Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods

.... including Gumping Common, Crofton Heath and Eynsford Recreation Ground


The June 2022 e-newsletter for the Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods was published today. Join the Group to receive your copy with news of all the lastest wildlife sightings and woodland management improvements.

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After a short history talk taking the 180 year 1 pupils from the years 500 to 2022 in the life of Crofton and Sparrow Woods, we set off to explore. The new drainage barrier to keep the stream clear, and the sun dial installed in 2004 were inspected, and the wildlife of the woods was studied before an enjoyable break in the playground. 

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How lovely to have a late Easter weekend, with lots of sunshine and dry weather. The paths are all just about passable as the mud dries, the bluebells are coming out, and the woods are carpeted with wood anemones and lesser celandine. We only have a few patches of cuckoo flowers, but the orange tip butterflies are making the best of what is there.  Happy Easter.

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The ramsons or wild garlic are through the soil thanks to the warm spell a couple of weeks ago, and are just coming into flower. The smell is filling the woodland. 

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Red kites sighted in 2022

A number of members have reported seeing a pair of red kites circling over the woods in late February and early March 2022. Are they looking for a nest site? If they take up residence the air will be filled with the sound of their loud calls, as well as those of ring-necked parakeets. 

Our dogs and cats have nothing to fear - red kites prefer carrion and their feet are too small to kill something even as big as a rabbit. 

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The patch of wood violets in Crofton Woods continues to expand, and is flowering well in the spring sunshine.

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The Work Group had a tough (and eventually wet) morning digging out bramble roots, but what a difference has been made to restoring our best wild flower meadow area.

The photo below is before we started. Followed by the 'after' shot. We had cut the brambles to the ground last winter, but they recovered well, so it was time to start tackling root extraction!

We meet once a fortnight on a Tuesday morning - everyone welcome regardless of fitness.

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Free talks: join us for a celebration of Crofton Woods and Bromley’s wildlife on 22 March 2022 at 7.30pm at the GEA Hall, 34 Woodhurst Ave, BR5 1AP. Hear from Steven Lofting (Biodiversity Adviser to idverde) on Bromley’s fascinating natural world, followed by FOCSW on the history and wildlife of Crofton Woods. An evening of free talks organised by the Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods, supported by the Petts Wood and District Residents’ Association and the Crofton Residents Association. Turn up on the night, or to be sure of a seat, contact or 079678 269008.

(The talks will be followed by a short AGM for FOCSW members.)

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Thanks to the hard work of Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods member Trevor, and the kind permission of Ian Wright on behalf of the landowner, our Friends Group geocaching circuit is launched, and already being used. Finders love the woods, and the circuit, but perhaps not the mud.

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Disposing of last year's rhododendron removal was hard work, but opens up the ground to native flora. 

Friends of Crofton & Sparrow Woods Work Group meets fortnightly and welcomes new members to the team. Working in partnership with #idverde  

Join our mailing list for times and locations. 

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The grassy south end of Eynsford Close Recreation Ground has been allowed to grow over the summer. To encourage more meadow plants, the vigour of the grass needs to be reduced. Here is Jenny from the Working Group sowing yellow rattle seeds. The pretty yellow flower pictured below is parasitic on grass roots, and will help provide more space for meadow wildflowers. Fingers crossed for next summer!

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Lovely weather on Saturday for last Saturday's free guided history and nature walk at Crofton and Sparrow Woods attracted over 60 people to come and find out more about our lovely green space. The history from William the Conqueror through to the post war building boom was explained, the wonderful woodland wildlife and plants, and well as reasons for the area being a Site of Special Scientific Interest. We also took the opportunity to celebrate the 20th birthday of the London Loop which passes through the heart of the woods.

Thank you to Petts Wood and District Residents Association, Bromley RSPB Local Group, and London Loop for being a key part of organising the event.

Interested in holding a guided walk for your group? Then contact

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The Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods is dedicated to maintaining and improving this beautiful, well used, and environmentally important site.

Much of the woodland is an area of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is a rare wet woodland habitat in London which supports a wide range of plants, wild animals and birds, as well as butterflies and moths.

The area includes a well used walking commuter route for the surrounding urban population to get to school, work, shops and Petts Wood station. There is a popular children's playground, playing fields, and easy walks into the extensive woodland (although very muddy in winter).

The Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods provides volunteering opportunities for the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme Bronze Award.

