Crofton

Crofton, Bromley

The western side of Orpington, with a predominantly white, home-owning character – and the remains of a Roman villa

Hiden London: Lynwood House by Des Blenkinsopp

A Roman farm­ing estate of about 500 acres exist­ed here from ad140 to around ad400, with wood­land and an arable and pas­ture field sys­tem. A 20-room vil­la housed the landowner’s fam­i­ly and ser­vants. Although mod­est in design and fur­nish­ings, it had under­floor heat­ing and tiled floors in sev­er­al rooms and there were barns and out­build­ings. The sur­viv­ing floors of ten rooms of the main house are pro­tect­ed inside a view­ing build­ing, which is open to the pub­lic from April to Octo­ber.

Crofton’s name is of Old Eng­lish ori­gin and means ‘farm on a round­ed hill’. It has been ren­dered as Crop­ton, Croc­ton and Craw­ton at var­i­ous times over the past mil­len­ni­um. Part of the rev­enue from the Crofton estate was giv­en by Hen­ry VIII to endow St Thomas’s Hos­pi­tal in South­wark. In his His­to­ry of Kent, writ­ten at the end of the 18th cen­tu­ry, Edward Hast­ed describes Crofton as lying in the mid­dle of woods, and notes that it was “said to have been once a parish of itself, and to have been destroyed by fire.”

The arrival of the rail­way in 1868 brought some ten­ta­tive sub­ur­ban devel­op­ment and St Paul’s church was built on Crofton Road in 1887.

Hidden London: Bungalows in Oregon Square, by Ian Capper
Bun­ga­lows in Ore­gon Square

In 1925 Crofton was cho­sen as the site for Orpington’s coun­cil offices (now Lyn­wood House, shown in the pho­to at the top) and it was dur­ing their con­struc­tion that the remains of the vil­la were uncov­ered. Most of Crofton was built up between the wars and into the 1940s with bun­ga­lows (such as those shown in the pho­to on the right) and semi-detached hous­es, with some larg­er homes to the north.

Shops were pro­vid­ed at Kelvin Parade but these have since evolved into an incon­gru­ous enclave of builders’ mer­chants. Dur­ing the 1950s ter­raced hous­ing and more com­pact semi-detacheds were built near­er the town cen­tre. A new St Paul’s church opened in 1958 and the old church became the parish hall.

Crofton infant and junior schools con­vert­ed to acad­e­my sta­tus with­in the Crofton Schools Acad­e­my Trust in Sep­tem­ber 2012.

The 200 acres of Crofton Woods, for­mer­ly known as Crofton Heath, lie to the north-west. The ancient wood­land shel­ters some uncom­mon plants and is also impor­tant for its insects, espe­cial­ly micro-moths. Among the larg­er trees are oak, ash, birch and aspen, while small­er vari­eties include hazel and hawthorn as well as rar­er shrubs.

Postal districts: Orpington BR5 and BR6
Population: 14,632 (Farnborough and Crofton ward, 2011 census)

 

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* The picture of Lynwood House at the top of this page is slightly modified from an original photograph, copyright Des Blenkinsopp, and the picture of Bungalows in Oregon Square is cropped from an original photograph, copyright Ian Capper, both at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.