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History

Historically the Aperfield area was part of Cudham, Kent parish and the area later to be developed and called Biggin Hill had a small population of up to 200 people in the early 1900's.

See also Biggin Hill Wikipedia

Ideal Homes: A History of the London Suburbs is a combined effort by South London Borough Archives to illustrate the history of places within the boroughs. A history of Biggin Hill is available http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/bromley/assets/histories/biggin-hill

Cudham Lodge

This was a Georgian Mansion owned by Earl Stanhope in the 1900's and tenanted by John Westacott.


Wireless Testing

Aperfield Court had been home to a Wireless Testing Park at the side of the Westerham- Bromley Road.

During World War 1 approval was granted by the Earl Stanhope to use part of his lands adjacent to Cudham Lodge to be used as an emergency landing ground by the Royal Flying Corps.

On 2 December 1916 work to relocate the Wireless Testing Park began to a new camp on the land between Cudham Lodge and the Main Road.

Koonowla was a large brick built house which had been bequeathed to the Victorian Hospital for Sick Children at Chelsea and the trustees of the Hospital wished to retain the property. However the War Office invoked the Defence of the Realm Act and Koonowla became part of the Biggin Hill Wireless Testing complex as a Mess Building.

By 13 February 1917 the transfer of personnel to the wooden huts, tents and canvas hangar of the camp was achieved; officers were housed in Koonowla.

The Royal Flying Corps pioneered air-to-wireless communication ahead of the Germans.

The 1917 Gotha twin-engined German bomber was launching night bombing against London. Due to it's limiter range the Gotha bombers were forced to take the shortest route to London which brought them overhead at Biggin Hill and the Royal Flying Corps stationed fighter squadrons at the camp.

Later RAF Biggin Hill came into being. See London Biggin Hill Airport for history.

St Mark's Church

The Church of St Mark's Church Biggin Hill was built in 1904 as a temporary iron structure to meet the spiritual needs of the 200 residents of Biggin Hill and was originally sited on Polesteeple Hill. It was not until the 1950's when Biggin Hill had 4,000 residents that a more permanent building was attempted with the demolition of the church in Davey Street, Peckham, and the movement of timber and bricks to the site in Biggin Hill acquired for the building from a bequest, which is the site of the St Mark's church. The parish church at Biggin Hill was dedicated on 25 April 1959 by the Bishop of Rochester and was formed from part of the Ancient Cudham parish. See Cudham, Kent for church records of the Ancient Parish and the Kent Online Parish Clerks transcript series.

The Old Salt Box

Prior to 1916 two farm cottages; in 1916 the cottages were converted to form a tea room. The tea room was popular with visitors including cycling groups and personell stationed at the growing RAF base. Demolished after the Battle of Britain; taken over by the RAF in 1936. See Biggin Hill History

Plotlands

In 1903 Biggin Hill Aperfield Court Estate began the sale of building plots, advertising “the cheapest plots near London”. The sales prospectus (Bromley Archive reference L19.8 ) contains a portrait of F.H. Dougal owner and includes rail times at the nearest stations Westerham and Hayes, also car and omnibus services to Cudham, Keston and Bromley. £10 building plots were advertised as suitable for poultry farming (6 plots or more are recommended for poultry farmers) The sales pitch mentions that other plots were selling nearby 15 foot frontage x 130 foot depth for £50. The development of villa, cottages and freehold houses as well as rentals of existing contages on the estate ( 6 shillings a week) was advertised as free of building bye laws.

Plot sizes are described as being average 20 foot frontage by 200 foot depth.

Dougal also planned to build a branch railway from Orpington Station to run through Farnborough parish to stations at Green Street Green, Cudham, Biggin Hill (Aperfield Court Estate) and then to Tatsfield, Surrey a distance of 7 miles.

The prospectus refers to the following roads Sutherland Avenue (running parallel to the Main Road) The Grove Lebanon Gardens Edward Road Grand View Avenue Highfield Road Rosehill Road Sunningvale Avenue which ran centrally through the estate To the south west are mentioned Beech Road Kings Road Melody Road Swievelands Hill

Ivor Novello & Noel Coward

Ivor Novello was brought up just off Sunningvale Avenue, Biggin Hill by his mother Dame Clara Novello. She ran a 'Musical Colony' for some years at the turn of the century. The plot included a Romany Caravan.

Clara Novello Davies (7 April 1861 — 7 February 1943) was a well-known Welsh singer, teacher and conductor.

Clara Novello Davies was born in Cardiff to Jacob, a miner, and Margaret (née Evans) Davies and named after Clara Novello, a famous soprano (1818- 1908). Her father, leader of the church choir, taught her to play the harmonium. She married David Davies, a solicitor's clerk, on 31 October 1883. Their son, David Ivor Davies, became better known as Ivor Novello, the actor, composer,dramatist and director.

Novello was born David Ivor Davies in Cardiff on January 15, 1893. He became friendly with Noel Coward. Noel Coward had a country retreat in Melody Road.

Bibliography

Ghosts of Biggin Hill, Author: Bob Ogley, ISBN 1-872337-41-4

Bruce Barrymore Halpenny Action Stations: Military Airfields of Greater London v. 8 (ISBN 978-0-85059-585-7)

Biggin on the Bump Author: Bob OgleyPublisher: Froglets Publications Ltd (24 May 1990)
ISBN-10: 1872337058
ISBN-13: 978-1872337050

Web Sites

History of Biggin Hill

English Heritage RAF Biggin Hill


 

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  • This page was last modified on 15 March 2013, at 15:43.
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