 (courtesy www.beckenhamhistory.co.uk)
Note the Old Wood House on the left and two large houses further on, one of them being the mansion house.
This property was at the junction of Croydon Road and Beckenham Road diagonally opposite what is now the cinema. The position of the Lodge and its grounds can be seen on the 1809 Burrell estate map annotated as ‘The executors of late Lawrence Banyer Esq’ as he was the owner and died in 1798. The Banyers are mentioned in a bequest in the will of Mrs Sarah Holland who had occupied Clockhouse and would have been close neighbours. Sarah left £100 to Mrs Dorothy Banyer, wife of Lawrence or Laurence as his name is spelt in records. Dorothy is in Beckenham burial records for 1823 and her DOB is estimated at 1737 but her husband is not. The executors of Banyer’s will were John Clarkson and Hawkins Wall and in the will Banyer leaves his wife Dorothy £500 plus household contents, some income from property and use of Beckenham Lodge until her death (in dower). Banyer has property in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire which he devizes in the will. He has no direct heirs, a daughter Marianne born in 1764 appears to have died so we assume these other beneficiaries and executors are related in some way. No other records have been traced apart from Laurence Banyer baptized in 1732 to Edward and Mary Banyer in the City of London and his will of 1798. Presumably the house was sold or leased after Dorothy’s death in 1823 and Banyer’s Beckenham property was confined to Beckenham Lodge and grounds. In 1871 the lodge is occupied by Edwin Covell who would also occupy Beckenham Place for a time. Covell had a butchers shop in the village and as a meat salesman supplied meat to the armed forces.
Lodge is annotated "Exec of L.Banyer Esq." Burrell estate map 1809. Numbered and shaded property is Burrell proprietor Image courtesy of Beckenhamhistory.org
The name of The Mead may have been short lived as we get it from Thomas Motley's 1736 map of his land in the village and at Elmers End Old and New Farms as well as his acquisition of Thayer's Farm.
The Mead shows a house and outbuildings almost opposite the George Inn with formal landscaped grounds with a long pool and some narrow canals. The map shows at least some of the water flow from the Beck as being diverted along the High Street to flow into the canals. The house to the left of the Mead is Mrs Holland's house and then Samuel Pugh's land is indicated. Pugh's land looks like the site of the Wood House. Motley's property passed to his son in law and heir Francis Austen then to his grandson Francis Motley Austen. This map and the Burrell Kelsey map of similar date show slightly different detail of the river which does raise some questions. But perhaps flooding in this area has always been a problem. The oblong pond was later re-landscaped into a more fashionable informal lake outline further to the west.
Penge has been the subject of several history accounts but our research has perhaps revealed more or relates a bit more than some of those accounts. Penge was more associated in ancient times with the parish of Battersea (Batricksey) and Surrey. The area became increasingly connected with Beckenham and absorbed into the parish. Records from circa 1200 relate to Penge and are signed or witnessed by the clerk and priest of Beckenham. Some connections came about through the St.John family who had acquired Battersea (Batricksey) Manor before they purchased Beckenham Manor and part of Beckenham Manor is near Rockhills. It helps to understand the descent of Battersea from various links such as; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/surrey/vol4/pp8-17#anchorn52
And the connections are far reaching as we find that the Rydon/Roydon family of Battersea held land under lease from the church and crown. Their heiress Joanne was widowed and subsequently married Oliver St. John, Viscount Grandison who then obtained the freehold of the manor of Battersea from the crown. Oliver and Joanne died without issue and the Manor of Battersea including parts of Penge were inherited by the St.Johns who subsequently also acquired Beckenham Manor by purchase of the two moieties in about 1639 and 1650. We find that the Rydons were acquainted with other local yeomen families such as theKempsalls and even related with the King/Kynge family with Henry Rydon referring to Henry King as uncle. However Penge originally being in Surrey and Battersea has been the subject of separate study, See the website for ‘Pengepast’ etc.
Within Penge we encompass Penge Place, Penge Farm, Grotto House, The Crooked Billet public house and more recently almshouses. A part of Beckenham Manor extended from Penge Green to Rockhills. As some places were renamed sometimes with changes of ownership, the tracking of changes is often challenging. Detailed maps of Penge and into constituent parts are rare so we have to rely to a great extent of Rocque's map which though including some inaccuracies does seem to show some relevant detail for 1749.
