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Monk's Orchard

Contrary to popular opinion, Monks Orchard is not named after a monastery in the area, but probably commemorates a family named Monk, from Addington, who owned some of the land at one time. When Lewis Lloyd acquired the land and had a mansion built in 1854, he adopted the name of a local wood, "Monks Orchard", for the whole estate and this in turn became the name of the area when later developed in the 1920s and 1930s.

Aerial View of Monks Orchard House 1924

Aerial view of Monks Orchard House 1924

Lewis Lloyd's Monks Orchard House was one of the most substantial mansions in the Croydon area. It had 19 bedrooms, a billiard room, library, and numerous other rooms. The Dining Hall alone was over 36ft x 21ft. The estate covered a huge area, 1,540 acres, stretching northwards from the Wickham Road almost to Elmers End, southwards nearly as far as Addington, and eastwards across the Borough boundary into West Wickham. It also included several other major residences, such as Spring Park, farms, including Eden Park, Ham Farm, Shirley Farm, Spring Park Farm and Oak Lodge Farm, two dozen or so cottages, The Rising Sun, The Cricketers and the White Hart, and Beckenham Golf Course.

As late as 1923, the area was described in the following way:
The Estate, which has an extensive frontage to the road between the villages of Shirley and West Wickham, is delightfully rural in character, typifying that which is best in the unspoiled English countryside.
The land seems adapted by nature for those who are seeking country houses not too far from London, being already park-like meadow land, well timbered, and dotted with coppices; thus affording almost unlimited scope for imagination, and taste, in laying out grounds, by utilising the natural advantages already there [pS70 (9) MON].

When the estate came up for sale in 1920, only parts of it found buyers, and the rest, including the part we now call Monks Orchard was offered again in 1924, and this was finally purchased by the Corporation of London for the relocation of the Bethlem Hospital which had long outgrown its Lambeth home. Building of the new hospital started in 1928, but, sadly, this involved pulling down the old mansion. The hospital development didn't need all the land and parts of it were therefore sold off for housing development.

By 1937-1939, most of the roads we know today had appeared and had been developed - Orchard Grove, Elstan Way, Greenview Avenue, and so on. A 1937 prospectus for the Tudor-style "Homes of Distinction" in Greenview Avenue extols the virtues of local building ("There are no mass production houses and no mass production methods") and after describing the houses in great detail, claim that the fitted kitchenettes are "the Housewife's Dream virtually come true". [pS70 (333) GRE]

For further information see: G.W. Tookey, The History of the Monks Orchard Estate (1957) in the Local Studies Library (S70 (9) TOO)

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Friday, 24 October, 2014

 

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