About Us

About us

We care about Chislehurst and its residents and are active in ensuring that this conservation area and green belt environment continue to be enjoyed by everyone.

With over 4,000 members, we are one of the largest civic societies in the UK.  Membership is open to anyone regardless of where they live, and you will receive regular communications and reports on matters of interest in Chislehurst. Membership is free for the first year.

Our Road Stewards play a vital part in communicating with our members. We keep our Road Stewards updated on developments, and report each year to our members on the work of the Society in an annual report.

The Society always welcomes the assistance of members who can offer expert advice and help. If you would like to support the work of the Society, please contact the Chairman.

Corporate governance

Maintaining the balance between preserving our heritage and supporting residents’ needs remains at the heart of what the Chislehurst Society stands for. The Chislehurst Society CIO is a registered charity (Reg. no. 1166276) and has a written constitution formally approved by the Charity Commission. Copies are available to all members. We are also affiliated to the London Forum and other amenity groups.

Planning. We look at all planning applications affecting Chislehurst and raise objections or observations where we have concerns.

Amenities. The Society liaises closely with representatives of the London Borough of Bromley, and we are respected for our views on local matters including planning, road safety, traffic, public transport, public safety, amenities, litter, trees, and open spaces.

Education. We work with the schools in and around Chislehurst. The Chislehurst Schools Forum, made up of representatives from each school, meets three times a year, with the aim of working together for the benefit of schools, students and residents. The annual Environmental Awards and also The Mix demonstrate how we work with local students in an exciting way. We also work with other local organisations to keep people aware of our present and past environment.

Our Heritage. The Society supports research and publication on historical or other matters of interest in Chislehurst, and arranges regular talks and study sessions. Our new History Group, an active research group, meets monthly.

Our environment. We were responsible for setting up the Chislehurst Town Team in 2012 and actively support it and the Chislehurst Business Group. We have a strong voice in protecting and improving local amenities and conserving the Green Belt and National Trust land. We work with other organisations, especially the Trustees of the Commons, to preserve our built and open environment and other features of Chislehurst, to ensure that we all benefit from our unique environment.

Grants. We are fortunate to be able to offer grants to local organisations whose activities meet our charitable objects.

Constitution

The Society’s charitable objects and powers

The Society is established for the public benefit for the following purposes in  the area comprising Chislehurst which area shall hereinafter be referred to as  ‘the area of benefit’.

(i) To promote high standards of planning and architecture in or affecting the area of benefit.

(ii) To educate the public in the geography, history, natural history and  architecture of the area of benefit.

(iii) To secure the preservation protection development and improvement of  features of historic, environmental or public interest in the area of benefit.

In furtherance of the said purposes but not otherwise the Society through its Executive Committee shall have the following powers:

  1. To promote civic pride in the area of benefit.
  2. To promote research into subjects directly connected with the objects of the Society and to publish the results of any such research.
  3. To act as a co-ordinating body and to co-operate with the local authorities, planning committees, and all other statutory authorities, voluntary organisations, charities and persons having aims similar to those of the Society.
  4. To promote or assist in promoting activities of a charitable nature  throughout the area of benefit.
  5. To publish papers, reports and other literature.
  6. To make surveys and prepare maps and plans and collect information in relation to any place, erection or building of beauty or historic interest within the area of benefit.
  7. To hold meetings, lectures and exhibitions.
  8. To educate public opinion and to give advice and information.
  9. To raise funds and to invite and receive contributions from any person or persons whatsoever by way of subscription, donation and otherwise; provided that the Society shall not undertake any permanent trading activities in raising funds for its primary purpose.
  10. To acquire, by purchase, gift or otherwise, property whether subject to any special trust or not.
  11. To sell, let, mortgage, dispose of or turn to account all or any of the property or funds of the Society as shall be necessary.
  12. To borrow or raise money for the purposes of the Society on such terms and on such security as the Executive Committee shall think fit, but so that the liability of individual members of the Society shall in no case extend beyond the amount of their respective annual subscriptions.
  13. To do all such other things as are necessary for the attainment of the said purpose.

The Board of Trustees

The Chislehurst Society CIO is managed day to day by the Board of Trustees. Members of the Society approve the membership of the Committee at the  Annual General Meeting, and vote on the officers.

Committee members must be paid-up members of the Society and serve for terms of one year. There is no limit to the number of terms a Committee member may serve.

How we operate
The Board meets on the evening of the third Wednesday of every other  month, to consider current matters, and to plan for the future. Minutes of each meeting are circulated to all Road Stewards.

Sub-committees
There is a wide range of matters which the Committee reviews. Each member of the Committee is asked to take particular interest in at least one of these. These are indicated against their names.

The current membership of the Board of Trustees is as follows:

Joanna Friel - Chairman and heritage
Chris Wells - Vice-Chairman, grants, environment
Colin Martin - Hon. Treasurer, Old Chapel management
David Ely - Hon. Secretary
Peter Miller - Membership
Barry Redding - Planning
Jennifer Dearing - Conservation, traffic and transport
Anne Lamb - Education
Alison Stammers
Alison Stammers - Chair of Chislehurst Town Team

You can contact any member of the Committee by email at admin@chislehurst-society.org.uk, by phone 020 8467 0900, or by writing to  us at: The Old Chapel, 3 Queens Passage, Chislehurst, Kent BR7 5AP

Annual reports and accounts

The Society is required to submit an annual report to the Charity Commission. This is circulated to members.

Download a copy of the latest Chairman’s Report, Trustees Annual Report and Accounts here.

Lord of the manor

The 180 acres of common land in and around Chislehurst have been privately owned since medieval times.  The freeholder of the commons carries the title ‘Lord of the Manor’ and since 1975, has been held by Family Trusts on behalf of the Marsham-Townshend family. When the family decided to sell the freehold, The Chislehurst Society stepped in and purchased it on behalf of the community in order to secure the long-term future of the commons.

History of the commons

The first recorded owner of Chislehurst Manor and its commons, in 974, was King Eadgar. With some interesting complications along the way (for a while the commons belonged to a hospice at the Great St Bernard Pass in Switzerland), the land passed through successive monarchs until the time of Henry VIII.

It was then sold to the Walsinghams, an influential family at the Tudor Courts. Their most famous son, Sir Francis, is often referred to as Queen Elizabeth I’s ‘Spymaster’.

In the late 17th Century, the Walsinghams sold the land to Richard Bettenson, whose most famous descendant is Thomas Townshend, the first Viscount Sydney; the man after whom Sydney, Australia is named.

Legal protection

The commons embody the ancient ‘right to roam’ and have been fiercely protected by local residents for centuries. History records various  moments when the people of Chislehurst had to stand up to the Lord of the Manor to maintain their rights as ‘commoners’ and prevent enclosure. Prominent residents lobbied for an Act of Parliament that was passed in 1888 to guarantee both protection of the land and a public right to use it.

The Act – still in force today – also established a local body to preserve and maintain the land. This body, now known as Chislehurst Commons, is a charity run by a voluntary Board of Trustees and employs two Keepers to maintain the 180 acres.