Chislehurst’s Ponds

Prickend Pond and cowsThere are now only two ponds on the Commons, Prickend by the High Street and Rush Pond at the junction of Heathfield and Ashfield Lanes.  There used to be at least four. Webster’s Pond at the junction of Kemnal Road and Ashfield Lane was a well-known landmark, but this has been filled in and covered with trees and scrub. There is also the Overflow Pond on the Commons north of Bromley Road leading west from the War Memorial.  Indeed, after prolonged wet weather, this pond re-emerges for a time.  Both remaining ponds are under threat from a lower water table, and during dry weather Rush Pond can look very sad (though this may be a thing of the past since a borehole has been drilled at Rush Pond, enabling a steady supply of water to be available to this pond, which should enable the Trustees of the Commons to maintain a full pond throughout the year. The Chislehurst Society was able to fund the cost of this work).

Why, since Chislehurst is on a hill, do we have ponds here at all? They were created from the excavation of pebbles from the Commons, which were in great demand for use for road making and concrete, and fed by springs in the soil. Indeed on old maps of the area, Rush Pond is described as a gravel pit. See below for information on the pebble beds. It is ironic that the actions of the Lord of the Manor, in allowing the excavation, which created the ponds, such an important feature of the Commons today, caused the public reaction which resulted in the Act of Parliament which saved them for our collective use.

There are only a few streams in Chislehurst. The Kyd Brook runs to the south of Chislehurst, and there are springs and wells throughout the area, due to the variety of different soils in Chislehurst. There have been at least four ponds in Chislehurst in recent times:

  • Close to the High Street, Prickend Pond takes its name from the original name of the area. Like all the ponds in Chislehurst, it was formed by digging for gravel to make the roads in the area. It is among the most photographed areas of Chislehurst.
  • At the junction of Ashfield Lane and Heathfield Lane, Rush Pond is another gravel pit that has filled with water, but which makes this part of Chislehurst seem almost rustic, despite being on what is now a busy road. Recent work by the Trustees of the Commons in installing a borehole (funded by the Society) has enabled a constant level of water to be maintained for the benefit of wildlife and residents alike.
  • There was a pond called Webster’s Pond on the corner of Ashfield Lane and Kemnal Road, opposite Woodlands, a house first occupied by John Webster and his family, who lived there for 50 years. Arthur Battle mentions it in his memoirs, driving his horse into the pond after a hot day delivering bread to the larger houses in the area, to cool off his horse, and wash the cart. It has long since been filled in and overgrown.
  • On the north side of Bromley Lane, as it crosses the common, there are two low-lying areas which now flood after prolonged heavy rain. In the late 19th Century the one to the west was known as the Overflow Pond, but falling water table levels have resulted in this being more often empty than not. It rarely develops into a full pond, and then for a short time only.