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Chislehurst has a long and interesting history, with records stretching back over a thousand years. There is a wealth of information about Chislehurst, its people, buildings and environment, with plenty already uncovered, and much more to be found.

Earliest references and ancient history

Chislehurst is an Anglo-saxon descriptive place name, a reference to its appearance. The first element, Chisel or Chesil, indicates a stony or gravelly place: the second element, hurst, indicates woodland. 
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There has been a settlement at Chislehurst for over 1,000 years. The Anglo-Saxon name means stony wood and until the arrival of the railway in 1865 Chislehurst was very much a rural community.
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Originally a part of Dartford Manor, owned by the Crown, the land in Chislehurst eventually became separated when the de Scathebury family purchased it. 
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Chislehurst consists of four separate ‘villages’ within its Parish, separated by the Commons. The High Street, north of the Commons, Royal Parade to the south, Mill Place to the west, and the settlement along Old Perry Street to the east
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Chislehurst was best known for its proximity to the Commons and the ponds and was a destination for thousands of Londoners on Bank holidays and weekends.

Take a look at some videos from our very own Joanna Friel.

A great number of Chislehurst residents have left their mark in Chislehurst

Chislehurst has a rich and interesting recorded history going back over a thousand years. There are so many areas for research, and new information is emerging all the time. The Society’s History Group, formed in 2013, has initiated several research projects, many of which are now complete as you can see below.

If you would like to join our Group please email us: localhistory@chislehurst-society.org.uk.

Some of our projects

study of local shopkeeper Felix White by Clare Sands.

Guests at the book launch of ‘Secret Chislehurst’ revealed this beautiful little jewellery box.  It was inscribed as a gift from Empress Eugenie in 1872, the time when she lived in Chislehurst.

Patricia Gibson has prepared a note on the history of The Gorse, a house right at the end of Manor Park, which was used as a VAD Hospital in the Great War. You can read her note here…

Agnes Tiarks lived in Chislehurst, at Foxbury, Kemnal Road, from 1877 until her death in 1923. She kept a diary throughout that time, including the years of the Great War, in which she noted the dramatic changes the war brought to everyday life. Download a booklet about Agnes’ diary entries here…

Society member, road steward and lifelong resident of Chislehurst, Ken Speers, has let us have some photographs and documents from the time he was a member of Anne Murray’s choir at St Nicholas in the 1940s. More…

Inglewood House and the De Quincey family who lived there. Read Alan and Catherine’s enthralling account here…
During their research Alan and Catherine discovered that a name had been omitted from the Chislehurst War Memorial. More here…

Heritage Lottery funded project around the 1893 map of the Camden Park Estate, including restoration of the map. Read the enthralling journey starting here… and see this video featuring Dave Miller who owned the indenture here… Without Dave Miller contacting us none of this would have happened.

The Heritage Lottery fund project has also enabled a presentation of residents who lived within the area shown on the restored map. More information and dates here…

Frederick Simms, engineer, inventor and motor car pioneer. The founder of the RAC in 1897. Read about him here…

Cataloguing information about Chislehurst-based architects and their drawings. A summary can be found here… The drawing shown here is of an Ernest Newton house in Camden Park Road.

Collection and presentation of Chislehurst Chillers, local horrible histories for primary-aged children. Joanna Friel explains how this macabre event unfolded here… You can read the two stories, Horrid Murder and Double Murder, and also read about one of the victim’s ancestors who visited Chislehurst to see the site of her Great-great-great grandfather’s murder here…

The work of Ernest Newton and William Morris at Bullers Wood. More here…

Reproduction of articles from old magazines. We found an interesting article on the history of Chislehurst Police, in Bygone Kent (vol 15;2) from 1994. We have reproduced it here. Because police support was at one time provided from Mottingham, the police were known locally as the Sheriffs of Mottingham!

Restoration of an old panel door painted by Mr Ledner, a 19thC. Chislehurst artist/decorator

Two High Street Heritage Trails, including one for schoolchildren, were produced in Spring of 2014.

Mrs Marion Heselden has updated the story of the Western Motor Works, established by the son of the Lord of the Manor, and the birthday present that started it all. More…


In the log books of St Nicholas Primary School we discovered a former pupil who lost his life on the Titanic. His name was Owen George Allum. He was 17, ‘a scholar here for some years‘, the headmaster writes, ‘the children are bringing their pence to make a small donation to the Lord Mayor’s Fund. Owen was a passenger on the Titanic and is not among the saved‘. Owen had lived at 1 Calderwood Cottages, Holbrook Lane. His body was recovered and is buried in Cornwall where his family came from. He was a gardener, travelling to see his father in New York. In 3rd Class, he didn’t stand a chance.

Yet another newly acquired image, this one from 1936 of the inside of the Western Motor Works on the corner of Beaverwood Road and Perry Street in Chislehurst. See the article on the works here…

A rare image of Newlands, the Chislehurst home of the Chubb family, great benefactors to the Methodist Church, Farringtons School and more besides. The house stood on Prince Imperial Road.

