Another in the occasional series on historical sites on the “London Loop” (London Outer Orbital Path) walk …
Crayford was first recorded as Crecganford in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, as the site of a battle that took place in 457 between Germanic invaders and native Britons (in which “Hengest and Esc … slew four thousand men” and after which “the Britons … forsook the land of Kent, and in great consternation fled to London”).
The name alludes to a crossing-point on the River Cray (a tributary of the Thames), which had been in existence since earlier times, lying on the main Roman road from Kent to London (now known as Watling Street, or the A2). The “lost” Roman settlement of Noviomagus may have been here.
The early settlement grew in the Medieval period, and began to become industrialised in the post-Medieval. An iron-milling industry was established here in the sixteenth century, and a linen-bleaching industry in the seventeenth.
The linen-bleaching later gave way to textile-printing, which continues to this day, alongside the manufacture of, among other things, chemicals, bricks and “Crayford Ivory” knife handles. The manufacture of armaments, at the Maxim and Vickers factories, which employed up to 14000 people during times of war, continued from before the First World War until after the Second. Crayford was incorporated into the London Borough of Bexley in 1965.
The church of St Paulinus was probably originally built in timber in the Saxon period, being mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 (”the archbishop himself holds Erhede and there is a church”). It was subsequently rebuilt in stone in the Norman period and style at the turn of the eleventh and twelfth centuries (nave and chancel).
And extended in the later Medieval Early English Gothic style in the early thirteenth century (south aisle); in the Decorated style at the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth (second nave); and in the Perpendicular style in the fifteenth (tower).
The interior contains a fine post-Medieval memorial to William Draper (d. 1650) and his wife Mary of May Place (a manor house that had originally built for the Appleton family in the fifteenth century, and that stood until it was substantially destroyed during the Second World War in the twentieth).