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About Chislehurst The ancient manors of Chislehurst The development of Chislehurst Features of Chislehurst Friel on Friday Chislehurst Lives Local History Group
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.
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.
Originally a part of Dartford Manor, owned by the Crown, the land in Chislehurst eventually became separated when the de Scathebury family purchased it.
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
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.
- The Commons and other open spaces.
- The Ponds.
- Chislehurst’s churches.
- Monuments in Chislehurst.
- Architects in Chislehurst.
Take a look at some videos from our very own Joanna Friel.
A great number of Chislehurst residents have left their mark in Chislehurst
- John Wakeling Baker – senior commander in the Royal Air Force
- William Camden – antiquarian and historian, author of Britannia
- Sir Malcolm Campbell – holder of the world land speed record and owner of Blue Bird
- George Somers Leigh Clarke – local and national architect
- Richmal Crompton – writer, best known for her Just William stories
- Ronald Firbank – writer
- Sir Robert Laidlaw – M.P., trader and philanthropist. He founded Whiteaway, Laidlaw and Co, called the Selfridges of India. He also owned tea and rubber plantations.
- Sir John Lubbock – M.P., banker and naturalist. He introduced Bank Holidays in the UK!
- Edward (E.J.) May – local and national architect
- Louis Napoleon, the Prince Imperial – son of Napoleon III, lived here 1870 to 1879
- Napoleon III – exiled Emperor of France (pictured right).
- Sir Alfred Newton – Businessman, Lord Mayor of London, and first Chairman of Harrods.
- Ernest Newton -local and national architect (Newton actually lived at Bickley, but designed many houses in Chislehurst)
- Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden – Lord Chancellor, and Lord President of the Council, (illustrated right)
- Grace and Peter Redpath – Residents of the Manor House, Chislehurst. Peter was a Canadian businessman and benefactor
- Richard De Quincey – He and members of this family of International Traders lived in a number of different houses in Chislehurst
- Sir Victor Shepheard – Naval architect and designer of HMS Britannia
- Frederick Simms – engineer, inventor, and, a pioneer for motor cars
- Siouxsie Sioux (Susan Janet Ballion) – Leader of Siouxsie and the Banshees
- Charles Spencelayh – ArtistI
- Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney – Lord of the Manor of Chislehurst, politician and statesman; Home Secretary under William Pitt.
- John Thomas Townshend, 2nd Viscount Sydney
- John Robert Townshend, Earl (and 3rd Viscount) Sydney – Lord of the Manor of Chislehurst and statesman; Lord Chamberlain, and Lord Steward of the Queen’s Household.
- Robert Marsham-Townshend and later Lords of the Manor of Chislehurst.
- Alan Watts – Buddhist writer and a leading figure in the 1960s flower power movement
- William Willett – Builder and Initiator of Daylight Saving
- Sir Ted Willis – author and playwright
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of our projects
A 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…
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.