FARNBOROUGH VILLAGE HISTORY



 
Farnborough Green Street Green Locksbottom

Welcome to this website about the history of Farnborough Village, on the high road from London to Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Hastings.

For convenience, the geographical scope for this website is taken to be the ancient ecclesiastical parish, which also included Green Street Green and Locksbottom  - see the map below.  This is indeed apt, as up until the later decades of the nineteenth century the church was the main instrument of local government and governance. 

Administratively Farnborough today forms the major part of the
Farnborough and Crofton Ward (Polling District)

About Farnborough

Farnborough is 13.4 miles from London (Charing Cross), about 10 from Sevenoaks, and 350 feet above sea level. Evidence dating from when it was a significant point on the turnpike road can still be seen today. The population of the Farnborough and Crofton ward according to the 2011 census was 14,632. 

This 1860 map shows the boundaries for the ancient parish of Farnborough, which included Green Street Green as well as Locksbottom and parts of Orpington. In 1938 the new parish of Green Street Green and Pratts Bottom was created, by taking areas from both Farnborough and Chelsfield Parishes.

For a larger view, click on the map, select the map revision to be viewed from the drop-down menu on the right, then click the full screen view icon to the top left.  The map can be scrolled around and re-scaled.  Press Esc to exit full screen view.

Farnborough is less than 2 miles from Orpington, and today comes within the London Borough of Bromley, as it has since the creation of Greater London in 1965. But it is sometimes still erroneously regarded as being in Kent. It should be distinguished from the larger and  better known Farnborough in Hampshire and from places of the same name in Berkshire and Warwickshire.

Despite its proximity to London, Farnborough retains a shape and character that would be recognisable to a visitor from many centuries past.  One reason for this is that the railway never came to Farnborough, although there were a surprising number of proposals.

After the second world war the land between Farnborough and Orpington experienced substantial housing development, such that today it is difficult to see where Farnborough ends and Orpington begins.  By contrast however the establishment of the green belt has prevented expansion of the village to the south.  Today therefore Farnborough lies on the very edge of the Greater London built up area, and it is possible to walk directly into open fields. 

There are a number of listed buildings in Farnborough Village, Locksbottom, Green Street Green, and High Elms. These are described and pictured on this website.

The photo to the right shows the old village Post Office in Church Road, Farnborough.  This is now a private dwelling.
 

Use the 'External Links' hyperlinks on the right to find other websites that refer to the history of the village and surrounding area.

What follows is adapted from a guide written in July 2002. It serves as a useful summary of the main historical features of the village, explored in more detail elsewhere on the website..

A Walk through Farnborough

As we leave Locksbottom and proceed up the hill towards the village we pass on the left the rear of Sainsbury’s, where once stood a grand old house named Goddendene. In 1901 a farming family from Yorkshire by the name of March came there to live. There were six sons and one daughter; all were artists in one form or another. Two of the sons became famous for their bronze statues and war memorials such as the Ottawa War Memorial which was cast in the workshop in the grounds of Goddendene.

A little further along the road is the hospital, at present being rebuilt. It stands on the sight of the Old Union Workhouse.

Over the hill and along the road and we come to the Village School which was built in 1873 in response to the act of Parliament 1870 put forward by Sir John Lubbock, ensuring every child received an education. The buildings have now been turned into flats and a new school built in the village at the top of Farnborough Hill.

The A21 road, known as the Farnborough By-pass was opened on 13th April 1927. This cut right through the boys' school playing area and diverted most of the traffic past the village.

We now enter the village along the High Street. In past times it was known as The Broadway and it was there that the village shops supplied the locals with most of their needs. The first was a tea gardens, then a clothing store, confectioners, general store, baker, newsagent, hairdresser, domestic store, butcher and a pub named The Coach and Horses, this was pulled down at the turn of the century and shops built in its place, a butchers and greengrocers.

Another victim of the by-pass was the bakers at the bottom of Starts Hill which was demolished and a new one built in the High Street opposite Orchard Road called The New Bakery. It is now a dwelling. The Scout hut is to the right of it (the Scouts having been formed in Farnborough in 1911) and the wooden building housing the fire pump and tender (horse drawn) was on the left of the bakery. Farnborough had its own voluntary brigade until the outbreak of the second world war. When the maroon went off the farmer had to catch the horse before the tender and crew could attend the fire; at times too late to save anything.

Further along the High Street, on the left just past Orchard Road, was The Limes Laundry. With the demise of horse drawn coaches due to the development of the motor car, Mr. Ballard, a coach-builder of some repute for many years in Farnborough, turned his hand to laundering and in 1902 founded The Limes Laundry. In 1907 Mr. Ballard sold his business to Mr. George R. Miles and departed for Canada, where he opened a laundry in Vancouver. Mr. Miles continued washing for the people of Farnborough and surrounding district until 1929 when he sold the Limes Laundry to Mr. A. R. Grose. In the early 1950s Mr. Grose junior joined his father running the laundry until the end of 1986 when he sold the site for redevelopment. There was little need for the laundry with the development of the washing machine and launderette. 

Opposite is a double fronted house, which once was another grocers shop.
 

A short distance along on the left we have the Village Hall built in 1897 by W. Owen to the design of C. St. Pierre Harris, Architect, but known then as The Parish Rooms.

Opposite is the Woodman pub. A public house of that name has stood there for over 200 years.

In the 1950s the village pond, on the left past the Village Hall, was filled in, the allotments levelled and the Ladycroft Estate built. This left only the Cosy Nook Tearooms, famous amongst cyclists in the early part of the last century for its hot tea and cheese rolls.

