|Harvington Sports Ground||Bromley|
From at least the C16th the area consisted of parkland with a few large houses and farmland. The Harvington Estate, as it has been known since 1964, was formed from land belonging to Eden Farm, built c.1834, and to three houses built from 1871: Harvington, Homewood and Chalfont. The land was acquired at various dates from 1946 onwards and the estate was unified by Beckenham Council in 1964 and given to the people of Beckenham as a public area for sport and recreation as Harvington Sports Ground. The four lodges that once served the houses remained although the houses were demolished.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2008
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From C16th and earlier, the area consisted of parkland with a few large houses and farmland. William Eden, the first Lord Auckland, had a mansion built in 1782 known as Eden Farm, which can be seen on a map with the Sale Particulars of 1820. A mansion called Langley Park was the home of the Burrells, who owned the land from 1684 and who were responsible for resiting Wickham Road in 1775 to its present path as South Eden Park Road with the characteristic ‘dog-leg’ to avoid their mansion. In 1820, when the last Peter Burrell died, the Langley and Kelsey estates were auctioned. The first development was of land bought by John Woolley belonging to Eden Farm; two large houses were built, possibly in 1834, called Eden Lodge and Eden Cottage (later Manor), both approached from Wickham Road (eventually today’s South Eden Park Road) and built either side of the River Beck. The Tithe Map shows Eden Lodge much as it appears on later maps with the house, the lodge and an area numbered ‘704’ near the road, listed as ‘Garden and Orchard’; this is shown as a wooded area on later maps. It remains wooded today, and old trees survive including an oak. Old photographs show a Cedar, which also survives, next to the house. Benjamin Oakley, who was living at Eden Cottage in 1835, owned Eden Lodge c.1840 and both houses appear on the first edition OS map of 1863. They were used by a succession of wealthy businessmen and later became Sir Frederick Milner Rest homes for WWI shell-shocked soldiers; they were compulsorily purchased and demolished in 1963.
Between 1871 and 1874 they were joined by five houses with stables and lodges built further down the road, turning the site into a busy mid Victorian suburb. From north to south, the first house was built in 1871, which later acquired the name Harvington in 1919, and this was followed by Homewood, Chalfont, Oakfield and Elderslie, all houses with interesting histories, which are shown on the second edition OS maps from 1897. There was no piped water supply but there were bountiful springs and, as can be seen from the only survivor, Oakfield, each had a turret containing water tanks where the spring water was pumped.
The name Harvington came from the village of Harvington near Kidderminster where Bertrand Petley became engaged to Florence and thereafter this was the name they gave to all their residences. On coming to Beckenham in 1919 the Petleys ran a dairy farm. When Bertrand died in 1930, Florence gave the land for St John’s Church (q.v.), and she also bought up Homewood and Chalfont to extend her farm. The present Harvington Estate was formed from the sites of Eden Lodge, Harvington House, Homewood House and Chalfont House.
Some features of the former gardens that are visible on the OS maps of 1897 and 1898 and on an aerial view of 1946, are still visible, including the drive to Eden Lodge, now marked by a row of pines, and a crossing over the River Beck. The Beck and its weir also survive from what was the garden. Harvington’s drive is also visible; an old view of the garden shows the path leading to the house, with standard roses, flower beds and woodland behind. The OS maps show drives and glasshouses for both Homewood and Chalfont, since demolished. The RAF aerial map of 1946 showed a small circle behind the church that marks where the third of the five rockets that fell on Beckenham in 1945 made a huge crater, killing one Jersey cow and two chickens. The vicar’s baby remained peacefully asleep in the garden and Mrs Petley was practising on the church organ. In 1946, Florence was forced to sell the land along the frontage of Eden Park Avenue for prefabs and when she died two months later, Dolly, her daughter sold the farm to Beckenham Council for £37,000. The plans were to turn it into a sports complex with pitches, running track and football stand, but cattle remained there for some time.
In 1953, Eden Manor (formerly Eden Cottage) was bought by the Council for use by the Civil Defence, Guides and Brownies, and in 1963 Eden Lodge was bought by compulsory purchase. Both the ‘Edens’ were demolished as unsafe, leaving the coach-house to Eden Manor and the gatehouse or lodge to Eden Lodge. The site of the house at Eden Manor was just to the north of the present Harvington Estate, and has been sold for development; the coach house of Eden Manor is still there (July 2008) but demolition is expected. The houses of Harvington, Homewood and Chalfont were also taken down leaving their lodges and Chalfont’s stables. In 1953, to celebrate the Queen's Coronation, the Mayoral Avenue of oak trees was planted between 1953 and 1964 by the Mayors of Beckenham. In 1964 the Harvington Estate was unified and declared for the people of Beckenham in perpetuity. In the late 1960s the Edenstone Football Club was set up by local boys in Eden Park Avenue and played regularly at Harvington until c.1980, still continuing today for the Local Veterans League. It was also used for Beckenham Town football, women’s hockey and lacrosse, archery, cricket, trim trail, BMX track, skate-boarding. There is a sports pavilion now where the outbuildings to Harvington once stood. The Friends of Harvington were formed in 2006, hoping to save the Harvington Lodge from being sold and demolished by a developer, with new gate piers erected in 2007 to facilitate the sale (still unsold in July 2008). Two fine trees remain near Harvington Lodge, an Atlas cedar and an oak.
The Harvington Estate site remains chiefly playing fields, predominantly to the south, as well as woodlands, which while predominantly self-sown, retain a number of ornamental trees and shrubs. Also visible are remains of built fountain and associated ornamental planting nearby which includes laurel, holm oak, holly, cedar of Lebanon, yew and Corsican pine. The River Beck runs through the site; a drover’s bridge, possibly built by the landscape firm of James Pulham c.1865 (information from Tony Banfield) crosses the river in an adjacent garden. Other trees on the site include recent planting of a group including field maple, sweet chestnut, horse chestnut and oak, and a row of pine trees marks the drive of Eden Lodge, which leads north from the car park situated by the lodge.
Inventory file. An A to Z of Bromley's Parks, Local Open Space & Woodlands, LB Bromley, 2007; Beckenham Journal, 25 October 1924; Robert Borrowman, 'Beckenham Past & Present', T.W. Thornton, 1910; Pat Manning, 'Beckenham's 30 Glorious Years 1935-1965', Jenna Publishing, 2005; Victoria Hutchings, 'Messrs. Hoare bankers, a history of the Hoare banking dynasty', Constable, 2005; Ian Muir & Pat Manning, 'Monks Orchard & Eden Park', Halsgrove, 2004; Pat Manning, 'Road Names of Beckenham Tell their Tales' (out of print but to be reissued as A Beckenham Trilogy of Roads, Rivers and Memorials, Jenna Publishing, 2008/9); Pat Manning, 'The Harvington Estate in Beckenham', Friends of Harvington, 2007; Cliff Watkins & Pat Manning, 'Beckenham the Home Front 1939-45', Jenna Publishing, 2005. Other sources at Bromley Local Studies Library including Beckenham Minute Books.
LPGT Volunteer Research by Pat Manning, 2008