uitably enough, our website logo (seen here on the left) is a tracing of the
representation of the first known Lord of the Manor of Chelsfield, Ernulf de
Chelsfield, from the seal still attached to a deed of 1145. The de Chelsfield
family continued as Lords of the Manor and large local landowners, and
William de Chelsfield, who had been Sheriff of Kent from 1286 to 1288, has
a massive gravestone at Halstead church.
t is difficult today to define exactly what is meant by Chelsfield. The
ancient parish of over 3000 acres was curiously shaped, and stretched from
Well Hill in the north to a point well beyond Cudham village in the south,
and included the hamlets of Pratts Bottom and part of Green Street Green.
The Manor of Chelsfield covered the whole of this area, and also extended
into much of Farnborough, while the Manors of Hewitts, Norsted and
Goddington had scattered holdings throughout the parish. In general the
website concentrates on the area of Chelsfield village, with the hamlets of
Maypole, Bopeep and Well Hill, and the newer development of Chelsfield
Park and Windsor Drive. We do however propose publishing transcripts of
many of the documents relating to all four Manors, covering the whole of
the ancient parish.
The spire of the ancient parish church of St. Martin of Tours is a prominent
feature for miles around. The building certainly dates from the early
Norman period and, although it is not mentioned in the Domesday Book
survey, it may have been in existence even before that. Additions and
alterations over the centuries right up to the present day have left us a
glorious building set in a huge, well-kept churchyard. The setting is further
enhanced by the Court Lodge next to it, a beautiful early eighteenth
century building, and the group forms a peaceful oasis, regrettably close to
the busy A224 which was driven through in the 1920s, cutting the village off
from the church.
Chelsfield's most celebrated inhabitant, Brass Crosby, has an impressive
monument in the church, and has recently been commemorated in a blue
plaque in Church Road. He was Lord Mayor of London when in 1771 he
defied Parliament and was imprisoned for allowing their proceedings to be
Chelsfield is on very high ground, and the village
nestles out of the bitter cold in a little fold of the
Downs. This area has changed little in outward
appearance and includes the ancient Cross Hall and
Cross House. Unfortunately the picturesque Ivy
Cottages, another attractive feature, were
demolished despite local outrage. Pubs and
beerhouses were always a feature of village life, but
changing ways have led to the closure of many.
Fortunately the Five Bells in the village centre still
flourishes, as does the Bopeep in the hamlet of that
name, but regrettably the Kent Hounds and the Rock
and Fountain at Well Hill have not survived.
A tiny village school was built in 1823, much enlarged some forty years later
and has been much modernised, still serving a wide area. Close to the
village and in its own extensive grounds is the private Chelsfield Hospital,
housed in a building which was originally the huge Rectory. This was
extensively remodelled from the 1890s onward by the banker Edward
Norman, and his family lived there until the Second World War.
Another of the "big houses" of Chelsfield is Woodlands, which was built by
John Fuller of Hewitts in 1815 and eventually descended to the Waring
family, Lords of the Manor of Chelsfield and principal landowners in the
north of the parish until 1945. Among them Arthur Waring (died 1920) must
be mentioned with honour, as Chelsfield is indeed fortunate to have his
detailed and authoritative manuscript "Chelsfield Parochial Notes" which
he copied out in slightly different versions three times. It is ironic that he
was writing on the eve of the Great War which saw the end of much of the
traditional village way of life which he relished and described so well.
The railway had come to Chelsfield in 1868, but at first had little impact on
the immediately surrounding area. It was only after the end of the Great
War that Arthur Waring, concluding that he would have to part with some
of his ancestral estate, put on the market Julian Brimstone Farm and over
200 acres on the southern side of the railway line. The sale (for only £8000)
was completed after his death, and the land was bought by Homesteads Ltd.
They began to develop an estate very much on "Garden Suburb" lines, with
large plots and attractive "Arts and Crafts" style houses, many of them
designed by the local architect George Rose. A subsequent sale of Waring
property in 1933 led to the further development of houses and shops close
to the station.
We hope this brief introduction encourages you to read about Chelsfield’s
long history on our web pages. The site is always growing so do please
contact us if you have material you think we can use.
©2013 Geoffrey Copus All rights reserved
A Community Archive
Chelsfield: A brief Introduction
Unless otherwise indicated on text and images, this website is protected by copyright under Creative Commons
Licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). Click
for more information.
Chelsfield School Logbooks
Well Hill Mission Chapel
St Martin of Tours
Beating the Bounds
St Martins lightning strike
Fraud and forgery