NEW - Built on the Bowling Green

A new book by Chislehurst resident, Patricia Waters

Built on the Bowling Green: the story of a corner of Chislehurst Common and the people who lived there.

Although focused on a small area encompassing The Crown, St Nicholas Primary School, five houses and Camden Close, the book's scope is much wider. There are illuminating details about the community's connections with the first female candidate for the US presidency, an 18th century prime minister, First Class cricketers and great shipping and banking dynasties.

Carefully researched and richly illustrated.

Price - £12 (£14 inc p&p)

The book will be on sale at the Society's events, or available to buy online here...

Some reviews:

'An amazing achievement with so many excellent illustrations'

'Scholarly but light in tone and full of unexpected throwaway comments to lighten the scholarship'

‘a fascinating read’

[Patricia Waters] ‘has made this corner of Chislehurst live and shine in a particular light’

‘an interesting piece of local history which stretches way beyond the boundaries of this village’

‘extremely thoroughly researched and full of interest’

‘Reading the book was pure pleasure.  I have learnt so much all round.’

'What a genuine pleasure it was to receive a new publication on Chislehurst’s history.  ‘Built on the Bowling Green’ by local resident Patricia Waters, tells the story of that corner of Chislehurst Common, which includes St Nicholas Church of England Primary School, The Crown Inn and Camden Close.

Right from the clever dedication, a quote from that other Chislehurst resident, William Camden, I was drawn in.
Pat tells us about the former residents, who lived where her house is, revealing a four hundred year history, starting with a Walsingham connection and then the Bowles family, who laid out the eponymous bowling green.
It’s so true that when you start researching the history of your house you are amazed and beguiled by where it takes you.  Chislehurst’s rich seam of history is yet again plundered to reveal fresh information and connections, illustrated with many newly discovered photographs and drawings.

This chronological story is a fascinating read.  The characters, all researched in depth, include the founders of Surrey Docks, the first woman ever to be nominated for the US presidency and George Miller, one of the co-authors of that bible for all local historians, Webb’s ‘History of Chislehurst’.

Pat has delved into the log books of St Nicholas Primary School with great effect and teachers working today will be amused to see how little issues have really changed.  There are plenty of references to children’s poor attendance and their turning up late, distracted by activities outdoors.  The Trustees of The Commons may or may not be amused by the nineteenth century references to fly tipping!

But I was particularly taken by the diverse lives of the remarkable residents whom Pat has been able to find; William Wells, a wealthy Deptford shipwright, Richard Biddulph Martin of Martins Bank, Alexander Gamble, a Scotsman, who became Deputy Master of the Imperial stud and accompanied Emperor Napoleon III to exile in Chislehurst, wealthy widow, Sophia Harenc and her cricketing sons and several Kindertransport children, who arrived in 1938.

Local residents of Chislehurst will enjoy knowing more about that beautiful but mysterious door on Watts Lane and the whale bone outside Camden Close but non-residents too will find an interesting piece ofz local history which stretches way beyond the boundaries of this village.

This book will not fail to bowl you over!

Joanna Friel
Local historian, author and Vice Chair of The Chislehurst Society