New information from former residents and other correspondents
Dave Cox has written as follows: With regard to the missing photograph of the 3rd Battalion The London Scottish Regiment using Foxbury as its regimental Headquarters, I have in my possession a Christmas card depicting Foxbury in July 1941 with bands playing on the lawn. My father sent this card to his parents prior to embarkation.
Many thanks Dave. The image from the card is reproduced here:
July 2013 - James Kemnal
Dear Sir, Just today I have been researching Sir James Kemnal and found your website fascinating and very helpful. I am the second wife of Mervyn Willoughby Seabrook who is mentioned in the history of Kemnal Manor (by virtue of the fact that he and Stuart Kemnal were business partners). I am in the process of downsizing and taking items to an auction house. Among these are the Court dress in which Sir James is photographed on your web site. I also have the suicide note of his son Stuart, addressed to Willoughby. I believe Stuart committed suicide when Willoughby married his first wife, Elizabeth Esperonier; it was her third marriage. My husband, who was 30 years older than me, was known as Mooney and he died in 1993. We had a son together who is now 40 years old. Mooney told me that Stuart suffered from terrible migraines which drove him to take his own life but I have always wondered if there was more than a business interest between them. They ran The Bull Inn, Barton Mills and The Royal Hotel, Teignmouth together. I also have Stuart's dressing case, a large photo of the house on Sandbanks and a very large embroidered silk picture of a large house which has always intrigued me and I have wondered for years where the house was situated and who lived in it. It is a timbered house with a little stream running through the grounds and peacocks in the foreground. Could it possibly be Kemnal Manor - the only thing that makes me doubt this is that it stands completely on its own and is on a bit of a hill. Do you know of anyone who might be interested in the items I am putting forward for sale. I can quickly withdraw the Court dress which is due to sell on Saturday but I feel it is too important to be sold just as a fancy dress outfit or something like that now that I have done a bit of research on Sir James Kemnal. It is most beautifully made and has the tailor's label in the inside pocket with Sir James's name. I would be interested in receiving your comments.
Yours sincerely, Susan Seabrook
We attempted to purchase the Court dress and expressed an interest in the items Susan described, but we have lost contact and have heard nothing recently.
April 2013 - Woodheath Fire
Mary Wheeler, a member of the Chisehurst Society History Group, has uncovered the existence of a question put to the Postmaster-General in 1913 following the fire at Frank Tiarks home in Kemnal Road. Read about it here...
August 2012 - Harold Molins
Martin Baker has provided more information about the Molins family, and a photograph of Cora Molins.
Just a small addition to the Biog of Harold Molins. His wife Cora, nee Parry, was the second daughter of my wife's great great Aunt Edna Pullein Rogerson, later Parry.
Harold Bernado Molins was born 1885 in Rye, New York. Died 1958 Marylebone.
Cora Aldwyth Parry was born 1902 in Cardiff and died 1962 in Westminster. They married in 1929 in Paddington, Harold being about 17 years older than Cora.
They did have children : Anthony Molins - born about 1930, and Peter Molins - 1936-1995.
The photo attached is Cora Molins nee Parry as a teenager with her sisters. Cora is in the middle. Their mother was very pretty, as are the daughters. See the photograph here..
July 2012 - Hoblands and Hoblands Cottage
Around 1950/51, our family lived in accommodation at rear of double garages, my father being chauffer/gardener to owner of Hoblands (daughter was actress, Yvonne Furneaux) but would you know surname of family? He was a Lloyds Bank Manager or Director. This information would be appreciated by myself and 2 sisters, whose grandchildren and families would like to put names to faces. Thank you so much for your time - so very grateful. I am middle daughter, Jean. By the way, your details were passed on to me as I was able to recall a little more details of the time we had there.
Unfortunately, the records of who lived in the various stables and lodges just after the Second World War are very patchy. So many of them do not have residents recorded, even though we know that they were occupied.
Regarding Yvonne Fumeaux, her real name was Tessa Scratcherd, the daughter of Joseph and Amy Scratcherd, who appear to have lived at Hoblands between 1945 and 1953.
June 2012 - Roderick Travers Hawes (Nizels)
Would you please help me to get in touch with relatives of Roderick Travers Hawes? He came to Itzehoe/Germany in May 1945 as officer commanding Military Government Detachment 216 and supervised the administration of the county (Kreis Steinburg). As a local historian and former keeper of a local record office I would be very keen to learn about his biography? I would be very interested in photographs to see what he looked like when visiting northern Germany. It would also be very interesting to see what he has communicated about his duties, feelings and thoughts in diaries or letters.
