Coombe Farm


Ormiston Road was born from an extension to the London – Greenwich railway, the first cosmopolitan railway in the world, built on hundreds or brick arches over the streets of South London. Completed in 1838, the railway terminated at Greenwich and was not extended to Charlton until 1878 via a tunnel under Greenwich Park. Westcombe Park station was opened in 1879. Had you alighted from the train back then you would have had a view to the North of extensive countryside with the fields and orchards of Coombe Farm directly in front of you.

Combe FarmIn October 1883, Coombe Farm was sold and the building of a new suburb began, roads extending up to the railway from the Woolwich Road, an important thoroughfare dating back to ancient times. The Market Gardeners of Coombe Farm, the Roberts Family and their 100 employees, had succumbed to the expansion of London and after almost 1000 years the fertile land would be buried forever by the bricks and mortar of traditional Victorian terraces.
The map shows the extent of the farm with Westcombe Park Station and the modern roads superimposed.  You can click on this image for a more detailed map.

Coombe Farm had been a very successful enterprise during its time and without doubt its most famous owner was Anne Boleyn for whom Henry VIII had purchased it in 1531, in part as a private hideaway from his more public palaces in Greenwich, Charlton and Eltham. Even after Anne's execution, Coombe Farm was maintained by Henry for his future Queens.

In 1665 Combe Farm is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary in somewhat tragic circumstances as the farm was quarantined on account of the plague. Back then the farm house was in an isolated position between Greenwich and Woolwich and it was suspected that the black death had arrived with some beggars who had been allowed to sleep in one of the barns. Pepys writes on 22nd August: "I went away and walked to Greenwich, in my way seeing a coffin with a dead body therein, dead of the plague, lying in an open close belonging to Coome farme, which was carried out last night, and the parish have not appointed any body to bury it; but only set a watch there day and night, that nobody should go thither or come thence: this disease making us more cruel to one another that we are to dogs." On September 4th "Walked home, my Lord Brouncker giving me a very neat cane to walk with; but troubled me to pass by Coome farme where about twenty-one people have died of the plague".

John Julius Angerstein purchased the Farm in 1838 as part of his Westcombe Park estate ("Woodlands"), the centre of which was Woodlands House. He leased it to the Roberts Family who managed it up until its final days. The farm house stood until 1901 when it was demolished to allow the completion of the new suburban housing, Ormiston Road being one of the very first new streets. When you look down in a northerly direction from the foot bridge over the A102M that lies behind Westcoombe Park Station, you are looking at where the farm once stood.