The study of road and place names in any district often gives an interesting side light on local history. After reading the brief outline of local history in this edition many connections with the past will be seen in the following origin of such names.
Leaving aside the directional road names such as Croydon and Bromley Roads, those associated with churches, such as St. George’s Road and St. Mary’s Avenue, and those describing some physical feature such as The Knoll -a rising ground – Crescent Road and Park Road, a large number are of particular interest.
Starting with roads associated with well-known buildings we have CLOCK HOUSE ROAD from the former building in Beckenham Road; CEDARS ROAD which got its name from the trees in Beckenham Lodge; WELLHOUSE ROAD, by Crease Park, was so named because of the old Well House of Eden Farm nearby; SIDNEY ROAD, from Sidney Cottage in Beckenham Road; and roads near to our local streams, CHAFFINCH ROAD, RAVENSBOURNE AVENUE, BROOK PLACE, near The Greyhound; FAIRFIELD ROAD, which got its name from the field off Burnhill Road where an annual Fair was held; and CHURCHFIELDS ROAD from the Church Fields in the former ARTHUR ROAD. ACACIA ROAD and YEW TREE ROAD these are named after trees that were there at the time of building.
It is conjectured that CHANCERY LANE, which runs between Bromley and Wickham Roads, got its name from land held by an order of the Court of Chancery. In 1674 land in the neighbourhood of lower Oakwood Avenue (then CLAY HILL) known as Cowlees Field, together with other adjoining land was presented to the Beckenham Parochial Charities.
Cowlees Field was the site of an old Workhouse, on the present site of No’s. 118 & 120, Bromley Road, a two storey building with two attic bedrooms, let on lease in 1836. In 1854 the property was transferred from the Parish to Official Trustees of Charity Lane by an order of the Court of Chancery. The old Workhouse was pulled down in 1858.
Some of our roads have been planted with special trees, so we have LIMES ROAD, CHERRY TREE WALK and BIRCHWOOD AVENUE.
A large number of our local roads are named in connection with the particular Manor Houses and the families who resided there. The Cator family came to Beckenham in the 18th century and built BECKENHAM PLACE and soon became the leading landowners in the district. The Cator Estate covered practically the whole of the land on the north side of the main road from Shortlands to New Beckenham, and a considerable part beyond the High Street to Penge. ALBEMARLE CATOR was one of the sons, and LENNARD was also associated with that family. The present seat of the Cator family is at WOODBASTWICK, in Norfolk.