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A farming hamlet situated on the easternmost edge of the borough, skirted by the A20 Swanley bypass. Its Old English name was first recorded in 1240 as Hokindenne. David Mills, in his A Dictionary of London Place Names, proposes that it means ‘woodland pasture (for swine) associated with a man called Hōc.’ The pasture probably consisted of rough scrub, fit only for a few pigs or geese turned out onto the common land with the permission of the lord of the manor. James Chapman of Paul’s Cray Hill united the long-divided halves of Hockenden manor in 1791 when he added land bought from the heirs of William Wentworth, earl of Strafford, to the part he had acquired from Sir John Dixon Dyke in 1767. The Chapman family were prominent local citizens from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century and there are memorials to them in the churchyards of St Mary Cray and St Paul’s Cray. They are remembered by Chapman’s Lane, a cross-country track where a colony of wild parakeets has now established itself. Hockenden House is a large farmhouse, part of which serves as a privately owned day nursery. Lower Hockenden Farm has two rows of red brick, tin roofed huts, built for hop pickers and later used by fruit pickers. Hops have not been cultivated here for many years, but some still grow wild in the hedgerows.

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Conveniences built for hop pickers at Lower Hockenden Farm

Hockenden Wood lies to the south-west. The chestnut woodland conceals Brocken Hurst, home of the Naturist Foundation, which has extensive leisure facilities and space for tents and caravans.

Postcode area: Swanley, BR8

Naturist Foundation

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