Hayes (Kent) History

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Hayes (Kent) History

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The last quarter of the nineteenth century witnessed major changes in the village of Hayes but life throughout the century was affected by the developments occurring elsewhere in the country. The gap between rich and poor was marked and there were periods of unrest. There was still no mains drainage but Hayes Place was one of the first homes to have electricity and a few gas lamps had been installed in the main village. Communications improved with the setting up of a village Post Office and in 1882 the railway from Hayes to West Wickham was opened.

In 1841 there were 105 houses and the population had fallen to 490 from 504 in 1831, mainly as a result of an increase in the number of deaths in the village in 1840. There were 14 burials between October and December and six of the eight in November were children under nine.

Most of the men were employed as labourers although there were also skilled craftsmen working in the village forge and carpenters’ workshops. William Ledger, for instance, was involved in the building of the greenhouses for Charles Darwin at Down House.

The parish covered 1249 acres of which 281 were arable, 664 pasture, 120 wood, 44 ornamental, 50 gardens and 200 Common lands. Hayes was one of the first areas to register in 1868 a scheme of management under the Metropolitan Commons Act of 1866, although struggles between villagers asserting their rights still caused conflict.

Although the owners of Baston Manor and the tenants at Pickhurst Manor continued to play a part in the community it was the arrival of the banker Everard Hambro at Hayes Place that significantly impacted the village. He became the owner of most of the land that formed the main village. The Sun Inn and Alma Arms which had emerged in the middle of the century were replaced with the New Inn close to the new Hayes Station. He developed his own mansion and built new lodges, improved the workers’ cottages pulling down the ones below the George Inn and replacing them with ‘Model Cottages’.  Poplar Row to the south of the school was replaced with the terrace known as St Mary Cottages.

Three cottages on the edge of the Common were combined to create Ivy Cottage for two of his sisters-in-law, and Hayes Grove was extended. These properties all survive and are today nationally listed as is the church whose size almost doubled with the building of a north aisle in 1856 and a south aisle in 1878.

The eastern part of the parish remained mainly farmland owned by the Norman family of Bromley Common, who let the various farms, Hayesford, Hayes Street and Baston, to different tenants over the century.  Working on the land remained one of the main sources of employment for the villagers, but many also worked as domestic servants in the new large houses built in the last thirty years of the century. By the end of the century, 87 new homes had been built, two were under construction and the population had increased to 838.

The new houses included:

Fifteen villas also appeared in Hayes Road, part of which was within the Hayes Parish at the time. A Parish Council was elected under the Local Government Act of 1894 and replaced the long-established role of the Vestry which now reverted to just an ecclesiastical function.

Notable People:

  • Lord Sackville Cecil of the Oast House, engineer, chairman of Exchange Telegraph Company
  • Alexander and his son Alexander George Findlay of the White House, map & chart engravers, FGS
  • Henry Hallam, Pickhurst,  historian
  • Sir Everard Hambro, banker, Hayes Place
  • Thomas John Hussey, Rector of Hayes 1831-54, astronomer & theologian
  • Anna Maria Hussey, mycologist
  • Arthur Fitzgerald Kinnaird, Pickhurst, became President of the Football Association
  • John F Mclennan at Hawthorndene from 1875, a Scottish lawyer and ethnologist
  • John Everett Millais stayed at the George in 1852 while preparing sketches for his painting of ‘The Proscribed Royalist’
  • Frederick Henry Norman, banker of Hayes Court, and his sons Montagu (later Governor of the Bank of England) and Ronald (later chairman of the BBC)
  • Henry John Norman of Gadsden, director of London & Westminster Bank
  • Williamina B Traill of Hayes Place
  • Charles Simpson RA, an artist, spent holidays at Pickhurst Manor with his grandparents
  • Edward Wilson of Hayes Place, founder of Colonial Institute 1868

Major sources are the parish, local government and Hayes Common Conservators’ records, newspapers, directories, maps and other documents held in Bromley Historic Collections and in the records of St Mary the Virgin, Hayes.


  • London Metropolitan Archive 1017, Eliot Family Papers
  • HMSO, Return of Owners of Land 1873-6
  • G.W. Norman, Autobiography, Bromley Historic Collections
  • Charles Kadwell, History of Hayes, 1835
  • Edward Walford, The Environs of Greater London, 1884
  • Lavinia Smiley, The Frasers of Castle Fraser, 1998
  • Charles Simpson, The Fields of Home, 1948
  • T C Woodman, The Railway to Hayes, 1982