Friends of Crofton and Sparrow Woods

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


Stinkhorn in Crofton Woods - Roundabout Wood

Watchout for fungi - we seem to be having a bumper fungi season this autumn.

This stinkhorn fungus (Phallus impudicus) was photographed yesterday. Its shape was once considered so embarrassing that Victorian gentlemen destroyed them lest a lady might see one. 

It gives off a smell of rotting meat - which is why there are flies crawling on this specimen. 


Your support is needed for our application for funding from the Council's Jubillee Fund for new Eynsford Recreation Ground Playground equipment.

Bromley Council has earmarked funds for improvements across the Borough – it is quite a small fund, however one of our local Councillors and Bromley Council have indicated that a bid for refreshing the dated equipment in the Eynsford Close playground is likely to receive reasonably positive consideration. 

Karen King, our Treasurer is therefore working hard on the business case to a tight deadline. The Council want 100 signatures from local supporters for all the bids, so will you sign to support us please? If so, please email the information below to us:

Your nameConfirmation you live in the area ( e.g.1st line of address or postcode)Reason for support (e.g. Important to keep the next generation fit, or family uses the facility)



The September newsletter is now available - join the Group to receive your copy. Lots of news including:

- bidding for playground improvements from the Council's Jubilee Fund,

 - badger sett activity,

- the  link between woodland products and Tunbridge ware,

- the latest on vandalism and woodland camps,

- football club storage plans,

- local history: the link btween St Thomas and Crofton Woods and more recent changes since 1966,

- walks and talks, and

- Scrubs Farm news.


The long hot days of summer are over: autumn has started with a fine display of fungi. Birds are no longer nesting, and so the time has come to restart the alternate Tuesday morning Woodland Work Group.  The first session was on 20 September - and will run fortnightly through the autumn addressing different tasks. We started in the white admiral butterfly hotspot - a clearing that brings light to the woodland floor next to the west branch of the Kyd brook. 

Over the past three years the regrowth from coppicing has been significant, and light levels have reduced. So, the Work Group - including two new members - worked hard to clear back the bramble and other rampant growth.

Why not join in? It is free of charge, you only need to come along when you are free, and there is usually home made cake to enjoy. Contact for the next session's meeting place.


The beautiful purple emperor butterfly likes tall trees, particularly mature oaks, and sallow for its caterpillars to feed upon. It is a very large and beautiful UK butterfly, which is only out for a few weeks of the year around now. They spend much of their time high in the trees fending off insects and birds from the territory that they regard as their own. There have been two expeditions in Crofton and Sparrow Woods in the last four weeks to try and find the purple emperor, but without success. 

However they are in Petts Wood - there was a recent confirmed sighting in Little Thrift, so thre is every chance that they are in the woods somewhere. Do take a photograph and share any sightings with us.

Here are some photos that I took of purple emperors at Knepp this year. The orange circular markings are supposed to look like goshawk eyes, to put off preditors. I'm afraid you won't find them on flowers - dog poo is more likely 


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.


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. 


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.


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. 


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. 


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


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.

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.

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