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Spotlight on Chislehurst

PUBLISHED: 19:23 06 January 2014 | UPDATED: 19:23 06 January 2014

Camden Palace, Chislehurst

Camden Palace, Chislehurst

Manu Palomeque

With fine art-and-crafts architecture, a 15th-century church and ancient village section plus masses of greenery, Chislehurst has all the advantages of the countryside while being conveniently close to London

Chislehurst, originally meaning ‘Stony Wood’, started life as a village that grew up around St Nicholas Church and the Green, and much of this area is now within a Conservation Area.

To its north is the large Common, beyond which is ‘modern’ Chislehurst, beginning at the bottom of the High Street, where there’s an impressive pond.

Chislehurst was once home to the Emperor Napoleon III and Sir Christopher Marlowe, spymaster to Elizabeth 1. Various Lords of the Manor lived on the Scadbury Estate, now Scadbury Park, where you’ll find the remains of the demolished manor, plus a few ghosts. Phantoms are also reputed to be in Chislehurst Caves, which run for miles beneath the pavements.

What to see and do

Visit: St Nicholas Church, Chislehurst Caves (020 8467 3264, BR7 5NL) (miles of passages, guided tours). See the excellent arts-and-crafts architecture in the town.

Scenery: The Common, Scadbury Park (with 13 ponds and masses of wildlife), Manor Park and Chislehurst Recreation Ground.

Shop at: Royal Parade for elegant feel-good shops (fashion, antiques, etc), including Annabels’ for luxury gifts ranging from greetings cards to designer handbags. Other key shopping centres are the High Street (which has Annabel’s II with its own tearoom) and Belmont Parade. There’s a Farmers’ Market in Hornbrook House Car park (BRY 5AB) on the third Sunday of each month.

Eat out: Ottoman Restaurant at the Bickley Manor Hotel (020 8467 1461, BR1 2LW), The Bull’s Head hotel (020 8467 1727, BR7 6NR), Mountain View (020 8467 3999, BR7 5AF), Shaon Indian restaurant (020 8295 2277, BR7 5AG), Due Amici (020 8467 4496, BR7 6NR), The Bickley (020 8468 7613, BR7 5NP).

Interesting landmarks: Chislehurst Green, near St Nicholas church, has ‘The Cockpit’, a circular depression with sloping sides, once used as a meeting place, while the Prince Imperial Memorial is a large granite Celtic cross on the Common. Near Chislehurst pond is the 2000 million-year-old millennium rock.

Topical talk

Joanna Friel

Heritage representative, the Chislehurst Society

Chislehurst Society is a lively civic society that maintains the balance between preserving Chislehurst’s heritage and supporting residents’ needs.

It liaises with the council regarding local amenities, support research and publication of local studies and plays a leading part in the Chislehurst Business Group and the Chislehurst Town Team. Chislehurst Through Time (Amberley Publishing) is available via: www.chislehurst-society.org.uk.

“Chislehurst is such an interesting and beautiful place, an oasis,” says Joanna. “We have the best of both worlds, can enjoy the city culture and the beauty of the Kent countryside, we’re surrounded by acres of green woodland and protected open space.

“I answer enquiries, write articles for our website and Cockpit (our local history bulletin) and also support the guardians of local listed properties, and have started a local history group. My work includes collaboration with local schools, and getting youngsters to enjoy local history. The Chislehurst Society recently won £7000 of Heritage Lottery funds to restore and display the 1893 map of Camden Place: this map has helped us tell stories of local residents, including Emperor Napoleon, Sir John Lubbock, William Willett and Sir Malcolm Campbell. “My favourite place is the view across the Common towards St Nicholas church when it is floodlit. I love Annabel’s (BR7 6NR), on the High Street, who sell luxury English gifts and you can drink their coffee while looking out over Chislehurst pond.”

