A view along Otford high street, just along from the central pond
|Population||3,465 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
Otford is a village and civil parish in the Sevenoaks District of Kent, England. It lies on the River Darent, 3 miles (5 km) north of Sevenoaks. Otford's four churches are the Anglican Church of St Bartholomew in the village centre, the Otford Methodist Church, the Most Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, and the Otford Evangelical Church. By the village pond, also a roundabout, there are pubs, cafes and shops. The village has three schools, Otford Primary School, St Michael's Prep School, and Russell House.
Otford's earliest history and archaeology shows occupation for at least 3,000 years. Occupants have included Iron Age farmers, Romans, archbishops and royalty, and events have included two battles. The etymology of the village name is disputed: an article in the Kent and Sussex Courier claims that Otford is a contraction of Ottansford, meaning the ford of Otta, a local man of importance.
A Roman villa in what is now Otford was abandoned during the 4th century, approximately 1700 years ago. The remains were re-discovered and excavated during the 1930s, and again in 2015 by the West Kent Archeological Society.It is at least twice the size of nearby Lullingstone villa.
Otford was made part of the Hundred of Codsheath,one of the nine Hundreds making up the Lathe of Sutton at Hone in about the 6th century AD. Lathes were Saxon administrative regions.
From circa 650 to 750, during the Early Medieval period, Polhill Anglo-Saxon cemetery was used as a place of burial. The archaeologist Brian Philp suggested that the community who buried their dead at Polhill likely lived at Otford, noting that from the centre of the village, the cemetery was visible.
The name Otford may be a contraction of Otterford, possibly derived from Offa, the King of Mercia who fought the Kentish Saxons in 776 at the Battle of Otford.[ citation needed ]The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3, published 1797, indicates that Otford's Saxon name was Ottanford. It further notes that: "In 791, Offa, king of Mercia, whose gifts to the British churches and monasteries in general were great and munificent, gave Otteford to the church of Canterbury."
Priest Werhard, kinsman of archbishop Wulfred briefly took possession of Otteford, but was commanded by the archbishop to return it to Canterbury in 830. It remained so until 1070.
The chronicler monk John of Worcester told that Edmund Ironside brought his army to Kent, and fought the Danes at the Battle of Otford in 1016.The Danes apparently fled to Sheppey.
Otford is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it shows that the Archbishop of Canterbury possessed 8 mills in the village, which is referred to as Otefort.
The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3notes that the Textus Roffensis or Tome of Rochester, published between 1122 and 1124, uses Otteford as the name.
The Gough Map of Great Britain, dated between 1355 and 1366, shows Otford labelled with its current name, but on King Henry VIII's map Angliae Figura, the village is known as Otforde.
In 1514, Archbishop William Warham replaced an existing ecclesiastical building with Otford Palace, and in 1519, King Henry VIII stayed in the palace. Apparently, he liked it so much, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer felt compelled to give it to the king in 1537.
The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent says that: "Otford Parish is about nine miles in circumference, and contains about two thousand four hundred acres of land, of which about seventy are woodland. It lies for the greatest part of it in a low damp situation, which makes it far from being pleasant, and gives it a lonely and gloomy appearance, and in all probability it would have been but little known had it not been for the residence of the archbishops at it for such a length of time."
During the 19th century, Otford was still part of the Hundred of Codsheath, albeit with a population of 798 in 1841.In 1887, the Scottish theologian and historian John Hunt was appointed Vicar of the St Bartholomews Anglican church.
In 1882, Otford Station (see "Railway", below) opened for passenger traffic towards London and Sevenoaks.
Otford included the settlement of Dunton Green until 1909, when it was split off into a separate parish.In 1924, the Otford Watermill, dating from 1541, burnt down. In the late 1940s, Otford Medical Practice was formed and is now located at Lennards Avenue. On 16 January 1975 the village pond was granted listed building status. In 1999, Otford Medical Practice extended its reach to include a new branch surgery in Kemsing.
In 2002, Otford won the Kent Village of the Year competition; the results were broadcast live on BBC Radio Kent, and reported in the Kent Messenger newspaper.
The census of 2011lists Otford and Shoreham as having 4,595 residents (cf 798 in 1841, see above), in 1,852 households. The area is given as 2,147 hectares (cf 2,400 acres in the 1797 survey). The population density is averaged at 2.1 per hectare (0.85 per acre); however, this is perhaps misleading, as most housing is clustered.
In 2012, Otford was formally twinned with Neufchâtel-Hardelot, under a Twinning Charter signed in Neufchâtel-Hardelot on 17 September 2011 and Otford on 31 March 2012.
The pond roundabout was declared Roundabout of the Year by the Roundabout Appreciation Society in 2013.
In 2013 and 2014, Otford suffered considerable flooding from the river Darent. An assessment in 2011 by KCC highlighted significant risk for Otford.The risks were not overstated, with some shops out of business for several months.
