Foots Cray Meadows
Image credit: Harry Jenkins
Foots Cray Meadows is a 97 hectare nature reserve in the heart of suburban south-east London, consisting of landscaped open space, meadows and woodland.
The meadows were once the plush estates of two manor houses that once lay either side of the River Cray - Foots Cray Place to the west and North Cray Place to the east - the latter being landscaped by famed gardening architect Lancelot “Capability” Brown in the late 18th century.
The Five Arch Bridge, the most significant of four crossings within the Meadows, is all that remains of the manor houses.
The expanse – a site now controlled and managed by Bexley Council – is rich in all forms of nature with the river, ancient woodland and wildflower meadows designated as a local nature reserve.
But people have used this location for some 10,000 years.
There is evidence of habitation by hunter-gatherers and primitive farmers in FCM since the Mesolithic period, or Middle Stone Age. There is also proof of settlements from the Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, and of increased agricultural activity during Roman and Saxon times.
The more recent ancestry of the Meadows dates back to the Domesday book of 1086. Our story involves William the Conqueror, Queen Elizabeth I, the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, the persecuted Huguenots, one of our longest serving Chancellors of the Exchequer, one of the most elegant houses in England of its time, and designs by the most famous figure in English landscape gardening.