Hidden London

Monks Orchard

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 Croydon/Bromley
An interwar middle-class housing development located on the borders of Beckenham and Shirley, built in the grounds of a world-famous mental hospital. An Addington family called Monk owned a farm here sometime before the mid-17th century and Monksmead and Monks Orchard were the names given to their meadow and wood respectively. Lewis Lloyd acquired the estate in the early 1850s and named it after the wood. He built a mansion with 19 bedrooms, a billiard room, library and a 36-foot dining room. An ornamental entrance lodge survives on Cheston Avenue. Monks Orchard was described in 1923 as ‘typifying that which is best in the unspoiled English countryside’ but within a year a large part of it had been acquired by the Corporation of London for the relocation of Bethlem Royal Hospital from Lambeth. Construction of the hospital began in 1928 and the mansion was demolished. The corporation did not require all the land it had bought so the remainder was sold off for housing and the present street plan was soon laid out. Most of the housing was built before the outbreak of World War II, with mock-Tudor the favoured style, although other properties have fewer pretensions to grandeur. Recent years have seen a spate of demolitions of existing houses and bungalows and their replacement by higher density schemes. The Monks Orchard Residents’ Association has been fighting a rearguard action against what it perceives as overdevelopment.
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The creative workshops at Bethlem Royal Hospital

The Bethlem Royal Hospital Museum was established at Monks Orchard in 1967. The museum holds the archives of the hospital and its sister institutions. The Bethlem Gallery was founded in 1998, housed in the creative workshops’ building of the hospital’s occupational therapy department. Both the museum and gallery are open to the public on working weekdays.
 

Postcode areas: Croydon CR0; Beckenham BR3
Further reading: Ian Muir and Pat Manning, The Book of Monks Orchard and Eden Park, Halsgrove, 2004
Websites:
www.monks-orchard-web.org.uk (residents’ association site)
and
www.bethlemheritage.org.uk (hospital archives and museum site)
 
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