|Woodins updated 14.8.10|
This delightful grade II listed thatched house lies in Church Road near the junction with Ash Road. According to the English Heritage lister's report, it is a 17th century or earlier timber framed building with modern restorations and additions.
The house has only been called so for about the last hundred years. Originally it was called "Hayes" (an old word for enclosure) and it was the centre of a small compact farm of 26 acres, extending over the modern roads of Old Downs and Larksfield (western part), as well as most of Church Road beyond Gresham Avenue. The earliest known owner is John Cotyer, who died in 1452. In his will he leaves Hayes to his wife Christine for 16 years, and then to his son Thomas. His will also left 40d for repairs to the Church; and he also stipulated he was to be buried on the south side of the Church (medieval people believed it was unlucky to be buried on the north side of the Church where the Church cast its shadow). It was sold, together with "Bassdene Farm" (mintmakers, Church Road) in 1495 to John Sedley of Southfleet, ancestor of the later purchaser of the whole manor. He did not retain Woodins for long, for by 1541 John Overy of Fairby was the owner. It then passed through three generations of the Overys until the Overy family estate was divided between brothers John and Richard in 1604 (in this deed Platt Field is called Morrells Croft, and Hays Field is called Poores Croft). Richard Overy and Parnell his wife sold it in 1617 to Richard and Jane Barham. At this time Woodins consisted of a house, a barn, an orchard, 16 acres of arable land, 8 acres of pasture and acres of wood.
Again, there is a slight gap in the series of owners, for it was bought for £50 in 1656 by George Eves, the Rector of Hartley, from Ezerell Tonge. He left it to his son Geoffrey in 1667, his will also included bequests of 10/- to the poor of Hartley, and he also remembered the poor of his native Croydon. Rev Eves also owned land at Southfleet, East Kent and Hertfordshire. He did not live at Woodins, rather leasing it to one Leonard Carrier. Mr Carrier augmented his landholding by leasing another 60 acres of land in Fawkham and Hartley from the Walter family (this included the future sites of Old Downs House and Downs Valley). Geoffrey sold the Hartley and Southfleet lands to Richard Taylor in 1706. The Taylors owned Woodins until 1782 when it was sold to one John Page. The Pages also let out the farm; in 1808 the tenants were Thomas and Ann Wilson and their 4 children. It appears that Ann later married William Woodin. The Woodins were an old Hartley family, his father and grandfather had lived for many years at Goldsmiths Cottage at Hartley Bottom. It is of course William Woodin that the house is named after, a fairly common Victorian practice to name a house after its owner; Rev Bancks tells us that the road at this point was called "Woodins Corner" too (He also records an undated legend associated with Woodins, of a raid by three masked robbers who tied up and gagged the owners, recent research has identified this event - The Era newspaper of 1 May 1853 reported that "a small farmer's house was robbed by four men, who frightened the old people, and carried off £12 and other property, within a quarter mile of [Fairby]"). Ann's son William Wilson inherited the tenancy in 1858. At the end of the last century the tenant was Charles Taylor, who was a shepherd, and indeed the house was often also called "Shepherd's Cottage".
James Page died in 1853 and his executors sold the farm for £1,350 to James Thomas Smith of Sun Cottages, New Cross. At the time the farm was nearly all arable, with just 1½ acres of meadow. This was his first purchase in Hartley but by no means his last. When he sold his lands to James Timmins Chance in 1899, he owned Fairby, Mintmakers, Middle Farm, Stocks Farm and other land as well as Woodins.
Woodins itself and most of the land was bought by Payne Trapps & Co on 1 November 1905. They sold off the land in parcels, slightly worryingly the house is bisected by two plots! Their purchase almost marks the end of Woodins as a working farm, however such of the land as was then undeveloped (no longer part of Woodins) enjoyed a brief Indian Summer in the 1940s, when the land was ploughed up to boost food production.
One field name has been preserved in modern Hartley - Wellfield, although in fact the field of that name only just reached the back gardens of some of the houses on the south side of Wellfield Road.