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Chislehurst and Walden Recreation Grounds and Whyte’s Woodland Bromley
   
Summary: The site comprises Chislehurst and Walden Recreation Grounds and Whyte's Woodland. The Chislehurst Tithe Map of 1844 shows the site of Chislehurst Recreation Ground as a field owned by Lord Sydney, Lord of Chislehurst Manor and a principal landowner at the time. At some time between 1908 and 1928 the land was acquired by Chislehurst and Sidcup UDC for use as a recreation ground. Walden Recreation Ground (to the north?) was named after Viscount Walden, 9th Marquess of Tweeddale who was born in Edinburgh but came to live in the area. In 1938 Miss Agnes Whyte conveyed by way of a gift the adjacent wooded area to the UDC, now known as Whyte's Woodland after its donor. This and the extension to the Recreation Ground opened in 1948.
Previous / Other name: Chislehurst Recreation Ground
Site location: Walden Road/Empress Drive/Red Hill, Chislehurst
Postcode: BR7 5BG > Google Map
Type of site: Public Park; Public Open Land
Date(s): early 1900s - 1940s
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
Borough: Bromley
Site ownership: LB Bromley
Site management: Leisure Services; Friends of Chislehurst & Walden Recreation Grounds
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities: Children’s playground, football pitch, tennis courts managed by Chislehurst Tennis Club
Events: Annual Fireworks Display. Other activities such as Easter Egg Hunt
Public transport: Rail: Elmstead Woods, Chislehurst then bus. Bus: 61, 160, 161.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2009
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.bromley.gov.uk; www.focrg.org.uk

Fuller information:

The name Chislehurst derives from the Anglo-Saxon 'Ciselhyrst', meaning 'wood on the stony hill'. The Chislehurst Tithe Map of 1844 shows what is now Chislehurst Recreation Ground as a field owned by Lord of the Manor, Lord Sydney, who was the principal landowner in Chislehurst at the time. By the early C20th the Sydney estate lands had been inherited by Robert Marsham-Townshend, who began to sell off outlying parts of his estate. This was at a time when much of the farmland in the area was increasingly being sold off for housing. At some time between 1908 and 1928 the land that became Chislehurst Recreation Ground was acquired for use as a recreation ground. Walden Recreation Ground was named after Viscount Walden, 9th Marquess of Tweeddale who was born in Edinburgh but came to live in the area. The Whyte family of Bromley also lived nearby and were well-known musicians and singers who travelled extensively.

What became known as Whyte's Woodland was once part of the ancient Red Hill Wood but was given a number of names over the years, including Storth Oaks. At some time the Storth Oaks woodland became linked with an C18th house built by Lord Sydney called The Briars in Watts Lane where the Misses Whyte lived in the C20th. On 7 October 1938 Miss Agnes Kay Whyte conveyed to the Chislehurst and Sidcup Urban District Council as a gift the wooded area adjacent to the recreation ground, thereby substantially increasing the area available for public recreation. Miss Whyte stipulated that the woodland was 'to be used for the purposes of Pleasure Walks and Arbours for the benefit of persons residing in the said Urban District or in the neighbourhood and for no other purpose'. A designated part of the woodland was to be preserved as a bird sanctuary, fenced on all sides, with no entrance to the general public. At that time land adjacent to the woodland owned by Chislehurst Athletic Association known as Walden Recreation Ground was also sold to the UDC. The outbreak of WWII prevented preparation of the wood for public access and it was not opened until August 1948, when it was named Whyte's Woodland after the donor. The bird sanctuary remains in the woods today.

By 1959 Chislehurst Recreation Ground had been extended by a small area of land in the south-west corner of the site. At one time in the 1960s there was an aviary in the park and in addition to the children's playground there were facilities for cricket, tennis and football. Today it is a largely level area of open space almost entirely surrounded by residential housing. A tarmac path leads between houses in Walden Road to the children’s playground and park. An area of the grass near this entrance is left uncut for most of the year and there are some mature trees here. Tarmac paths surround a central area of mown grass, with seats placed at intervals along the path. Whyte's Woodland to the north is semi-mature woodland through which the Green Chain Way runs to Elmstead Woods. A second entrance to the recreation ground is in Red Hill to the north-east, which leads past the library and tennis courts into the recreation ground.

In 2010 the Friends of Chislehurst and Walden Recreation Grounds was set up to improve facilities and maintenance of the park. Woodland management, bulb planting and litter collection are regularly undertaken and events and activities are held. In December 2009 the Chislehurst Society donated £50,000 towards a new children's playground.

Sources consulted:

LPGT Volunteer Research by A J Allnutt and J M Rawcliffe, 2009. Friends of Chislehurst & Walden Recreation Grounds website (www.focrg.org.uk) History section.
Grid ref: TQ431708
Size in hectares: 15
   
On EH National Register : No
EH grade:
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
No
 
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: No
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: Yes - Borough Importance II (part)
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation: Urban Open Space.
   

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