Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods

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


Caroline Potter is leading the first Saturday Work Group session of the Autumn next Saturday – 30th September. She is planning to focus on the area behind the horses’ field (nearest road access Broadcroft Road), starting at 10.00am. 

Pease do come along and join – even if you only have a little time. Please bring your own equipment if you have it – although gloves and some spare tools will also be available. 

Meet in the field area end of the footpath from Broadcroft Road.


Work Group schedule for autumn 2023. All welcome

Every other Tuesday morning outside the summer we meet at 10.00am  at different locations around Crofton and Sparrow Woods for two and a quarter hours. 

We are a mixed ability (and age) Group - there are tree choppers and light-task workers, but between us we work to help maintain the Council-owned areas of the woodland. 

For example, we coppice hazel etc to open up areas to light to the benefit of ground flora and insects. We clear areas around oaks to ensure that their roots get the nutrients to thrive.  We try and re-open St Thomas Open Space so that it is more open again. 

All this is done in partnership with idverde, Bromley Council's contractor, as the area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Many of us are working or have other committements, so we are used to people not coming every fortnight, and having to leave early.

Fancy joining us and seeing if is for you? Well, the plans for the next few sessions are on this site for the first time. 

Come suitably dressed - and for mud if it has been wet. 

Want to ask a question? Call Jane Andrews on 07968 269008, and she will try and get you the answer!


All the latest news on wildlife from badgers and deer to dog roses, as well as a spotlight on the history of the now demolished smallpox hospital deep in the woods.

Do sign up for our mailing list to receive a copy of our popular e-newsletter with all the latest news about park improvements, wildlfie and history. June 2023 newsletter now available.


Wood anenome in Crofton Woods

All welcome to a free talk: A celebration of Crofton Woods and its wildlife.

Join us on Wednesday 17 May 2023 at 7.15pm for 7.30pm at Lakeswood Hall, Lakeswood Road, Petts Wood, BR5 1DH 

Hear a lively and interesting talk about the history and wildlife of Crofton and Sparrow Woods, as well as all the latest news on plans for improving the area.  Hot drink and cakes available.    (Followed by short FoC&SW AGM)


Badger emerging from a sett

Our local badgers are getting increasingly active as spring warms up the weather, and cubs are on their way. The one in the picture was out of the sett after dawn this morning. 


Buds are bursting open with the warmth of spring

The woods are stunningly wet and muddy - definitely a time or boots. But the wood anemones are flowering, and buds are splitting open. 

Lots of brimstone and peacock butterflies to see too.

Yesterday three buzzards swooped lazily over the woods, and then spent the afternoon rising in the warm thermals until they were specks in the sky. Maybe they will nest in the woods again this year.


March 2023 newsletter now available

Join the Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods to receive your quarterly e-newsletter packed with news about the woods - from its history through to events and new project deveopments. Hard copy availabe for local people who are not online. 


Pair of Mandarin ducks spotted in Crofton Woods

Good news for 2023, our pair of Mandarin Ducks are still with us this year. They were spotted by two Friends Group members as they waded along the eastern branch of the Kyd brook picking up litter. (Please don't fill dog waste bags, and throw them into the water - it makes clearing up after you horrible!).

These lovely wood ducks actually nest in trees overhanging water, and their nestlings fledge by dropping in the water. We have seen a pair every year for 5 years - but no sign of successful fledglings. 


Photograph of sudden high stream water level

Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods has recently confirmed that sewage is discharged into the western branch of the Kyd Brook that runs through the woods - the branch that runs alongside the Eynsford Recreation Ground and playground. You can see this when the sream runs very high suddenly - as seen in the photos below.

Committee Member Kirsty has been researching the issue. We have long known that rainwater from some of our very local roads is run through pipes into both branches of the streams - which does cause some pollution from diesel spills and if people dump unsuitable liquids into the road drains.  

More concerning is the sewer system. This was designed many may years agao, and as time has passed we have more toilets with longer flushes, and there are more houses. All that waste goes into the sewer, with waste water from our houses.  However, those sewers are also required to carry a lot of rainwater, so when it rains hard for along time, the amount of liquid can become so great that the sewer floods.  The sewers are designed with over flows -and we have confirmation that at least one is discharging into the stream.

That is being monitored, so that the number of times a discharge takes place can be checked using the link -and the postcode BR6 8LT. Click on the tick that appears for more informaton.

We know that there is a storm drain in Crofton Road, but we do not yet know whether this also is a sewer overflow- Kirsty is curretly trying to find out.

So, after a lot of rain, we suggest you keep children and dogs out of the stream.


Gull numbers are reducing as we move into Spring -but we think that we have Common Gull with us.

The first sweet violets are in flower, the catkins are starting to emerge, and our seagull numbers are dropping - although we think this is a second winter Common Gull, which makes a change from the usual Black-headed and Herring Gulls.  


Cherry laurel clearance, path widening and rubbish collection at Gumping Common

The alternate Tuesday morning Work Group decided to tackle Gumping Common. Dividing into three Groups, we have tackled some of the cherry laurel. It is a non-native species which spreads like wildfire and blocks light from our native flora. We also tackled holly that was overhanging the path, as well as tackling the woodland edge. It took idverde a while to load all the rubbish into their truck! 

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 Us imageAbout Us image
  • 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. If you'd like our membership form - you can find it under the 'Forms' heading.

History image
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