Farms.

NEW FARM, situated in Croydon Road, Elmers End almost facing Elmer Lodge, was occupied in 1820 by Robert Brown and subsequently by Peter Paget. As late as 1849 steeple chasing was run from this farm across fields to Sidney Cottage, on the corner of Sidney Road at Clock House.

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.

KELSEY MANOR FARM
Beckenham’s farms were fast disappearing as their land was turned into housing estates. William Chilver had previously worked on Ham farm where he lived in one of the farm cottages now in Elstian Way. By 1927, he was the last tenant farmer of Eden Park Farm, which was owned by his uncle, Harry Joseph Chilver who lived at the house opposite. This was number 204 Upper Elmers End Rd called Holly Lodge (recently Eden Park School) now Asprey Mews.

By 1931, Stanhope Grove had been driven through Eden Park farm and its cottages where Olive Chilver was born in 1927. Olive’s memories include the Kempton Pie factory and the tiny confectioner’s shop by the Rising Sun. She also can see the muffin man with his tray of muffins on his flat hat, ringing his bell to come to collect all the naughty children.

Then the Chilvers moved to Kelsey Manor Farm off South Eden Park Rd. It was the property of the Barnard family at least from 1885 and it spread across into Kelsey Park to include the ice well. Olive Lucy Ellen Varney, nee Chilver, was the sixth child of the family of nine of William and his wife, Ellen Eliza Hales. She has memories of playing in the brick-built ice well with her brothers and only sister, Freda Margery. There was no problem getting in as the door had disappeared! They also had a horse called Dolly that pulled the cart for a Sunday outing to the Green Man at Peter Pans Pool where they ate large “Brighton biscuits. ”
The farm was next door to Eden Cottage, which dated from before 1838. From about 1924, it had been the Sir Frederick Milner ex servicemen’s home known as Eden Manor, which formally closed at the beginning of WWII. The building lasted until 1953 when the Beckenham Council bought it and pulled it down. All that remains of the Eden Cottage/ Manor today is the coach house of Charles Hoare on the ranger site.

Kelsey Manor Farm was demolished by 1936 to make room for Stonepark Avenue. This was preceded by the creation of the Park Langley garage in 1929 and removal of the Stone farmhouse for the Park Langley shopping parade. The grocers Messrs W. H. Cullen occupied the actual site of the Stone farmhouse. The manager at the garage was Mr Molyneux who had three sons all older than Olive. They lived in a house beside the garage and one day, when Olive was about six, Mr Molyneux came to her aid. When sent to bring her brothers in to dinner, Olive swung on the farm’s five-bar-gate that unfortunately collapsed on her and broke her leg. Mr Molyneux brought his car in through the farm’s entrance in South Eden Park Rd and took her to Beckenham hospital where her leg was put into splints. There were no plaster casts for her then!

The Chilvers moved to number 10 Fairfield Rd where two of Olive’s unmarried brothers live to this day. William Chilver went as the cowman at Wellcomes on the recommendation of Dorothy Petley of Harvington. Olive will never forget when she came on leave in the Wrens when only seventeen to find a policeman barring the way to the houses in Fairfield Rd. A V1 had fallen on the air raid shelter at the top of the road where it divides the car park in two today.

Most of the bombed out people had gone to Marian Vian School but Olive could not find her family there because they had gone to her brother in Durban Rd. It was there that she found them playing cards! Their black and white dog, Joe, had been rescued but Olive’s father had a blood-chilling tale to tell. He had seen the doodlebug coming straight for their house but it had tipped the church spire and been diverted on to the shelter. The blast blew him through to the back garden together with the front door!

It was not until 1949 that the war damage was made good. Meanwhile the Chilvers were temporarily re-housed in Merlin Grove. The war split up the family because altthough all survived, the older ones did not come to live at home afterwards and even the younger boys were unsettled by their obligatory two years conscription.

 


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  • MICHAEL PALMER

    Has anyone any information about Thayers Farm? Was Thayer an individual, or the name of a field? I live on this road and would be very interested to know anything about it.

