Below are just a few examples of the heritage that the Residents’ Association is proud to have within its area and protects for posterity.
This church built in 1870/71 for the growing number of parishioners was designed by James Fowler at a cost of £3,500 to seat 200 people and was constructed of Kentish ragstone with an attractive red and black brick interior, intersperced with white stone. In 1904 the tower had three bells and a belfry clock installed for the magnificent sum of £88. At the same time the organ was replaced with the current one.
Sequestered in 1917 from farmland, including a golf course, this natural plateau was very suitable for warplanes during World War Two where it played a vital role in the Battle of Britain alongside its more illustrious neighbour, Biggin Hill. Today it is the home of a gliding club. The Kenley Tribute Memorial is well worth a visit commemorating all the RAF squadrons that flew from there. The nearby Wattenden Arms was frequented by the aircrews and has much memorabilia on display.
These have existed for a long time and mushrooms have been grown there. During the Second World War they were used as air-raid shelters. A firm of optical instrument makers presently uses them as the stable air temperature is ideal for the precise engineering required in the manufacture of the instruments.
The chalky pathway across Riddlesdown remains as the only evidence in Kenley that the Romans marched their columns this way en route to Londinium. The path also features in a book in 1880 telling cyclists how to get from London to Brighton via Lewes. The advent of the A22 provided a much easier route.
Kenley of the past had mostly large houses with acres of ground. Gradually these large gardens have been divided into smaller plots for new houses. During the 1930’s there was much development of more moderate housing throughout the whole area. This has continued with more infilling as there are few tracts of land left for development.
The building of the hall was inspired by those who lost sons in the First World War. The foundation stone was laid on December 3 1921 after generous donations from the people of Kenley. Rededicated by Group Captain Douglas Bader in 1975, today it serves the community for local events, meetings and sporting activities.
Kenley is not a village. There is no village green or village pond surrounded by cottages. It is a small sprawling rural area on the hillside to the west of the A22. Those with houses on this hillside have glorious views of Riddlesdown particularly in the autumn when the trees display their russet colours.
The inn built c 1723 was originally named “The Rose”. Its first use was to serve horse-drawn coaches coming down the old Lewes Road over Riddlesdown. It is known that a weekly carrier used this road as early as 1681. Some of the original Residents’ Association meetings were held there. Unfortunately this inn has followed many others in Croydon and in 2007 was demolished to make room for a block of 37 flats.
Kenley has some very old trees and the two by the Little Roke railway footbridge, by the Oaklands development site, have been assessed at 394 and 880 years. The oldest tree aged 970 years is at Kenley House in Kenley Lane. Nearby is a sequoia, which is a tree native to California!
The local 500-foot borehole supplies all Kenley’s needs with good clear water. The river Bourne flows mostly underground along the Godstone Road, the A22.
For more information on Kenley and other surrounding areas, contact the Bourne Society website at www.bourne-society.org.uk .