History Of West Wickham
West Wickham has evidence of human activities as far back as the Bronze Age, when it is thought that there was a settlement on the hill to the south-east of the town where the historic Church of St. John the Baptist stands.
West Wickham sits by the Roman road that ran from London to Lewes, then an important port. From the north it crossed the Langley Estate close to Langley Park Girls School, through West Wickham station, under the Railway Hotel, crossing Glebe Way close to Iceland, over the top of Corkscrew Hill, through Sparrows Den and the fields to the west of St. John’s church. It was there that a small roman town Noviomagus was built, probably where another Roman road turned off to Gravesend.
The name ‘Wickham’ is thought to be from the Roman word ‘vicus’ meaning town and the Anglo Saxon word.
As West Wickham grew the large mansions and houses were knocked down.
St. John the Baptist Church
This was one of the most impressive buildings in the High Street. The site was originally part of the Carpenters Farm estate. After Sir Thomas Wilson, the Sheriff of Kent, bought the estate in 1750 he erected a large house and for a while was attached to the estate of the Burrells of Kelsey during which time the stables complex were begun.
Following the breakup of the Burrels lands in around 1820, Wickham Hall passed through several owners, including the Rev.William Cator (Rector of Beckenham) and James Staat Forbes the future Chairman of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway.
When he left in 1883, the Hall was due to become a convent but instead was bought by Gustav Mellin. German by birth, he had made his fortune from baby foods. He then set about an £80,000 expansion and imported materials from all over Europe. No expense was spared and the result, when completed in 1897, was likened to Buckingham Palace.
Just five years later he died but his wife Emily continued to live there with her children until her death in 1929. The house was sold, the contents auctioned and eventually the house demolished.
For many years all that remained was the stable block which was occupied by a dairy, printers and some shops. Finally, this was demolished to make way for Marks and Spencer development and all that now remains is the facade that runs along Kent Road.
The Stables Wickham Hall
These pages are dedicated to all the residents of West Wickham and Hayes in the South East Region of Kent. Oral History is supported and sponsored by clubs and businesses in the local community. The Friends of West Wickham Library ensure personal details of those wishing to become involved are kept private unless otherwise stated.
We would like to hear from you
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 020 8462 2822
In association with Spring Park Film Makers
Sponsored by Footprint Productions
This is an episodic reflection on the lasting impressions of childhood during the period, which we can only hope will never recur….
George Sudbury A Child at War
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Click on photo for more memories of West Wickham
WW2 Memories written by the public and gathered by the BBC
In 1994 Joyce Walker, our local historian who sadly died at the end of 2010, gave a talk at St John’s Church on the past 200 years of West Wickham. Spring Park Film Makers have reproduced the original audio recording on DVD using the slides used by Joyce together with additional photos and modern day footage.
This film, together with other archival footage of West Wickham, was shown on 4th June 2012 at the Emmanuel Church in West Wickham as part of the West Wickham Residents’ Association Diamond Jubilee Celebration 2012.
The free film show was a big success. In fact sadly, there simply was not room in the hall for everyone who arrived and so on the 19th July a second showing was made.
A DVD of the films seen and booklet are made available and if you are interested in obtaining a copy of the film, which please contact us on 020 8462 2822. The box contains two discs the second being old footage of West Wickham. The cost is just £10.00
A copy of the booklet presented by Spring Park Film Makers is available here for you to download free. Click on book picture.
Friends of West Wickham Library
Our Forgotten Voices