Inventory Site Record

St Giles the Abbot Churchyard

St Giles the Abbot Churchyard (Bromley)

Brief Description

A church has existed here for centuries, but the date of its dedication to St Giles the Abbot is unknown although in 1292 the village of Farnborough was granted licence by the King to hold a weekly market and an annual fair on the Feast of St Giles. The churchyard may have been in use as a burial ground from as early as 1000 AD and it has been extended a number of times over the years as the need for more burial space arose. There are interesting tombstones in the churchyard, the oldest dating from 1725. the Lubbock Cross commemorates the Lubbock family who lived at High Elms.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Farnborough Parish Church
Site location:
Church Road, Farnborough, Orpington
Type of site:
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Public transport:

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/02/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

A church existed here prior to 1070, possibly a wooden building, although it is not recorded in the Domesday Survey. The church of St Giles the Abbot was rebuilt in 1641 following a storm on 12 December 1639 when the roof was lost, and the nave remains from that date; the north projection dates from the earlier building. The west tower was built in 1838, and the chancel in 1886. The St Giles Fair has been held in Farnborough on the first Saturday in September, usually in Church Fields, for many generations.

The original churchyard of 0.35 acres surrounded the church and was probably in use as the parish burial ground by 1000 AD. Until the early C18th, there were no tombstones erected and the ground was constantly re-used for burial, leading to a rise in the ground level visible distinct from the paths. From the 1700s tombstones began to be used to mark graves, and by 1854 this had made re-use of the ground impossible so 0.4 acres of additional land was purchased. This first extension was on the north and west sides of the original plot, and the churchyard was subsequently extended in 1885, 1935 and 1995. It remains part of the Rector's Freehold, the incumbent Rector receiving a fee for each burial but is not permitted to sell any part of the churchyard. An old yew tree planted in 1643 marks the north-west corner of the original churchyard, which was at that time entered by a church gate located by the Skeggs Tomb, a table tomb now without its railings. The entrance is now via the lych-gate erected in 1902 as a memorial to Rachel Fox. A number of railed table tombs are located near the church door and the oldest tombstone dates from 1725. Other interesting memorials include the Wynne Stone near the Choir Vestry, those to the south of the Clergy Vestry, behind the Rance Family table tomb. In the C19th extension is the grave of Gipsy Lee, the last Gipsy Queen in the area who lived in Willow Walk in her later years. The March memorial has a bronze angel by this talented local family who supplied the bronze figures for the Canadian National War Memorial in Ottawa.

The Garden of Remembrance was established in 1956 for the burial of ashes, and near here is the Lubbock Cross, which has interesting carvings that include Bronze Age axes, the Avebury Stone Circle and a bee skep, commemorating the Lubbock family who owned much of this area and lived at High Elms, now High Elms Country Park (q.v.). A particularly prominent member of the family was Sir John Lubbock (1834-1913), like his father a banker, who was Liberal MP for Maidstone and as such was influential in the Education Act of 1870, the Bank Holidays Act of 1871 and the Ancient Monuments Act of 1882. Among his many scientific interests were entomology, botany, biology and archaeology, which he helped establish as a scientific discipline, and, a close friend of Charles Darwin, he contributed to the debate around evolutionary theory. He became the first Lord Avebury in 1890, the title reflecting his purchase in 1871 of part of the Avebury estate in order to safeguard the ancient Stone Circle.

The War Memorial Cross was erected in 1922, designed by architect Fred Harrild, whose parents are buried here. A new addition to the churchyard is a Memorial Wall for future Memorial Plaques, which will in time enclose the eastern end of the churchyard.

Sources consulted:

B Cherry & N Pevsner, The Buildings of England, London 2: South, 1983 (reprint 1999) p.185; 'The Church Guide Book' reproduced on St Giles the Abbot Farnborough (Kent) parish website

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ443641 (544354,164068)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Diocese of Rochester, Orpington Deanery
Site management:
Friends of St Giles
C11th; 1854/1885, 1935, 1995
Listed structures:
LBII: St Giles the Abbot Church
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:
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order:
To be checked
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes (Burial Ground)
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Area of Archaeological Significance
Other LA designation:

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