From “A History of the County of Surrey”: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
"The 'hamlet' of Penge was part of the ancient ecclesiastical parish of Battersea. The curious anomalies of its local government led to its formation as a separate urban district and its transfer to the county of Kent in 1900. (fn. 49) Penge was a wooded district, over which the tenants of Battersea Manor had common of pasture. (fn. 50) The boundaries of the hamlet on the north in February 1604–5 were the common of Rockhills (evidently Rockhills in Upper Sydenham, immediately north of the Crystal Palace) and the 'Shire Ditch' leading past the house called 'Abbetts' to the north corner of 'Lord Riden's Wood.' The Shire Ditch also bounded the hamlet on the east and was crossed by 'Willmoores Bridge,' half in Kent and half in Surrey. On the south it was bounded by the waste or common of Croydon, the green way from Croydon to Lewisham. On the west was a wood 'of Mr. Colton's' in Camberwell parish, which stretched from Vicker's Oak to the Low Cross near Rockhills. (fn. 51) There seem to have been several tenants of the manor at Penge in 1596, (fn. 52) but in 1725 the vicar of Battersea returned to Bishop Willis that there were only thirteen houses and sixty inhabitants in Penge, who went to Beckenham Church, and for whose care he paid a trifling consideration to the incumbent of Beckenham. (fn. 53) The whole common was inclosed under an Act of 1827. (fn. 54) There were then 320 acres already inclosed and several houses standing there. In 1853 Mr. Schuster sold his park on the summit of Penge Hill to the Crystal Palace Company for the re-erection of the gigantic building made by Sir Joseph Paxton for the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851. (fn. 55) The Palace was opened by Queen Victoria in 1854. (fn. 56) In 1877, owing to financial difficulties and to the 'Greenwich fair characteristics,' which had replaced the former educational objects of the Palace, the company was reconstituted. (fn. 57) The Palace, as originally planned, was the exhibition building of glass and iron which had served for the Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, re-erected on this site, with the addition of high water towers to supply the fountains in the grounds. Inside courts were erected to illustrate the arts and architecture of different periods, from the Egyptian monarchy to the Italian Renaissance, and there was a great collection of plaster casts of famous statues. (fn. 58) A School of Art and Music was established, and later a School of Forestry and Engineering, which has continued to flourish. The Palace became the chief seat of the highest class of music near London, and the Handel Festivals, under the direction of Sir Michael Costa and Sir August Manns, obtained the greatest reputation, as did the Saturday Concerts so closely associated with the names of Sir August Manns and Sir George Grove. But the public taste did not rise to this level, and the theatre and music-hall exhibitions gradually eclipsed the educational features. The grounds, of great extent, including a cricket field, football ground and a lake, continue to furnish unrivalled scope for exhibitions, excursions, games and firework or aeronautical displays. The land surrounding the Palace was sold shortly before 1875 for building purposes, and the whole site is now for sale.
Between 1821 and 1841 the population of Penge increased very slightly. In 1841 it was 270. In 1851, owing to the establishment of the Surrey School of Industry, the Queen Dowager's Almshouses and the Watermen's Almshouses, it had increased to 1,169. In 1901 it was 22,465. One great cause of this increase was the advent of the London, Brighton and South Coast, and London, Chatham and Dover railways, which constituted Penge a suburb of both London and Croydon. The former has stations at the Crystal Palace, Anerley and Penge; Penge station, on the latter, is within the boundary of Beckenham. A town hall was built in the Anerley Road in 1879. Anerley, Penge and Upper Norwood are the three wards of the Penge Urban District. The ecclesiastical districts of St. John the Evangelist, St. Paul, Holy Trinity and Christ Church were formed in 1851, 1869, 1873 and 1886 respectively."
