|Farthing Downs and New Hill||Croydon|
Farthing Downs is a chalk downland ridge with fine views, popular with the public for well over 100 years although it has a much longer history dating back to the Stone Age. There is evidence of early cultivation by Celtic farmers in the Iron Age, and Saxon burial sites have been found. The tree belt between Farthing Downs and the lower fields was an ancient hedgerow. The nearby New Hill was purchased to protect the downs' immediate surroundings, and is more wooded. Farthing Downs is within the West Wickham and Coulsdon Commons group of sites managed by the Corporation of London.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2006
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The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
Farthing Downs is within the West Wickham and Coulsdon Commons group of 6 areas managed by Corporation of London, 3 others of which are in Croydon: Coulsdon Common, Kenley Common and Riddlesdown (q.q.v.). Farthing Downs is a chalk downland ridge with fine views, which has been enjoyed by the public for well over 100 years although its history goes back a long way. Findings reveal hunting took place on the downs in the Stone Age, and the site is protected for the evidence of its Iron Age fields and Saxon graves, which have recently been re-excavated to reveal more of this early history. The lighter tree cover on the downs as compared to the lower slopes provides evidence of early cultivation by Celtic farmers, who divided the area into small oblong fields. The banks, known as lynchets, are still visible, and are a result of the cultivation process. At least 20 Saxon barrows and 6 graves without mounds have been discovered, which have recently been re-excavated.
The wildlife in the ancient chalk grassland is important, and includes plants like greater yellow-rattle, glow-worms and skylarks. Animals have been re-introduced by the Corporation of London and Sussex cattle now graze on the Downs. At the highest point is a group of beech trees known as the Folly and near here a Millennium cairn has been created. A tree belt forms a boundary between Farthing Downs and the lower fields and was an ancient hedgerow with over 20 species of trees and shrubs including ash, hazel, oak, yew, wayfaring tree, beech, field maple, holly and hawthorn. Farthing Downs Tree Belt is managed by Croydon Council.
The nearby New Hill to the east was purchased to protect Farthing Downs' immediate surroundings, and is more wooded; roe deer may often be seen here, often in with the sheep grazing in the paddocks that have been created. There is evidence of ancient woodland to the east but part of New Hill was cultivated for hundreds of years. The land was due to be developed for housing in the 1930s, which brought some road building, but this work halted in the 1940s, and until the 1960s the slope facing the Downs was used for crop cultivation. Since then New Hill has become gradually more wooded in intervening years.
Farthing Downs & New Hill leaflet, Corporation of London (n.d.)