Blackfen in 1822

While carrying out my New Year’s Resolution of having a bit of a tidy up/clear out, I was looking over my Blackfen research papers (I have boxes and boxes of them…), and I came across a copy of the Survey and Valuation of all the Rateable Property in the Borough of Bexley taken on 11 April 1822. It provides a fascinating snapshot of the Bexley area at that time.

Blackfen at that time was just a tiny hamlet. Its inhabitants consisted of:

BLACK FENN

James Townsend: house, garden and orchard (owned by James Townsend)

Edmund Newsted: house, garden and orchard (owned by James Townsend)

Thomas Tyler: farm house, barn, yard, stables, garden, orchard, arable and meadow land (owned by Lord Sidney)

Robert Ingram: farm house, yard, barns, stable, garden, arable and meadow land (owned by Messrs Day)

Thomas Warde: house and garden (owned by John Johnston, Esq.)

William Smith: house and garden (owned by John Johnston, Esq.)

Staples: house and garden (owned by John Johnston, Esq.)

Newsted: house and garden (owned by John Johnston, Esq.)

Foster: house and garden (owned by John Johnston, Esq.)

Near Black Fenn, on Danson land, were the Whale family living in a cottage with stable and garden. This fascinated me at the time because whale jaw bones had been discovered when Westwood Lane was made up in the 1930s. I had no idea what whale jaw bones were doing there and wondered if it was anything to do with this family named Whale!

Archaeology in Blackfen

As far as I know archaeology has never been attempted in Blackfen. So I thought I would have a go and see what would happen!

I made a start on the garden of the house where I grew up. I have already done some research on it. It was built in the 1930s, on land which was farmland, and before that, woodland. What could possibly be found there? Perhaps there might be some animal bones, or objects dropped by farm labourers, or perhaps even a neolithic stone tool!

Here is the test pit:

Test pit

Test pit

Despite digging to a depth of one metre (in solid clay!) my finds were only 20th century ones.

Finds... all 20th century!

Finds… all 20th century!