Over one hundred years ago there were no public parks or recreation grounds and, apart from the Manor Houses, there were few other private dwelling houses. From the Parish Church on the right hand side, going towards Beckenham Place, there was only one road, leading to FOXGROVE FARM which was situated between the present Foxgrove Road and The Avenue, about opposite Foxgrove Avenue, and all lands on that side of Southend Road, extending over the hill to the Ravensboume, belonged to that farm.
This was a moated farm where the local Volunteer Fire Brigade carried out much of their practice, and The Avenue, when first formed was known as Moat Road. The original Manor was pulled down about 1830 and the later buildings about 1878.
On the other side of the road, opposite the Parish Church, there were the Rectory grounds, stables and coach houses; then nothing until COPERS COPE FARM occupied by Michael Mathew, with its garden, barn, pond and granary. The farm fields, comprising about 250 acres, extended across the present New Beckenham area with footpaths linking up with Kent House Farm, and the farm house stood - and still stands - on the corner of Copers Cope Road and Southend Road.
There is considerable guess work about this peculiar name but it is generally accepted that it came from 'Cooper's Copse', although referred to in a Minute of the Parish Council as Koker's Koke.
The Mathews had been farmers in Beckenham for a long time, for in the Churchyard there is a grave with the name Mark Mathew 1700. There is a copy of an Agreement between John Cator and Michael Mathew on page 24. When part of the land towards New Beckenham was bought for railway development Michael Mathew took over Stone Farm, in Wickham Road.
His son Walter was born at Copers Cope Farm on 10th January 1850, christened at the Parish Church by Rev. Andrew Brandram and married some 20 years later by Rev. Frederick Chalmers. He became a Churchwarden at Christ Church, was a partner in the Coal Merchant firm of Moore and Mathews, and died in 1941 at the age of 91. Walter's son, Walter Andrew Mathew, who had Beckenham's first motor garage near The George Inn, left Beckenham in 1910 and died on 13th January 1968, thus terminating the family connection with Old Beckenham.
There was a picturesque cottage at Elmers End Green that was the home of the Hazelton family, from about 1906, until demolished for the erection of the Odeon cinema (now demolished) and the adjoining shops about 1938/39.
STONE FARM was situated on the right hand side of Wickham Road, opposite Hayes Lane, the buildings only being pulled down when the Park Langley shops and Stone Park Avenue were developed. A footpath through the farm ran over the hill to Eden Farm. Stone Farm belonged to the Burrell Family. At that time, the property consisted of about sixty acres of Land and an excellent dwelling house. It was then in possession of William Rodgers, and some of the farmland was in the possession of A.W. Colville.
The house was subsequently in the occupation of Michael Mathew, who lived there until the year 1860. It is, we think of interest to note that in the lease dated 1854 several acres of farmland were in cultivation for hops. The farm remained, more or less in the same condition for many years and was one of the only houses in Beckenham, which did not undergo any alteration during, half-a-century. The entrance to “Park Langley”, the name adopted for the building estate, which took place of Langley Park, did not improve the surroundings of Stone Farm.
KELSEY PARK FARM, a dairy farm, was almost adjoining in Wickham Road, and the last of the old buildings were only recently demolished for the erection of Park Farm Court.
KELSEY FARM (also known as Kelsey Cottage) in old Kelsey Lane, built in 1832 by John Woolley, was 6 years later the residence of Herbert Jenner. It stood on the present site of Uplands and part of Forest Ridge, and in 1875, according to a local directory, was occupied by Alexander Strickland. It was a large house and farm with a chapel, the entrance being opposite Sandhills School, with a lodge, still in existence although altered and enlarged; this was occupied by Mark Webster, head gardener to Mr. Preston, who recalled that when Selfridges Store was first opened in London some cotton plants were sent to him and when developed, these plants were used for window display in the Oxford Street store. The main house was lighted by electricity generated by gas engine, long before electricity was introduced locally.
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