This name, which is probably related to woodland clearance, is just about lost today. It was the name given to the hamlet around the Black Lion, which in the last century formed the commercial heart of Hartley. Because the ownership of all the properties is so interlinked, I have dealt with them all here. The earliest definite reference to the land comes in 1604 when the Overy family of Fairby were the owners. Forge Cottage and its 12 acres was the only property then, occupied by John Warren. Adjoining that towards Ash was a "small green", and then came the land now called Northfield - a New Ash Green name for the land (after all it is Hartley's most southerly field!). By the 1640s we can see the origins of the Black Lion holding, comprising the green and 3 acres out of Forge Cottage. The other properties come much later.
Forge CottageForge Cottage (photo taken 2011)
Now almost hidden behind a high fence, there was a smith's forge here for at least 300 years. Thomas Edwards of Malling bought it for £100 from the Overys in 1646. It proved to be an excellent investment, for twelve years later he sold it to Thomas Young of Fairby for more than twice the price! The will of his son John (1704) mentions the tenant Francis Treadwell, whose family were to be smiths there for more than another century. Francis Treadwell (1738-1819) was also parish clerk for over 40 years - a remarkable achievement. During the c18th the Glover family were the freehold owners of the forge although the land appears to have been retained by the Youngs. William Bensted of Hartley Court purchased the freehold in about 1815. Francis Glover insured the property for £200 in 1780 with the Sun Insurance Office, probably the first person in Hartley to do so. It was described as timber and tile with the forge under one roof. He must have thought better of it, for he let the policy lapse the next year. In the succeeding century Elvy Cooper was smith here for over 30 years, but the business had come to an end before the first world war. When the Valuation Office visited in 1911, they said it had been sold for £175 in 1906, but at that time the interior of the 6 roomed house was "very shaky and needs considerable repair", as did the outbuildings housing the forge. Since then it has been in private ownership, one notable person to live there was Frederick Jackson, one of the earliest secretaries of Hartley Football Club.
Bay LodgeBay Lodge (picture taken 2016)
This is the neighbouring property north of Forge Cottage, named after the bay hedge at the front. This cottage was built in 1818 (source: first appearance on parish rating list), the same year as Hartley House. For much of that century the Dean family of wheelwrights lived here. Thomas Dean the son of William is said to have rebuilt the house and planted the hedge. Mr P W Goldie bought it in 1906 for £450. It was described around that time as being an old stucco and slate double fronted house with a brick floor on the ground in fair condition. A William Nash lived here in the 1920s, he had been coachman to Lord Lauderdale, the Archbishop of York and Lady Dunraven.A wheelwright's shop at Shere, Surrey, 1885
Black Lion Public House
In the c17th this was a 6 acre smallholding owned by the Best family of Middle Farm. In 1698 a cottage in the occupation of Richard Day was said to be "lately built" there, and this would fit in with the date range for the building given by Dr Cramp (Hart - March 1999). Richard Glover (1680-1748), direct ancestor of the current Glover farming family, purchased it in 1731, and is almost certainly the first licensed victualler here. He with his father William were already publicans - they had leased a pub called the Black Lion in Fawkham in 1707, and he seems to have taken the name with him to Hartley. He and his son Francis were sufficiently well off to be entitled to vote at a time when the number of voters in Hartley could be counted on one hand. One interesting aside is that at this time there was no secret ballot, people's votes were noted down and published in "Poll Books" - some are in Gravesend library, so you can find out how Francis voted all those years ago. Francis sold the pub to Robert Monk in the 1790s who sold it on to Hussey Fleet from the Dartford brewing family. The freehold eventually came to the Dartford Brewery, which was closed down and demolished in the 1930s when it was taken over by Courage. Black Lion in about 1905
Many of the licencees of the pub have stayed for a long time and must have pulled many pints over the years - George Wansbury (1881-1907), Charles English (1927-36) - he drove a horse and grocery van, and was named "the midnight grocer" because of the time of some of his deliveries! Black Lion Shop about 1930
Edward Kitto was landlord from 1941 to 1954, later Ronald and Thelma Antwiss (1964-74), and Joe and Pam Smith from 1974 until fairly recently. A plan of the pub in 1914 shows the grocery shop at the southern end and a store room at the opposite end with a sitting room, tap room, private bar, scullery and kitchen in between. Recently the building has been extended with the addition of "Defoe's Restaurant", the new buidling has been well executed in sympathy with the original.
