Dave Sergeant

This is another of the walks from Andrew Duncan's Favourite London Walks and is a three mile circular walk from Bexley station, through the old part of the town then through woodland to Hall Place. It covers part of the route of London Loop sections 1 and 2. When I did this part of the loop it was late in the afternoon when I passed Hall Place so had no time to visit it, made up for it this time.

So after a good journey on the train I reached Bexley station just before 11am. First a short detour to the south side of the station (London Loop 2) and past the grounds of Bexley Cricket Club which has been based here since 1840.

Then back into the old town and first the church of St John's completed for the residents of the new area in 1881. Unlike the other churches I passed I found it open so popped in for a short time of quiet, just after 11am on Armistice Day.

Bexley High Street has some very old houses. The low building is Styleman's Almshouses built in 1750. In the busy street most of the houses date from the 18th Century.

Coming out of Bexley is St Mary's church with it's rather unique cone and pyramid spire which dates from the Middle Ages. Then past Manor Farm, now the Bexley Sand and and Ballast company, and along through the cemetery extension from where there is supposed to be a view of the Manor house but it was totally obscured by vegetation. The route now goes along that of the London Loop through woodland until eventually reaching the busy A2. I got lost around there when I walked the Loop and this time going in the opposite direction got totally lost as there are similar paths under the road and along the road over the railway each side. Eventually found a walking couple who pointed me in the right direction to head for Hall Place.

The route in the book should take you along the River Cray along the south side of Hall Place but the entrance to the grounds is closed there at the moment so I had to divert up to the main entrance at the car park. Once inside the gardens were quite pleasant, particularly their famous topiary garden. I had a nice light lunch in their cafe and then visited the other attraction, the butterfly house. There is also Jambs Owl Experience but that is closed on Thursdays.

The butterfly house is a tropical wonder with loads of pretty butterflies, many quite large, of the kind we never see in this country. It took quite a while for my glasses and camera lens to acclimatise to the high humidity and this is just a small selection of what was there. I passed a very pleasant 20 minutes or so just staring at the beauty.

The House at Hall Place is now a museum but is closed at present. The older stone part to the rear dates from 1537 and the brick extension was added in the 17th Century. Quite an impressive building.

Leaving Hall Place the remainder of the walk is along the main Bourne Road back to Bexley and is unimpressive. But it made a very nice trip out for the day and Hall Place was certainly quite worthwhile.

Back to London Loop