Alison Stammers

Chairman, Chislehurst Town Team

Set up in April 2012 in response to concerns about the future of the High Street, the Chislehurst Town Team is made up of Chislehurst-loving volunteers.

They work closely with the Chislehurst Business Group and have built up an effective working relationship with officers within the London Borough of Bromley.

Alison has lived in Chislehurst for 22 years and was previously chair of Governors at Mead Road Infant School, and worked as Operations and HR director at Bullers Wood School. She is also founder member of the Friends of Chislehurst Recreation Grounds, sits on the Chislehurst Society executive committee and chairs the Chislehurst Schools Forum Group, as well as being secretary of the Chislehurst Playing Fields Association.

“Our vision for Chislehurst is for an attractive, bustling village with a distinct identity, that uses its heritage as a backdrop,” she explains.

“So far our achievements have been producing a vision and proposals document (presented to LBB in 2011), developing a ‘branding’ for Chislehurst, now used on banners and posters, etc, and creating a website, www.visitchislehurst.org.uk.

“In addition we’ve secured nearly £50,000 in grant money for improvements to the High Street and nearby Belmont Parade. Our main aims are to improve traffic flow around the High Street, and to improve and rationalise parking facilities, enhance the streetscape, and promote a cafe culture, plus maintain and enhance the village feel.

“Despite being so close to London, Chislehurst genuinely does have a village feel, with its historic buildings, commons, ponds and open green spaces, and I love the real sense of community – I also love Chislehurst Recreation Ground.

“Places I’d recommend include the 2gether charity shop (BR7 5AG), it’s like no other - and you can often find me in the Shaon Indian restaurant on a Friday evening.”

Property watch

One- and two-bedroom flats cost in the region of £177,000 and £310,000 respectively, the latter about the same price as a two-bedroom house. A three-bedroom semi is around £398,000, while a four-bedroom detached house could be upwards of £689,000.

Getting there

Chislehurst is three miles from Bromley, to the south-east of London, and is on the A222, which links the A20 with Bromley, and the A20 joins the M25 at junction 3 (where the A20 becomes the M20). There’s a station with rail links to London (33 mins) and other Kent locations and good bus services

Satnav postcode: BR7 5AG (High Street).

MY TOWN

Barbara Calvert

Minister at Chislehurst Methodist Church (BR7 5LX)

Tell us about your church

Chislehurst Methodist Church (BR7 5LX) is a very special place. We’ve achieved our aim with a major refurbishment programme, which was to transform a private place into a public sacred space. I’ve been Minister here for five years now.

Apart from services, what is the church used for?

After the refurbishment we had an art exhibition, we’re now used regularly by the blood donation service, and we have marvellous concerts. Our aim being to have it used every day.

What do you like about your work?

The creative possibilities. The church can serve the community in so many different ways: providing accommodation for Brownies, Guides, Boys Brigade, dance music and drama groups, chess club, weight watchers’ club, etc.

I like most of all that each week I prepare a service for people of all ages, with singing, drama, music, photos, art, quiet refection, storytelling, using all mediums to bring the good news of Jesus alive for people.

Any projects you’d like to mention?

We have a monthly ‘Messy Church’ particularly for young families, and provide loads of craft activities, storytelling, drama and songs for the children based on a particular Bible story, then we all have a meal together. For the elderly we have Monday Focus, which has a wide and varied programme of speakers.

What do you like about Chislehurst?

The trees! It’s such a beautiful green and leafy place with ducks on the pond, yet is so close to central London.

Do you have a favourite walk?

Walking through the woods to Royal Parade, or strolling by Prick End Pond to the newsagent in Belmont Parade.

Favourite restaurant?

Mountain View, with its delicious Indian and Nepalese food.

Why move to Chislehurst?

Chislehurst retains so much of its historic character with the preservation of the ponds and commons, and there are people who care about the community.

Chislehurst in a sentence?

Chislehurst is neither a town nor a village, but a green and tranquil comer of London, with views over the rolling Kent countryside.

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