Research by Pat Hill

The following is research undertaken by, and memories of Pat Hill .  She has asked us to say that some information has come by word of mouth, so it has not always been possible to verify it for accuracy.  If you spot any inconsistencies with your own knowledge, do please let us know! 



From Chislehurst and Walden Avenue Recreation Ground to Elmstead Lane.

Tithe Map of 1840

Whilst looking at this map it transports you back to a less complicated era where land was broken up into plots, many of which were leased.

On the other side of White Horse Hill was a large farm called Busby’s farm which stretched out towards Mottingham and Green Lanes.

From the White Horse Inn (now known as the Penny Farthing) there is an area of waste land by the side of the road and a pond going towards the High Street.

The plots on the side of the White Horse Inn are as follows:-



















































































































·         713     Pasture Land

·         686     Cottage and Garden – David Shoebridge

·         687     Cottage – John Simon

·         685     Brickfield Buildings – James Taggart

·         684     House, garden and stables

·         678     White Horse Inn and Gardens

·         683     House and meadow           

·         680     Cottage and garden – James Taggart

·         688     Part of Brickfield owned by Pascall

·         690     Brickfield Buildings - Pascall

·         691     House and Garden

·         704     Arable land owned by Robert Allen

·         703     Pasture land

·         702     Pasture

·         682     Garden – Edward Dawson

·         681     Pasture – William Cheshire

·         689     Brickfield – Pascall

·         701     Grubbed wood field

·         709     Willow Grove – Robert Townsend

·         714     White Horse field

·         716     Part Bromley field

·         717     Benjamins Wood

·         710     Bushy rough wood – John Townsend

·         708     Little wood – John Townsend

John Robert Townsend was born in 1805 and was the only son of the 2nd Viscount Sydney who was an eminent figure in Victorian Chislehurst and owned a large amount of land in the area.

Edwardian Chislehurst


On the corner of Willow Grove was a little old shop set well back from the road with a barn and hayloft to the rear.   On the opposite corner was other grocers and then Miss Stringer’s school for young ladies.   In 1877 St Mary Hall was built (now Sainsbury’s)   Opposite the Annunciation Church was a row of varied Victorian villas, one of which was Tie House an Orphanage.   Going up Red Hill Whitelegg’s nursery spread over the open ground now occupied by Empress Drive and verging on the main road as far as the present library.     At the foot of Red Hill was a small pound and Ivy cottage half way up.   Kennard and Trill had a coal yard part way up the hill with Friendly cottage adjoining. (The library now occupies this site).   Annual Sports were held on Red Hill to the rear of where the Library now stands


At the summit of Red Hill (White Horse Hill) could be found the White Horse Inn outside which stood a very large and wide pollard elm.  On the summit could also be found a horse drinking trough of granite.    Behind the pub could be found the brickfields. White Horse Hill was also known as Telegraph Hill.


Information of interest


Chislehurst during the Saxon era was called Ciselhyrst “the wood on a stony hill”


 Elmstead Lane


The two largest artificial excavations in the Chislehurst were the railway tunnels between Elmstead Woods and Grove Park in the 1860s for the South Easter Railway.  Things did not always run smoothly and in August 1902 there was a partial collapse of the Chislehurst Tunnel due to the compressive nature of the soil the tunnel was widened to make room for further platforms.  


No 112 Elmstead Lane circa 1860s was the Lodge for Elmstead Cottage demolished in 1950.


Elmstead Glade Lodge designed by Frank Atkinson 1910 was the lodge for Elmstead Glade designed by Ernest Newton in 1886.


Elmstead Lane Baptist Church foundation stone laying ceremony took place on 13 November 1936 and in 1968 a new church hall was added.  In 1973 a new church was built.


31 Elmstead Knoll , 119 Elmstead Lane was a late Victorian house built around 1886 and thought to have been designed by George Somes Leigh Clarke a Chislehurst Architect.  During the 1930s it was used byte LCC as an Administrative office for tenants on the Mottingham Estate. 


