Beckenham History

The Village High Street.

Borrowman’s map of 1723 also shows that Peter Burrell owned a house on this site. In 1845 it was occupied by the Misses Woodruffe, then by Dr. R.R. Stilwell and later by W. Levens, but about 1870 it became a licensed house when other building developments were going on in the Village. Borrowman says “the former residence has been modernised so completely as to destroy entirely the character of the building”; while 1962 saw yet another metamorphosis!

Borrowman also recalls that – “In January 1888 Beckenham lost the services of a much respected inhabitant, Dr. R.R. Stilwell, who practised in the Village, and was, in the early ’60s, the only Medical Practitioner in Beckenham”.

Opposite The Greyhound, at the foot of Church Hill, stood THE POUND, a wooden enclosure for impounding stray cattle at night; THE CAGE, a temporary prison for drunken men, on which was a motto ‘Live and Repent’ with the date 1787; and nearby THE STOCKS. Replicas of these were made for the Coronation Celebrations in June 1953 when an Old English Fayre was held in the afternoon, using the High Street from the bottom of Church Hill to Village Way.

Next to the Pound was another VILLAGE PUMP, mostly used for drawing water from the Beck for road watering.

The CAGE is first mentioned in a Vestry Minute of 1799, and it was demolished in 1856. The Pound which was removed in 1885, is also mentioned in a Vestry Minute as to its special use; but little is known about when The Stocks were last used as the only record is by comments in reminiscences from former village inhabitants.


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5 Responses

  1. The 1723 Burrell map which Borrowman copied has resurfaced thanks to the tireless research of Keith Baldwin of Shortlands. To be precise the 1723 is a bit worse for wear but is copied by pidduck in 1735. The maps are in the possession of the Burrell family. Keith and I have photos of the maps. Another map in Kent archive from 1736 of properties belonging to Thomas motley shows Thornton’s corner as a property called The Mead with formal rectangular water features. These were later relandscaped into a more irregular lake as the Cedars. The village pond was moved and reshaped several times being approximately in front of the current closed public convenience (inconvenience). The series of maps now rediscovered show a pictorial chain of change of both structures and owners. The Burrell maps illustrate the change from ownership by the Tolsons and Tilly’s of several sites to the Raymond family and the acquisitions of John Cator have been more comprehensively traced by Keith Baldwin .
    The various date related snapshots are perhaps best described by a timeline approach.
    Thomas Motleys property descended via his daughter to Frances Austin thence to Frances Motley Austin. These included Elmer’s End farm and Thayer’s farm.
    The maps also show several lesser landowners.

  2. The George Inn was at some time between 1760 and 1806 one of the properties owned by John Cator. It may have remained part of Cator property until 1825 or so. John Cator also owned the Crooked Billet in Penge and the Green Man at Southend which he later exchanged with the Forsters for a mill and land in the 1790’s.
    The Three Tuns was owned by the Burrell’s up until Peter Burrell/Lord Gwydyr’s Beckenham estates were sold after his death in 1820.
    This is extracted from map evidence found in the British Library. one landlord/tenant of the Three Tuns renamed it the London Coffee House during the 19th Century, I believe a photo exists somewhere.
    Some of the land behind the Greyhound was at one time owned by Francis Motley Austin of Sevenoaks. He is reputed to be a great uncle of Jane Austen. His land holdings also included some area near Churchfields Road and at Bellingham. (from map evidence on the Burrell estate maps in the British Library dated 1809.)

  3. The 1825 Act of Parliament acquired by John Barwell Cator lists among the Cator properties The George Inn and the Crooked Billet in Penge. As it appears that Peter Burrell/Baron Gwydyr owned most of the south side of the high street up to his death in 1820 the full details of the disposal of his properties are little known? Baron Gwydyr’s father, another Peter Burrell , son of Amy Burrell, exchanged Woolsey’s Farm, Clay Hill for the Old Manor house in 1757 with Viscount Bolingbroke, but by 1809 it is shown on an estate map as belonging to Mr Hoare. I’m guessing that either or both Peter Burrells either lived at the old manor or Langley Place/Park as they styled themselves ‘of Langley’. They also had the property in Whitehall still named Gwydyr House and as MP’s for Haslemere would want to be near Westminster.
    The estate maps of the Cator estate for 1833 and later show them owning land to the north of the town extending to Penge and Sydenham and Southend, Others such as the Hoare family and Goodharts must have acquired most of the south side.

  4. I’ve yet to rediscover the original map from 1723 that Borrowman drew from, but later maps and plans in the British Library illustrate changes in the High Street. Francis Motley Austin who it seems was a great uncle of Jane Austin, owned land to the rear of the George and perhaps the George itself in 1809 though he must have leased it. Beckenham Lodge appears on an 1809 map as ‘The executors of Lawrence Banyer’. Property annotation seems to show that the Burrells were landlords of most of the south side of the high street. Though a Mr Jackson and Poole Esq. owned sites approximately where village way is today. In 1776 John Cator had acquired some sites on the north side of the high street and of course the long lost rectory opposite the church designed by Robert Adam was approximately behind Marks and Spencers.

  5. The licensee of The George was James Whelller and not Wheeler. I know because he was my great great grandad. His son took over after him.

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