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A Brief History of Kenley   arrow

The history of Kenley and nearby Purley is well detailed in the Bourne Society series of publications on Village Histories (see ). The following is only the briefest of histories but may be sufficient to whet your appetite for more.

Although Kenley is a comparatively new village as a result of the development of the Caterham railway in 1856, a community did exist using the name of Wattendone in the 7th century AD. It was subsequently mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 as a small unit of one church, 17 villagers and two cottagers. The name of Kenley, then known as Kenele, was first reported in 1255 relating to a farm in the area where Kenley House is now. Wattendone eventually became known as Waddington. The English Place Name Society has identified the name of Coena’s Leah in Anglo-Saxon times and is thought to refer to land owned by the Coena people who were themselves associated with Kennington of South London. This could be the origin of Kenley.

In 1851, the area we now call Kenley, between Old Lodge Lane and the Godstone Road, included the hamlet of Waddington and several farms: Garston, Hayes, Kenley, Great Roke and Little Roke, Waterhouse and Welcomes. There were some 249 souls on this scattered community without a church or a school. The first church built at Wattendone had been burned down in 1780 and was eventually replaced by All Saints Church in 1871 making Kenley a parish in its own right. At the same time the first school built was Riddlesdown National School on the corner of Godstone Road and Downs Court Road. Water and gas were first supplied in 1869.

By 1901 the population had risen to 1,299 and had increased to 9,260 by 1981. Today it is in excess of 10,000 and still increasing as infilling and subdivision of houses takes place.