Petts Wood is named after the Pett family of shipbuilders who are believed to have owned the wood in the C16th. It is technically two properties, Willett Wood to the east and Edlmann Wood to the west. In 1925 part of the wood was saved from housing development by a local campaign and opened to the public in 1927, with a memorial to William Willett. In 1927 Francis Edlmann purchased the remaining land as an extension to his Hawkwood estate. Following his death in 1950 it was eventually purchased and given as a gift to the National Trust, and opened in April 1958.
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Willett Wood was purchased in 1927 as a memorial to William Willett, a resident of Chislehurst, who pioneered daylight saving. He died in 1927, the year before daylight saving was introduced. In 1925 Petts Wood was about to be sold for housing development and Chislehurst residents launched an appeal to save it. Around 23.5 hectares of woodland were purchased and ceremoniously opened in 1927 with the unveiling of a 2.5 ton granite sundial as a memorial to William Willett, at the north end of the wood. However more funds were needed to purchase the remaining 19ha. In 1927 Francis Edlmann purchased the remaining land as an extension to his Hawkwood estate. When he died in 1950, his executors attempted to sell the entire estate for development. It was eventually bought by Francesca and Robert Hall, keen local conservationists who handed it as a gift to the National Trust. At the opening ceremony in April 1958, a second granite monolith, the Edlmann memorial stone, was unveiled.
Petts Wood is a large area of woodland and like neighbouring Scadbury Park Wood (q.v.) the woodland is crossed by a number of waymarked footpaths and bridle paths. The woodland includes silver birch, oak, chestnut, some fine beech trees, glades and young copses. Car parking is largely on adjoining streets with larger parking areas near Scadbury Park Wood.
Andrew Crowe, 'The Parks and Woodlands of London', (Fourth Estate, 1987) p214-215' Peter Waymark, 'A History of Petts Wood' (Petts Wood and District Residents' Association, 2000)