History in Structure

327-331 Crofton Road

A Grade II Listed Building in Farnborough and Crofton, London

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Latitude: 51.3686 / 51°22'6"N

Longitude: 0.0587 / 0°3'31"E

OS Eastings: 543403

OS Northings: 165294

OS Grid: TQ434652

Mapcode National: GBR NS.FH6

Mapcode Global: VHHP3.YVWP

Plus Code: 9F329395+CF

Entry Name: 327-331 Crofton Road

Listing Date: 25 January 2021

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1472240

Also known as: Willow Cottages

ID on this website: 101472240

Location: Locksbottom, Bromley, London, BR6

County: London

District: Bromley

Electoral Ward/Division: Farnborough and Crofton

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Bromley

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Tagged with: Cottage


Terrace of cottages and extensions, with brick frontage and a timber-framed core probably dating to the latter-half of the C18.


Terrace of cottages with a core probably dating to the latter-half of the C18; extended from the mid-C19 onwards.

MATERIALS: brick-faced with box-framed timber construction to the core of numbers 329 and 331. The principal elevation is of red brick and hung-tiles with rear elevations mostly of stock brick.

PLAN: the ground floor is comprised of three interconnected cottages (forming numbers 327, 329, and 331), with early additions at the south-west end and to the rear of the cottages (added between 1841 and 1867). The later cottage (built by 1867) at the north-east end of the range (number 327) has a ground-floor plan consisting of one larger front room and a pair of smaller rear rooms, with a staircase set against the end wall and a small kitchen added at the back (present by 1896-97). The first-floor rear room of number 327 has been reconfigured to accommodate a passage linking this cottage with the rest of the range. The two western cottages have a room each at ground-floor level, with three bays to the centre and two to the south-west. The stairs are located in the rear extension. At first-floor level, the plan of the two earlier cottages essentially comprises three rooms and a rear corridor, taking in part of the north-western room of number 329.

EXTERIOR: the earlier western cottages comprise the five bays to the right side of the principal elevation to Crofton Road. Two of the five windows to the ground floor previously served as entrances to the distinct cottages, these being identifiable by the infilled brick panels beneath the inserted windows and the absence of gauged segmental heads (as seen above the original windows). The south-western cottage (number 331) would have been slightly larger than its neighbour, with three bays and a central door compared to the two bays of number 329. The lower part of the elevation across this part of the range is raised on roughly-coursed flint foundations. The exposed handmade red bricks show diagonal firing marks; giving a probable date range from the latter-half of the C18 to the early C19. The window to the south-west end of number 331 is a casement with bead-moulded edge detailing, indicating a similar C18 to early-C19 date range. There are stacks to both ends of the early cottages, both partially rebuilt with older bricks. The roof is clay tiled, with the rear pitch having been re-laid with slate tiles. Only the upper part of the south-west gable is exposed, showing that the pitch has been adjusted as part of the rear extension, with stock brick infilling the gap.

The later rear elevation to numbers 329 and 331 (added as part of the extension built between 1841 and 1867) is partially obscured by later extensions (excluded from this listing), but the exposed part is mostly of yellow stock brick set on a flint foundation. The original ground-floor windows and the door have red brick segmental arched heads. The upper windows are not aligned with those on the ground floor and have been cut into the elevation, using the wall plate in place of lintels. The windows are all casement types with added tiled sills.

The later-added cottage (number 327) has a gable end at the north-east end of the building. The roof pitch of the gable is relatively shallow and the façade steps just forward of the western part of the range. There are straight brick joints at both the front and rear that make clear this part was added later to the pre-existing western cottages. The main elevation to Crofton Road has a pair of modern rectangular windows; the ground-floor window having been inserted into a widened former opening. The front door, set under a segmental arch, is original. The north-east return elevation of number 327 has a later-added brick stack. Both of the steel-framed windows to the upper floor here have been inserted. At the rear there are further multi-pane casement windows with segmental arched heads and closer bricks, all with replacement tile sills.

The south-western square outbuilding (attached to the later entrance porch) is an early structure, pre-dating 1841 and possibly originating as a store associated with the fruit plantation to the south-west in the early C19. This rendered-brick building has a double-hipped, clay-tiled roof and a chimney to its south-western pitch. There is a narrow boarded door and a multi-paned window to the north-east elevation and a further leaded casement window to the north-west elevation.

