Fawkham includes a Conservation Area called Baldwins Green, which covers some 2.8 hectares. It includes St Mary’s church, Churchdown Farm, Beech House and Laurel Bank (previously The Shaws).
The following descriptions are taken from the Conservation Area appraisal:
- The Shaws (now Beech House and Laurel Bank) is constructed of flint with brick relief to the openings, brickwork quoins and bands of horizontal brickwork. The chimneys are also constructed of fairfaced brickwork.
- Churchdown House is also constructed of brickwork, with brick flat arches forming the window heads and a curved arch above the door opening fanlight. This was previously known as New House Farm, with 43 acres.
- The converted timber framed barn of Churchdown Farm, now a private residence, is weatherboarded with a brick plinth to the ground floor.
Read the full appraisal of the Conservation Area.
Fawkham contains several listed buildings. Historic England says listing a building “marks and celebrates a building’s special architectural and historic interest, and also brings it under the consideration of the planning system, so that it can be protected for future generations”.
The older a building is, and the fewer the surviving examples of its kind, the more likely it is to be listed. The general principles are that all buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are likely to be listed, as are most buildings built between 1700 and 1850. Particularly careful selection is required for buildings from the period after 1945. Buildings less than 30 years old are not normally considered to be of special architectural or historic interest because they have yet to stand the test of time.
Details of each of Fawkham’s listed buildings are given below, in alphabetical order.
Brands Hatch Place, Brands Hatch Road
This was originally Brands Hatch Farm, and was in [West] Kingsdown. An account of its history is given in Zena Bamping’s West Kingsdown, The Story of Three Villages in Kent (Tyger Press, 1991). The present house seems to have begun as a Georgian three-bay building (probably late 18th/early 19th century), which was enlarged both upwards and to one side in the 1870s. It has been much altered since, of course, and is now a hotel and spa.
Historic England listing information: Formerly Brandshatch House. Shown on Tithe Map of 1842. Three storeys red brick. Hipped slate roof with projecting wing with 3 light canted bay through 2 floors. Three other sashes all with stone architraves and dressings. Glazing bars. Modillion eaves cornice. Wooden verandah to ground floor of set back portion. Right hand side has ornamental mid C19 glass and iron conservatory.
The Court Lodge, Valley Road
Court Lodge, which lies in the bottom of the valley, opposite the junction with Manor Lane, is believed to have been the manor house of “New Fawkham” (see the History section for further details).
The 18th and 19th century red brick façade hides a much older timber-framed building between the two cross-wings; it was a hall house, with a crown-post roof and evidence for a smoke Louvre, discussed in great detail in the Gazetteer of Medieval Houses in Kent and its companion volumes The Medieval Houses of Kent and The House Within (Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1994). Tentative tree-ring dating suggests c1350. Much of the original early 14th-century building has been lost, the southern end replaced by a Georgian wing and the northern end by a Victorian wing, which was not there in 1858, when a Gravesend amateur artist painted a watercolour of the house. To the right of the house, slightly in front, was a thatched well house, which was still there, though with a tiled roof, until about the 1970s.
In 1838, Court Lodge farm consisted of 215 acres and was owned by a William Durham. The oast house in the grounds which had been used to dry hops has now been converted into a house.
Although it was long used as a farmhouse, its successive owners appear to have retained their half of the Lordship of the Manor of Fawkham, and H.B. Hohler believed he acquired that entitlement with the estate in 1865, possibly not realising it was only half of the manor! That is why he renamed Parkfield House Fawkham Manor.
Cross House, Valley Road
The house stands close to the site of Fawkham’s wayside cross, now marked by granite setts on a small area of common land, where this probably once stood.
The front part of this house dates from the late 16th century, and contains an original staircase, although the exterior has been encased with later brick and tile hanging, with modern cement render on the south façade. It has a cellar, with two blocked-up window openings which would have become redundant when the house was extended to the rear in the early 18th century. A romantic local myth describes these as blocked up passages; they are nothing of the kind. A hoard of gold and coins were discovered in the house during renovations early in the last century.
