Pippenhall Meadows lie between the Pippenhall Allotments on Bexley Road and Butterfly Lane, and Avery Hill Park to the south.
Brief history of Pippenhall Meadows
There was a farmhouse here in the mid-17th century and in 1838 the farm covered c.236 acres. It included today’s Pippenhall Allotments. The land was part of Col North’s estate before it was sold. I think the map below outlines the meadows, and I have included the allotments, no.6, because I believe this used to be part of the farm. I have arbitrarily numbered the fields – these are not ‘official’ numbers.
Butterfly Lane is a little lane which runs from Bexley Road, alongside the meadows and on down Sparrows Lane down to Avery Hill Road. I wonder if the northern end joined up with Gravel Pit Lane at some point in the past? And where do the names come from? I haven’t yet found any information.
Hedges in Pippenhall Meadows
In the meadows and Avery Hill Park there are some very old hedges – the earliest dateable hedges are possibly c.1370. One of these early lines of hedging is along Butterfly Lane.
The hedging between the allotments and the meadows is 18th-19th century. It encloses a hidden path which can be very muddy in the winter. It is nevertheless a fun path because it is hidden!
Fields in Pippenhall Meadows
There are several fields making up the site, but they are not all accessible to the general public. Field no.1 is where these stables stand and you can see them from the locked gate on the Bexley Road.
There is apparently some ridge and furrow evidence in the south east corner of the farm and central dry grasslands, but it is not immediately obvious.
You can access Field no.4 by crossing the River Shuttle ditch from Avery Hill Park. And in late May there were plenty of wildflowers, although they are not as varied as in the Sidcup Road Grasslands.
Henleys, the wildflower meadow which I believe is Field no.4, is named after John de Henley. Henleys was his manor in the reign of Edward III (d.1377). The manor house stood in a field known as Conduit Field which is below the Conduit. He died without issue and his Trustee, William de Brantingham, gave the manor to the crown.
The central area is closed off completely. It is wet and the River Shuttle rises here from a spring, flows in ditches in the park and only comes into its own as a little stream once it leaves the park.
Eltham Little Park
Field no.5 is called ‘Eltham Little Park’ on Google maps and is a pretty open grassland next to the Bexley Road, with old hedging on either side of the central grasslands.
Wonderful looking fungus which I think is chicken of the woods.
Pippenhall Meadows is mostly closed to the general public but it is an interesting, and intriguing area which retains its historical ‘shape’.