Little Woodcote, Sutton
A rural hamlet situated two miles west of Purley, where Little Woodcote Lane meets Woodmansterne Lane
When a gas pipeline was laid through Little Woodcote in 1968, flints of possibly Neolithic origin were uncovered. Other flints of varying ages have also been found here, indicating significant prehistoric occupation. However, there is little support for speculation that Little Woodcote was the site of a Roman town – perhaps the much sought after Noviomagus, which has also been linked with Coney Hall and, more credibly, with Crayford.
Evidence of the existence of an early medieval village is mixed but it seems that there was a settlement of some kind, which may have declined in population after the Black Death.
To the west of Little Woodcote and the north of Woodmansterne the future twelfth Earl of Derby created Oaks Farm and its walled garden as a ‘model farmery’ during the 1870s. The Oaks itself was a magnificent castle-like mansion, possibly based on a relocated tollhouse extended by Robert Adam. The house was demolished in the late 1950s.
After the First World War Surrey county council engaged in an imaginative version of the ‘homes for heroes’ project here, providing unemployed ex-servicemen with smallholdings on which to grow vegetables or flowers, or rear animals. Part-weatherboarded farmhouse-style homes were built for the smallholders to rent from the council, one of which is shown in the photo above.* Most of the properties on the Little Woodcote estate were semi-detached and straddled the boundary of two plots. Some of the smallholdings are still in use.
Located on what is now Sutton’s south-eastern edge, much of the Oaks is now a park, sports centre and public golf course. The southern part has become a disused wilderness.
Lord Derby inaugurated two famous horse races at nearby Epsom, naming them after himself and his house.
Postcode areas: Carshalton SM5 and Banstead SM7
Further reading: Margaret Cunningham, The Story of Little Woodcote and Woodcote Hall, Heritage in Sutton Leisure, 1989