Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …
Bexley was first recorded in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 814 as Byxlea, from the Old English byxe, meaning box tree, and leah, meaning clearing. From the ninth century until the Reformation of the sixteenth, it was a manor of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the “Domesday Book” of 1086, Bexley Village was recorded as home to three (?water) mills (?on the River Cray, a tributary of the Thames), as well as a church (see below). It remained an important agricultural centre until the twentieth century, when it was at last overtaken by subrbanisation.
Hall Place was built on the outskirts of the village probably in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, rebuilt in the sixteenth, and extended in the seventeenth (see December 19th, 2015 posting).
Church of St Mary
The church of St Mary, with its striking octagonal shingled tower, was originally built at least as long ago as the eleventh century, although “each generation since has left its visible mark on the fabric”.
The present nave, chancel and west tower were built toward the end of the twelfth century. The north aisle was added in the thirteenth century, and extended to accommodate a Lady Chapel at the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth. The whole fabric of the church was restored in the late nineteenth century.
Among the many memorials in the church are them are an unusual “Hunting Horn” brass one, believed to be to Henry Castilayn (d. 1407); another brass one, to John Shelley of Hall Place (d. 1441) and his wife Joan; and a highly decorated carved stone one, to Sir John Champeneis or Champneys of Hall Place (d. 1556), Lord Mayor of London in 1534, and his second wife Meriell.