Cow Lane


Roads leading off from this are Cranmore Road, Oakdene Avenue and Elmstead Road.  Starting point Elmstead Lane and following through to the Recreation Ground.


Walden Road


Walden Manor was a large mansion built in 1893 for the Holt family and was originally called Waratah (this later became the emblem for New South Wales).   The Holt family were it is believed connected to William Lund owner of the Blue Anchor Line.   It later became a furniture depository for Harrison Gibsons until it was destroyed by fire in 1944.  Waratah had two lodges on either side of the entrance and these still survive today but are built in two different styles.   This site is used by Ravensbourne College of Design and Communications.


Parish of the Annunciation


This included the north side of Kemnal Road, and Kemnal House, on the west from North Lodge, Camden Place, to Southhill Road, both sides of Southhill Road, Willow Grove, top of Elmstead Lane as far as Elmstead Lodge, Walden Road, Yester Road, White Horse Hill, Red Hill, and the North Lodge of Camden Place. 

St Mary’s Hall, designed by Mr J Brooks was erected in 1877 where an Industrial Exhibition and art exhibition were held in April 1878.   Behind St Mary’s Hall are schools built in 1885 at the cost of £1,500 


Up from here is Red Hill know generally as White Horse Hill.    On the left can be found Pascall’s Tile Works and closed on the death of its proprietor in 1898. In 1532 Pascalls supplied Hampton Court Palace with 6068 plain tiles for the Kings new hall at a cost of 25 shillings and eight pence per 1000.  Subsequently this site in 1901 was taken over by White Horse Hill Brickworks which closed in 1930. The White Horse Inn can be found on the summit of the hill and next to it was a large Pollard Elm of great girth.   This has now been felled and is now the modern pubs car park.   The name of this pub has been changed ........


Red Hill Farm extended from the foot of Red Hill as far as where Sainsbury’s is now including St Patricks Church.   Cows were brought into the village to be milked and you could choose the cow from whom you had milk.   The usual rural activities took place including both drag and fox hunting.   Red Hill is situated on the Northenest part of Chislehurst. 


During the 1920s sales of farmland for building increased and only stopped in 1939 due to the Second World War.   After the war a lot of new houses were built in and around the White Horse Hill area 


Red Hill got its name from the high level of iron in London clay which when it is exposed to air and water turns red


Walden Recreation Ground

Walden Recreation Ground is named after Viscount Walden who became the 9th Marquis of Tweeddale in 1876. He was born in Yester, near Edinburgh but came to live nearby. Whyte’s Woodland is believed to refer to Robert Whyte who also lived nearby in the 19th century.

Robert WHYTE JR., MARGARET [MACLEROY] WHYTE  Ripley, Bromley, Kent, England 1880

[1880 - 1956] of the Whyte family of Bromley, Kent, England including the scion, Robert Whyte Jr., world renowned singer, cellist, later musical agent for his wife and founder of the Bromley P.S.A., his famous wife and fellow cellist, Margaret Whyte [nee Macleroy] and their daughter Miss Marjorie Whyte, a well known musician and symphony conductor in her own right.. The Whyte's, as famous musicians and singers, travelled extensively and had relations with many well known persons of the time.


Whyte’s Wood

Over time this wood has had many names it started life as part of Red Hill Wood which was ancient woodland that covered the former lands of Chislehurst Manor.  The wood belonged to the Lord of the Manor at Scadbury and extend from Old Hill to the top of Red Hill.  On the death of Edward Bettenson the Lord of the Manor in 1733 the wood became the property of Thomas Farrington, his nephew.  On his death in 1758, Lord Camden purchased it from Farrington’s executors and removed a large part of the wood to extend his Camden Park estate. The remainder of the wood was renamed Camden Wood.   Mr N J W Strode, the owner of Camden Place and the Camden estate, laid much of Camden Wood out for building during the period of his ownership, between 1860 and 1889.   The other part of the wood now known as Whyte’s wood was formerly known as Storth Oaks.  The remaining part of Camden Wood in the angle between Walden Road and Willow Grove and Storth Oaks was effectively the last remnant of the old Red Hill Wood.   On an old 1840 Tithe Map part of it is shown as Benjamin’s Wood included within are two small woodland areas which belonged to John Townsend.

