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Coordinates: 51°19′27″N 0°05′49″W / 51.3242°N 0.0969°W / 51.3242; -0.0969

Kenley is located in Greater London

 Kenley shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ327600
London borough Croydon
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town PURLEY
Postcode district CR8
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Croydon South
London Assembly Croydon and Sutton
List of places: UK • England • London

Kenley is a district in the south of the London Borough of Croydon. It borders Purley, Coulsdon, Riddlesdown, Caterham and Whyteleafe. Kenley is situated 13 miles south of Charing Cross. The 2001 census showed Kenley having a population of 13,525.

Significant portions of Kenley lie within the London Green Belt. In particular, the south of Kenley is dominated by the open green spaces of Kenley Common and Kenley Aerodrome.



A comprehensive history of Kenley is found in the Bourne Society's 'Kenley Village History'.


Surburban development

For centuries, Kenley was part of Coulsdon Manor which covered the whole area now known as Coulsdon, Old Coulsdon, Purley and Kenley. As with most of this area, Kenley was primarily farm land, with a few big houses and their estates.

The official opening of the railway on 4 August 1856 transformed Kenley. The new railway prompted urban development. By the end of the Victorian era, Kenley had assumed its own identity. Magnificent gentlemen's houses in substantial grounds were constructed during the 1860s. These houses gave Kenley its distinctive appearance on its western hillside. More modest housing and shops were built along the Godstone Road in the 1880s. Finally, the compact housing of the lower lying Roke area was constructed toward the end of the 19th century.

All Saints Church, now a grade II listed building, was built in 1870, and enlarged in 1897 and 1902. In 1888, Kenley was created as a parish in its own right.

One of Kenley's landmark buildings is the Memorial Hall. It was opened in 1922 to commemorate those who gave their lives in World War I. It was subsequently extended and re-opened by Group Captain Douglas Bader in 1975.

World War II

RAF Kenley was a strategic airfield in the Battle of Britain. Given RAF Kenley's importance, the Luftwaffe attempted to destroy it by means of a massive bombing raid on 18 August 1940. The attacking Luftwaffe aircraft suffered heavy casualties during the raid. Despite some damage to the airfield and the surrounding buildings, this bombing raid proved unsuccessful. By the following day, RAF Kenley was operational again.

Hammond Innes' book Attack Alarm was based on his experiences as a Royal Artillery anti-aircraft gunner at RAF Kenley during the Battle of Britain. It contains graphic descriptions of the station and attacks on it in 1940.

Post-War development

In the postwar period, many of the substantial Victorian properties with their extensive grounds were developed for executive housing. From the early 1960s, RAF Kenley was gradually run down. Today, the aerodrome is used exclusively by the gliders of the Air Training Corps and the Surrey Hills Gliding Club.

Kenley Common

Kenley Common comprises fifty-six hectares of green open space surrounding the former Battle of Britain airfield. It is a mixture of chalk grassland and ancient woodland set among gently rolling hills. Blessed with fine views across the Caterham valley and the North Downs beyond, visitors find it hard to believe that the centre of London is only 14 miles to the north.

The original Common was bought by the Corporation of London in 1883. At that time, it encompassed some of the area that is now Kenley Airfield. Over the years, compulsory purchases by the Government and subsequent land acquisitions and re-acquisitions have meant that the Common has changed its shape and position, and almost doubled in size.

The Common’s history as an airfield goes back to the First World War when planes were assembled and tested for squadrons in France. It proved an important link in the chain of supply and became established as a permanent Royal Air Force station. World War II saw concrete runways being laid and, as headquarters of ‘B’ Sector in the No 11 Group of fighter stations, it was soon playing a key role in the Battle of Britain. Kenley is now the last remaining Battle of Britain fighter station in the southeast to remain in its World War II form. Evidence of its wartime role has survived and the old blast bays, air raid shelters and officer’s mess can still be seen.


Kenley has traditionally elected Conservative Party councillors at the local elections. In the May 2006 local elections, the Conservatives won all three of Kenley's council seats.

Nearest places

Nearest stations

Notable current or former residents

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