Shortlands, Clay Hill,
Shortlands is a relatively recent development which covers the area of the earlier Clay Hill which itself was an evolution from Cleyhurst. The properties of Lodge Farm and Woolseys Farm have been swallowed up by it and it has taken its name from Shortlands Green which goes back beyond the 17th Century. Shortlands House, now Bishop Challoner's School, is on the site of Woolseys Farm. Scott's Lane takes its name from James Scott, a surgeon of Bromley who took up residence there. These articles by Linda and Keith Baldwin trace its history and some interesting personalities who lived there. Follow Shortlands and Scott for the articles in pdf format.
Eden Park and Farm
Eden Farm was created out of parts of the Kelsey estate which nestled between Kelsey, Langley and upper and lower Elmers End. It has been stated wrongly that Eden Farm was part of Langley but map evidence is pretty clear that most of it was from the Burrell's Kelsey estate as shown by the 1735 Kelsey map which shows Langley belonging to Colonel Hugh Raymond to the east. The Burrells leased the land to William Eden, Lord Auckland (1745-1814) from the 1780's to the 1820's. The lease was extended a couple of times but after William Eden's death his son George Eden possessed the lease but apparently did not live there as his career took him elsewhere but his siblings remained in residence. The last lease was terminated so that Eden Park could be sold by the Burrells in the Gwydir sale of 1820 and the new landlord was John Woolley. There is some debate about the house as the Burrell 1809 book of leased properties shows a house with a footprint which could not be the house which appears in some prints purporting to be Lord Aucklands house. Eden Park was created out of the part of Kelsey from fields called Borngates and a house belonging to the Burrells called Bune Gate which was probably a house occupied by one of the Peter Burrells before the lease was granted. At least that is what can be deduced from the Andrews, Drury and Herbert map of Kent of 1769 and the Kelsey map of 1735..
The 1735 Burrell Kelsey map next to the 1769 Andrews map with inaccurate road orientation showing Bune Gate and Peter Burrell with a house approximately of the same footprint as of 1809
The road between West Borngates and North Watts Brook is Bricklers Lane from Elmers End which is later renamed Eden Park Avenue.
Burrell lease of Eden Park from the 1809 book Burrell map 1809, a clearer image of the house footprint and Kelsey lake top right
This recent discovery (2023) by Keith Baldwin from the British Library digital archive shows a house with wings matching the Andrews and Burrell maps. Most likely it is the house built by the Burrells pre 1769 called Bune Gate on the Andrews Drury and Herbert map and renamed Eden Farm after William Eden took up residence under his lease from 1782 which he extended in 1794.
British Library shelfmark: Maps K.Top.17.35. The BL King’s Topographical Collection: "EDEN PARK, KENT, ;"
Title: "EDEN PARK, KENT, ;"
British Library shelfmark: Maps K.Top.17.35.
Place of publication: [London]
Publisher: [W. Peacock].,
Date of publication: 
This later image below, although described as Lord Auckland's house by several sources can be identified as the house of John Woolley and is shown on the 1838 Tithe map.
This is either a house rebuilt perhaps by Peter Burrell, Lord Gwydir or George Eden although why would he build a house on leased property? Or it is most likely the house built by John Woolley and leased to Edward Lawford.
Eden Park 1838 tithe map. The footprint at 612 shows a curved bay on the northwest corner.
In 1838 Edward Lawford is listed as occupant of Eden Park under lease from John Woolley.
This undated painting is described as Eden Park Farm which was at Upper Elmers End and sometimes called Elmers End Farm (not to be confused with Elmers End Old and New Farms).
courtesy of Beckenhamhistory.org
Ordnance Survey maps of circa 1860 show the site of Eden Park mansion to be where Crease Park on Village Way is today.
Harvington was originally part of a mixed area of fields and farms mostly passing through the ownership of the Burrells and parts possibly of Foxgrove Manor. Decyphering available maps shows that the bulk of Harvington was part of the Kelsey estate and some land passed from Foxgrove to John Cator or descended via the landlords of Kelsey and Beckenham Manor. Eventually it became part of the Burrell estate and was leased to the Eden's as Eden Farm or Park. Was part of the Burrell 1820 sale and further descent via John Woolley and some Victorian villas erected. Most of the large houses have been demolished for whatever reason? Today it is a public open space which occupies part of what was Langley Park and Eden Park. Bearing in mind that Eden Park was formed mainly out of Kelsey property. There were a few grand Victorian villas along South Eden Park Road with entrance lodges. All but one of the villas have disappeared although some lodges remain. The remains of the foundations of Eden Park Lodge can be found in woodland in the north part of the site. When the Burrells had South Eden Park Road constructed in the 1780’s it cut off part of Langley property.