The rear addition contains two fine panelled early 18th-century rooms, connected by their own staircase.
The house has been further extended rearwards in recent years. It is likely that the house was originally built as a dower house for Pennis, and it remained part of the Pennis estate until sold off in the 1920s.
Historic England listing information: 17th century or earlier timber-framed building. Probably the village cross stood nearby which would account for its name. It is thought to have been the Dower House to Pennis House. Now refaced with red brick on the ground floor and tile hung above. Tiled roof. Two storeys. Three casement windows. Two-storeyed gable projection in the centre, containing a porch on the ground floor and with the first floor slightly oversailing. Doorcase in moulded architrave surround with low rectangular fanlight and iron-studded door of 6 panels. The south gable end is stuccoed with a buttress in the south-west corner of the ground floor. Modern addition behind. Interior has early C18 panelling and inglenook fireplaces.
Fawkham Manor, Manor Lane (previously Woodsall Lane)
This extraordinary house was designed by E.B. Lamb, an eccentric (‘rogue’) Victorian architect, for himself and constructed in the 1860s. The Parish Council successfully applied for this building to be listed in 2020.
Fawkham Manor is a smaller country house which displays many of Lamb’s favoured elements, as would be expected, since he was designing it for himself. These include an asymmetrical plan, projecting oriels, polychromy, dentilled string courses, dramatic chimneys, distinctive local materials (flint) and roof tiles in contrasting bands of colour – Lamb was one of the first architects to experiment with constructional polychromy.
It is well described by John Newman (The Buildings of England, West Kent and the Weald, Yale University Press, 2012): “A fair-sized Victorian mansion, but like an overgrown cottage, with its half-hipped gables, projecting chimney breasts and diagonal oriel. Flint and brick, yellow stock and moulded red, giving a polychromatic display and plenty of notching.”
Lamb took a building lease on the site in Parkfield Wood from H.B. Hohler, the new owner of the Court Lodge estate of which this formed part. He ran out of money when the building had got to first-floor level, his mortgage was called in and H.B. Hohler took it over and completed it, probably with Lamb still involved until his death in 1869. While building the house, Lamb lived at the White House.
The Hohlers remained at the Manor until 1949, when it and the estate was sold to R.J. Billings, who lived in the house until the late 1950s. It subsequently became an abortion clinic, until its owner was forced to sell following a misconduct case and it then became a conventional hospital, with a long extension in the Neo-Georgian style, although with token acknowledgements to Lamb in vari-coloured brickwork and stripes in the roof. The hospital closed in June 2019.
The church and churchyard contain several memorials to the Hohler family. Sir Thomas Beaumont Hohler was elected the first Chairman of Fawkham Parish Council in 1935. Some parts of the estate had been sold in 1920 and 1922, including Speed Gate Farm, Cross House, the Court Lodge and much of its land, and Brands Hatch House.
The Manor lodges and the stable block have been converted into private residences. Both the original flint lodges have been rebuilt, the North Lodge following demolition by a doodlebug.
More information about EB Lamb and Fawkham Manor can be found here:more on Fawkham Manor.
Historic England listing information, including architectural notes and further historical information can be found here: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1472809
Gabriels, Sun Hill
This is a modern name (circa 1950) for what used to be Cob (or Cobb) Cottage, which had a thatched roof.
Historic England listing information: C17 timber-framed building refronted. Two storeys, ground floor timber-framed with infilling of red brick, first floor weatherboarded. Modern tiled roof half- hipped at one end. Two casements. External brick chimneystack to left hand side. Interior contains inglenook fireplace.
Pennis House, Pennis Lane
A Regency villa, built around 1808, with a fine vaulted entrance hall in the style of Soane. The original servant’s wing was to the rear of the Victorian wing visible in the 1949 photo; both were demolished in 1957-8, as was the fine Victorian conservatory at the western end of the house. There is an 18th-century stable block which had been built for the old house. That was known simply as Pennis or Pennis Place, and was built on the typical Elizabethan E-plan in the late sixteenth century by the Walters. It was demolished about 1805. A stretch of wall survives in the grounds. The stable was converted into a house about 1988, when the rare flint pavement in front of it was lost.
