Ruxley, Bexley/​Bromley

A predominantly rural area with some light industry beside the main roads, situated immediately east of Foots Cray; the terrain rises further east to around 100 feet above sea level at Upper Ruxley, on the Kent border

The former chapel, now a barn, at Ruxley Manor

This was Rochelei in Domesday Book, and the name may have indicated a place frequented by rooks. In the Middle Ages Ruxley was the centre of an admin­is­trative district – known as a hundred – extending as far as Hawley’s Corner, which is now on the south­ernmost edge of Greater London.

A small and basic parish church was built in the early 14th century and dedicated to St Botolph. It survives (barely) as a barn at Ruxley Manor, which is now home to a garden centre. The parish was combined with that of St James, North Cray, in 1557. The village of Ruxley is said to have been abandoned at that time, possibly as a result of bubonic plague.

Ruxley gravel pits were dug from 1929 to 1951 and now constitute one of London’s few areas of relat­ively undis­turbed water south of the Thames. The River Cray flows through three of the pits and a fourth is fed by springs. The surrounding swamp and fen veget­ation supports a remarkable diversity of birds, butter­flies, dragon­flies and beetles. Access is only possible by prior arrangement with the warden.

Postcode areas: Sidcup DA14 and Orpington BR5