10 reasons to love Chislehurst

PUBLISHED: 12:34 22 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:34 22 October 2018

Royal Parade is an elegant row of shops built in the 1860s at the centre of the Commons (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Royal Parade is an elegant row of shops built in the 1860s at the centre of the Commons (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

It may have been swallowed up by Greater London, but it still feels more like an idyllic Kentish village

1. Below ground

Chislehurst Caves started out as chalk and flint mines, first excavated around 800 years ago. Later the underground labyrinth was used as a huge wartime air raid shelter and then as a live music venue, with legendary performances by bands including Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones in the ‘60s and ‘70s. These days, visitors are led on entertaining tours of the tunnels by lamplight and along the way hear tales from the site’s long and varied past.

2. Green thoughts

Overlooking the valley of the River Cray is Scadbury Park Nature Reserve – 300 acres of stunning countryside. Once the estate of the Walsingham family, and Lords of the Manor of Chislehurst, it is now a nature reserve with a circular trail and footpaths leading through ancient woodland and meadows and past the romantic ruins of Scadbury Manor.

St Nicholas Church is thought to date back to Norman times (photo: Manu Palomeque)St Nicholas Church is thought to date back to Norman times (photo: Manu Palomeque)

3. Eating out

Chislehurst is a great place to wine and dine, with plenty of independents. Try out The Imperial Arms, Denny’s Seafood, Thaidine, The Thyme and Annabel’s II shop and tea room. And don’t miss Royal Parade, an elegant row of shops built in the 1860s at the centre of the Commons. Having achieved royal status in 1876, in recognition of Napoleon III, it’s an attractive home for a number of shops and businesses, with restaurants including Due Amici, Walnuts Café Bistro, The Bengal Lancer and Pizza Express.

4. Common touch

Although pedestrians enjoy unlimited right of access, Chislehurst Commons are privately owned and maintained by a board of trustees. Made up of 180 acres of woods, grassland, heathland and ponds in and around the town, they provide a home for several rare species of plants as well as birds, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. There are three main areas: by the parish church; around the cricket ground and Mill Place; and the largest section, which starts at Camden Place.

Intrepid visitors are led on tours of the tunnels at Chislehurst Cave by lamplight (photo: Manu Palomeque)Intrepid visitors are led on tours of the tunnels at Chislehurst Cave by lamplight (photo: Manu Palomeque)

5. Empire state

Napoleon III, deposed Emperor of France, his wife Empress Eugenie and their son lived in Chislehurst after they fled from France in the 1870s. The family stayed at Camden Place, which was briefly buzzing with diplomatic activity; it’s now the clubhouse for Chislehurst Golf Club. Napoleon was buried in St Mary’s Church, but 15 years later his remains were moved to an abbey in Farnborough.

6. Walk this way

Made up of 300 open spaces of woodland, commons, parks and recreation grounds, all linked by a 50-mile walking network, the Green Chain Walk is one of Greater London’s most interesting long-distance walks. With Chislehurst as one starting point and Dulwich as the other, it’s possible to walk all the way to the Thames riverside at Woolwich, Thamesmead or Erith.

Chislehurst is a starting point on the Green Chain Walk, one of Greater London'’s most interesting long-distance walks (photo: Manu Palomeque)Chislehurst is a starting point on the Green Chain Walk, one of Greater London'’s most interesting long-distance walks (photo: Manu Palomeque)

7. Golfing fun

If you’re in Chislehurst for the day, you’re within striking distance of one of the south-east’s biggest family golf centres. Sidcup Family Golf has a recently refurbished 46-bay floodlit driving range, a Mr Mulligan’s Dino Golf adventure centre, a golf shop and a coffee shop. Golf lessons for all ages and group classes or individual tuition throughout the year.

8. Historic churches

St Nicholas Church contains Scadbury Chapel, linking the church with the Walsingham family and later the Lords of the Manor. Many of these important residents of Chislehurst were interred here. Roman Catholic St Mary’s Church was built in 1854 and was where the exiled Napoleon III was buried in 1873, joined six years later by his son.

Chislehurst Commons are made up of 180 acres of woods, grassland, heathland and several ponds in and around the town (photo: Manu Palomeque)Chislehurst Commons are made up of 180 acres of woods, grassland, heathland and several ponds in and around the town (photo: Manu Palomeque)

9. Annual events

Chislehurst has kept its friendly village feel, with plenty of regular community events. June sees free music festival Chislehurst Rocks at Walden Recreation Ground and the Rotary Club’s Summer Fair on the Commons, also the venue for open-air cinema events in July. Still to come this year is the annual fireworks spectacular on 3 November at Chislehurst Recreation Ground.

10. Dramatic Deco

Ten minutes away by car is one of English Heritage’s gems. Part Art Deco showpiece and part Tudor royal residence, Eltham Palace is where Henry VIII grew up. The original palace was given to Edward II in 1305 by the archbishop of Durham but was almost entirely rebuilt in the 1930s by millionaire Stephen Courtauld and his wife.

Chislehurst, surrounded by Commons and pretty as a picture, still has a rural village feel (photo: Manu Palomeque)Chislehurst, surrounded by Commons and pretty as a picture, still has a rural village feel (photo: Manu Palomeque)

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 11:58

It’s summer and the world is starting to open back up again after the restrictions brought about by Covid-19 | Words: Emma Ward - Photos: National Trust

Read more
Yesterday, 11:50

The vast amount of shipping around Kent over the centuries has led to the discovery of a dozen listed shipwrecks, with more to come | Words: Jack Watkins - Photos: Historic England

Read more

The gateway to the kingdom, Kent has always punched above its weight. Here are 10 occasions when our border land made history

Read more
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Your foreign holiday may be on hold, but there is a plethora of inspirational ways to enjoy days out right here in our home county | Words: Emma Ward - Photos: Manu Palomeque

Read more
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

We’ve gathered six of the best dog-friendly pubs in Kent to enjoy a bite to eat after a scenic stroll

Read more

From its literary links to its cricketing history, this riverside town has plenty of surprises to discover

Read more

There may not be the usual crowds this summer, but we can still look ahead to our return to one of Kent’s favourite seaside destinations - Whitstable

Read more
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Picnic baskets at the ready because we have gathered 10 of the best places to enjoy a picnic in stunning rural Kent

Read more

As the world slows down, we turn our eyes to the skies in search of the best places to watch some celestial wonders this summer

Read more
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Margate is Thanet’s trendiest seaside town so we selected some things to do, see and eat when visiting

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life