At the time of the tithe Commutation Agreement in 1838 it was let to the Rev W H Edmeades, rector (and later also Squire) of Nurstead.
It is probable that the recently demolished Cross House Cottages (where Brick Kiln House now stands) were built from materials salvaged from the old Pennis; the builder was John Cooper, who in 1807 (the date on the front wall of the cottages) would have had easy access to the remains, the Cooper family being the farmers of Pennis. The walls of the original 1807 section were built of 14-inch brickwork (at that time agricultural labourers’ cottages were built of weatherboarded timber, not brick, let alone in such thickness), and the first floor joists were of oak in typical medieval or 16th century construction. Only a builder with free access to infinite quantities of these normally expensive materials would have built in this way. Other bricks from the mansion were uncovered in the front garden of Pennis House when it was terraced just before the 1939-45 war, and were used to build the steps in the central bank as well as a retaining wall (now replaced) around the top of the lawn.
Historic England listing information: Early C19. Two storeys stuccoed. Hipped slate roof. Three sashes with glazing bars intact. Portico with Doric columns.
The gate piers and railings at the entrance are also listed: Early C19. Four cemented gate piers separated by cast iron spear railings having Greek key design under the spear.
Pennis Farmhouse, Pennis Lane
Exactly how this related to the Elizabethan house is difficult to determine, but it appears to be the original 15th-century house of Thomas Peny, which somehow survived as a part of the Walters’ mansion and was rehabilitated as a farmhouse when the mansion was demolished. Both the farm and the new Pennis House continued in common ownership until the farmhouse was sold off in 1950. The tile hanging on the front was added in the 1960s.
At the time of the Tithe Commutation Agreement in 1838 the farm, with 119 acres, was let to William Cooper.
Historic England listing information: This is possibly a fragment of the east wing of the large C16 house named Pennis which was demolished in the early C19 but is more likely a late mediaeval hall- house. Timber-framed building, refaced with stucco and brick, now painted. Two storeys, ground floor stuccoed. First floor tile hung. Five modern casement windows. Hipped tiled roof with gablet to one end. Rear elevation has some exposed timbering including a curved brace. The interior contains exposed beams including some upright posts with jowls.
The Old Rectory, Valley Road
The Old Rectory stands some distance south of the church and was probably the site of the rectory since medieval times, but the present house is essentially Georgian. The centre looks to be 18th century, really a two-up-two-down cottage, hidden behind the front section which was built by Dr Hemmings (rector from 1797 to 1828). It has recessed arched reveals round the three ground-floor openings, and was originally ‘stuccoed’, i.e. rendered in ‘Roman’ cement, lined out to resemble ashlar. The next rector, Richard Salwey (1829 – 1873) added generously proportioned single-story service quarters to the rear, and raised the roof of the original cottage section to the level of the front. A second storey was added to the rear extension in 2005. Sadly, the old tithe barn, converted in the 19th century into a stable and coach house, was demolished between the wars. The house ceased to be the Rectory when the last Rector of Fawkham, Canon A.C. Ford, retired in 1982, and the parish was united with Hartley.
Historic England listing information: The front part of the building dates from the early C19 and was probably built by the Dr Samuel Hemmings who was Rector from 1777 to 1828. The back portion may be older. There is a record of the property in a Terrier of 1634. Two storeys stuccoed. Hipped slate roof. Eaves cornice. Three sashes with glazing bars intact to first floor. Ground floor has sashes set in tall cambered recesses. Central round-headed doorcase in stuccoed recess with semi-circular fanlight.
Scudders, Valley Road
Scudders was a Fawkham farmhouse for nearly 300 years. The façade bears the date 1676, and it remained a farm until 1950.
Before it became Scudders, it was known as Hayward’s Croft, and had been so for a long time. It was part of the Pennis estate, and so of Old Fawkham, probably up to the time Scudder acquired it.