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  • Mal Mitchell

    Michael try these links for maps at national library of Scotland and British Library, they show a collection of buildings close to what was Clockhouse
    and also the link for Bromley Historic collections catalogue search Thayers Farm.

    http://www.bromleyarchives.org.uk/Bromley/CalmView/Overview.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog
    https://maps.nls.uk/view/102343453
    http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/ordsurvdraw/b/zoomify82259.html

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  • Stone Farm is mentioned in Hasted's History of Kent as being owned by John Cator. A map of Foxgrove Manor for 1766 shows Stone farm but the position of the farm is about half way between Chancery Lane and Hayes Lane. A later map of circa 1780 shows the farm described as Barnfield House let to Mr Porson. A land exchange between Cator and Peter Burrell describes some fields being exchanged probably because Burrell was improving his Kelsey grounds. I was recently contacted by Mr. Stephen Kirkman whose ancester Jacob Kirkman, a harpsichord maker, is recorded as leasing Stone Farm from Cator in the 1770's and as having taken out insurance on the property. Around 1791/3 Cator exchanged Stone Farm and other land with Peter Burrell/Baron Gwydyr so that the Burrells had land mainly to the south of Beckenham and Cator estates were mainly to the north of Beckenham. The 1780 map shows a substantial amount of 'Cator' land around Kelsey and Langley. After Burrell acquired Stone Farm he absorbed the land into Kelsey grounds and moved the farm nearer Hays Lane as shown in 1809, Burrell had a map of his estates produced along with a book describing leased property including Eden Park/Farm. On that map, Stone farm is not mentioned but Home Farm is pretty much on the site of the Chinese Garage after South Eden Park Road was built but before Stone Park Avenue was built. Burrell had landscaped the area of the original Stone Farm as part of his Kelsey grounds. The maps are in the British Library and demonstrate how change has taken place very frequently. What Burrell established as Home Farm presumably got renamed Stone Farm to revive the name.

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  • Am I right in thinking that the lodge referred to as being part of Sandhills School is what is now known as Beau Lodge ? This would make sense to me as I seem to remember that there is,, or was, something like a school bell outside Beau Lodge (I must pop along there and see if it is still there). The name of Sandhills School also seems to tie in with my belief that an earlier name for at least that part of Kelsey Lane was Sandy Lane. Do you know if that is right as well, please ?

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  • Historian

    The Lodge mentioned is The Haven, the building is still there. Beau Lodge was once known as The Whitmores. Sandy Lane was an extension of Kelsey Lane.

    from Beckenham, UK
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  • Hi, further to the material we produced about Beckenham Place, it seems to have wet the appetite of at least one other researcher and the information about farms and estates pre 1800 is quite extensive. Kent House Farm seems to have been part of Lewisham and Sydenham at one time as records for it are in Lewisham but the Lethieullier family refer to it and a residence in Beckenham, probably Clockhouse in Wills. Thayers Farm is still a mystery as any search for a Thayer family hasn't returned any results relating to Beckenham property. Along with a fellow researcher who has found most material, a family of Pughs and Willis's had property referred to as a mansion and farm at Elmers End bordering and surrounded by Burrell property and additionally leasing some fields from the Burrells around 1780. The Willis family also occupied the Oakery along Bromley Road at one time. Woolseys Farm at Clay Hill has been the source of some information, The Burrells had it in the 1720's and exchanged it with Viscount Bolingbroke in 1757 for the old manor house opposite the church. Woolseys Farm then was bought by John Cator as part of the Beckenham Manor purchase in 1773. Cator's nephew John Barwell Cator subsequently sold it in the early/mid 1800's. I'll leave that story to a fellow researcher. It is evident that there were more farms, messuages, and smallholdings around and between the main estates than appreciated. Even the estates and manors contained farms that were leased. Although perhaps outside of Beckenham and in West Wickham, the estate of Langley Park or Place was divided into four farms under the ownership of Jones Raymond circa 1760 evidenced by a map in the British Library. The farms and leaseholder can be identified from the map key or legend. Early maps of Beckenham Place show a farm very close to the junctionof Foxgrove Road and Southend Road at the time when Southend Road was created in 1785. The absence of some maps and documentary evidence at least not yet discovered makes filling in the gaps difficult but a picture is emerging. The Burrell estate shown in a map of 1809 incorporates several leased properties, some farms, some residences and the mill at Glassmill Lane, all described in an estate book with field names and some annotation of what crops were grown in a particular though not identified year. The leaseholders are named with some changes annotated in pencil probably near the time of the Burrell estate sale in 1820.
    A curious discovery is the Lay Subsidy Roll of circa 1340, pre the Black Death, which lists taxpayers/landowners in Beckenham. Some names may be clues to local places ie Stomshulle for Stumpshill? Cleyhurst for Clay Hill? and other names more easily recognized from Hasted's history, Langley or Langele and Bruin. Maybe getting too remote; Hauek could be Hawk as in Hawksbrook which appears in maps of the Langley Park area and survives as an early name for the Beck river. Some of the material is quite entertaining ie why did Mary Lethieullier leave one daughter only one shilling in her Will when the family fortune was significant (even though that daughter had been left a significant sum by the father John). Although I haven't fully filled in the blanks this may have been a stepmother/stepdaughter situation. curiouser and curiouser....