The Group is actively looking for new members including people who would like to to do one or more of the following:

  • Learn more about the areas's history and local environment through receiving our newsletter.
  • Join our fortnightly Tuesday morning woodland Work Groups.
  • Help with litter picking.
  • Join in butterfly, moth, plant, and bird identification (no experience necessary).
  • Help running the Group - from manning stalls at local events, writing articles, applying for grants, running the website, joining the Committee, to bringing new ideas.
  • Make a donation towards our objectives (e.g. rewilding part of the recreation ground, better signage, a replacement bridge to Gumping Common, a firm path all around the recreation ground to improve disabled access, playground improvements etc)
Join and help make a difference to our local community.

(All photographs are subject to copyright - contact if you wish to reproduce them elsewhere)

About UsAbout Us
  • Eynsford Close, Petts Wood, Orpington BR5 1DP, UK

The Friends of Crofton Woods is a group of like minded people interested in knowing more about the wildlife and history of the area, and supporting the area's use for recreation and as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. We need you to join us to help keep the area beautiful. If you just wish to donate for yourself or in memory of a loved one, we will ensure that all your money is dedicated to improving the woodland and recreation ground. Do get in touch.

The area has a long history - from when Odo, William the Conqueror's half brother, was given the land. It been woodland and fields for hundreds of years, and has never had a grand house on it. The land was broken into smaller field-sized pieces, with the result of a large number of owners of one or more piece, and they often then rented to tenants.  

Some of the area has been woodland for at least 400 years. Some was arable land until the end of the 20th Century.

Over the 19th Century there were many disputes between area occupants, with animals straying to others' areas, and boundary disputes.

About a third of the currently wooded area was arable land, but by the 20th century bush and small trees started taking over.

80% of the area was in agricultural use in 1937.

Regular coppicing ceased around 1930.

In 1963 the old Orpington Urban District Council agreed to compulsorily purchase much of the area of open space with a small nature reserve in one section.

In 1966 when Orpington became part of the Greater London Borough of Bromley, the Bromley authority commenced a plan to ensure that the area remained Green Belt and Public Open Space .

1970 - a planning application was made to build houses on the site of the isolation hospital, but this was withdrawn.

Early in 1973 a full dossier of the natural history of the area was completed (which the Friends Group would love to see). This listed 342 plants, over 60 species of birds, 30 butterflies and innumerable moths recorded from 1934 - 72. At that time the area was put on a list of Sites of Special Scientific interest at Nature Conservancy.

In March 1973 the principle owners- Rookery Estates and M E W Norman submitted a planning application to develop 139 acres for 1000 houses.

By 1974 Sparrow Common was becoming scrub - and it is now woodland.

2-3 April 1974 a planning application (after appeal) by Rookery Estates and Mr G H Norman to develop 139 acres of Sparrow Wood, Roundabout Wood and Crofton Heath was refused.

April 1989 - The Nature Conservancy Council declared the area as a Site of Special Scientific interest.

Early 1990s - Bromley Council acquired 40 acres (16 hectares) of Sparrow Wood, part of it isolated. Also 15 acres (6 hectares) called St Thomas Open Space near St Thomas Drive- former Education land, Gumping Common and part of Crofton Heath.

St Thomas Open Space was agricultural land until the 1930s. When the Council acquired it, it was being maintained as open grassland with a scattering of trees. By 2021 only a small amount of grassland survived.

1998- Thames Water were going to install a relief sewer on the west side of the long metalled path that runs along the east side of the area, making boreholes and promising a public meeting, but the work was postponed.

The Friends Group has researched the history behind the Fever Hospital that was built in in the woods, the reasons some areas were owned by the Isleworth Bluecoat School, and the 20th century plans to build sewers, bypasses and housing.

If you are interested in knowing more about the history, or have knowledge that you are happy to share with the Friends Group, please contact

We are particularly interested in any photographs that you may have.

Jane Andrews


Kirsty Blackman

Committee member

Karen King

Treasurer and Committee member

Claire Osborn

Membership Secretary and Committee Member

John Bray

Secretary and Committee Member

Derek Middlemass

Facebook manager

Membership and Donation Form

This includes a link to the PDF of the Membership and Donation Form for the Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods. .

Privacy Policy

This is the privacy policy that has been agreed by the Committee of the Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods.


This is the Constitution for the Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods

 Committee meeting minutes

Minutes of the Committee meetings of the Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods