Inventory Site Record

High Elms Country Park

High Elms Country Park (Bromley)

Brief Description

From early days the land changed hands repeatedly until the early C19th when High Elms became the country estate of the Lubbock family. The 3rd Baronet lived here from 1840 and built a mansion and ornamental gardens. In the 1880s the estate was largely open farmland with 16-hectare apple orchard and an area of ancient woodland known as Cuckoo Wood. In 1938 High Elms was sold to Kent County Council, transferring in 1965 to LB Bromley as Green Belt Open Space. In 1967 the mansion was destroyed by fire but the formal gardens, stable block, surviving remains of an Eton Fives court and the ice well remained.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
High Elms Estate
Site location:
High Elms Road, Green Street Green/Shire Lane, Farnborough
Type of site:
Public Park
Open to public?
Opening times:
unrestricted. Car park 8am - dusk. Nature Centre Mar-Sept 11am-4.30pm (Sat & Sun); Wed 2pm-4.30pm. Winter Weekends 11.30am-4.30pm
Special conditions:
Clean up after your dog. Dogs under control
Nature Centre; Toilets, Car parking; Public House adjoining Golf Club
Seasonal activities: phone Ranger Service for details
Public transport:
Rail: Orpington then bus. Bus: 358, R1, R11 and limited service on 402, R5 and R8, 261.

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/11/2007
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

High Elms Country Park comprises woodland countryside and a golf course; the chalky valley has probably been farmed since Roman times. It was part of the parish of Downe that once belonged to Bishop Odo of Bayeux, brother of William the Conqueror, who was given the land for the part he played in the Battle of Hastings. In ensuing centuries, the land changed hands numerous times until it was purchased in the early C19th by Sir John William Lubbock, a wealthy banker who bought over 105 hectares of land with house, home farm and lodges. Over the next 130 years the Lubbock family developed the farm into a country estate; the 3rd Baronet, who lived here from 1840, commissioned architect Philip Hardwick to design a large mansion and ornamental gardens in classical Italian style. Later additions included a stable block, ice well, coach house and race course and at its height the estate employed 30 staff. In 1900 the 4th Baronet, Sir John Lubbock was given the title of Lord Avebury. A banker like his father, Sir John had many interests, was an author and scientist, as well as a politician as a Liberal MP for Maidstone. As such he was instrumental in the passing of important legislation including the Open Spaces Act of 1896, the Wild Birds Protection Act and the Bank Holiday Act, which was subsequently dubbed St Lubbock's Day.

In 1938 High Elms was sold to Kent County Council and during the 1940s and '50s large areas of the estate were planted with conifers for use as pit props, telegraph poles and fencing. In 1965 the estate was transferred to LB Bromley as Green Belt Open Space. In 1967 the mansion was destroyed by fire but the formal gardens, stable block, surviving remains of an Eton Fives court and the ice well remained. The latter is to the north of the Nature Centre, which opened in 1970 housed in the old stable block and the walled garden. Within the country park is Dene Hole, a rare survivor of the many chalk mines once found in the area. Mining by this method to get chalk for marling land began in Roman times. Trees in the park suffered from Dutch Elm disease and also the storms of 1987. The park has a network of Country Park trails with some paths used by both horse and bike riders. A loop of the London Outer Orbital Path enters on the west side and a Look, Touch and Smell trail is to be found north-west of the Nature Centre.

Sources consulted:

Leaflet issued by LB Bromley Park Rangers; Andrew Crowe, 'The Parks and Woodlands of London' (Fourth Estate, 1987); An A to Z of Bromley's Parks, Local Open Space & Woodlands, LB Bromley, 2007?

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ446634 (544530,162920)
Size in hectares:
c82 woodland; c60 golf course
Site ownership:
LB Bromley Services
Site management:
Leisure and Community Services, Bromley Countryside Ranger Service
Listed structures:
SAM: Ice Well
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

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:
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Metropolitan Importance (part)
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Metropolitan + SSSI to south east
Other LA designation:
Local Nature Reserve. Part of proposed World Heritage Site (see UDP draft 2002)

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