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  • Mal Mitchell

    Well almost by accident a map held in Kent Archive shows the farms owned by Thomas Motley in 1736. These include Elmers End Farm, Thayers Farm tho spelt Thayre and let to William Lewin. And The Mead which is the site of what became the Cedars in the high street.
    The map was drawn for Thomas Motley and though not yet confirmed I suspect these passed into the possession of Thomas Motley Austin when Thomas Austen/Austin married into the Motleys in the late 18th / early 19th C. Motley Austin is shown on the 1809 Burrell estate map as owning Elmers End Farm territory and an area over what is now the Greyhound pub. Thayer or Thayre probably was an individual but so far untraced, but before 1730 I guess. Thayers Farm is bounded on two sides by William Lethieullier of Kent House and Clockhouse at that time and by John St. John on two other sides (of Beckenham Manor father of Frederick St. John? who later sold the manor of Beckenham to Cator). Another map looking similar to the work of Rob Copeland, shows the whole of Beckenham in the 18th century and is compiled from maps we have rediscovered and perhaps some not yet rediscovered. For me the maps show more information pictorially than can be explained in words. The footprints of various buildings and landscaping of grounds as well as bordering landowners who may or may not have been recorded in parish records and histories. If Bromley archive, Kent archive and other sources could be consulted I'm sure this website could benefit from images of the various maps and documents.
    In any case the farming landscape was more divers than the impression related here. And we can push back the date and detail of available information.

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  • Mal Mitchell

    More farm information can be gleaned from the rediscovered maps. New Farm mentioned here relates to Elmers End Farm which was owned by Thomas Motley in 1736 (map by Brasier in Kent archive). It was bordered by Elmers End Green on one side, Elmers End Road and the viscinity of Churchfields Road. Thomas Motley also owned Thayers Farm (spelled Thayres on the map) and The Ridge in the High Street on Thorntons corner, later to become the Cedars? Thomas Motleys daughter married Francis Austin and their son Francis Motley Austin inherited the property. Thayers Farm is shown as owned by G.Austin on Cator estate map of 1833. Probably George Austin, son of Francis Motley Austin. This is the same Austin/Austen family as Jane Austen who was a niece. The Austens also owned a lot of land around Kippington, Sevenoaks and elsewhere. Some coming via Thomas Motley who was a dyer based in Southwark. Potential link with the Lethieulliers who were also in the wool trade and some were dyers.
    New Farm was near Shortlands and bordered the parishes of Hayes and Bromley belonged to the Burrells, leased by them to William Angas in their 1809 Estate book. Elmers End Farm and Thayers Farm were both divided into Old and New Farms in 1736 and Elmers End was divided between Nicholas and Daniel Hodges. Thayers new farm was leased to William Lewin and the old farm retained by Thomas Motley. The maps tell more pictorially than can be related here. I'm sure Kent Archive would allow some reproduction permission if sought.

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