Championing Chislehurst’s Characters

The Chislehurst Society wins Heritage

Great news, as the clocks went forward, The Chislehurst Society received £6,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project to promote the legacy of William Willett, proponent of Daylight Saving Time along with other famous characters central to the story of Chislehurst.

Led by volunteers from The Society the project will focus on the conservation of the 1893 sale document of the Camden Park Estate. The document includes a large hand painted map which pinpoints the homes of Sir John Lubbock, pioneer of the English Heritage movement, Louis Napoleon III exiled Emperor of France, Sir Malcolm Campbell, holder of the land speed record and it is signed by William Willett himself as the purchaser of the estate.

The project will tell the Victorian history of Chislehurst. Heritage Ambassadors will be
trained to champion the stories of Chislehurst’s characters, local residents will be able to see the restored map on display and take away specially designed postcards explaining the stories behind it. There will be an exhibition in libraries across the region and talks will be offered to local interest groups. Young people in schools and college will also be trained as Heritage Ambassadors to enjoy the local stories for themselves.

The Chislehurst Society is a registered charity which works to preserve and enhance the quality of life in the village, its environmental amenities and natural beauty. The Camden Park sale document uniquely highlights this special character and it is hoped that over the next two years the project will make this all the more apparent.

Working with heritage professionals from Bromley libraries, local residents will be able to learn more about their history using the fascinating resources available in the archives. The restored map will form the centrepiece of a commemorative event in 2015 celebrating the legacy of William Willett.

Project leader, Joanna Friel said:

“We are genuinely thrilled to have received this support, the great grandson of William Willett is Chris Martin of Coldplay, we shall certainly be playing his song ‘clocks’ at the end of the project! The old parchment document is torn in places and creased from being folded up for so long; when we were offered the chance to acquire it from David Miller, a seventy year old gentleman who had himself sheltered in the Chislehurst Caves in 1943, we jumped at the chance of telling the story of Chislehurst and it’s famous characters in such a visual way. We couldn’t do it without the Heritage Lottery Fund grant as the document requires such specialist restoration.”

David Prerau, author of ‘Saving the Daylight’ say he is looking forward to seeing Willett rightly recognised in the place where this pioneer thought up the idea of changing the clocks.

Joanna launched the project at the AGM on 25th April at the Methodist Church on Prince Imperial Road.

Project updates:

May 2013 – Research and Members’ Talk

June 2013 – Archive Workshop

June 2013 – Our Young Heritage Amabassadors

July 2013 – Six go to a Museum

August 2013 – Map collected and ready for display

September 2013 – Unveiling of the restored map

September 2013 – Francoise explains the restoration to our members


Some of our first Heritage Champions in our new home

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.3bn across the UK.