Five Arch Bridge
In front of you stands Five Arch Bridge. There would always have to have been some form of crossing over the River Cray in the area occupied since the 12th century by what became the North Cray Place and Foots Cray Place estates, what we know today as Foots Cray Meadows.
The sale details of Foots Cray Place in 1772, when offered up by the family of the late Bourchier Cleeve, indicate the existence of a one-arch bridge within the meadows, from the east side of the estate towards North Cray Woods.
The Five Arch Bridge was constructed in brick in the late 1770s and early 1780s when respected English landscaper Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown undertook an expensive revamping of the North Cray Place gardens.
Resident and visiting wildfowl and other birds
The Meadows is home to a variety of birds, who either reside permanently or who visit at various times throughout the year.
A list of ‘Birds of Conservation Concern’ (BOCC) has been compiled, since 1996. Species are placed on the “Red list”, when considered to be of high conservation concern, or on the “Amber list’ if the bird is thought to be of medium conservation concern.
It is alarming to see, from the latest version (BOCC5 2021), that around 39% of the bird species known to live or visit the Meadows are of either Medium or High conservation concern. With 13% of them being on the list of high conservation concern.
River Cray and the lake
The River Cray runs through the centre of Foots Cray Meadows and is a nine-mile long chalk stream arising from underground in Priory Gardens at Orpington, within the London Borough of Bromley.
The water, permeating through the chalk bedrock of the North Downs, flows northwards to join the River Darent at Crayford Creek in Crayford with the Darent then joining the River Thames.
It is stated in the Domesday Book records of 1086 that there were some 11 mills along what it termed River “Craie” with these buildings producing the likes of flour, paper and textiles.
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