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Spotlight on: Chislehurst

PUBLISHED: 14:18 28 December 2015

Scadbury Park, Chislehurst

Scadbury Park, Chislehurst

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

With its thriving café culture and community spirit, Chislehurst is the highly desirable village where Kent meets London.

Royal Parade, ChislehurstRoyal Parade, Chislehurst

Only 20 minutes away from the heart of London by train and a short drive from the M25, Chislehurst is the little place with big plus points. Surrounded by protected Commons and pristine woodland, it feels every bit the charming rural village, but it offers great commutability, an eclectic mix of shops, fabulous places to eat and a host of regular community events.

Historically, it’s best known as the place where Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte and his family sought refuge in 1871, having been deposed as Emperor of France. The grand house where the former royal family lived is Chislehurst’s Camden Place (www.camden-place.co.uk, Sat nav: BR7 5AG), now a golf club and wedding venue.

The village is also home to the Chislehurst Caves (www.chislehurst-caves.co.uk). The chalk caves have had many uses over the years but most famously they housed up to 15,000 people a night during the Second World War, when they were converted into an enormous air raid shelter.

Today’s tours by lamplight, run by local volunteers, reveal the cramped conditions families tolerated in return for the safety of the caves, and visitors can still see the old shop, GP’s surgery area and church that were set up below ground.

Shopping and eating

The heart of Chislehurst is packed with places to eat and shop. Near the pond is The Queen’s Head pub (020 8295 2873), traditional sweet shop Sweet Sundae (07554 598616) and Annabel’s II (07733 014565) gift shop and tea room.

Further in, restaurants include Côte Brasserie (020 8468 7470), Villagio (020 8295 6878) and Thaidine (020 8467 7746), while shops include recently refurbished gift shop and café Wrattens (020 8295 5933), interiors shop Louis Baron (020 8467 1234) and designer fashion store Fortuny London (020 8295 1065).

Champion Wines (020 3581 9935) is a must-visit for its fine selection of wines and cheeses, not to mention its wine bar and tasting events. A new café bistro called Nene (020 84671963) has also just opened on the High Street.

Further away from the centre of the village, but well worth the trip, is the Royal Parade of shops and restaurants, where you can find popular Indian restaurant Bengal Lancer (020 8467 7088), Royal Parade Beauty Spa (020 8467 8000) and the Royal Gallery art shop (020 8467 5575), among others. Another new café bistro, The Walnuts (020 82951887), has recently opened here. And if you’re going to become a Mother of the Bride (or Groom) this year, then head for long-established specialist boutique La Belle Femme (020 8467 6661).

Good pubs in the area include the Imperial Arms (020 3605 7899), The Bull’s Head (020 8467 1727) and The Crown Inn (020 8467 7326).

Green Chain Walk

Created in the 1970s, South East London’s Green Chain was created to protect and improve open spaces including woodland, playing fields, 
allotments, parks and meadows. Today there are nearly 300 open spaces as part of the Green Chain and they provide havens for local wildlife as well as areas for leisure and sport. A 40-mile network of footpaths links together many of these spaces. With three starting points along the River Thames, walkers can go as far as Crystal Palace Park.

There is a lovely short section of the route which can easily be explored from Chislehurst. Starting at Prickend Pond, at the southern tip of the High Street, the Green Chain Walk signpost leads walkers through the centre of Chislehurst, and left into an alley beside the library.

Passing through Whytes Woodland and the local recreation ground, the route crosses 
Elmstead Lane and into Elmstead Wood, an area of oak and sweet chestnut coppice which was originally part of the Bishop of Rochester’s estate.

From here you can simply head back or 
continue along the Green Chain Walk through Grove Park and on to Beckenham Place Park.

Visit www.tfl.gov.uk for maps.

My Town

Iris Law, member of Chislehurst Popchoir

Tell us a bit about you

I am 69 years old and have lived in Chislehurst most of my life. I have two sons and three grandchildren under three.

I am a member of Chislehurst Popchoir, which started three years ago and meets once a week at the Methodist Church. There are several branches of Popchoir around London and we frequently sing together for charity. Venues have included the steps of St Paul’s, Central Hall Westminster and Trafalgar Square.

It wasn’t until I saw Gareth Malone on television that I realised that singing in a choir could be so much fun. I saw an advert for Popchoir and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I have made many new friends and have sung in public.