Beckenhamhistory.org has this account of Harvington which begins with "In
the early 1870s, five houses were built along what we know today as
South Eden Park Rd. At least some of the land, if not all, belonged to
William Rudd Mace whose daughter Emily had married George Stanley
Lutwyche. The houses most closely associated with them were Elderslie
and Oakfield but there were also Chalfont, Homewood and Harvington. How
did the whole area become known as the Harvington Estate?
It is all to do with the Petley family, Bertrand Theodore and Florence Ada, who lived there from 1919 and brought the name Harvington with them. Harvington was of particular significance to them since it was the name of the village near Kidderminster where they became engaged to be married. They took the name to Burmah for their house in the hill station at Maymyo and then back again for their house in Beckenham at the bend in South Eden Park Rd.
Harvington was described as an imposing red brick house with a slated roof, roughly square in shape with a frontage of sixty feet. A twenty-foot billiards room had been added to the original building but it had suffered some damage when a V2 fell near St John’s church over the other side of the fields." Read more on https://beckenhamhistory.co.uk/locations/harvington-estate
Why several large houses had such a short life is not fully understood but the one survivor (at time of writing) perhaps shows that large houses were beginning to fall out of favour.
I have included Plaistow because the Foxgrove Manor map of 1720 which we have as a 1766 copy shows an area similar to that of the later Plaistow Lodge which in 1720 was the property of Lancelot Tolson. Plaistow Lodge is recorded by Horsburgh and but he leaves some gaps which we can fill in to some extent. Sometimes it is confused with the Plaistow and Bromley north of the Thames.
The Foxgrove Manor map 1766 copied from a 1720 version (Plaistow portion)
There is still some question as to how this area of Plaistow became linked to the Manor of Foxgrove. It may have been part of Foxgrove Manor prior to the Tolsons when the Leigh family were the landlords or it may be that John Tolson bought the Plaistow property prior to his death in 1712 which he left to his brother Lancelot and it became joined to Foxgrove Manor at the sale of Foxgrove by the Leigh family circa 1716. Some writers have claimed that John Tolson bought Foxgrove but a Court of Chancery directive in 1716 after John Tolson’s death required the Leigh’s to sell it to pay Francis Leigh’s debts after his death in 1713. John Tolson’s will describes property in Bromley which he leaves to his brother but does not mention Beckenham parish or Foxgrove Manor by name leading me to assume that Lancelot Tolson purchased Foxgrove and added it to John Tolson’s Bromley acquisition.
Subsequently the Tolsons intermarried with the Tillys and Foxgrove was divided and the Plaistow section went by a complex route of inheritance to Joseph Groves circa 1748 and was inherited by his nephew Groves Wheeler in 1764. Joseph Grove had also inherited Stone Farm from the Tolson/Tillys which he had sold to John Cator circa 1758. Horsburgh’s account is worth reading as he mentions Jones Raymond acquiring some property around this area and Jones Raymond did acquire large parts of Foxgrove Manor to add to his Langley estate which he inherited from his father Hugh Raymond but not this site in my understanding. Perhaps there is more to research as these ‘borderlands’ between Bromley, Beckenham and Lewisham could be impacted by the history of the manors of Lee-Shroffold particularly as Shroffold farm in what is now Downham was nearby and the Earl of Rockingham is annotated on the Foxgrove Manor map as having some land bordering and even inside what is now Beckenham Place Park.
The map shows the road from Bromley to Lewisham and Plaistow Green is at the bottom. Aquila Wyke Esq and Andrew Davisone Esq. are shown as a neighbouring landowners. In 1720 the property would have been under Lancelot Tolson.
