Orpington Tourist Guide

Introduction

Orpington is a suburban commuter town in the London Borough of Bromley. It is near to the M25 motorway.

It is near to the M25 motorway. The High Street and adjacent Walnuts Shopping Centre include a wide range of high-street shops. There is a general market located in front of Orpington College, three days a week. There are larger retail outlets in the industrial estate on Cray Avenue and Sevenoaks Way in St Mary Cray including the new Nugent Shopping Park.

The Walnuts Leisure Centre, just east of the High Street, has a six lane, 33.3 metre indoor swimming pool which is home to Orpington Ojays Swimming Club which competes at county, district and national level. Other facilities include squash courts and gym with sauna and steam room as well as a sports hall used for activities such as badminton, basketball, trampolining and fitness classes

First recorded in 1032, Orpington’s name means Orped's farm. Orpington and St. Mary Cray competed across the centuries to be the most important settlement in the district. Stone Age tools have been found in several areas of Orpington, including Goddington Park, Priory Gardens, the Ramsden estate, and Poverest. Early Bronze Age pottery remains have been found in the Park Avenue area. During the building of Ramsden Boys School in 1956, the remains of an Iron Age farmstead were excavated. The area was occupied in Roman times, as shown by Crofton Roman Villa, and the Roman bath-house at Fordcroft. The first record of the name Orpington occurs in 1032, when King Cnut's treasurer Eadsy gave land at ‘Orpedingetune’ to the Monastery of Christ Church at Canterbury. The parish church also pre-dates the Domesday Book.

Crofton Roman Villa is a Roman villa inhabited from about AD 140 to 400. It was the centre of a farming estate of about 500 acres, with farm buildings nearby, surrounded by fields, meadows and woods. The house was changed several times during its 260 years and at its largest probably had at least 20 rooms. The remains of ten rooms can be seen today. Two rooms hold the remains of their opus signinum concrete floors, and three have evidence of tessellated (tiled) floors. Details of the under-floor central heating hypocaust can be seen, which features both channelled and pillared systems. Small artefacts can also be seen with graphic displays, models, touch table of Roman artefacts and activities for children including mosaic making, brass rubbing, Roman games and dressing up as Romans.. The site is adjoining to Orpington railway station, and is not far from Lullingstone Roman Villa, near Eynsford. Tel: 020 8462 4737

Until the railway came, the local commercial centre was nearby St Mary Cray, rather than Orpington. St Mary Cray had a regular market, and industry (paper mills and bell foundry), while Orpington was just a small country village surrounded by soft fruit farms, hopfields and orchards. These crops attracted Romany people, working as roving pickers, to annual camps in local meadows and worked out chalk pits. This work has largely ended, but the Borough still provides a permanent site at Star Lane, and the gatherings are commemorated in local street names, such as Romany Rise.

In World War II the town suffered incendiary bomb damage and, later, V1 and V2 attacks because of its location on the flight path to London and also its closeness to Biggin Hill aerodrome which was an important airbase for Spitfire and Hurricane fighters in the Battle of Britain. The last British civilian killed by German bombing was Mrs Ivy Millichamp, who was killed in her home at 88 Kynaston Road, Orpington on 27 March 1945, by a V2.

Goddington Park, 64 hectares of grass and trees, has five football pitches, two cricket squares, and two rugby pitches. It includes an astro-turf football court and about 10 tennis courts. There are two children's play areas, for smaller and larger children. The main entrance is from Goddington Lane, with footpaths from Avalon Road, Court Road and Chelsfield Lane and a further entrance from Berrylands.

The parish church, All Saints, stands upon pre-Norman foundations. It is Early English in style, but some Saxon work is visible. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book. It was endowed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1173. The tower and steeple were damaged by a storm in 1771. The rebuilt steeple was struck by lightning in 1809, and it was not replaced. The church was greatly enlarged in 1957. The church stands upon pre-Norman foundations. The church was greatly enlarged in 1957.

