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Otford High Street - geograph.org.uk - 509362.jpg
A view along Otford high street
Grid reference: TQ525590
Location: 51°18’35"N, 0°11’12"E
Population: 3,465  (2011[1])
Post town: Sevenoaks
Postcode: TN14
Dialling code: 01959
Local Government
Council: Sevenoaks

Otford is a village and parish in the Codsheath Hundred of Kent. It is on the River Darent three miles north of Sevenoaks. The river flows northwards, down its valley from its source in the North Downs. At the village centre is a church (St Bartholomew's). There are three other churches in the area: Otford Methodist Church, further down the High Street, The Most Holy Trinity Roman Church and the Otford Evangelical Church. By the village pond, which is also a roundabout, there are two pubs, cafes and shops.[2]In the village there are two schools, Otford Primary School and Russell House.


Otford's earliest history and archaeology shows occupation for at least 3,000 years. Occupants have included Iron Age farmers, Romans, archbishops and royalty, and events have included an historic battle or two. The etymology of the village name is disputed: an article in the Kent and Sussex Courier claims that Otford is a contraction of Ottansford, meaning the ford of Otta, a local man of importance.[3]

Roman Otford

A Roman villa in what is now Otford was abandoned during the 4th century. The remains were re-discovered and excavated during the 1930s, and again in 2015 by the West Kent Archeological Society.[4] It is at least twice the size of nearby Lullingstone villa.

Saxon Otford

From circa 650 to 750, during the Early mediæval period, Polhill Anglo-Saxon cemetery was used as a place of burial. The archaeologist Brian Philp suggested that the community who buried their dead at Polhill likely lived at Otford, noting that from the centre of the village, the cemetery was visible.[5]

The name Otford may be a contraction of Otterford, possibly derived from Offa, the King of Mercia who fought the Kentish Saxons in 776 at the Battle of Otford. 'The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3, published 1797,[6] indicates that Otford's Saxon name was Ottanford. It further notes that: "In 791, Offa, king of Mercia, whose gifts to the British churches and monasteries in general were great and munificent, gave Otteford to the church of Canterbury."

Priest Werhard, kinsman of archbishop Wulfred briefly took possession of Otteford, but was commanded by the archbishop to return it to Canterbury in 830. It remained so until 1070.

The chronicler monk John of Worcester told that Edmund Ironside brought his army to Kent, and fought the Danes at the Battle of Otford in 1016.[7] The Danes apparently fled to Sheppey.

Norman Otford

Otford is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it shows that the Archbishop of Canterbury possessed 8 mills in the village, which is referred to as Otefort.[8]

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3[6] notes that the Textus Roffensis or Tome of Rochester, published between 1122 and 1124, uses Otteford as the name.

The Gough Map of Great Britain, dated between 1355 and 1366, shows Otford labelled with its current name, and goughmap.org also shows that the village has been known as Otforde.[9]

Otford in the Middle Ages

In 1514, Archbishop William Warham replaced an existing ecclesiastical building with Otford Palace, and in 1519, King Henry VIII stayed in the palace. Apparently, he liked it so much, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer felt compelled to give it to the king in 1537. See the Otford Palace page and its references for more on this.

Otford in the Late Middle Ages

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent says that: "Otford Parish is about nine miles in circumference, and contains about two thousand four hundred acres of land, of which about seventy are woodland. It lies for the greatest part of it in a low damp situation, which makes it far from being pleasant, and gives it a lonely and gloomy appearance, and in all probability it would have been but little known had it not been for the residence of the archbishops at it for such a length of time."[6]

Victorian Otford

Otford had a population of 798 in 1841. In 1882, Otford Station (see "Railway", below) opened for passenger traffic towards London and Sevenoaks.

20th-century Otford

In 1909 the settlement of Dunton Green was split off into a separate civil parish. In 1924, the Otford Watermill, dating from 1541, burnt down. In the late 1940s, Otford Medical Practice was formed and is now located at Lennards Avenue.[10] On 16 January 1975 the village pond was granted listed building status.[11] In 1999, Otford Medical Practice extended its reach to include a new branch surgery in Kemsing.


Notable landmarks are the Archbishop's Palace, the duck-pond roundabout and the model of the solar system]], at a scale of 1:4,595,700,000. The Anglican parish church of Otford is dedicated to Saint Bartholomew. Otford Methodist Church, Otford Evangelical Free Church and the Roman Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity also serve the village;[12] the buildings were registered for marriages in 1936,[13] 1959[14] and 1981[15] respectively.



Otford station is located in the village and has services northbound to central London via Bromley South to London Victoria, Blackfriars and St Pancras and southbound to [Ashford, Kent|Ashford International]] via Maidstone East and to Sevenoaks. The railway station has a substantial, chargeable, car park. Some parts of north-western Otford are closer to Dunton Green Station, which has services northbound to Charing Cross station and Cannon Street Station as well as to Sevenoaks. This railway station also has a chargeable car park.


Otford lies on the A225, a main road between Dartford and Sevenoaks. The presence of the site of a Roman Villa, in addition to the remains of an ancient trackway, suggests that this road has a long history. The High Street, C296, forms a junction with the A225 at the roundabout which encloses the pond. The M26 Wrotham Spur uses the valley here as part of its route, closely following the boundary between Otford and Dunton Green. M25 access from Otford is effected most easily via the A25 into Sevenoaks and M25 Junction 15, Chevening Interchange.

