City views, Parliamentary debates and a Country Park await!
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Located 19 miles from central London, you'll get a good view of the City and Canary Wharf from a view point near the start of this walk. There's a couple of hills and one at the end, otherwise its a fairly flat walk with some interesting history along the way.
Points of Interest
Located on the outskirts of Orpington, Chelsfield is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Cillesfelle", meaning "land of a man called Cēol". Another older variant was 'Chilesfeld'. In 1868 Chelsfield station was opened, however, it was located 1 mile west of the village. As a result, in 1925 land near the station was bought by Homesteads Ltd. and 'New Chelsfield' was created.
In 1771, Brass Crosby, who was Lord Mayor of the City of London, engaged in a famous battle with the House of Commons over publishing Parliamentary debates. Crosby died in 1793 and was buried in Chelsfield Church, where a monument was erected to his memory. The London Borough of Bromley erected a blue plaque to Crosby outside his former home, Court Lodge, in Church Road. See the photo of the plaque below, which we will pass on the walk.
St Martin of Tours Church
St.Martin's is a grade 2 star listed building and is almost 1000 years old. The Church has changed and developed over the Centuries. The earliest dateable parts of the church are in the Early English Style characterised by the triple lancet windows at the East End. The glass in these windows has been replaced many times, the current windows replaced the Victorian Glass destroyed by the blast from a flying bomb during WW2. The tower and tower arch were added in the 13th century. The church continued its development with the Brass Crosby Room, constructed in 2007. We will have time to view inside the church.
High Elms Country Park and site of a Mansion House
Is an extensive 250-acre public park on the North Downs in Farnborough. It is a Local Nature Reserve, and together with the neighbouring Downe Bank, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The park surrounds High Elms Golf Course, and has extensive woodland, chiefly oak and beech, chalk meadows and formal gardens. It also has a cafe, a visitor centre, nature and history trails and car parks. We will stop here for tea and cake.
In 1809 a wealthy London banker and Member of Parliament, John William Lubbock, bought the 260 acre High Elms Estate as a country residence, and in 1840 the astronomer and banker Sir John Lubbock, inherited it. He built a grand new mansion in the Italian style. In 1938 the estate was sold to Kent County Council and the house became a nurses' training centre. In 1965 the area became part of the London Borough of Bromley, and the estate was transferred to the new borough. The land then became public open space, but in 1967 the mansion burnt down. We will visit the site of the mansion house and it's gardens. See the house floor plan in the photo below.
The route (please click the link to see it in the OS app):
From Chelsfield station we make our way towards 'Old Chelsfield' via a viewpoint commanding views of the City of London. We will then visit St Martin of Tours church with time to view inside. After passing the plaque to Brass Crosby, we'll walk through Chelsfield Lakes Golf Club, sticking to the path and watching out for stray balls! Care should be taken crossing the busy A21, then we'll head through the village of Pratts Bottom. Here we'll stop for an early lunch, with the option of either the Bulls Head pub or a sandwich on the village green. Next we'll head across open fields admiring more city views before entering Cuckoo Wood and negotiating another golf course. We are now in the High Elms Country Park where we can admire the former mansion house and gardens, before stopping for tea and cake at the Green Roof Cafe. The final part of the walk is across open fields via Farnborough to Green Street Green and across the A21 again, before the ascent along Windsor Drive to Chelsfield station.
Join me for a drink at the Chelsfield Pub located 1 minute from the station.
I love having dogs on my walks and this one is suitable for them, although it will partly be along lanes. Your dog must be responsive if it is off the lead.
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All photographs are my own taken in February 2024.
What to bring
Footwear: Walking boots are preferred, especially if it is wet and muddy.
Clothing: Wear cold and wet weather gear if these conditions are forecast and consider gaiters to reduce the spread of mud up the legs. Waterproof trousers are useful in the wettest weather but avoid jeans as when they are wet they become cold, heavy and chafing.
Most importantly wear layers so you can easily adapt to changing weather conditions.
Food & drink
Bring plenty of water and snacks.
For lunch there is either the Bull's Head pub at Pratt's Bottom or there are picnic tables on the village green, if you wish to bring a packed lunch.
We'll also stop for tea and cake at the Green Roof Cafe https://thegreenroofcafe.co.uk/menu/in the High Elms Country Park during the afternoon.
At the end of the walk, join me for a for drink at the Chelsfield Pub, located 1 minute walk from Chelsfield station.