Simpson’s or Sympson’s Place, Bromley
Although the centre of Simpson's Place was in Bromley we are including it in the Beckenham history because it was partly in Beckenham and it’s more recent landlords also owned Langley and Kelsey, which themselves overflowed into neighbouring parishes of Bromley, Hayes and West Wickham. These overflows make it difficult to confine historical accounts to any one parish or borough. Philipot and Hasted included Sympson’s in their accounts of Bromley and Lysons also made reference to it. Probably the best reference is in Horsburgh’s "Surroundings of Bromley Town" found here: Horsburgh's Surroundings of Bromley where he discounts much of Philipot, Hasted and Lysons and constructs evidence from records in much the same way as we have in the Beckenham timeline.
From the time when the Style family acquired Sympson’s and combined it with Langley it then followed through the Raymond and Burrell families mostly being leased to tenants.However, some links go back further as the early occupants of Sympson’s before it acquired that name had leased additional land from the Bishop of Rochester and from the Bruyn’s of Beckenham. So early documents from the late 13th and early 14th Centuries refer to Bromlegh and Beghenham (sic). Other links include that a subsequent owner, Richard le Lacer had a daughter Alice who married William Bruyn and subsequently Robert de Marny which affected the descent of Sympson’s.
About a half of Simpson’s was in Beckenham parish. Although it adjoined Langley parts of Foxgrove Manor overlapped it as shown in the later map drawn for Hugh Raymond after he bought it along with Langley in 1732. Again, the marriage of Peter Burrell II and Amy Raymond determined that Simpson’s along with Langley came into the Burrell family and was disposed of with the 1820 Burrell/Lord Gwydir sale. Hugh Raymond had earlier sold some land called Elmer Farm to Thomas Motley in 1734 which was said to be part of Simpson's. If so then Simpson's had outlying 'satellite' sites just like the other manors and estates.
Hasted said of Simpson’s “SIMPSONS is an estate in this parish, which was formerly of much greater account than it is at present. It was antiently owned by the Bankwells, a family of good repute who resided at Lee in this neighbourhood, as has been already taken notice of. In the 31st year of king Edward I. John de Banquel was possessed of this estate, and had that year a grant for free-warren in all his lands in Bromley, Lee, &c. to him, Cicele his wife, and their heirs. William de Banquel died possessed of it in the 20th year of King Edward III. and left Thomas Banquel his heir, who paid aid for it that year, as the fixth part of a knight's fee in Bromley, which John de Bankwell before held there of the bishop of Rochester. He died, in the 35th year of that reign, possessed of much land here, and in this neighbourhood, and left three sons, John, William, and Robert Bankwell, who became his heirs in gavelkind, and on the division of their inheritance, William, the second son, became entitled to his father's estate in Bromley.
After this family was extinct here it came next into the possession of the Clarks; one of whom, William Clark, in the reign of king Henry V. having obtained the king's licence, erected a strong, but small building here, of stone, with an embattled wall, and encircled it with a deep moat. His posterity did not continue long in the possession of it; for about the latter end of the next reign of king Henry VI. John Simpson resided here, by right of purchase, and having much improved the mansion, it adopted his name, by which it has been called ever since.
In the 11th year of king Edward IV. Robert Simpson died possessed of this seat his descendant, Nicholas Sympson, the king's barber, alienated Sympsons to Alexander Basset, who, in the reign of King HenryVIII conveyed it by sale to Sir Humphrey Style, of Langley, son of John Style, alderman of London; this estate being then held in socage.”
Lysons wrote “The manor of Simpsons was, in 1302, the property of John de Banquel (fn. 17). Thomas Banquel died seised of it in 1361 (fn. 18); and it appears that, upon a division of his estates, his younger son William had this manor. The next owner upon record was William Clarke, who had a licence from Henry V. to fortify and embattle his mansion-house, which was surrounded by a moat (fn. 19). About the year 1450, it came by purchase to John Simpson, from whose family it derived its present name (fn. 20). Nicholas Simpson, his descendant, (who was barber to Henry VIII.) aliened it to Alexander Basset, by whom it was conveyed to Sir Humphrey Style. It has since passed through the same hands as Langley-park in Beckenham, and is now the property of the Right Hon. Lord Gwedir. Mr. Samuel Rickards, the tenant, occupies it as a farm.
William de Latimer, in 1329, obtained a charter of free-warren on lands at Bromley, which he had inherited from his father, who died in 1327 (fn. 21).”
