FARNBOROUGH LODGE


  

The name Lock’s Bottom almost certainly derives from John Lock . He first appears in the Land and Window Tax records in 1766, when he was assessed for 14 lights (windows). His name also appears as assessor for Land Tax in 1767. He owned land in the area and lived in a farmhouse which still remains today just north of the Whyte Lion IIinn. Over the years the name gained acceptance as a single word —Locksbottom.

On ancient maps John Lock’s farm was called Chalk Farm but later became knownas Fern Lodge and more recently as 'Farnborough Lodge'.

Travelling from Bromley to Orpington along the A21, the house is just round the corner as you turn left into Crofton Road, hidden behind a wall and alongside the Roman Catholic Church, the Presbytery and some 1960s development, see photo, left.

The original Chalk Farm red-brick farm building with 72 acres to the east and north was probably Elizabethan and it stood at a favourable location close to the junction of a north/south route and an east/west route with the market towns of Bromley and Croydon easily accessible. Around it is a triangular area of common land, originally named The Slead, which runs north and west, both sides of the Hastings and the Croydon roads. This still remains green and partly wooded. In the past the southern tip of The Slead almost encircled the house at the front. It is now a grassy area in front of the British Queen public house, some shops and the old Police Station, [now a hairdressers and spa]. The common land extended to the western side of the A21 and includes the site of the Chapter One restaurant.

There have been many owners and occupiers over the centuries. In 1780 the house was purchased by Robert Harrison, who left it to his niece, a Mrs Wilson. A tenant in the 1800s was John Floyd, who had been a distinguished army officer who saw active service in India. He had risen rapidly through the ranks,being promoted to General in 1812, and in 1816 he was created a Baronet. Floyd carried a bullet in his neck from his time in the army. When Floyd was stationed in Ireland in 1820, as second-in-command of the British Army, his daughter Julia met her future husband, Sir Robert Peel, in Dublin. Peel, when he was Home Secretary, opposed Catholic emancipation but subsequently he changed his position. He became Prime Minister twice and was responsible for introducing the first London police force in 1829. Peel’s sister and husband lived for a short period in Farnborough Lodge. With these local connections, did he, one wonders, have any influence in Farnborough having one of the earliest police stations? 

Farnborough Lodge continued to have distinguished occupants. Sir John Lubbock lived in the house temporarlly in 1841 while his nearby residence of High Elms, located between Farnborough and Downe, was in the process of being rebuilt.

During the 1840s the original old red-brick farmhouse, two storeys with attics above, part-covered with ivy and Virginia creeper, was considerably improved and altered and a porch supported by Georgian-style pillars added at the front. A gardener’s cottage was built, a coach house and greenhouses added and a good sized vegetable garden laid out to supply the requirements of families and servants living in the house.

From 1892 to 1910, Henry Wilson MA and his wife lived in Farnborough Lodge. On the 1901 tithe map and list, Mrs Sarah Wilson is recorded as owner of the farmland and James Russell the tenant of the land, which included pasture, arable, woodland and a hop garden. The tenant of a smaller parcel of land close to Crofton Road was a General Williams. His property was described as a “Pleasure Ground, Garden and the Black Horse Mead”.

At the start of the 20th century the area of Chalk Down continued to be farmed by various tenants of the land. But Farnborough Lodge was now enclosed behind a high red brick wall with access from Crofton Road, which was somewhat secluded by tall trees. Locksbottom remained a small collection of houses, weatherboard cottages and shops, including a forge and a bakery, on the south side of Crofton Road continuing past the police station round to The Whyte Lion Inn.

In 1923-24 most of the farmland belonging to Farnborough Lodge, including the house and adjacent gardener’s cottage, coach house and vegetable garden, was purchased by Rogers Brothers. They also bought part of the Holwood Estate in Keston. Both areas were developed to form a spacious development of quality properties — Keston and Farnborough Parks.

The shops on the north side of Crofton Road at Locksbottom were also built around this time and Eric Rogers became the owner and managing director of Keston and Farnborough Park Estates. Farnborough Lodge itself was not demolished, and Ernest Selby, with his family, rented the house in 1924 with three acres of land for £150 a year. It was a lovely old house but without electricity.

After Mr. Selby died in 1940 his widow provided accommodation for medical students for the duration of the war. Mrs Selby left in 1948 and Robert Illiot, a “faith healer”, occupied the house rent-free until he died in 1960. He was followed by a Mrs Wynne for two years. .Eric Rogers died in 1974 and his wife was obliged to sell Farnborough Lodge, with the adjoining property, to pay death duties. It was bought by a builder who intended to demolish the house and build on the site but was prevented from doing so as the house is a listed building. For some time it remained empty and the property continued to deteriorate.



In 1984 Farnborough Lodge was purchased by the McGrath family,who realised its potential. There were many difficultieswith the building and some parts had to be pulled down as they were dangerous, but English Heritage and Bromley Council were very strict in ensuring that as much as possible was preserved, resulting in a first-class restoration.

Leonard Smith

This page contains material written by Leonard Smith in 2011, and is reproduced here by kind permission of the Bromley Borough Local History Society

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