Share your research or questions on Chislehurst’s past

The Society welcomes enquiries or information on the local history of Chislehurst. We regularly receive enquiries from researchers, residents or from families of former residents and we have summarised some of these here…

We are pleased to help where we can with individual requests for information. For members this service is free, for non-members we ask either that you join The Society or make a donation of £10 towards our costs. Please makes cheques payable to The Chislehurst Society and send to: The Old Chapel, Queens Passage, Chislehurst, Kent BR7 5AP. You can also pay via PayPal, to our account thechislehurstsociety@btconnect.com

Additionally, we reserve the right to charge £5 for any images that we reproduce in digital format for you. Images can only be provided to members of the Society.
Please send any requests to localhistory@chislehurst-society.org.uk

Research Enquiry Page

The Chislehurst Society Ribbons Collection – Old images of Chislehurst

The Society has been collecting old images of Chislehurst for many years, and we are pleased to present many of them here for members and others to review. These are mainly in the form of postcards, but there are drawings, paintings and original photographs as well. There are more than 1,000 images included in this collection

Peter Ribbons, a collector of postcards and memorabilia, has loaned his own collection of images to the Society, and these are included here. His collection contains many rare or unusual images, mainly from late Victorian or Edwardian times. In honour of his generosity we have named our entire collection The Chislehurst Society Ribbons Collection.

Images are available to view via galleries shown below. It is not possible to download images from the galleries. If you are a member and would like a digital copy of an image for personal use, please contact us. Unless there are copyright restrictions, we can email you a digital copy at a cost of £5 per image. Higher charges apply for non-personal or commercial use. Images will be provided free to local schools.

Chislehurst Galleries

Alms Houses

Built by sisters related to Canon Murray, Rector of St….

Annunciation Church

Built in 1870 as the population in Chislehurst rapidly grew.

Ashfield Lane

Old houses on an old country lane.

Bank Holiday Crowds

Chislehurst was a popular destination for Londoners on Bank Holidays.

Beaverwood School

Originally the County Grammar School for Girls.

Bickley Arms

At the bottom of Old Hill – the original main…

Bonfires on the Commons

Regular events on the Commons.

Bullers Wood

Originally a private house, then a specialist church, music college…

Bulls Head Hotel

Chislehurst’s most important coaching inn on Royal Parade.

Camden Park Corner

Now a busy traffic intersection between Camden Place and the…

Camden Place

Named after historian William Camden, it is better known as…

Centre Common Road

Now a busy traffic intersection and site of the War…

Chislehurst Caves

No druids here but lots of history, including being the…

Chislehurst Commons

Preserved and maintained by residents for residents

Chislehurst Houses

Images of different houses across Chislehurst.

Christ Church

Situated in Lubbock Road overlooking the railway. Built in 1872.

Church Row

An historic row of architecturally charming houses overlooking the Commons.

Cooling’s Shop

The shop of the Cooling family of nursery men and…


Once the home of Bowden, the builder of St. Mary’s…

Cricket Ground

Located on the Commons since 1822, courtesy of the Lord…

Crown Lane

A quiet and narrow Victorian street near St Mary’s Church.

Dabner’s Cottage

An old cottage on St. Paul’s Cray Common, long since…


Including the Bilborough home, Elmstead Grange, now Babington House.

Farringtons School

Independent School established by the Methodist community.

Fire Brigade

In the days when we had our own fire brigade.

Governess Institution

Built on the north side of Manor Park Road, now…

Great War Army

Chislehurst echoed to the sound of marching boots during the…

Great War Wounded

At least four grand houses became Red Cross hospitals to…


Col Edlmann used to sit on the lawn shooting pigeons…

High Street

See how it has changed over time.

Kemnal Road

Created in 1873 to connect Kemnal Manor with Chislehurst.

Lubbock Road

A road of Victorian housing developed by Nathaniel Strode on…

Manor House

Never owned or lived in by the Lord of the…

Manor Park

A private road with some large Victorian villas, named after…

Methodist Church

Unusual amongst Methodist churches – it has a magnificent spire.

Mill Place

A distinct community with its own church, police station and…


Various shots of Chislehurst life.

Overflow Pond

Now mostly dried out, this pond is just off what…

Prickend Pond

Created as a result of gravel extraction, this is not…

Prince Imperial Monument

Erected by the residents of Chislehurst after the Prince’s death.

Public Events

Many and varied before the days of TV and radio.

Queens Head

One of the oldest buildings in Chislehurst.

Ramblers Rest

Originally the Millers Arms, a watering hole for residents and…

Red Hill

A good view south over Chislehurst.

Royal Parade

Named after the French Imperial family in exile. Originally Village…

Rush Pond

Another gravel pit, this one is on Ashfield Lane.

School Classes

People don’t change much, but their school uniforms do.

Sports Events

Regular events on the Commons after the Great War.

St John’s Mission

The church with the shortest life in Chislehurst, in Mill…

St Mary’s Church

Roman Catholic Church on Hawkwood Lane, first resting place of…

St Nicholas Church

Chislehurst Parish Church with a rich heritage dating back to…

St Paul’s Cray Common

Separate from Chislehurst Commons but administered by the same Trustees.

Station at Chislehurst

The railway’s arrival here in 1865 created a building boom…

Summer Hill

Originally a private road, it is now the main road…

War Memorial

Erected in 1920, it bears the names of the fallen…

Water Tower

Demolished in 1963 to enable double-decker buses to take the…

Websters Pond

Another gravel pond which is now filled in and hidden…

Willett Memorial

In honour of the man who devised daylight saving. Situated…

Willow Grove

No longer the quiet road that linked Chislehurst with Elmstead,…

Winter in Chislehurst

The ponds regularly froze over in Victorian times. Snow was…

Woodlands 1914-1923

The Webster family and Woodlands, Ashfield, Lane from an album…