Crayford Manor House Historical & Archaeological Society held its inaugural meeting on the 19th April 1961.  It was at this meeting that a Committee and Officers were appointed.  The first Chairman was LT Col G.W Meates FSA, who was well known locally, at that time, for his archaeological work on the Lullingstone Roman Villa. A brief history of the Society was produced in 1989 in a booklet form.  Recently, all Society papers from 1961-2002 - including Committee Meeting and AGM Minutes - have been deposited with Bexley Local Studies located above Townley Road Library, Bexleyheath, where they may be viewed by anyone wishing to undertake research.

We are no longer able to meet at Crayford Manor House; we have kept that name in our title but have dropped '& Archaeological' as we are no longer able, as a group, to partake in any 'digs'.  We now meet at the Baker Trust Hall DA1 4BG, near Sainsbury's in Crayford; there is ample parking and it is easily accessible by public transport.

We continue to arrange winter lectures, which we understand from our members have been informative and enjoyable and we try to cover local history whenever possible.  Our December meeting takes a different form as we have a savory buffet, wine and desserts, then a speaker who might capture the atmosphere of a Christmas past, or who might take a slightly lighter approach to historical facts.  Our December speakers have included Charles Dickens' great-great-grandson, dressed for the occasion, who certainly brought to life what it was like in Dickens' time, by reading some of his ancestor's works.  Queen Victoria (depicted by Anne Carter, dressed in period costume) read some of her own letter and journals. Some of the works of Rudyard Kipling read by Geoff Hutchinson (in costume) were equally entertaining.

Our day excursions to a wide variety of destinations have been popular, and have included for example, Bletchley Park; Jane Austen's House; the BBC; the Royal Courts of Justice; Polesden Lacey, to name just a few.  In recent years the Society has organised a pre-Christmas excursion (most recently to The Cricketers at Clavering, a pub owned by Jamie Oliver's parents) for a traditional Christmas lunch, with all the trimmings.

We have also made group visits to the British Museum for lectures and exhibitions, including 'Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum' and the Shakespeare Exhibition 'Staging the World', depicting the world around Shakespeare's time.

Members receive a printed Newsletter twice a year, which includes details of our trips and lectures, and they are encouraged to submit short articles which could be, for example, on an interesting trip or point of local interest.

Visitors are most welcome to attend lectures for a small charge.

HLF Project "The Fabric of our Town":In 2012 the Society was awarded £64,300 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project "The Fabric of Our Town", in celebration of the bicentenary of Charles Swaisland setting up his textile printing works in Crayford.  It was an extensive project involving for local schools, former employees of David Evans & Co (Crayford silk printers), the siting of a plaque over the door of The One Bell pub (where the first Chartist meeting in Crayford was held in 1844) and many other activities.  The resulting book, two films and much other material can be found on the website www.crayfordhistory.co.uk.  The project was completed (early) by the end of 2013.





Tree of Life by John Piper, commissioned 1985, St Peters Church Firle, near Lewis, East Sussex.

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