History of Foots Cray

Foots Cray was initially a fairly large village whose environs included the smaller hamlets of Sidcup and Longlands. Its proximity to the River Cray and also to the old Maidstone Road made it an attractive place to settle.

The village takes its name from Saxon landowner Godwin Fot. At the Domesday Survey (1086), Fot was assessed for a farm, four cottages, a mill and some woodland. This manor was located in the midst of a number of other estates including Ruxley, Eltham, Scadbury and Kemnal.

Even as late as the 19th century Foots Cray village lay partly in the parish of Foots Cray and partly in Chislehurst and it was therefore placed under two urban district councils when these were created in 1894.

Foots Cray Church is dedicated to All Saints and even though there is no documented evidence of a Saxon church, it seems possible that there was a place of worship before the Norman conquest.

Like most of the other areas in the London Borough of Bexley today, Foots Cray was traditionally an arable farming community although in the 20th century some industrial activity began to take place, based around the river.

No history of the area would be complete without a mention of the predominant house and estate in the area, Foots Cray Place, although the early house was not in fact located within the manor. The exact date of this first house is not known, but six generations of the Walsingham family owned Foots Cray Place (alias Pike Place) up until c.1676. The house that survived until 1949, when it was destroyed by fire, was built in 1754 in the style of a Palladian villa on the instructions of the new owner Bouchier Cleeve. This house was bought in 1822 by Sir Nicholas Vansittart, who was at one time the Chancellor of the Exchequer (he also was given the title Lord Bexley) and it was the arrival of Vansittart that perhaps heralded the golden age for both the house and the surrounding district.

Foots Cray today is still a small settlement with some industrial and office premises, together with limited residential developments mostly along Cray Road and up Sidcup Hill towards central Sidcup.

The stable block to Foots Cray Place remains, as do a large part of the grounds, which are now a recreational area known as Foots Cray Meadows. Along Rectory Lane All Saints’ Church still stands, together with a number of other historic buildings including the former Foots Cray school and a terrace of Georgian houses.

See historic maps of Foots Cray