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Interpretation of the Park's features

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The Interpretation of Beckenham Place Park will relate to its Natural features, the history and human impact.

Following the various links will, we hope, give you our interpretation though others may wish to apply a different interpretation. 

The known history has been related reaching back to the medieval period. There is always something more to find whether through records of archaeology and various local histories. Very little if any real investigation has been carried out on the ground and as we have found in the history, some information has been wrongly construed.  

The oldest features in the park are underneath it and in some places pushing through to the surface.  

The Geology is based on underlying chalk which doesn't come to the surface here but is overlain with Woolwich and Blackheath beds which are part of the Harwich Formation of shingle, clays and sand with London Clay over it. 

The clay has eroded away in places and the Blackheath beds are exposed or have thin layers of topsoil and woodland floor over them. The Blackheath beds are dated at 54 million years. Some fossils including shells and shark teeth appear in these beds and Rhinoceros bones have been found nearby in the clay layer as the geology here was in a different position on the planet but moved with tectonic plate movement. 

The shingle beds were once on the floor of a warm sea. Clay was deposited by water movement probably from rivers such as the Thames changing course and depositing silt over millions of years. The Geology here would be much the same as for the whole Thames basin but is complex.  The British Geological Survey (BGS) have some web page apps showing maps and various geological data (BGSgeoindex and BGS Geology Viewer). 

Similarly, the first plantlife would have covered much of Britain or at least the southern part of it and The Great North Wood covered the whole area until humans began to interfere with the environment either clearing woodland for fuel and agriculture or clearing undergrowth to make hunting easier.  We have to generalise as to what might have happened during Prehistory, the Stone Age, The Bronze Age, The Iron Age and even into the Roman, Saxon, Middle Ages and Medieval as no written history was made but archaeological artefacts show that those early occupants had skills, crafts and art which in may ways exceed in quality some of the things we do today. 

The Roman invasion brought a change and cultural shift with a different, we assume, management system in terms of politics, building, agriculture, manufacture and art. Nothing lasts forever so the Romans declined and the so called Dark Ages began. Whereas the Romans did record history and mundane day to day activity the literacy skills varied among the population.

A Roman road passed through one corner of what was John Cator's parkland on route from Lewes in Sussex to London passing through West Wickham and  Beckenham but is now mostly under private housing development but to date no actual roman remains have been found. The route of the road is visible in a few places such as Addington, Spring Park and a sports field in Langley.

We have extensive history pages from our own researches improving on the earlier historians who only recorded more prominent landowners and estates. The earliest evidence of human occupation is from history via the Domesday book and Beckenham's entry. Hasted's History of Kent records some local landowners and some estate plans from the 17th and 18th Century show a pattern of fields, meadows and woods. 

The earliest maps by Rocque, Andrews and Drury, and Carey show some dwellings along what is now the road through the park before John Cator built his house and diverted the road. Some parts of the park still resemble the field shapes from the estate plans.

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