The Scudders family bore a coat of arms which included a fox passant (one paw raised) and three cinquefoils on a fesse in chief (red band at the top). John Scudder, born in 1645, is believed to be responsible for its building, and was churchwarden in 1685. He died in 1704, followed by his son John in 1769. When John junior’s widow died in 1774, the family’s connection to the house seems to have ended. It is thought descendants may have emigrated to America; certainly around 2000, some Scudders visited from America to view their “ancestral home”. A heraldic ledger stone in Fawkham church covered the tomb of John senior, his wife Elizabeth, John junior and his wife. (There were still Scudders in Fawkham until a few years ago).
William Cooper (senior) , a farmer, owned Scudders at the time of the tithe map in 1838, with 220 acres. The 1841 census shows William living at Scudders with his wife Amelia, their eight children, three male agricultural labourers and two female housemaids. The farm labourers and maids probably lived in the attic, where there are two windows. The family lived at Scudders for over 20 years. A daughter, Ellen, had an illegitimate son, Herbert, and both lived at the family home. William died in 1859 and after a few years, Amelia, Ellen and Herbert moved to West Yoke. After Amelia died, Ellen and Herbert, now a blacksmith, moved first to Longfield and then Hartley; neither married and Herbert lived with his mother until she died in 1924.
Scudders appears to have been uninhabited at the time of the 1871, 1881 and 1901 censuses, although James Veitch, a farm bailiff lived there in 1891.The house was sold to the Billings family as part of the Fawkham Manor Estate in 1949, but was purchased soon after by a Mr Walker.
Historic England listing information: This house was probably built by John Scudder about 1680. It was restored in 1950. Timber-framed building of two storeys, plastered and, except the north end, decorated with pargetting in circles imitating ornamental timbering. Tiled roof, half-hipped at the south end. Two gables above the eaves containing attic windows. Larger gable at north end. Five casement windows with wooden mullions and small square leaded panes. Two bays on the ground floor of two tiers of 5 lights with wooden transoms, the bays being on a red brick base and with a gable over each. Gabled porch with similar pargetting in the gable and a plastered core beneath it on all 3 sides. The interior contains two inglenook fireplaces.
There is evidence that the gabled section at the northern end formerly extended further towards the road.
The White House, Speedgate Hill
The White House is a medium-sized Georgian house, said to date from 1722, and stucco (a type of render) now covers the brick façade, which has clearly been extended to the north. It was originally known as Hook House, then Russell’s Farm, then Hook Farm. Sadly the flint-walled oast houses which stood opposite the lodge were demolished in the 1990s, and the lodge itself is now in disrepair.
Confusingly, the name ‘The White House’ was applied to Scudders for much of the 19th century.
The White House is a medium-sized Georgian house, dating from 1722, and stucco (a type of render) now covers the brick facade. It was originally known as Hook House, then Russell’s Farm, then Hook Farm. Sadly the oast houses which stood on the corner of Valley Road, opposite the lodge house, were demolished in the 1990s, and the Victorian flint lodge itself is standing in some disrepair. There is a similar lodge, on the other side of the road, at the top of the hill. Speedgate Hill as we know it is fairly modern; there used to be a lane going up to the Hook Farm yard, half-way up the hill, and another one coming down from the top, but they were not in a straight line as the road is now, as can be seen on the 1838 Tithe map.
Village sports days used to be held in the paddock of White House as it was one of the few levels fields in the village.
Historic England listing information: Built about 1722 and refaced in the early C19. Originally called Hook House, later Russell’s Farm, later again Hook Farm. Two storeys 5 windows, the 2 northern- cost window bays possibly added. Hipped slate roof with wide eaves cornice. Sashes with glazing bars intact. The 3 southernmost window bays are flanked by pilasters and have a wide central porch up 3 steps, containing a door- way in moulded architrave surround with double doors of 6 fielded panels. Later bay on the ground floor on each side of the porch. Late C19 verandah to the ground floor of the 2 northernmost window bays.
Other notable buildings include:
Salts Farm, Fawkham Road
A timber-framed building, of uncertain age, possibly 16th century. For most of its history, Salts Farm was in Longfield but boundary changes in 1987 saw it become part of Fawkham. At some point towards the end of the 1800s, it was an alehouse, known as ‘Sots Hole’. It was an alehouse again in the 1860s, for the ‘navvies’ building the nearby railway.