Each branch has its own choirmaster but overall it is run by Helen Hampton, who does all the musical arrangements and is so encouraging. She makes each and every one of us feel that we have achieved more than we thought possible.

What is life like in Chislehurst?

Most of our good friends, like us, have lived in Chislehurst for many years. Modern life being what it is, Chislehurst has changed over the years. Where once it was a small, close community where people would shop in the local shops on the High Street - and transport meant buses rather than cars - it is now a place where people meet in restaurants or coffee shops.

It’s a more vibrant but less personal way of life. However I do think the upsurge of interest in the Chislehurst Society and The Commons Conservators has resulted in more community events in the village.

Visit www.popchoir.com

Chislehurst Rotary Club

“Chislehurst has a very lively Rotary Club with both male and female members,” says Hilary Sheppard, Chislehurst Rotary Club President.

We work tirelessly throughout the year to raise funds to help those less fortunate than ourselves, both locally and abroad. In addition to our Fireworks Night event and our Christmas Collections, we also organise a Summer Fair which is usually held on the second Saturday in June.

The Rotary International motto for 2015/16 is ‘Be a Gift to the World’. Rotary is not solely about fund raising. It is also about giving: not just giving monetary donations but also giving one’s time and giving practical help and advice to others.

Chislehurst Rotary Club also works with local primary schools on CRISP (Chislehurst Rotary in Schools Project) and CREAM (Chislehurst Rotary Encouraging Active Music) and with older schoolchildren on ‘Youth Speak’, a nationwide debating competition run by Rotary. For the older members of the community, there are two afternoon social events: one in January and the other in May.

But it isn’t all work. There is also a lot of fun and fellowship. The Club has an active social calendar, with members and partners enjoying visits to places of interest, theatre trips, concerts and dining out, among other things.”

Visit: www.rotary1120.org/chislehurst

Annual events

Summer Fair: The annual Chislehurst Summer Fair takes place each June on Chislehurst Common. A real community event, it’s organised by Chislehurst Rotary Club and includes a fairground, drinks tent, stalls, food and entertainment from local dance and music groups.

Chislehurst Rocks: Scheduled for 18 June this year, Chislehurst Rocks is a free music festival and family fun day focusing on local talent. With music stages, rides, refreshments and a fun fair, this has quickly become one of the biggest events in Chislehurst’s calendar and attracts between 4,000 and 5,000 people each year.

Open Air Cinema: Outdoor cinema screenings have become a Chislehurst tradition over the past few years. Held each July on the Common next to St Nicholas Primary School, the community comes together, rain or shine, to watch films, dress up and have fun. The profits go to the Trustees of the Commons, to help maintain the green spaces in and around the village.

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks: Another event laid on by the local Rotary Club, the annual fireworks display at Chislehurst Recreation Ground brings the community together with a children’s funfair, stalls, a hog roast and entertainment - topped off with a spectacular display. Profits go to local charities.

Christmas Tree Festival: Each year Chislehurst Methodist Church holds its Christmas Tree Festival from the end of November to early December. Last year several hundred visitors stepped inside the church to admire their 40 decorated trees and to get into the Christmas spirit with homemade cakes and performances from local dance and music groups.

Property market

Such a desirable place to live, with both the city and the country on your doorstep, inevitably comes at a premium.

Within the village there are many large 
detached homes for sale between £1,000,000 and £3,000,000, which makes up for much of the property stock. A three bedroom home here can cost between £400,000 and £800,000, while a two bed house can cost between £370,000 and £600,000. One bedroom flats, of which there are very few, start at £300,000.

How to get there

Chislehurst is three miles from Bromley, to the south east of London, situated on the A222 which links the A20 with Bromley. The railway station is a walk from the centre of the village but once there it’s only a 20-minute ride into central London. w

Sat nav: BR7 5AG

Property market

Such a desirable place to live, with both the city and the country on your doorstep, inevitably comes at a premium.

Within the village there are many large 
detached homes for sale between £1,000,000 and £3,000,000, which makes up for much of the property stock. A three bedroom home here can cost between £400,000 and £800,000, while a two bed house can cost between £370,000 and £600,000. One bedroom flats, of which there are very few, start at £300,000.

How to get there

Chislehurst is three miles from Bromley, to the south east of London, situated on the A222 which links the A20 with Bromley. The railway station is a walk from the centre of the village but once there it’s only a 20-minute ride into central London. w

Sat nav: BR7 5AG

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