The Priory is a fine example of a medieval 'hall house'. In 1032, Eadsy, chaplain to King Cnut, gave his estate at ‘Orpedingetune’ to Christ Church Priory, Canterbury. The first Rector of Orpington, Hugh de Mortimer, held court here in 1270. The house was rebuilt, out of stone, in 1290, and added to in 1393 and 1471. In the 17th century the house ceased to be a rectory and passed into private ownership - a timber framed extension was added, which no longer exists. The house was acquired by Orpington Urban District Council in 1947, and now it houses a museum and a public library. The garden forms an eye-catching public park, and contains a natural pond which is the starting place of the River Cray. Each year the Orpington May Queen is crowned in the gardens.

William Cook is credited with the development of the 'Orpington' variety of chicken. In 1886 he introduced a fast growing, dual purpose (good for both eggs and meat) chicken that was black in colour, had white flesh, and slate (grey) legs. He developed the breed by crossing Langshan, Minorca and Plymouth Rock chickens. Continued development eventually resulted in a Buff colour variety, introduced in 1894. Over time, a number of other colour variations have been produced, such as the Spangled, Cuckoo and Blue, but none of these has achieved the popularity of the Buff Orpington.

Set back from the High Street and near to the historic parish church, Orpington has a large and well-used public library, set in attractive grounds: Priory Gardens. The Priory itself contains Bromley Museum. This museum on Church Hill has displays which include the archaeology of the London Borough of Bromley and the life and work of Sir John Lubbock, first Lord Avebury, (the person responsible for giving this country its Bank Holidays). There is a regular programme of temporary exhibitions throughout the year, both by the museum and outside groups. Tel: 01689 873826

Orpington railway station is a transport hub served by Southeastern trains to Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Waterloo East, London Bridge and Victoria stations. The station was opened in 1868, when the South Eastern Railway opened its cut-off line between Chislehurst and Tonbridge. Beforehand, trains between London and Tonbridge had taken a roundabout route via Redhill. The line was widened and the station rebuilt in 1904, increasing to six platforms. Third rail electrification reached Orpington in 1925.

Lullingstone Roman Villa in Lullingstone Lane, Eynsford has the remains of an important villa built during the 1st century and occupied until the early 5th century. It has been excavated and includes exceptional mosaic floors. There is also an example of an early Christian chapel within the villa. Visitors are guided by an audio-tape. Tel: 01322 863467

Lullingstone Castle in Eynsford is an historic family mansion dating back to the time of Domesday. Frequented by Henry VIII and Queen Anne, the Manor House and Garden, set within the beautiful Darent Valley close to Sevenoaks, are open to the public from the 1st of April to the end of September. More details can be found at www.lullingstonecastle.co.uk

 

Down House, home of Charles Darwin, is well worth a visit.

Taxis

Clover Cars 98-100 High Street 01689 871992

Jason Cars, 68 Sayes Ct Rd 01689 832451

Blackfen, 40 Cathcart Dr 020 8309 7000

Lightning Cars, 96 High Street 01689 836221

Doctors

Crofton Surgery, 109 Crofton Rd 01689 822266

Poverest Medical Centre, 42 Poverest Rd 01689 833643

Selvarangan Dr R & Partners, 1 Knoll Rise 01689 824563

Surgery, 59 Sevenoaks Rd 01689 875533

Tudor Way Surgery, 42 Tudor Way 01689 820268

Dentists

Orpington Dental Care Centre, 342 High St 01689 872217

A. J. M. Whittome Dental Practice, 91A High Street 01689 825161

Smilemaker Dental Practice, 5 Sevenoaks Rd 01689 823280

Dental Surgery/322 High St, St. Mary Cray 01689 830690

Adams House Dental Centre, 1A West Way 01689 831814

Hospital

Orpington Hospital, Sevenoaks Road, Orpington BR6 9JU 01689 863000

 

Toilets

Priory Gardens Mon-Sat 0700 – 1900; Sun/Bank Hols 0700 – 1800

The Precinct Mon-Sat 0700 – 1900; Sun/Bank Hols 0800 – 1800

Disclaimer: The information in this Tourist Guide has been researched from a variety of sources including books, articles and online information. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information the reader should check any specific facts for themselves before making any decisions based upon the said information.

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015