Farthing Street

Farthing Street, Bromley

A hamlet since Norman times, Farthing Street is a quiet echo of Downe, which lies three-quarters of a mile to the south

Mint Cottage, Farthing Street, with traditional Kentish knapped flint dressing
Mint Cot­tage was built c.1864

The south-​​east­ern quad­rant of the Lon­don Bor­ough of Brom­ley is the most rur­al cor­ner of the metrop­o­lis, with ham­lets and vil­lages strung along qui­et byways. Only the far­thest flung cor­ners of the bor­oughs of Haver­ing and Hilling­don present any­thing resem­bling such a bucol­ic aspect and they do not cov­er near­ly as broad an area.

This place was first record­ed in 1332 as ‘Fer­thyn­gs’, a name that prob­a­bly derived from the Old Eng­lish fēor­thing, refer­ring to land that made up a quar­ter of a larg­er estate. The ‘Street’ affix, which came lat­er, was fre­quent­ly applied to places that con­sist­ed of a lit­tle rib­bon of dwellings.

The Fer­thing fam­i­ly (lat­er spelt ‘Fer­dyng’ and then ‘Far­thing’) owned the land here in 1366 but – as is often the case in such sit­u­a­tions – it is like­ly that they got their name from the place, rather than the oth­er way around. The fam­i­ly remained here until at least the ear­ly 16th cen­tu­ry, when Thomas Far­thing’s daugh­ter Agnes mar­ried the Downe landown­er John Man­nyng.

By the 17th cen­tu­ry a fam­i­ly called Smith had become the prin­ci­pal local landown­ers and they remained in Far­thing Street for more than a hun­dred years. At this time Far­thing Street lay at the edge of the Hol­wood estate.

No trace remains of the Far­thing or Smith fam­i­ly homes, but the ham­let retains sev­er­al 19th-cen­tu­ry prop­er­ties – includ­ing a pair of brick-and-flint hous­es (shown in the pho­to­graph above) that were orig­i­nal­ly part of the Hol­wood estate. Sev­er­al dwellings are half-hid­den behind tall hedgerows that line the sin­gle-track lane. How­ev­er, high-ten­sion wires strung across Far­thing Street (indi­cat­ed on the map below) nowa­days detract from the pas­toral puri­ty.

Farthing Street Farm was once noted for its strawberries, picked at dawn and delivered to the shops of Bromley by 9am.

Postcode area: Orpington, BR6


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