Notable landmarks are the Archbishop's Palace, the duck-pond roundabout and the model of the Solar System, 1 km (0.6 mi) from the Sun to Pluto when Pluto is at its perihelion. The Anglican parish church of Otford is dedicated to Saint Bartholomew. Otford Methodist Church, Otford Evangelical Free Church and the Roman Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity also serve the village; the buildings were registered for marriages in 1936, 1959 and 1981 respectively.at a scale of 1:4,595,700,000, or just under
Otford station is located in the village and has services northbound to central London via Bromley South to Victoria, Blackfriars and St Pancras and southbound to Ashford International via Maidstone East and to Sevenoaks. Otford is served by two railway companies, Southeastern and Thameslink Railway. The railway station has a substantial, chargeable, car park. Some parts of north western Otford are closer to Dunton Green station, which has services northbound to Charing Cross and Cannon Street as well as to Sevenoaks. This railway station also has a chargeable car park.
Otford lies on the A225, a main road between Dartford and Sevenoaks. The presence of the site of a Roman Villa, in addition to the remains of an ancient trackway, suggests that this road has a long history. The High Street, C296, forms a junction with the A225 at the roundabout which encloses the pond. The M26 Wrotham Spur uses the valley here as part of its route, closely following the boundary between Otford and Dunton Green. M25 access from Otford is effected most easily via the A25 into Sevenoaks and M25 Junction 15, Chevening Interchange.
The 421 bus service runs between Sevenoaks and Swanley, and stops in Otford at the pond and close to Telston Lane. There is no Sunday service.
The village is a key stopping-off point on the North Downs Way which runs through the village as it crosses the Darent Valley, intersecting the Darent Valley Path.
Passing through Otford is the Pilgrims' Way, the historic route supposed to have been taken by pilgrims from Winchester in Hampshire to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral.
The village includes a state primary school, Otford Primary School,and two independents (properly called public schools in the UK), St Michael's Prep School and Russell House School.
There are three nursery schools in Otford: Otford Nursery,Gatehouse Nursery and Longacre.
Otford has a public recreation field of approximately 12 acres, marked for football with floodlighting, and cricket. There are also tennis courts available through Otford Tennis Club.
Otford Village Memorial Hallis available for hire, and also regularly hosts local clubs ranging from dance to theatre, and bridge to embroidery.
Built in 1999, in the old school house, this centreincludes a scale model of the Archbishop's Palace, and details of local geology, archaeology and history, plus artefacts from Roman to recent times, including historical photos, a Percy Pilcher model, and a working model of a Kentish oast house. Percy Pilcher is often quoted as being the first man to fly a glider in the British Isles, on 12 September 1895 (although there are good records showing that Eilmer of Malmsbury actually accomplished this in the 11th century). He is considered to have invented the bi-plane form of stacked wings. He was killed in a gliding accident before he could go on to be the first man to fly a powered aircraft.
Otford now has just two pubs, a restaurant and two cafes, as the conversion of retail premises into accommodation continues. It also has a couple of antique shops, a milliner, flower shop, a tennis specialist, local Post Office, a convenience store and a popular builder's merchant. There is parking for free for a limited period in the village car-park.
The village has allotments for hire, on land very close to the centre, which are managed by the Parish Council.Otford is covered by OS Landranger Map 188 (Maidstone and Royal Tunbridge Wells) at 1:50,000 and by OS Explorer 147 (Sevenoaks and Tonbridge) at 1:25,000.
Otford has its own television relay,situated at 51.321,0.199 or 51°19'16"N 0°11'55"E in the Otford Hills, serving Otford, Shoreham, and parts of Dunton Green and Kemsing. The television service is BBC London region, originating from the Crystal Palace transmitter. In some parts of Otford, the Crystal Palace transmitter can be received directly, and offers a richer set of multiplexes than the local relay. The BBC South East service is also available from the Bluebell Hill transmitter in some parts of Otford, which offers a similarly rich set of multiplexes but includes ITV Meridian not ITV London, and BBC Radio Kent rather than BBC London. Specialist installations can receive both sets at the same premises, as the multiplex channels are largely not overlapping, although two antennae are required for this.
The library is situated on the High Street, and is run by KCC. It is open Tuesdays and Fridays all day, Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays mornings only, and is closed on Wednesday and Sunday. It is integrated into the Kent library systems, with common library cards. Printing, scanning and copying services are available, as well as computers for web access, several social clubs and a book club. There is limited parking.
Otford Conservation Area covers some 16 hectares and contains about forty listed buildings and part of the scheduled monument of the Archbishop's Palace. It was designated in 1969 and extended in 1976, 1990 and 2006.
Reported crimes over the 12-month period May 2017 to April 2018 have occurred at a frequency of approximately 30 per month in the Otford and Shoreham areas. This is broadly similar to the rates across similar locations in Kent.
The archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and a principal leader of the Church of England, the ceremonial head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is Justin Welby, who was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013. Welby is the 105th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Augustine of Canterbury, the "Apostle to the English", sent from Rome in the year 597. Welby succeeded Rowan Williams.
Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west, and Essex to the north across the estuary of the River Thames; it faces the French department of Pas-de-Calais across the Strait of Dover. The county town is Maidstone. It is the fifth most populous county in England, the most populous non-Metropolitan county and the most populous of the home counties.
Sevenoaks is a town in Kent with a population of 29,506 situated south-east of London, England. Also classified as a civil parish, Sevenoaks is served by a commuter main line railway into London. Sevenoaks is 21 miles (34 km) from Charing Cross, the traditional centre of London. It is the principal town of the Sevenoaks district, followed by Swanley and Edenbridge.
For other roads with the same name see List of A21 roads.
The Darent is a Kentish tributary of the River Thames and takes the waters of the River Cray as a tributary in the tidal portion of the Darent near Crayford, as illustrated by the adjacent photograph, snapped at high tide. 'Darenth' is frequently found in the spelling of the river's name in older books and maps, Bartholomew's "Canal's and River of England" being one example. Bartholomew's Gazetteer (1954) demonstrates that Darent means "clear water" and separately explains the other name. Considering the River Darent runs on a bed of chalk and its springs rise through chalk, this is not surprising. The original purity of the water was a major reason for the development of paper and pharmaceuticals in the area.
Charing is a village and civil parish in the Ashford District of Kent, in south-east England. It includes the settlements of Charing Heath and Westwell Leacon. It is located at the foot of the North Downs and reaches up to the escarpment.
Dunton Green is a small village and civil parish in the Sevenoaks District of Kent, England. It lies in the valley of the River Darent, 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the town of Sevenoaks. Dunton Green is designated as being part of the Kent Downs area of outstanding natural beauty, due to its proximity to the North Downs. The original ecclesiastical church parish of Dunton Green was part of Otford parish. The former parish church was dedicated to St John the Divine.
Seal is a village and civil parish in the Sevenoaks district of Kent, England. The parish is located in the valley between the North Downs and the Greensand ridge, and to the north-east of the town of Sevenoaks in West Kent.
Hartley is a village and civil parish in the Sevenoaks district of Kent, England. It is located 7 miles (11 km) south west of Gravesend and the same distance south east of Dartford.
Sevenoaks is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2019 by Laura Trott, a Conservative.
Brasted is a village and civil parish in the Sevenoaks District of Kent, England. Brasted lies on the A25 road, between Sundridge and Westerham; the road is named Westerham Road, High Street and Main Road as it passes through the village east to west. Brasted is 6 km west of Sevenoaks town. The parish had a population of 1321 and includes the hamlets of Brasted Chart, Toys Hill and Puddledock. The village of Brasted has a number of 18th-century houses with several antique shops, pubs and residences. The parish church is dedicated to St Martin.
Farningham is a village and civil parish in the Sevenoaks District of Kent, England. It is located 3 miles (5 km) south-east of Swanley. It has a population of 1,314.
Chevening is a village and civil parish in the Sevenoaks District of Kent, England. It was the location for the world's earliest known organised cricket match.
Riverhead is a northern village part of the urban area of Sevenoaks in the district of the same name in Kent, England and is also a civil parish. The parish had a population in 2001 of 1821, increasing to 2,634 at the 2011 Census.
Ryarsh is a village and civil parish in the local government district of Tonbridge and Malling in Kent, England. It is home to around 1,000 residents. Ryarsh is west of Maidstone and north of West Malling.
Otford Palace, also known as the Archbishop's Palace, is in Otford, an English village and civil parish in the Sevenoaks District of Kent. The village is located on the River Darent, flowing north down its valley from its source on the North Downs.
The waymarked path Darent Valley Path is 19 miles (31 km) long, following the River Darent from the banks of the River Thames at Dartford through the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the Greensand Hills above Sevenoaks. It runs through the villages of Shoreham and Otford.
Polhill Anglo-Saxon cemetery is a place of burial that was used in the seventh and eighth centuries CE. It is located close to the hamlet of Polhill, near Sevenoaks in Kent, South-East England. Belonging to the Middle Anglo-Saxon period, it was part of the much wider tradition of burial in Early Anglo-Saxon England.
Codsheath was a hundred, a historical land division, in the county of Kent, England. It occupied the eastern part of the Lathe of Sutton-at-Hone, within in the west division of Kent. Codsheath was also recorded as "Codsede" in ancient records. Today the area that was the Codsheath Hundred is part of the Sevenoaks District of Kent that includes the town of Sevenoaks and surrounding area. The Hundred of Codsheath was included in the Domesday Book of 1086, that records it as having 203 houses, 44 in Sundridge and 159 in Otford. The River Darent flowed through the Codsheath Hundred, generally in a northeast direction. Several watermills were constructed on the river within the hundred, in the villages of Sundridge, Otford, Shoreham and Chevening.