High Elms Country Park

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Coordinates: 51°21′04″N 0°04′30″E / 51.351°N 0.075°E / 51.351; 0.075

High Elms
Site of Special Scientific Interest
High Elms Cuckoo Wood.jpg
Cuckoo Wood
Area of SearchGreater London
Grid referenceTQ446625
Area69.1 hectares
Notification1981; 39 years ago (1981)
Location mapMagic Map
Formal flower beds
The Old Pheasant Drinking Pond
The ice well
The fives court, build in the 1850s

High Elms Country Park is an extensive 250-acre (100 ha) public park on the North Downs in Farnborough in the London Borough of Bromley. It is a Local Nature Reserve,[1][2] and together with the neighbouring Downe Bank, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.[3] The park surrounds High Elms Golf Course, and has extensive woodland, chiefly oak and beech, chalk meadows and formal gardens. It also has a cafe, a visitor centre, nature and history trails and car parks.

The idverde Countryside Team, who manage Bromley owned parks, are based at High Elms.[4]

There is access from High Elms Road and Shire Lane.


The history of the High Elms estate can be traced back to the Norman Conquest, when it was given by William the Conqueror to his half-brother, Odo, bishop of Bayeux. In the early nineteenth century it was acquired by the Lubbock family,[5] and in 1840 the astronomer and banker, Sir John Lubbock, 3rd Baronet inherited it on the death of his father.[6] He built a grand new mansion in the Italian style.[5] He became a friend of Charles Darwin, who moved in 1842 into the nearby Down House on the other side of the village of Downe, and Lubbock's son, the fourth baronet, also called John Lubbock and later Baron Avebury, was a close friend of Darwin and frequent visitor to Down House from his childhood.[7]

In 1938 the estate was sold to Kent County Council and the house became a nurses' training centre. In 1965 the area became part of the London Borough of Bromley, and the estate was transferred to the new borough. The land then became public open space, but in 1967 the mansion burnt down.[5]

Listed buildings[edit]

There are the following Grade II Listed Buildings in and around the park:

Eighteenth century Gate Piers and Wrought Iron Railings[8]
Cuckoo Lodge[9]
Eton Fives Court, built about 1840[10]
Grotto, constructed between 1885 and 1896[11]
Ice Well, constructed about 1850[12]
Old Lodge, early nineteenth century cottage[13]
Outhouse at the Clock House, probably a granary with a horse gin, early nineteenth century[14]
Stone Garden Shelter 1913[15]
The Clock House, early nineteenth century stables of High Elms converted to a house[16]


Bromley Council has established the Bromley Environmental Education Centre at High Elms (BEECHE) at the park, with environmental programmes for schools and public events in the school holidays.[17]]


How to get there[edit]

Bus Routes[edit]

  • R1 Green St. Green to St. Pauls Cray via Chelsfield, Orpington and St. Marys Cray.
  • R5 (Mon-Sat) Petts Wood Stn to Halstead via Orpington, Green St. Green and Cudham/Pratts Bottom.
  • R8 (Mon-Sat) Orpington to Biggin Hill via Green St. Green, Shire Lane and Down.
  • R11 Green St. Green to Sidcup via Orpington, St. Marys Cray, St Pauls Cray and Footscray.
  • 146 (Mon-Sat) Broimley North Station to Downe via Hayes and Keston.
  • 261 Green St. Green to Lewisham via Farnborough, Bromley, Grove and Lee.
  • 358 Orpington to Crystal Palace Park vis Green St. Green, Farnborough, Bromley, Eden Park, Beckenham, Penge and Anerly.
  • 402 (Mon-Sat) Bromley North, to Tunbridge Wells via Farnborough, Green St. Green, Knockholt, Sevenoaks, Hildenborough and Tonbridge.


The nearest train Station is Orpington

Car Parks[edit]

  • There are three car parks accessible from High Elms Road.
    • The main car park - Close to the formal gardens, BEECHE centre/visitors center and cafe.
    • The golf course car park - a very short walk to the formal gardens and BEECHE centre, etc.
    • Cuckoo Wood car park - This car park is further out in Cuckoo Wood, on the opposite side of the road is Blacklands Wood both of which are SSSI.
  • There is one car park accessible from Shire Lane
    • The BEECHE car park - This is for staff and blue badge holders only.

During busy times the car parks may be full, due the SSSI designation of large portions of the estate the carrying capacity of the site must be limited to a degree to attempt to limit damage from heavy use.

Car parks full?[edit]

The High Elms footprint trail starts in Farnborough Village for a pleasant walk over the nearby Churchfield to the Park. This is quite a short walk, meant to provide an alternative to the site car parks and directions for people who's bus journey ends in Farnborough Village.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "High Elms". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Map of High Elms". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  3. ^ Natural England Citation, Downe Bank and High Elms
  4. ^ London Borough of Bromley, Countryside Service
  5. ^ a b c "High Elms Golf Club, Historic High Elms". Archived from the original on 2012-05-17. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  6. ^ Timothy L. Alborn, Sir John William Lubbock, Oxford Online Dictionary of National Biography, 2004
  7. ^ R. B. Freeman, Charles Darwin, A Companion, 1978, Darwin Online, Sir John Lubbock
  8. ^ British Listed Buildings, 4 Gate Piers and Wrought Iron Railings, Bromley
  9. ^ British Listed Buildings, Cuckoo Lodge, Bromley
  10. ^ British Listed Buildings, Eton Fives Court, Orpington
  11. ^ British Listed Buildings, Grotto at High Elms Country Park, Orpington
  12. ^ British Listed Buildings, Ice Well, Orpington
  13. ^ British Listed Buildings, Old Lodge, Bromley
  14. ^ British Listed Buildings, Outhouse at the Clock House, Bromley
  15. ^ British Listed Buildings, Stone Garden Shelter at High Elms Country Park, Orpington
  16. ^ British Listed Buildings, The Clock House, Bromley
  17. ^ [http://www.bromleyparks.co.uk/beeche/

External links[edit]