Today High Elms is a popular outdoor space, frequented by walkers and their dogs, and containing an 18 hole golf course.  But in the nineteenth century it was farmland before being purchased and much developed by the Lubbock family.  High Elms itself is not actually in the parish of Farnborough, but in neighbouring Keston.

The main access drive from the mansion site leads down to Shire Lane, the border with Farnborough Parish, and then used to continue directly up to Farnborough village, via a short drive connecting to Church Road. This drive has now reverted to woodland.

Included in this part of the website are a number of articles telling various aspects of the relationship between the Lubbocks and Farnborough, as well as descriptions of artifacts that can still be seen today, in Farnborough churchyard and elsewhere.

High Elms is now managed by the London Borough of Bromley as a public open space.

Ordnance Survey Maps

Here are extracts from Ordnance Survey maps from 1805 through to 1950.  They are copyright Ordnance Survey and are downloads from the National Library of Scotland website. Click on images to enlarge.

One Inch to the mile, surveyed c 1805 published 1809
This map was actually prepared independently by William Mudge, 1762-1820 , but then adopted by the fledgling Ordnance Survey.  The survey took place just before what we know as the High Elms estate was purchased by the first John Lubbock.

Six inches to a mile surveyed 1862-1868, published 1870
In this first large scale (six inch) map, dating from some time after the estate was purchased by the Lubbocks, all of the main features that we know today, the main house and the collection of buildings surrounding the stables, are already in place.  Many of the pathways leading round the estate have been laid down.

The golf course was probably still in the process of being laid out when the survey work was carried out. It had been used for horse racing, but the first Lord Avebury, who by now owned the estate, was more interested in golf, and, after a very grand last meeting, work began on transforming the grounds into the golf course still in use today. See the panel to the right.

Six inches to a mile, revised 1908, published 1910
Forty years later little has changed, apart from the further development of pathways through the woodland, to provide easier access for heavy equipment.

Six inches to a mile, revised 1948, published 1950
By this time, just after the second world war, buildings and other structures within the estate have been further developed, but the biggest changes are outside, with an unbroken row of housing along the southern side of Cudham Lane, and also new building on Old Hill.

Here is an image from Google maps, click for a dynamic Google maps enlargement



Farnborough Races

High Elms golf course was originally laid out and used for horse racing.

The article below first appeared in the magazine of the Bromley Borough Local History Society , and is reproduced here with their permission.   It describes the very grand last race meeting held at High Elms. 

In July 1864 there appeared in the Bromley Record an advertisement giving details of a Race Meeting to be held at High Elms, Farnborough. The Stewards were Messrs. W. Hart Dyke, H. Lubbock, R.B.Berens, and B.W.Lubbock, and there were to be five horse races with some foot races and high jumping as well. The meeting was to start at 1.30 p.m.

It was reported in the September issue of the journal that in no previous-year had the park presented such a gathering and the number of persons attending was estimated at between 30,000 and 40,000. The precise number of vehicles attending was unknown but it was recorded that the road from Bromley was kept in continuous cloud of dust from 11 a.m. to 1  p.m. and also from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., so evidently the day was dry and sunny. One person who attended was so smothered coming back that he might have been mistaken for a miller.

The first race was for ponies under 13 1/2 hands over half a mile which had 14 runners.

The second race was for horses belonging to the Qyeen's Own West Kent Yeomanry Cavalry over 3/4 of a mile with 8 runners.

The third was over 3/4 a mile, confined to members of the committee, with 7 runners.

The fourth was open to farmers of "Old Surrey, West Kent and Burstow counties" over 3/4 of a mile which had 10 runners.

The last race was a hurdle race with an entrance fee of a sovereign, limited to horses which had run in any of the previous races and had six runners.

In the foot race there were 19 starters over a distance of 100 yards.

The high jump attracted five entries and was won with a clearance of 4ft. 9ins.

The pole vault was won by Mr. ft. Lubbock who cleared 8ft. 6ins.

The foot hurdle race was won by Mr.M. Lubbock.

and the final race was over half a mile.

The refreshments, which were greatly in demand, were supplied by Mr. Thompson of the New Inn, Farnborough, and Mr. Divers of the Plough Inn, Bromley Common, all at moderate charges.

Apart from one person being suspected of pickpocketing the afternoon passed peacefully enough and gave no trouble to the police under Inspector Kent, assisted by Inspector Townsend and Sergeant Grey.

John Edwards
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