St Paul's Cray

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St Paul's Cray
1-3 Chapmans Lane (geograph 2526919).jpg
1-3 Chapmans Lane, St Paul's Cray
Grid reference: TQ466688
Location: 51°23’59"N, 0°6’24"E
Post town: Orpington
Postcode: BR5
Dialling code: 01689, 020
Local Government
Council: Bromley
Bromley and Chislehurst

St Paul's Cray is an ancient parish in Kent, at the very edge of the metropolitan conurbation. It is located south of Sidcup and north of Orpington.

The area

The village includes a small parade of shops, as well as part of the industrial estate on Cray Avenue that connects to its sister St Mary Cray. The former Broomwood pub is now a McDonald's and lies on the main road. Like St Mary Cray, St Paul's Cray is home to a large ex-traveller community as well as many descendants of Irish travellers who moved south from Bermondsey after the docks shut. The local football team, Cray Wanderers F.C., is one of the oldest football clubs in the world.[1] Cray Wanderers were looking to return to the area at Sandy Lane. In September 2013, permission to develop Sandy Lane was refused by Bromley Council. Cray Wanderers announced on 6 October 2014 an intention to purchase Flamingo Park, adjacent to the A20 Sidcup by-pass, subject to receiving planning permission from Bromley Council for a football stadium and sports centre to be built there.


Though modern in appearance, St Paul’s Cray has an ancient history. Romans camped along the banks of the river, and even earlier settlements are suggested by the mysterious dene holes, caverns shaped in the chalk, which have been found on either side of the valley.[2] Sir Simon de Cray held the manor in the time of Edward I. He took his name from St Paul's Cray. He was knighted for his part in the Scottish wars. He became Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1275.[2][3]

The name St Paul's Cray has no direct connection with St Paul the Apostle; it is simply an abbreviation of St Paulinus Cray. The 11th-century church, made redundant in 1978 but now occupied by the Redeemed Christian Church of God,[4] is sited on Main Road on the attractive riverside section of the St Paul's Cray Conservation Area. From its structural form, it would appear to be a possibly Saxon foundation and certainly earlier than the thirteenth-century St Mary's. A rare dedication suggests that a church could have occupied the site in the early seventh century. (Paulinus was an early Christian missionary, and a close contemporary of Augustine who subsequently became Archbishop of York and Bishop of Rochester.)[3]

The area was known in the 16th century as Paul Crey. William Camden writes in a 1610 travel guide in a section on Kent: "Here the riverlet Crey, anciently called Crecan, intermingleth it selfe with Darent, ? when in his short course he hath imparted his name to five townlets which hee watereth,as Saint Marie Crey, Pauls Crey, Votes-Crey, North Crey,? and Crey-ford in former ages Crecanford, where Hengest the Saxon, the eighth yeare after his arrivall, joyned battaile with the Britans, and after hee had slaine their captaines brought them under with so great a slaughter that afterwards hee never stood in feare of them, but established his kingdome quietly in Kent." [5]

While some development has taken place on the east side of the old village, open country with a belt of woodland extends to the hamlet of Hockenden. On the west side, a large housing estate to accommodate 10,000 of London's overspill has swallowed up farm and woodland since the Second World War. This new township which extends as far west as Chislehurst Common has its own shopping centre, churches, schools, library and industrial estate.[2] Sports facilities are found at the recreation ground, with Hoblingwell Wood to the rear.

Nearby Areas

St Paul's Cray borders Foots Cray to the north; Ruxley to the north-east; Swanley to the east; St Mary Cray to the south-east and south; Petts Wood to the south-west and west; and Chislehurst to the north-west.


St Paul's Cray is served by Transport for London bus routes 51 to Woolwich via Sidcup and to Orpington, 273 to Lewisham via Grove Park and to Petts Wood, B14 to Bexleyheath via Sidcup and to Orpington, R1 to Green Street Green, and R11 to Sidcup and Green Street Green. The nearest rail link to St Paul's Cray is at St Mary Cray station.


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-01. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 London Borough of Bromley Official Guide, published by authority of the Council of the London Borough of Bromley, 1971/74
  3. 3.0 3.1 An Illustrated Guide to St Mary Cray and t © St Mary Cray Action Group 1999
  4. "St Paulinus Churchyard". London Parks & Gardens Trust. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  5. Britain, or, a Chorographicall Description of the most flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland by William Camden, 1610