A Dartford Walk

Route & what to see


A 3 mile circular walk from West Hill

Eastwards along West Hill
The road through Dartford is the Roman Watling Street, later the main London to Canterbury and Dover Road (A2). West Hill School is an attractive Board School building of 1889. Dartford Grammar School was founded in 1576 but the building on West Hill was constructed in 1866. West Hill House (now a Masonic Hall) was the home of John Landale (a tailor) from the 1810s - 1840s. He won 30,00 in a lottery and built the two terraces of cottages which flank his property. The Lock Up with four cells was built in 1843. When the new police station opened in 1872 the building was used as a casual ward and drying closet by the workhouse. The workhouse hospital of 1887-97 became King Edward and later West Hill Hospital. This was demolished and the site redeveloped in the 1990s. The area on the south side of the road was chalk pits with limekilns and whiting works.

Left into Constance Grove
A new chapel was built for the workhouse in 1878 but this is now derelict.

Walk around the chapel and go down stairs into Priory Hill then right
The weatherboarded building is the former Zion Chapel of 1720 with two associated cottages.

Next right into Twisleton Court
The first workhouse was built in 1729 and the Dartford Union took over the site when it was formed in 1836. New buildings were erected to the designs of John Whichcord. Most of these remain, converted to other uses.

Return to West Hill and go left
The former National School of 1826 is now flats. Almshouses were built in a former leper hospital in 1572. These were rebuilt by John Twisleton of Horsemans Place in 1704 and used until 1975.

Right into Highfield Road
The former non-conformist church of 1882 by John Sulman is now residental. Adjoining are the former police station and Magistrates' Court. The Baptist Church of 1865-7 also housed a school.

Bear left into Instone Road
Houses in this area were built in the 1860s.

Left at Lowfield Street
A plaque marks the site of the Bridewell Prison, built in 1720 and demolished in 1932. The almshouses of 1889 replaced the 16th century Beer Almshouses (see plaque). They were renovated by a housing association in 1980. The Two Brewers pub was refaced in the 19th century but is a 17th century timber-framed builidng (see side elevation). The Priory Shopping Centre was built on the site of the cattle market.

Right along Market Street
There are some Art Deco buildings on the right. The library, financed by Andrew Carnegie and designed by Thomas Tiffin, was opened in 1916. It was extended in 1937 and houses the Dartford Museum. The war memorial with a statue by George Frampton was unveiled in May 1922. Central Park originated with a gift of land in 1903. The council extended it in 1915 with the purchase of 16 acres of meadow alongside the River Darenth. A stone arch from the town's Medieval bridge was relocated in the park. The Henry Wellcome Bandstand was erected in 2010.

From the library continue around Market Street back to the High Street and go right.
The Paper Moon pub was designed as a bank by Sir Edward Maufe.

Continue along Overy Liberty
The site of the Acacia Hall complex has a long history, much of it based around corn milling. The first recorded corn mill on this site was in 1216. By c1750 the ownership of the mill was with the Colyer family. The current mansion house was built by 1868 and remained in the possession of Henry Colyer until 1898 when the house, mill and grounds were leased to Burroughs Wellcome as a social club for their employees. In 1962 the mill building was destroyed by fire leaving only the ground floor surviving. The site was purchased by Dartford Borough Council in 2005 and is now a leisure, business and social complex
. Bridge House is an 18th century building with a 19th century extension. The bridge over the River Darenth was rebuilt in 1922.

Cross to St Saviours Walk
The area was known as the 'Chicken Run' after a row of old buildings with canopies.
The 17th century Pipe Houses were used by clay pipe makers. Numbers 1 - 17 Overy Street are all Grade II listed.

At the end of the path return to the High Street along Bullace Lane
This was the site of a ropewalk.
The Wat Tyler pub was formerly the Crown & Anchor.

Detour left to view the church
Number 82 is an early 15th century timber-framed builidng. Holy Trinity Church existed in Saxon times and is recorded in the Domesday Book. The lower tower was constructed between 1050 & 1080 and the upper portion is 15th century. St Thomas's Chapel dates from about 1220 and the remainder of the church is 14th century. Henry V held a service of thanksgiving after Agincourt and after his death in 1422 his body lay overnight in the church. A corner was removed to widen the High Street in 1792 and there were alterations in the Victorian period.

Go westwards along the High Street
The garden of the 18th century Bank House (number 44) was incorporated into Central Park. Originally a private residence, it was later a bank then council offices (currently unoccupied). Bull's Head Yard on the right served a coaching inn. The inn dated back to 1467 and closed in 1972. Boots now occupies the site of the Bull & George where Jane Austen stayed (see plaque). An area of seating marks the site of the market building. One Bell Corner recalls a pub of the same name which was demolished in 1966. The Millennium Mural depicts 'One Town That Changed the World' (see plaques). The building beyond was built as an extension to the hotel in 1899 and acquired by a bank in 1912. The Royal Victoria & Bull Hotel is a former coaching inn of 1703 with an 18th century facade. The original building was owned by the nuns of Dartford Priory. There is a blue plaque to Richard Trevithick who died on the site. A corn exchange was held in the yard. A milestone indicates it is 15 miles to London.

Contine along Spital Street
Copperfields was built on the site of Stricklands corn store. The Crush bar is the former Coach & Horses pub, a timber-framed 15th/16thc building. It has exposed ceiling beams and a staircase of interest. Next door is the Art Deco Co-op building and opposite the former State Cinema (both 1935). The Flying Boat pub occupies the 1910 vehicle showrooms of John Beadle. The Methodist Church was built to the designs of W Pocock as a Wesleyan Mission in 1845. The Court House pub occupies the former County Court of 1858, which retains its Royal arms. St James Place has an old street lamp. The Royal Oak is probably a 17th century timber-framed building, altered in the 19th century. It has beams and fireplaces from 1690.

Right at Highfield Road North
In Essex Road to the right is the former Technical Institute of 1902.

Left into Priory Road
The Manor Gatehouse is all that remains from Henry VIII's Manor House which became the home of Anne of Cleves. It was built in 1541-4 on the site of a Dominican Priory founded in 1355 (see information board). It houses the registery office and can be hired for weddings.

Return via Highfield Road North to West Hill

Dartford Town Trails - on sale at museum
Dartford's Heritage Trail - information panels (available as postcard set in museum)
Dartford Archive [
Dartford Workhouse [
The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, Volume 2
 By Edward Hasted [online]
Dartford Town Centre Conservation Area [


london-footprints.co.uk 2013