These were approximately where the Black Lion car park is today. These were built in wood and thatch and were the parish poorhouses since at least the mid c18th. After the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, local paupers would have been sent to the Dartford Union Workhouse at West Hill, so eventually the parish sold the cottages. They were burnt down on the night of 12/13 May 1877. Arson was suspected, and William Longhurst was accused. He lived in a shed at the back of the cottages and had a record for poaching. However he was sensationally acquitted at the Kent Assizes, when it was discovered that the chief prosecution witness had once been charged with arson of a barn. They were rebuilt in brick, stucco and tile, and named after the home of Mr Fleet (Darenth Grange). Two families lived here a very long time - the Days and the Chearys. They were demolished about 1970.
"Defoe's Cottage"'Defoe's Cottage' in 1931
Said to have once been the home of the author Daniel Defoe, this tiny brick cottage was between Darenth Cottages and the Black Lion. Attractive though this legend is, it is almost certainly untrue, for there is contemporary testimony from Francis Treadwell that it was built by the parish in 1832 and that the first tenant was Fanny Longhurst. Local historian Sir Stephen Tallents wrote to the Dartford Chronicle in 1937 to point out that such evidence as there is related to the other Hartley in Kent. It appears that this cottage was uninhabited for a long time before it was pulled down. A picture of it appears in the Parish Magazine of June 1931.
Black Lion Cottages
By 1800 there was a house here, which was replaced by a row of labourer's cottages in brick and slate by 1841, said to be by the owner Mr Cooper. It was in one of these cottages that Hartley's first school was kept by the Misses Prowse of Hartley House. Mr E Treadwell bought them for £360 in 1904, then their tenants paid 3s 6d weekly, less than the 5s paid by the tenants of Darenth Cottages, because of their poorer condition. Richard Woodward, one of the names on the war memorial, lived at number 4. He joined the Grenadier Guards in 1914, and served in France until January 1916 when he contracted pleurosy, a disease which led to his discharge and death in 1918. His is the one war grave in the Churchyard. The cottages were replaced by the houses Hedgeway and Pinleigh in 1973.
Hartley HouseHartley House (photo taken 2016)
For its age this grade II listed house is quite unique in Hartley, being the sole example of an early c19th gentleman's residence. The more classically influenced style is quite striking in comparison with the local vernacular architecture. The English Heritage lister gives an early c19th date, and indeed, like neighbouring Bay Lodge, it first appears in the rating lists in 1818 when a John Stokes lived here. A map of 1790 suggests there may have been already a building here. A retired naval officer called Richard Prowse lived here 1821-32; his unmarried daughters ran a school at the Black Lion Cottages. Many other distinguished personages have lived here, Elizabeth Bensted, the widow of William Bensted of Hartley Court, came here in 1836, followed by her widowed daughter Mary Ann Parsons (1776-1864), under the provisions of her father's will. As well as the house he left her £2,000 in stocks and shares, but made provisions to prevent her husband Owen (the tenant of New House Farm) getting the money! She was followed by her nephews William and Henry Bensted, in 1872 (see image of conveyance) William sold Henry his half share for £540. Henry then sold the house in 1875 (see image of conveyance) for £1,050. The buyer was a watch gilder from Clerkenwell called Philip Bincks. Charles Bradley the licensee of the Black Lion lived there at the time of the next census in 1891. It was sold in 1903 for £1,900, rather less than what it was recently marketed for! The valuation office description in 1911 shows 3 reception rooms, a kitchen and a scullery on the ground floor; with 6 bedrooms, toilet and bathroom above. Other buildings included sheds, wash house and a billiard room. Three acres of land has always gone with the house, a mixture of orchard and pleasure grounds. The house has been recently sold, after being in the possession of the Green family for over 25 years.