|Pixfield Court Grounds, Valley School Field, Allotments and Bromley Hill Wood||Bromley|
Pixfield Court Grounds and Valley School Field are remnants of the grounds and meadow of Pixfield, a Georgian house built in 1774. In 1936 the house was converted to flats and renamed Pixfield Court, with a new block adjacent. Part of the meadow was retained as grounds while the remainder was made over to Valley School as a playing field. In c.1990 the school took over adjacent allotments, which were provided with a strip of land on the northern edge of Valley School Field. The setting is backed by Bromley Hill Wood, the southernmost remnant of primeval oak woodland that was acquired in 1799 by Charles Long as part of his large Bromley Hill Place estate. It was purchased by Samuel Cawston in 1881, who developed a luxurious garden suburb called Bromley Park, retaining large areas of the woodland.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/02/2009
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Pixfield was a Georgian house built for Robert Booth in c.1774, who lived here until his death in 1796. His widow Rebecca survived him until 1807, on her death bequeathing the house to her friend Anne Latter, wife of Edward Latter, who was appointed Vestry Clerk in 1798. The Latter family remained at Pixfield until 1927. In 1929 Horsburgh describes the 'commodious old red-brick house' 'surrounded by pleasant grounds with a good meadow sloping down into the valley' (p.439). In 1936 Pixfield was converted to flats and renamed Pixfield Court, with a block of 12 flats built adjacent to the house. Part of the meadow was retained as grounds for the new flats while the remainder was made over to the local authority for use by Valley School as a playing field. A hawthorn hedge was planted to divide the grounds of Pixfield Court from its former meadow; this hedge is now wild with self-sown oak, ash and sycamore, and inside the border is a row of apple trees. Within the grounds the landscaping is informal, with lawns and a number of mature trees, including false acacia near the old house that may date from the C18th planting; a eucalyptus was planted in 1985. In c.1990 LB Bromley allowed the school to take over an area of allotments adjacent to Valley School Field, on what is shown on the Pixfield deeds as Burrell's Meadow. In compensation a strip of land from the northern edge of the Field was given by the school as a new site for the allotments and a hawthorn hedge was planted to separate the two. The north-west side of Valley School Field has an old hedgerow with mature trees including horse chestnut, sweet chestnut, beech and copper beech.
On the south-east it borders Queen's Mead (q.v.) and on the north-east Martin's Hill (q.v.), two public open spaces. Until 2007 the Field contained a historic field pond, but this was infilled and an artificial hill created from excavated soil when a new sports court was added on the west side of the Field. The meeting point of the free-draining sand and gravel and the impervious clay gave rise to the formation of numerous springs that are in evidence where Martin's Hill meets Queen's Mead, one such spring rising in woodland just above Valley School Field that fed into this pond on the north-east edge under a magnificent oak tree. The pond is shown on the OS maps of 1863, 1912 and 1933; prior to 1858, when it was included in the Glebe Knoll development site, it was part of a complex of stock barns and kitchen garden serving Pixfield. The 1863 map shows a cattle byre, outbuildings and possibly an orchard and kitchen garden on the east side of the Field.
When Pixfield was redeveloped in 1936 the former entrance was moved although the original gates have been retained in the widened entrance. The setting of the listed building is backed by the steep wooded slope of Bromley Hill Wood, the southernmost remnant of primeval oak woodland. It is shown on Rocque's map of 1744, and in the late C18th it was known as Pratt's Hill. The woodland was acquired in 1799 by Charles Long, who later became Lord Farnborough, as part of his large Bromley Hill Place estate, the house now Bromley Court Hotel. William Pitt, who lived at Holwood in Keston, was a frequent visitor. The estate passed to Samuel Long in 1838 who sold it to Samuel Cawston in 1881. Cawston laid it out as a luxurious garden suburb of fine houses called Bromley Park, retaining large areas of the woodland. The former southern carriage drive is now Highland Road.
E L S Horsburgh, 'History of Bromley' (1929, reprinted 1980, Lodgemark Press), pp.240 and 439.
LPGT Volunteer Research by Tony Banfield, 2009