Hockenden, Bromley

A farming hamlet situated on the easternmost edge of the borough, skirted by the A20 Swanley bypass

Hidden London: Lower Hockenden Farm conveniences

Hock­enden’s Old Eng­lish name was first record­ed in 1240 as Hokindenne. David Mills, in his Dic­tio­nary of Lon­don Place Names, pro­pos­es that it meant ‘wood­land pas­ture (for swine) asso­ci­at­ed with a man called Hōc.’ The pas­ture prob­a­bly con­sist­ed of rough scrub, fit only for a few pigs or geese turned out onto the com­mon land with the per­mis­sion of the lord of the manor.

James Chap­man of Paul’s Cray Hill unit­ed the long-divid­ed halves of Hock­enden manor in 1791 when he added land bought from the heirs of William Went­worth, earl of Straf­ford, to the part he had acquired from Sir John Dixon Dyke in 1767. The Chap­man fam­i­ly were promi­nent local cit­i­zens from the 17th to the 19th cen­tu­ry and there are memo­ri­als to them in the church­yards of St Mary Cray and St Paul’s Cray.

Hock­enden House is an 18th-cen­tu­ry weath­er­board­ed farm­house with a 19th-cen­tu­ry porch. It was grade II list­ed in 1973.

Low­er Hock­enden Farm has the sur­viv­ing roundel of an oast house and a long row of red-brick, tin-roofed huts, built for hop pick­ers and lat­er used by fruit pick­ers. The pick­ers’ con­ve­niences are shown in the pho­to­graph above, and all the huts are vis­i­ble on the left of this Bing bird’s eye view. Hops have not been cul­ti­vat­ed here for many years, but some still grow wild in the hedgerows.

Hock­enden Wood lies to the south-west. The chest­nut wood­land con­ceals Brock­en Hurst, home of the Natur­ist Foun­da­tion, which has exten­sive leisure facil­i­ties and space for tents and car­a­vans.

The dis­used Hock­enden Sand Pit, sit­u­at­ed towards the east­ern end of Cray Val­ley golf course, has ver­ti­cal sand cliff faces with one of the largest breed­ing colonies of sand mar­tins in Lon­don.

Postcode area: Swanley, BR8