Kevington, Bromley

Although situated just a mile to the south-​​east of urban St Mary Cray, Kevington (also spelt Kevingtown) is a rural hamlet, with farms, nurseries and old cottages

Kevington Hall

The name may come from Old English words meaning ‘place on a small hill’ or it may have related to a landowner named Cyfa. The Ordnance Survey map of 1876 shows Kevingtown and Kevington as two separate places – the former at the top of the hill, the latter on its western slope – but this could have been the consequence of some carto­graphic confusion.

The manor of Kevington was in the hands of the related Manning and Onslow families from the late Middle Ages to the mid-​​18th century, when Middleton Onslow sold it to Herman Behrens (or Berens), a City merchant from Amsterdam who commis­sioned the construction of Kevington Hall (c.1767–9), which is shown in the photograph above.*

postbox and village sign

There’s not much to Kevington, but what there is is mostly pretty

Completed in 1769, the house is – at least in part – the work of Sir Robert Taylor, who was also responsible for Danson House and for the enlargement of the Bank of England. Behrens imported the building materials from around Europe: the red clinker bricks came from Amsterdam, tiles from Heidelberg and marble from Livorno.

Behrens’s descendants held the property until the Second World War, when the government requisi­tioned it to accom­modate Canadian troops. Afterwards, Kent county council used the hall as a primary school until the early 1980s.

Now privately owned, Kevington Hall has been diligently restored and is available for conducted group tours – and sometimes for private functions – by arrangement. It’s also usually one of the delights of the Open House London weekend.

Next door, Shawcroft special school was designed by Sir Roger Walters of the GLC architects’ department and built in 1974 in a woodland setting. Shawcroft has since been renamed Oakview hospital and operates as a commer­cially run, specialised secure unit – assessing, treating and caring for young people, aged 12 to 18, who have been detained under the Mental Health Act.

The hamlet lacks any amenities for residents or visitors and the former Kevington Arms is now Blueberry Farm.

Postcode area: Orpington, BR5


* The picture of Kevington Hall on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Ian Capper, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-​​ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.
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