The Story of Biggin Hill: a plotlands development and post-war exurb in Greater London

Early History

The first mention of Biggin Hill as a place in this area occurs in 1499 when it is mentioned in an ancient deed. Reputedly of Middle English origin, it most likely means “The hill next to the farm or dwelling place”, but it may also relate to the personal name Bygge.

The area now called Biggin Hill was historically in the parish of Cudham, now a small village two miles to the east. Originally based on the manor of Codeham it was divided in 1215 into three parts, the manors of Apuldre, Bertray and Cowdham. Modern day Biggin Hill is contained mostly within the areas of the first two of these.

The name Bertray first appears about 1100 and means a small clearing. It survives in the name of the present day hamlet “Berry’s Green”. From Tudor times the manor was based around Cudham Lodge a house last rebuilt in the 18th century and demolished in 1935 when the main airfield runway was built.

Apuldre, later Aperfield is first mentioned in about 1242 and appears to mean “the field with the apple trees". In Tudor times it was in the possession of the Dacre family. Later owners and occupiers included the Gearys and the Christys, the latter building: Aperfield Court. It was this house that was bought in 1898 by Frederick H. Dougal, the founder of Biggin Hill.

By 1900 Biggin Hill was a small settlement of approximately 500 people clustered by the side of the Westerham Road and based around the junction with Jail Lane by the Black Horse Inn. It was surrounded entirely by farmland including that of Biggin Hill Farm itself, after which the town was named. With the exception of two cottages, the valley was uninhabited.