Bus services

The 421 bus service runs between Sevenoaks and Swanley, and stops in Otford at the pond and close to Telston Lane. There is no Sunday service.[16]


The village is a key stopping-off point on the North Downs Way which runs through the village as it crosses the Darent Valley, intersecting the Darent Valley Path.

Pilgrims' Way

Passing through Otford is the Pilgrims' Way, the historic route supposed to have been taken by pilgrims from Winchester in Hampshire to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral.



The village includes a state primary school, Otford Primary School,[17] and two independents (properly called public schools in the UK), St Michael's Prep School and Russell House School.[18]


Otford has a public recreation field of approximately 12 acres, marked for football with floodlighting, and cricket. There are also tennis courts available through Otford Tennis Club.

Village hall

Otford Village Memorial Hall[19] is available for hire, and also regularly hosts local clubs ranging from dance to theatre, and bridge to embroidery.

Otford Heritage Centre

Built in 1999, in the old school house, this centre[20] includes a scale model of the Archbishop's Palace, and details of local geology, archaeology and history, plus artefacts from Roman to recent times, including historical photos, a Percy Pilcher model, and a working model of a Kentish oast house. Percy Pilcher was the first man to fly a glider in the British Isles, on 12 September 1895, and is considered to have invented the bi-plane form of stacked wings. He was killed in a gliding accident before he could go on to be the first man to fly a powered aircraft.[21]

Shopping, eating and drinking

Otford now has just two pubs, a restaurant and two cafes, as the conversion of retail premises into accommodation continues. It also has a couple of antique shops, a milliner, flower shop, a tennis specialist, local Post Office, a convenience store and a popular builder's merchant. There is parking for free for a limited period in the village car-park.


The village has allotments for hire, on land very close to the centre, which are managed by the Parish Council.[22] Otford is covered by OS Landranger Map 188 (Maidstone and Royal Tunbridge Wells) at 1:50,000 and by OS Explorer 147 (Sevenoaks and Tonbridge) at 1:25,000.

The library is situated on the High Street. It is open Tuesdays and Fridays all day, Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays mornings only, and is closed on Wednesday and Sunday. It is integrated into the Kent library systems, with common library cards. Printing, scanning and copying services are available, as well as computers for web access, several social clubs and a book club. There is limited parking.[23]


  1. "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadKeyFigures.do?a=7&b=11127302&c=Otford&d=16&e=62&g=6438040&i=1001x1003x1032x1004&m=0&r=1&s=1474281134309&enc=1. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  2. "Otford a Country Paradise". 2011. Archived from the original on 24 July 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20140724093114/http://wikikent.co.uk/history-of-Otford-Kent.shtml. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  3. "The 'rich and fascinating' history of Otford". http://www.courier.co.uk/rich-fascinating-history-Otford/story-12005165-detail/story.html. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  4. "Abandoned Roman Villa". Culture24. http://www.culture24.org.uk/history-and-heritage/archaeology/art542382-kent-roman-villa-otford-abandoned-river. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  5. Philp, Brian (2002). The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Polhill near Sevenoaks, Kent 1964–1986. Kent: Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit. pp. 33. ISBN 0-947831-223. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Parishes: Otford". W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-kent/vol3/pp19-31#p2. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  7. "Battle of Otford, 1016". Anglo-Saxons.net. http://www.anglo-saxons.net/hwaet/?do=get&type=chron&from=1016&to=1066. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  8. "Domesday book online". Open Domesday project. http://www.domesdaybook.co.uk/kent3.html#otford. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  9. "Gough map of Great Britain". King's College, London. http://www.goughmap.org/settlements/8236/. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  10. "Otford Medical Centre". NHS. http://www.otfordmedicalpractice.nhs.uk/. 
  11. National Heritage List 1259054: Otford Pond (Grade II listing)
  12. "Places of Worship" (PDF). Sevenoaks District Council. 2009. Archived from the original on 30 August 2012. https://web.archive.org/web/20120830134914/http://www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/documents/sdc_places_of_worship_2009.pdf. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  13. London Gazette: no. 34314, p. 5356, 14 August 1936.
  14. London Gazette: no. 41697, p. 2864, 1 May 1959.
  15. London Gazette: no. 48556, p. 3896, 18 March 1981.
  16. "421 Bus Timetable". Go Coachhire. https://bustimes.org.uk/services/set_6-421-A-y08. 
  17. "Otford Primary School". http://www.otford.kent.sch.uk. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  18. "Russell House School". http://www.russellhouseschool.co.uk/. Retrieved 21 March 2016. 
  19. "Otford Village Memorial Hall". http://www.sevenoaksdirectory.com/entry/otford/halls-for-hire/otford-village-memorial-hall. 
  20. "Visit Otford Heritage Centre". South East England. http://www.visitsoutheastengland.com/things-to-do/otford-heritage-centre-p414491. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  21. Jarrett, Philip (1987). Another Icarus: Percy Pilcher and the quest for flight. Smithsonian Books. ISBN 978-0874745566. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=XoJTAAAAMAAJ&q=percy+pilcher+flight&dq=percy+pilcher+flight&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiuyLv2lszLAhWoHJoKHYOMBK8Q6AEIJTAA. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  22. "Otford Parish Council Contacts". Sevenoaks District Council. http://cds.sevenoaks.gov.uk/mgParishCouncilDetails.aspx?ID=217&LS=1. Retrieved 21 March 2016. 
  23. "Otford Library". KCC. http://webapps.kent.gov.uk/KCC.Libraries.Web.Sites.Public/LibraryDetails.aspx?aid=0&lid=67&uprn=100062621712. Retrieved 21 March 2016. 

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Otford)