It appears that at some unknown time Storth Oaks became linked with The Briars, in Watts Lane, where in the 20th century the Misses Whyte loved.   Lord Sydney, the Lord of the Manor, built this house in the late 18th century.   Under the heading Storth Wood, Chislehurst, in the annual report by the Chislehurst Ratepayers’ Association to its sixth Annual General Meeting on 23 February 1939, we read:-

“Through the munificence of Miss Whyte of the Briars, Chislehurst, this woodland has-been dedicated to the people of Chislehurst, and your Committee took the opportunity of conveying to her the grateful thanks of the inhabitants, and a graceful reply was received.”

The War put a halt to any further progress in preparing the woodland for public access and extending the adjacent Walden Recreation Ground that had just been sold to the Urban District Council by the Chislehurst Athletic Association.   After the War the Ratepayers’ Association became the Chislehurst Residents’ Association.   |It was not until the Annual Report for 1948 that it could be reported, “Owing to the efforts of your |Councillors, and extension to the Recreation Ground, with access from Walden Road, was opened in August 1948.  At the same time, the beautiful woodlands presented by Misses Whyte, ten years ago, were at last opened to the public.” 

Thomas Bushell in part 29 of his series of Kentish Times articles entitled Old Chislehurst published during 1959-1960, included an account of this event, linked with the subject of recreation grounds for children.   Mr Bushell was at this time Chairman of the Council’s Parks Committee, and was concerned that Chislehurst Recreation Ground had not the same p0layground equipment as had other areas within the Urban District.   He also tells us “in addition the sale previously mentioned Miss Whyte had given the last remaining part of the ancient Red Hill Wood to the public on condition that a part should be enclosed as a bird sanctuary.  Ten years had passed and the public had never been admitted to the woodlands, which were now their property.  The Committee agreed to clear the undergrowth and to have an official opening in August 1948. 

When this remaining fragment of Red Hill Wood was finally opened to the public in 1948 it was renamed Whyte’s Wood in memory of its donors.  



During my childhood I remember my mother walking from Mottingham through fields and woods up to Cranmore Road.   Behind our house was a large house and the people there kept horses.   In the field next to the Cow Path was another field where horses were kept.  The area from Mottingham up to Red Hill mainly consisted of fields.  


Waratah remembered by Roy Francis Evans - Waratah in Walden Road a mansion built by Mr William Lund, owner of the Blue Anchor shipping line in 1880 was one of the last great houses to be built in Chislehurst but unfortunately was bombed in 1944.  Whilst still at school in 1954 I visited the site to find a bombed out ruin the entrance hall was piled high with rubble and there was evidence of fire all around.   In the centre of the great hall, still hanging in its shaft of steel and brass, was a handsome polished wooden lift, with damaged caged doors.   Great solid wooden doors lay on the floor, with broken glass and tiles everywhere.   The winding wooden staircase had been blown away.   Looking up, I could see the balconies to three floors were still intact, and above them, through the roof, the blue sky.  There was the same shambles in the kitchen and scullery, marble worktops ripped off and pots and pans everywhere.   Outside the extensive stable block had most of its roof tiles missing.   Great stone steps ran down from a glass covered verandah and large French doors, to what had been a glorious landscaped garden.   By this time a woodland had grown up, completely covering the whole large area.   A large greenhouse and Greek stone statues could just be seen above the young trees, and in the distance a large lake.  At some time in the 1960s what was left of Waratah was demolished and Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication was built on the site in 1975.