INTERIOR: elements of the timber frame are retained throughout the earliest pair of cottages. The large ground-floor room at number 329 has a spine beam spanning the depth of the room, with joists set square. The rear wall of this room has timber studs with brick infill. In the south-west room (number 331), there is a further spine beam with joists running into the end walls. To the south-west side of this room there is a large inglenook fireplace, spanned by a substantial timber lintel with a chamfered lower edge. The inglenook has a stepped base and there is a low-level arch for a stoking pit to the left, above which there is a niche, indicating this functioned as an oven. A further small oven or smoking niche is positioned on the right side of the fireplace. Above the lintel, the chimneybreast has been clad in modern tiles; these are possibly of the same origin as the upper part of the façade, thereby post-dating 1972. On the north side of the inglenook, an arch has been cut into the south-west wall, providing access from the later-added western entrance which would have replaced the former front door to this room.

Behind the end south-west room there is a simple straight-flight staircase with stick balustrades and a square newel post, possibly dating to the time of this rear extension (constructed between 1841 and 1867). The wall against which the staircase has been built has its lower part clad in tongue-and-grove boarding, although above this several elements of the timber-frame exposed: this upper section consists of a series of studs (some being thin and irregular scantling timbers), a diagonal brace and a substantial mid-rail and wall plate.

There is no available information on the extent of survival of historic fabric internally in the upper-floor rooms, the south-western store building, the later end cottage (number 327) or the roof space.

The outbuildings to the south of the cottages, the modern detached garage block and the later freestanding structure to the west of the lean-to extensions are not considered to contribute to the special interest and are excluded from the listing.


The cottages at 327-331 Crofton Road, formerly known as ‘Willow Cottages’, are remnants of the sparsely-distributed farmstead dwellings which characterised settlement in the parish of Farnborough prior to 1900. Most of these cottages and farmsteads were cleared from the 1920s onwards as part of the construction of large commuter estates clustered around Orpington, which saw its population double between 1931 and 1939 (see The Buildings of England, London 2: South, p188). The first documentary evidence for the Crofton Road cottages is in the Farnborough tithe map and its apportionment of 1841. This shows a grouping of small buildings around a yard and includes the western portion of the present terrace of cottages (numbers 329-331), which appear to be subdivided at this stage, along with the square outbuilding to the north-west which is adjacent to a fruit plantation that fronts Crofton Road and Locksbottom Road. The land is noted to have been occupied by William Griffin on the tithe apportionment, recorded in the 1841 Census as a farmer living with five other family members. Whilst it is clear from the documentary evidence that the earliest development pre-dates the 1840s, the exact date and phasing of the cottages is subject to some speculation. From the evidence of extant historic fabric within the range, which includes a close-studded, timber-framed rear wall, a substantial brick inglenook fireplace with a timber lintel, and a range of regular spine beams and thin ceiling joists to the ground-floor rooms, it is probable that the core of western pair of cottages date to the latter-half of the C18, though possibly incorporating some earlier timbers re-sited from elsewhere.

The cottages and their surroundings saw significant change over the course of the later C19 and the C20. By the time of the 1869 Ordnance Survey (OS) map (Kent; 1:2,500), the cottages had been extended back to the south and a small projecting extension to the west of No. 331 had been added. No. 327, the easternmost cottage of the present range, was constructed by this stage, in alignment with its western neighbours. An extension to the rear of the then recently-built number 327 is indicated on the 1896-97 OS revision. A sense of the form and structure of the cottages can be gleaned from an RAF aerial photograph of the 1940s, which shows the early lean-to extension to its west end of number 331 (the northern half of which remains; the southern part having been subsequently rebuilt). A range of later structures and outbuildings are shown on the 1968 Ordnance Survey map (some of these remain though they are excluded from this listing). Photographic records from around this time indicate some further phases of work not apparent from the mapping evidence: a photograph of 1964 shows a front door to number 329, the principal façade in brick (without the present clay-tile cladding to the upper floor), and also demonstrates that the roof of number 327 was not continuous with that of 329. By 1972, another photograph shows hung-tiles to the upper floor of the range, with the number 329 door still in situ and the roofline of numbers 327 and 329 still distinct, thereby confirming some reworking of the roof and entrance arrangement after this date.

Reasons for Listing

The former Willow Cottages at 327-331 Crofton Road, Orpington are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* for the survival of key elements of a timber-framed and brick structure dating to the latter-half of the C18, including spine beams, joists, wall framing, and a substantial inglenook fireplace;

Historic interest:

* as a well-preserved range of timber-framed and brick cottages, demonstrating vernacular building traditions as applied to modest dwellings of the later C18, with distinct subsequent phases charting the cottages’ evolution over the course of the C19.

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