Suitably 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. It 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 published. 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
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