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Foots Cray Meadows * Bexley

Foots Cray Meadows *

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* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

Once part of an estate dating back to Tudor times, the park is essentially mid C18th, with C19th and C20th landscaping overlaid. Foots Cray Place, built c.1754, was acquired by Nicholas Vansittart in 1822, who also purchased the adjoining estate of North Cray Place, whose landscape had been designed by 'Capability' Brown. The estate was divided once more in the late C19th, and subsequently the Foots Cray Place gardens were redesigned. North Cray Place and its grounds were acquired by Sidcup and Chislehurst UDC in the late 1950s. The mansion was demolished and its site built over for housing but the grounds were converted to public open space of Foots Cray Meadows.
Previous / Other name: Foots Cray Place; North Cray Place
Site location: Rectory Lane, Foots Cray
Postcode: DA14
Type of site: Public Park 
Date(s): midC18th with C19th & C20th overlays
Designer(s): Lancelot 'Capability' Brown; Thomas Mawson
Listed structures: LBII: Stable Block, Walls, Gate & Gate Piers of Kitchen Garden, Bowling Pavilion, Five Arched Bridge
Borough: Bexley
Site ownership: LB Bexley
Site management: Parks and Open Spaces; Friends of Footscray Meadows
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions: No fishing; golf, swimming, boating. Riding on bridle paths only. No flying model planes. Clean up after your dog;
Facilities: Car park near to the stables and in Leafield Lane to the south-east; Children’s playground which is a dog free zone.
Public transport: Rail: Albany Park, Sidcup. Bus: 492, B14.
North Cray, Five Arch Bridge, postcard. Courtesy Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre
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Cows in snow, with Foots Cray Meadow to rear, photograph n.d. Courtesy Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre
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The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2002
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.;

Fuller information:

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see

The estate dated back to Tudor times but the park is essentially mid C18th with C19th and C20th overlays. Foots Cray Place was built c.1754 to a design attributed to Isaac Ware for Bouchier Cleeve, replacing an earlier house situated by All Saints Church (demolished late C18th). The house later burnt down in 1949, and was demolished in 1950. Nicholas Vansittart acquired Foots Cray Place in 1822 and also purchased the adjoining estate of North Cray Place, a house adjoining St James Church (q.v.), rebuilt early C19th. North Cray Place and its grounds were acquired by Sidcup and Chislehurst UDP in the late 1950s and the house was demolished in 1962. It was built over for housing although part of the grounds were retained for public open space of Foots Cray Meadows. Lancelot 'Capability' Brown had been involved in redesigning the park of North Cray Place in 1771. After the division of the estate in the late C19th Samuel Waring, first tenant and later owner of Foots Cray Place, asked Thomas Mawson in conjunction with architect Dan Gibson to redesign the gardens. The former stables of Foots Cray are in residential use; the walled garden has been built upon, retaining walls, and an interpretation centre and rangers' office are provided as part of the development.

The River Cray is possibly London's best river in terms of its water quality and relatively naturally graded profile. The site contains much ancillary parkland of low wildlife interest, but the marsh meadows adjacent to the river are of high species diversity with several uncommon plants. The area also supports a diverse wildlife.

Sources consulted:

Edward Hasted 'The History & Topographical Survey of the County of Kent Vol II' p138-139 1788; Thomas H Mawson 'The Art & Craft of Garden Making' 2nd,3rd,4th,5th eds.; Thomas H Mawson, 'The Life & Work of an English Landscape Architect' 926, 81-2, 145, 233, 264, 305, 339; n21,44; Arch Rev v.9 1901 267; Arch Rev v.27 1910 102-104; Arch Rec v.30 19ll 346; JRHS v.34 1908-9 376 fig. 67; Studio Year Book 1906, 257; 1907,183; 1913,125; 1917,10,54; IR Elain Harwood, 1988; G Nunns 'Foots Cray' p16-20 Published by LB Bexley, Libraries & Museum Dept 1981; Estate Maps 1772,1773,1822; North Cray Place Sale Particulars 1833; Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest; Greater London; R.Desmond, Bibliography of Historic Gardens
Grid ref: TQ476715
Size in hectares: 97
On EH National Register : Yes
EH grade : Grade II
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: No
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: Yes - Metropolitan Importance
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation: Local Nature Reserve

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