The name "Purley" is derived from "pirlea" which means "Peartree Lea". Originally farmland, and now a conservation area, this secluded and relatively exclusive residential area has retained its atmosphere of tranquillity and seclusion for over 90 years.

The Webb Estate Society was formed in the early 1980's by a group of residents who wished to maintain the character of the estate. After much work the estate was designated a conservation area in 1983. In addition to conservation area planning requirements, the Estate's character is protected by a series of restrictive covenants which are owned by Webb Estate Limited.

In 1999, the Webb family sold the freeholds of the roads to Webb Estate Limited, a company owned by the residents of the estate. This company continues the work of the Webb Estate Society in preserving the character of the estate.

Development of the Estate began in 1888 with construction on Banstead Road and Foxley Lane, and was then extended into Upper Woodcote Village, which was completed in 1903. The Webb Estate is unique in the Croydon area because it was designed and built to one man's vision. William Webb wanted to create a Garden Village in the suburbs, for people who worked in the City. For thirty years Webb set about creating a village in which buildings, gardens and the roads were carefully and distinctively designed to a high physical and aesthetic standard.

Most development took place between 1901 and 1912, and by 1919, all of the principal roads were substantially complete. Webb's own house, Upper Woodcote House, was completed in 1903.

In 1903, Purley was still a small village on the outskirts of London. Foxley Lane was a minor road, often impassable in winter. Webb was responsible for establishing a regular bus service between the village and Foxley Lane. He was also involved in the building of St Mark's Church, Purley.

Extracts from the book "Gardens First", by Vanda Bouri are used on this website with permission.