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The chief manor houses were Woodlands (William Waring), Chelsfield House (Norman Butler), Hewitts and Court Lodge next to the Church. As with most English Villages at that time the squires and Lord of the Manor set up the system of land use and provided work for the local inhabitants with varying popularity. Chelsfield is still active in farming. There has been an association with cricket from the earliest beginnings in 1731 and the Cricket Club still flourishes.
Competition from Orpington, Bromley and from Supermarkets has forced out the local shops. There used to be a butcher, two bakers, saddlery, forge, general store, post office, bicycle maker and a laundry.
The railway came to the edge of the Parish in 1868 (Chelsfield), 1876 (Halstead for Knockholt) which became Knockholt in 1900 on the South East & Chatham line. (Click for references to 'The Railway Children'.) The railway helped to start the big development at New Chelsfield. It enabled coal to be brought in more easily and the local produce such as perishable strawberries, to get to London fast. During the 1939 - 1945 war many bombs fell in the parish but only one caused any real damage. This was the V1 Flying Bomb which was brought down on Lillys, killing the owners and their dogs. Many of the headstones in the churchyard were flattened from the blast and the stained glass in the 3 lancet windows destroyed.
Sadly the church became isolated from the village, the original cricket field and fire station destroyed, in the 1920's by the Orpington Bypass which as traffic increased became more of a barrier. Efforts are in place to maintain the strong bonds between the church and the village.
Chelsfield Village Events Chelsfield History
A monthly Chelsfield News Letter is available ‘Chelsfield Village Voice’, copies are available from the Church Porch or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelsfield Village: - Standing on high ground to the East of Orpington and only 16 miles from London, Chelsfield has always been popular for people from the London to visit, walk and live. The name probably derives from Saxon times and means 'a cold place'. The village centre is at the junctions of roads from all compass points, and when farming was the chief occupation horses and carts gathered here to water from the Crays, Shoreham, Sevenoaks and Green Street Green. For the refreshment of drovers were the alehouses, The Five Bells, Eleven Cricketers (became Neal's Stores now Neals cottage), Maypole (now a cottage), The White Heart (now the Bo Peep). Neighbouring Well Hill provided the Rock and Fountain and the Kent Hounds.
Photograph Phillip Lane