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.
The ancient Manors of Chislehurst
Originally a part of Dartford Manor, owned by the Crown, the land in Chislehurst eventually became separated when the de Scathebury family purchased it.
The development of Chislehurst
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
Features of Chislehurst
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.
Some of our local history stories
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…
A local history project around the 1893 map of the Camden Park Estate, including restoration of the map. See this poignant video of a cave sheltered during the blitz featuring Dave Miller – without Dave contacting us none of this would have happened!
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…
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.
In 2022, The Chislehurst Society funded the replacement of the Beatrix Batten Bench located on Loop Road overlooking Prickend Pond.
She was only 28 when she mobilised 9 hospitals in Chislehurst in 1914 to care for the wounded from the Western Front. She continued her Red Cross work during WW2 setting up the services in the caves.
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.
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 email@example.com
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 our gallery. 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.