Stop16: The Willett Memorial
From a postcard sent in 1935
"I only tell the summer hours"
Manor Park leads directly into St Pauls Cray Commons, which extends eastwards towards Scadbury, and is maintained by The Trustees of Chislehurst Commons. The inclusion of St Pauls Cray Commons with Chislehurst Commons was somewhat contentious (read two contemporary accounts, from the Bromley Times, of the public hearings in 1885 here.. and here...).
The entire woodland area south and east of here was rescued from potential development in the years after 1925 when it was put up for sale, and is now owned by the National Trust; the network of walks and bridlepaths is open to the public. The footpath southwards will take you into Petts Wood, and will eventually lead to the town of the same name.
Our route is towards Willett Wood. This area of 87 acres was bought through public subscription shortly after the enactment of the Summer Time Act in 1925 and dedicated to the memory of William Willett, its instigator. Winston Churchill had been supportive of Willett's proposals, and was instrumental in the passing of the Act. The memorial was erected in 1927 in a small clearing of the wood, and is an understated acknowledgement of the man whose ideas affect more than 2 billion people worldwide twice a year when the clocks are adjusted in spring and autumn. William Willett was a builder, active in Chislehurst and across London, but is better known for having devised the concept of daylight saving while he lived at the Cedars. He died before his idea was introduced, falling victim to the ravages of Spanish flu in 1915. He is buried in St Nicholas churchyard.
There is a further monument in the woods, the Edlmann stone (shown right in 2009), 500 yards or so to the south of the Willett Monument.
This was erected in 1957 when substantial parts of the Hawkwood estate, purchased 30 years earlier by Francis Edlmann, were donated to the National Trust. It reads:' This woodland was saved in 1927 by Francis...Edlmann and was given to the National Trust in 1957 by Robert and Francesca Hall'. A service of re-dedication was performed in 2007 to remember these two acts of generosity towards future generations.
The stone lies to the right hand side just off the middle track southwards to Petts Wood town.