Next we have the Change of Horses Pub which was, for generations, known as The New Inn. When the stage coaches, which operated between London and the Kent coast, left the passengers for the night at the White Lion in Locksbottom, the coach and team came into Farnborough where the horses were turned out in the field opposite and the coachmen spent the night in the pub. Now you will understand why the name changed to its present one.   

Another victim of progress was the beautiful red brick house known as The Two Elms which stood back from the High Street, the lawns of which, on a summer afternoon, were dotted with tables bedecked with colourful cloths and laden with tea and cakes, all home made.

The so-called Prime Minister Roads were built at the back of the High Street at the end of the nineteenth century. At about the same time a new row of shops was built along the High Street and these were added to just before the second world war. And so the road goes down Farnborough Hill to Green Street Green.

But let us turn back and pass by The George at Farnborough which used to be the George and Dragon. The original building was demolished in 1936/7 and the present one built. The old one was at the junction of the High Street and Church Road and it was here that the private coaches stopped for refreshments for both travellers and horses. In later years the 47 bus, which ran from Farnborough to Shoreditch turned round and the crew had a cuppa and sandwich at the Orange Tea-rooms. (so named because it was painted orange.)

The 51 Bus, which ran between Farnborough and Sidcup also turned at the George so at any one time there could be four or more buses in Farnborough.

 
It was a favourite pastime for people living in the south east of London to take the bus to Farnborough on a Sunday, have a picnic in the church fields or tea and cakes at the several tea gardens, and catch the bus back late in the evening.

There were usually one or two cockle and whelk stalls outside the George and at one time the nearby cottages offered the trippers a wash and brush up for tuppence before they caught the bus home.

Before Farnborough Hill was built the coaches travelled down Church Hill and over Old Hill, at times known as the old Roman Road, at the top of which once stood the local gibbet; reputed to be the last in England to be used for public hanging, but we have no proof of that. The stocks were at the top of Church Hill.

Most of the area around Farnborough was given over to Market Gardens producing fruit and vegetables for the local population as well as for sale in London. There is one, typical, chalk field to the left of Church Hill locally called Chalky Luggitt and it is widely believed the name was given by the Kent strawberry growers who would stop there overnight as they travelled to and from Covent Garden, it being a ‘chalk field to Ludgate in London’.

St. Giles Church has been a centre of Christian worship for more than a thousand years. It has been rebuilt and restored many times during its history, mainly due to damage by storms and tempest. It stands on the high ground overlooking fields, once owned by the Lubbock/Avebury family

The Lubbocks once owned High Elms, the main house in which sadly burned down in the late 1960s, pictured right.

There are many notable people connected with Farnborough, Sir John Lubbock, already mentioned for his Education Bill, was also responsible for the Bank Holidays. John Fox, Farmer and Brewer of great renown; (his Farnborough Ales were famous throughout the south east; it is said because of the purity of the local water). Dr Thomas Young, who was responsible for unravelling the mysteries of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone, is buried in the church. Elsie March, of the afore mentioned family, whose large bronze memorial hangs in St. Giles Church. Sir Robert Peel (policeman) had friends living in Farnborough Lodge on the corner of the A21 and Crofton Road. He had the Police-station built at Locksbottom because highwaymen troubled the area. Gypsy Lee, Queen of the Kent Gypsies lived in Willow Walk and is buried in St. Giles churchyard. John Alderton, market gardener, formed the Farnborough Aviation Works in 1909; his first plane is in Hendon museum. It is reported he built at least two planes but there is little evidence they ever flew. He did however produce the very successful bonded wooden propeller and it is said he was the first man in England to have cultivated blackberries. Farnborough Engineering works employed, in its heyday, up to 1000 people making valves for all types of petrol engines.

Farnborough is mentioned as far back as 862 when the King of Wessex granted to Dryhtwald, his minister, ten carucates

We hope you have enjoyed your stroll through the beautiful village of Farnborough.  


VILLAGE HISTORY

The following pages are either new or have been substantially revised with new material and/or photos.
   

External Links:

Farnborough Parish Website
Vision of Britain - Farnborough
Hidden London - Farnborough
British History Online
Farnborough Hall Listing
High Elms (Wikipedia)
Lyulph Avebury (Lubbock)
The Primrose Centre
Gypsy Lee funeral 1933 (Video)
St. Mary Cray Village History
Bromley Local Studies Library
Bromley Borough Local History
Kent map 1785
Kent map 1801
 
The Change of Horses
The Woodman


Recently Added:

About this website

This website was launched at the beginning of 2018, by transferring and developing a number of pages formerly on the Farnborough Parish website
www.farnborough-kent-parish.org.uk

The website has since been much expanded.  It now contains over one hundred pages of articles about the history and development of the village (excluding the parish church)  and the surrounding area.  Many have been written especially for the website, but others have been taken, with permission, from a number of other sources, written over a period exceeding 140 years.

For convenience, the geographical scope for this website is taken to be the ancient ecclesiastical parish, which also included both Locksbottom and Green Street Green (within the parish until 1933). This is indeed apt, as up until the later decades of the nineteenth century the church was the main instrument of local government and governance. 

My thanks are due to a select band of current and former residents of Farnborough Village who have written pieces for the website, also to the Bromley Borough Local History Society for generously giving permission for the inclusion of a number of articles from their magazine archive  The editor would welcome feedback, and submission of new material about relevant subject areas. This can be sent to:

Nick Reynolds
nickr306@talk21.com

contact sitemap directions home home