The house has been in the same family for over 100 years. Its front was formerly weatherboarded, which was replaced with lime plaster in the 1940s.
Saddle Gate and Steephill
These two houses were built about 1912 in the south-west corner of the field long known as the Old Downs, by Smallowners Ltd, a development company which had bought the Fairby estate in Hartley; although in Fawkham, Old Downs was part of that estate. They were developing the estate into small holdings, often with orchards attached, as part of the early 20th-century ‘Back to the country’ movement. These two houses were occupied, in succession, by the Smallowners manager before being sold, and are typical Smallowner houses, with roughcast walls, chimney stacks with bulging tops and casement windows with brick-on-edge and tile sills. West Minch (formerly Lulworth) was built a little later on part of the Saddle Gate plot. ‘Saddle Gate’ was originally called Cornwood, then Fawkham Corner, and then Orchard Cottage. It became Saddle Gate when the Proudfoot family arrived in 1947; the name came from a gateway between two fields on Exmoor. Steephill took its name from one of the former names of Castle Hill; only very recently was the name applied, rather inappropriately, to the road in front of it, which is actually the old Valley Road. The section of the Valley Road from Churchdown to Hillside was constructed in the early 20th century. It is likely that the present pond was dug at the same time, to help drain the Valley Road, which had long been (and still is) subject to flooding. Old maps show a tiny pond at the eastern end of the present site.
Fairview Cottages, Fawkham Green Road (formerly the Billet Road)
Fairview Cottages date from the 1930s, and replaced some black weatherboarded cottages.
In August 1945 the Rector commented that the insides of Fairview Cottages were “deplorable” and that he would speak to the Rector of West Kingsdown on this, as the owner of the houses attended Kingsdown Church. Their condition in 1945 would have been down to the collateral damage caused by the flying bomb in the previous year. Charles Huffer, who lived in No 1 in the 1980s, found that bits of shrapnel were still embedded in hidden parts of the woodwork.
Until after the Second World War, these cottages were part of West Kingsdown Parish and not Fawkham. The 70 or so people who lived in them wished to become part of Fawkham “for the sake of convenience” and said that they “supported Fawkham in everything”. This was progressed, with the agreement of West Kingsdown and Kent County Council, and, following a discussion at the Annual Parish Meeting in January 1947, the 14 cottages officially became part of Fawkham.
Early in 1952 the Council minutes noted that work was to begin on building 12 new houses opposite Fairview Cottages. They would be “a little smaller than originally planned”. Construction was expected to take about six months. At the time, there were 13 families on the Fawkham housing list.
The Minutes stated “It was agreed that it was a good site for the houses as it would help keep the village together and that there were no suitable places along valley road”. The Parish Council suggested “that the old field title of Small Grains be perpetuated as the name of the new road”. The first two houses were occupied by January 1953, and each new resident was visited by members of the Parish Council.
Two “old people’s dwellings” were planned in 1962, but the building of these was delayed as there were no available bricklayers during 1964.
These houses are built on the site of a house which until about 1915 or later had served as an alehouse known as the Woodman. It was destroyed by a flying bomb in 1944.
The name ‘Woodman Villas’ was first given to the Airey houses built on the site after the war. They lasted rather more than their intended 25 years, but the site was redeveloped in the 1980s. The Woodman appears to have been a Victorian building (very similar to the one that housed the last village shop), but it replaced a thatched cottage which had formed part of Little Brands Hatch, a small farm on the Brands Hatch estate on a piece of land that was always in Fawkham rather than Kingsdown. It was sold in 1855, and by 1861 when a William Hollands was there, it may have been rebuilt. A later landlord, Robert Mills, left in 1915, but there is some reason to think it may have continued as an alehouse for a few more years.
Notes complied by Laura Evans and Christopher Proudfoot, 2020. Please advise of any errors, omissions or further information on any of Fawkham’s notable buildings.