Tithes were taxes that landowners had to pay to the Church of England, usually to the local parish. The tithe was calculated on the basis of each area of land held and on its use. This means that it shows boundaries between fields and between fields and pieces of woodland etc. This means that the shapes of individual pieces of land are shown. The tithe maps therefore provide a valuable record of what was going on in a parish. Each parish had its own map drawn to scale by surveyors. However neighbouring parishes did not always use the same surveyors and they did not always use the same scale! The maps were prepared in the years leading up to the time when they were published.
Our present area was mainly in Orpington parish (the old Crofton manor part) with small areas in the adjoining Farnborough parish. Farnborough was published in 1840, Orpington in 1841. The surveyors were not the same and the scales are different. The original maps for these areas are held in the Bromley Central Library Local Records Section. They are very large and rather unwieldy so cannot be photocopied. I have taken photographs of the relevant sections for our area.
Each Tithe Map had a ledger accompanying it. This was the key to the map and to the charges which each landowner had to pay as each piece of land identified on the map had a number. For each number the ledger entry contained the following columns:-
a) Landowner

b) Occupier (often the leaseholder)

c) Numbers referring to the Plan

d) Name and Description of Land and Premises

e) State of Cultivation

f) Quantities in Statute Measures (Acres/Roods/Perches)

g) Payable to (1st Column) eg Vicar [£, s(shillings), d(pence)]

h) Payable to (2nd Column) eg Sinecure

i) Remarks

I have only been concerned here with the a) to f) columns.

4. The lands belonging to St. Thomas Hospital. (mainly Orpington)

On the Orpington Tithe map this is two pieces of land which make up the largest part of our present area. No. 614 is ‘Great Darrick Field’ and 615 is ‘Great Darrick Wood’.
Great Darrick Wood is very much the core part of Darrick Wood as we know it today with a characteristic shape along the boundary of the Darrick Senior School and its adjacent playing fields. However the areas leading to Starts Hill Road, towards the Lovibonds Avenue/ Swimming Pool entrance , and to the Stables Close entrance were not part of the main wood then (and not owned by St Thomas’s).
Great Darrick Field is a much larger area which runs down towards Tubbenden Lane. It was arable farmland in 1841, leased to John Westbrook who was a major local farmer. The lower part of this runs into Farnborough parish where is is shown as field no 220, known as Worleys
Much of it has been used for the building of the Tubbenden Schools and the Bromley Tennis Centre. The school playing fields beside Tubbenden and Newstead schools, the central playing field belonging to Darrick Senior School were all at one time part of the field. Tubbenden Recreation Ground was the main part of Worleys.
That leaves in our area the following – Tubbenden Meadow, the Large Broadwater Meadow, the small Central Meadow and the Shaws between the meadows and the schools/tennis centre boundaries.
5. Darrick Common (Orpington)

This is no 666, a rather strange shaped piece of land described as ‘Waste’. It occupies an area near the old Crofton Hall including the present day Triangle where the London Loop path comes off of Crofton Avenue, the lower part of Crofton Avenue itself between the Triangle and Rusland Avenue, and the area leading down to the original Newstead Wood boundary. This part is now usually referred to as part of the present Newstead Wood. However in 1841 this was not woodland, but probably as a common it was a mixture of scrub and pasture
6. The Norman Lands (Orpington)

The Norman family (who owned Norman Park) are represented here by Henry Norman. who owned nos 661, 663 and 667.
The piece of woodland no 661 is also described at that time as ‘Darrick Wood’. Much of this is now part of the Partridge Drive development. However the area between the path along the school playing field boundary down to Stables End and the houses at Stables End is now regarded as part of Darrick Wood.
The field no 663 is arable farmland (yet another one known as Great Darrick Field! ) which has become our Newstead Meadow with part being developed for the housing around Norman Close.
He also owned no 667, described as pasture, and known as Little Darrick Field. A small strip of this at the back of houses at the bottom of Rusland Avenue and bordering the old Darrick Common, is now owned by Bromley and regarded by most as part of Newstead Wood.
7. The Reverend Alexander Platt Lands

This gentleman owned the area around Crofton Hall (demolished 1936) which stood off Crofton Avenue opposite La Toure Gardens and Avonstowe Close. In 1841 this was leased to Margaret Percival and included a large field no 671, described as pasture. A very small strip of this at the back of houses towards the bottom of Rusland Avenue and bordering the old Darrick Common, is now owned by Bromley and regarded by most as part of Newstead Wood.
8. The Waldo Lands (Orpington and Farnborough)

These lands had been owned by Jane Waldo who died before 1841 but the new owners are not recorded here. The area that particularly concerns us here is that described as ‘Grassy Wood’, no 616. This was a large area which stretched across the present Lovibonds Avenue. Much of the area close to the old Darrick Wood boundary contains the many of the buildings and playing fields of Darrick Wood Senior School. However the area along the path to the Lovibonds Avenue/ Darrick Wood Pool entrance is part of our nature reserve and includes most of the water features in our area – the seasonal lake, the Kydbrook stream and the marsh.
The Farnborough areas of interest to us were no 67 – a small shaw next to the St Thomas Great Darrick Wood, and parts of no 60 ‘Mark Oak, 65 ‘Grassy Mead’, both shown as arable farmland, and no 66 ‘part of Rushey….’ listed as pasture. Much of 60 and 66 are now part of the Darrick Junior schools land. The parts in our areas are now mainly woodland stretching from Darrick Wood along the schools boundary towards Starts Hill Road. The part of 65 in our area includes the wood and small meadows backing onto Romsey Close
9. The Maxwell Lands (Orpington)

The only part of interest to us is the area no 665 ‘Newstead’ which is described as pasture in error. In fact the original map has pencil corrections dated 1869 to say this is actually wood.
Most of the wood has disappeared as housing was developed along Rusland and Newstead Avenues. Some of the original trees are now in private gardens. A small area of the original wood remains bordered by Newstead School, Darrick Common and the gardens of the end houses of Newstead Avenue.
Captain Maxwell also owned the adjacent arable field no 664 which now contains most of Newstead Wood School.

10. The Lands of Sir Percival Hart Dyke( Farnborough)

The area of interest to us is no 68, a large area described as wood which is adjacent to the St Thomas Hospital land. The boundary between them is the ancient parish boundary between Orpington and Farnborough. Most of this area is now the Kenniston Housing estate but a small part along the boundary with the St Thomas Great Darrick Wood is in our area. This is the small meadow outside the Community Centre and the wooded area around the hollow where the Kydbrook stream used to rise.
11. Conclusion

The 1841 Tithe Maps for Orpington and Farnborough show that our area was very rural 170 or so years ago. This is a time before railways, motor roads and London’s suburban expansion. It is surprising how many of the old boundaries which influenced developments up to the current day can still be identified. The creation of the Darrick and Newstead Woods Nature Reserve has enabled us to conserve the remaining part of that rural landscape.

A Filby November 2013