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Photos of old Orpington, St Mary Cray and Crockenhill

Neil's Best and Bath ancestors came from the Orpington area of Kent. The pictures on this page give some indication of how they lived and worked. The collection on this page includes: Where the wider BEST family lived; the Temple Congregational Church which they attended; the BEST butcher's shop in High Street, Orpington; the BATH grocer's shop; and Chislehurst Road School in Orpington.

Where the wider Best family lived

Crockenhill: the Best farm Crockenhill: the Best Cottages

The Best Farm in Crockenhill where John Best lived when he started the butcher's shop in St Mary Cray, Orpington in 1810. The picture - drawn from memory for Susan Pittman - shows a black and white copy of a watercolour, dated 1805. The farmhouses kept changing names over the years depending on who the tenant farmer was. It became Church Farm in Church Road and later was connected with the Everest family who married into the Clements family. It was a member of the latter who had the sketch. The site currently has sheltered homes on it now and is called Church Farm Close. The building was demolished in the 1960s.

The Best Cottages in Crockenhill, about 1900, from the collection of Susan Pittman. These cottages are still known by the same name today. The wider Best family was very large, and there is no evidence that 'our' Bests were closely associated with these cottages - but if you know differently, please get in touch.

Orpington, St Mary Cray: Aynscombe House Orpington: Chilthorne House

Aynscombe House, one-time residence of the Best family, 1890, courtesy of Orpington Public Library,

Chilthorne House, where Freda Best was born (as were probably other Best children), courtesy of Orpington Public Library. See also the butchers shop below.

Orpington, St Mary Cray: Sannox, 31 Moorfield Road Orpington, St Mary Cray: Moorfield Road

The Best house: Sannox, 31 Moorfield Road - the right hand semi on the left of the photo

Moorfield Road where Freda and her family lived when she was a child, courtesy of Orpington Public Library.

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The Temple Congregational Church, St Mary Cray, Orpington

Orpington: Temple Congregational Church

The Temple Congregational Church which the Best family attended and where Freda Best married Alan Cryer (courtesy of Orpington Public Library). Others in the Best family were also married there.

Coincidentally, John Daws, a distant ancestor by marriage, was present at the opening of the Temple Congregational Church on October 19th 1851. In his unpublished diaries, he made the following drawing which is probably the earliest ever:

Temple Congregational Church, St Mary Cray, drawn by John Daws who was present at the opening, 19 October 1851

The Temple Congregational Church which the Best family attended and where Freda Best married Alan Cryer (courtesy of Orpington Public Library). Others in the Best family were also married there.

John Daws wrote of the occasion:

"A most beautiful place of worship at St Mary Cray, Kent, built at the sole cost and expense of William Joynson Esq, and with new organ and chandelier will cost less than 10,000. It was opened by Rev I Sherman in the morning, and in the afternoon the Rev Dr Bennett administered the ordnance of the Lord's Supper and formed the new church consisting of about 12 members. I sat down at the table with them, and in the evening Dr Bennett preached. The place which is very large and splendid was extremely crowded."

According to various sources, the original Temple building was damaged during World War Two and demolished in 1954. However, according to Sam Brown (2011):

"Although the Temple did sustain damage from a mine dropped during an air raid on the town in 1941, it was soon redecorated and services continued. The Church was closed in 1950 due to structural damage that had not previously been considered a problem, and at this time the rebuilding of the church commenced, although in a modified style. The original pulpit was put into storage at the local paper mill, but was later found to have developed dry rot, so was not reinstated. It would have been hard to have accommodated it in the new church anyway. The official re-opening took place on Saturday 17th November 1955 with 450 worshipers in attendance. In the interim, services had continued in the Moffat Hall (the hall belonging to the Temple). In 1972, the Temple along with many other congregation churches became URC. Therefore the Temple continues today as the Temple United Reformed Church."

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The Best butcher's shop in HIgh Street, Orpington

Orpington, St Mary Cray: the BEST butcher's shop

The BEST butcher's shop, 89 High Street, in St Mary Cray, Orpington, taken during the 1911 festivities for the coronation of King George V. It was part of the BEST family residence, Chilthorne House (see above) and was originally called Chillcombe. The BESTs were in the butchery business from 1810 to 1974.

Chilthorne after the Best family had sold it.

When the main part of Chilthorne was sold, it first became a tea room, and later had a variety of uses. The BEST family retained the area above the shop as a flat.

Chilthorne, St Mary Cray, Orpington after the Best family had sold it

By 2005 when this photo was taken the flat is a dentists, and the main part of the house is a suntanning centre. The butchers shop had a number of uses and is now an antiques shop.

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The Bath Grocer's shop in Orpington

The Bath grocers and the Bath cottages in old Orpington

The BATH grocer's shop alongside the BATH cottages

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Chislehurst Road School in Orpington

Orpington, St Mary Cray: Chislehurst Road School

Chislehurst Road School which Freda Cryer and her brothers and sisters attended. Their maternal grandfather, Henry Boult was headmaster at the time - in fact the first headmaster and he served for 36 years

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This website Cryer family history is Pat Cryer. For applications to reproduce text or images, click here.