But both Hasted and Lysons are quoting Philipot from 1659 who wrote:
But probably a more accurate account would come from Horsbrugh who wrote extensively about Bromley. Certainly the Bankewells held Lee Manor which had land in Mottingham and Schroffold (Shroffold Farm once being in what is now Downham). But Horsburgh cites the research of Bernard F Davis who deciphered some ancient documents. The first from 1310 for William of Bliburgh “our clerk” to strengthen and crenalate his house at Bromle(sic), Kent. We have found that during the Style’s ownership there was some involvement of the Bosvilles and some disputes over loans, mortgages and non-repayment.
We have collected various references in the timeline showing ‘Symsons’ was held by Robert Symson in the 15th Century. Before that it passed via Mercy Carew. Robert Symson’s will passed it to his son when he came of age and this Robert is said to have sold it to John Style but a foot of fine in 1505 demises it to Thomas Brandon and others perhaps under lease. After John Style’s death in 1505 his widow Elizabeth and her second husband James Yarford took possession but other references between 1505 and 1510 demonstrate that some legal processes occurred which Horsburgh refers to. After the property was settled on Elizabeth and Yarford it descended via the Styles along with Langley. But during the Styles ownership it was leased to the Bosviles with whom the Styles intermarried. It was used as collateral for some loans and some legal suits were brought regarding non repayment of loans. The Civil War etc interrupted the legal process and a kind of expiration of the case ensured that the Styles retained Sympsons which was sold to Hugh Raymond in 1732 having passed to the Elwills via the last Style heiress.
Some references describe Symson’s as being 160 acres but the 1735 map drawn for Hugh Raymond shows that the property is altered describing only about 88 acres. This may be explained by the description of Sympson’s as having parts in Chislehurst, Orpington and Hayes. The title of the map perhaps partially explains why as it refers to an earlier map of an estate belonging to Langley Place containing several farms. If Kings Wood and Bramly Wood are added about another 45 acres is accounted for.
If we assume that the ‘Jones Raymond’ map of the southern part of Langley and the ‘Second Schedule’ map are copies of the other parts of Langley then maybe the ‘whole’ can be deduced. The original acreage of ‘Langley’ hasn’t been identified but may be concealed in some other references bearing in mind some transcriptions exclude details. One map of Langley includes the windmill at Keston as an isolated possession.
The main watercourses crossing Beckenham are The Beck, sometimes called the Hawksbrook, The Pool river which is fed by the Chaffinch Brook and the Boundary Stream and the Ravensbourne which enters from Bromley. The Beck has some minor tributaries around Langley and it joins the Chaffinch Brook at what is now Cator Park becoming the Pool River, this in turn is joined by the Boundary Stream also in Cator Park. The Ravensbourne and Pool join near Catford Bridge becoming the Ravensbourne which after joining the Quaggy River in Lewisham meets the Thames at Deptford Creek. There are several feeder streams which in some cases are seasonal. Stretches of these watercourses have been culverted or put underground for some distance. The Ravensbourne has several feeder tributaries between Bromley, Farnborough, Keston and Locks Bottom.
We can see from our series of maps that the rivers have been substantially straightened and rerouted from the early 18th Century to both improve drainage, improve farmland or alleviate flooding. There are several recorded instances of periodic flooding. Built development has in some cases diverted watercourses with the installation of sewers and the drying up of the moat at Foxgrove Farm has been attributed to the installation of the West Kent Sewer. Pat Manning published a book on the Rivers of Beckenham.
There are no navigable waterways in Beckenham but the Croydon Canal briefly ran across the parish from Sydenham to Norwood but now a railway runs along its course. The watercourses were utilised to create ponds and lakes in Kelsey Park, Langley, The Manor House grounds, The Mead or Mansion in the High Street and in Beckenham Place. Several millponds were along the Ravensbourne and the Mill mentioned in the Domesday Book is thought to have been in Kelsey but could equally have been on the Ravensbourne ie Monks Mill near the Glassmill in Bromley. Some mills were in Lewisham at Southend for flour and cutlery making.
Cator Estate (part of) 1833 showing the Beck from bottom left joining the Chaffinch Brook becoming the Pool and the Pool running into Lewisham near Bell Green.
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