Dr. Reimer Möller
June 2012 - Kemnal Wood
After five years of searching for photographs of Kemnal Wood, we now have two, both discovered within a month of each other. One was found by Andrew Thomas on the internet, which we hope to be able to display soon, while the other was located at Chislehurst Library archives, though not identified as Kemnal Wood. This latter image can be found here. It looks like a photograph but has been printed in a rather informal style on card. Date unknown.
May 2012 - Matt Linin has send us a note.
Hi there, I found your great website after performing a specific search in Google for the 'Whitehouse' bunker and was pleased to see it mentioned a couple of times.
I grew up in the Marechal Neill area of Sidcup and once I reached Secondary school age in the early 80's myself, my younger brother and a group of friends spent endless hours in Kemnal Woods during the school summer holidays. We built 'camps' and did all the things that young lads did (legal, of course!) back in a time where parental instruction was 'be home before it's dark'.
I remember the Black Pond very well. We also found a small gravestone still standing in the woods that must have been for a household pet, as it was only a single name carved on it. i can't remember the name now, but it was something like 'Stan' or similar. Anyway, we were always intrigued by the 'Whitehouse' bunker, which had a single remaining steel door as mentioned elsewhere. We spent hours around it, in it and on the roof. We used to 'dare' each other to go through the entrance with the steel door and navigate our way through the whole place and out of the door on the other side without the use of a torch or candle as a test of bravery.
There is however one specific time there that I will never forget. A group of us, 14 or 15 years old at the time, decided to visit the Whitehouse at night, one Halloween. Now, you could reach the Whitehouse from the path that runs from the A20, or you could reach it from the woods themselves.
This night, we approached it from the woods. The bunker itself sat in a dip, so the woods around it were higher, nearly level with it's roof as I recall. As we got closer and before it came into sight, we could hear voices and see the glow of a fire. This made us quite wary, so we approached the top of the rise 'commando' style on our stomachs to look just over the rise to see what was going on. What we saw, was a group of people, adults, standing around a large fire, wearing white robes and chanting.
I am 42 years old now and am not making this up. In fact, it's making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up now. Obviously, we all exchanged very frightened looks and started to back crawl away from the edge of the rise to get out of there post haste. This was working well until one of our number panicked, stood up, pointed and shouted at the top of his voice 'DEVIL WORSHIPPERS!!!!' Everybody froze, including the white robed people below us, who then turned and started to move towards us up the rise in a manner that indicated to us it was time to go home.
We all stood, turned tail and bolted as quickly as we could. I remember being at the back of my group as i was making sure my younger brother didnt get separated from us. We all made it back to the A20 without further pursuit and went our separate ways home.
We never went back there at night, no matter what time of year it was. To this day, i have no idea who those people were or what they were doing, but the memory has never left me. Regards Matt
November 2011 - enquiry regarding one of our photographs
I have just found my way onto your website via the fine photo of the Hay Elevator of which I recognise as a Roberts Premier Elevator made here in my home village of Deanshanger in the early 1900's.
Is it possible to purchase a high resolution copy of this photo for our local heritage archive please.
Kind regards, Michael burgess
Note: we provided a copy pf the photograph free of charge for this interesting site
June 2011 - Alistair Gordon has provided information about Annie Balme's family
I have been reading your interesting website about the Kemnal Road, residents. In the section about the Balme family you say little is known about the family. I can add that Annie Christian Balme married a relative of mine. namely, Archibald Bertie Grant Gordon Graham in Bath, Somerset, in 1930.
Archibald was born on 24th September, 1901, at Carolina, Ceylon and he entered the Indian Navy in 1919 and promoted a Sub-lieutenant in 1920. It is not known when he left the Indian Navy.
By the time of his marriage he was a Tea Planter at Travancore, South India and at some point moved to Ceylon where his father, Archibald William Bertie Gordon Graham, was also a Tea Planter. Archibald B.G.G. Graham died on 21st June, 1961 at Travancore, Sutton, Eynsham, Nr Oxford.
Annie Christian Graham died on 22nd October, 1981 at Blagrave Hospital, Reading, of cancer. The funeral was on Thursday 29th October at All Saints Church, Peppard Common, Berks.
There was one son: Archibald E.G. Graham who was born 1941 in Carlisle who married Judy Langley in Oxfordshire and they had two children: Grant Hamish Gordon Graham and Fiona Heather Gordon Graham.
I hope that fills a gap and is helpful.
November 2010 - David Lockstone has sent us his memories of Kemnal Manor Lodge
The Lodge to the Kemnal Manor estate was indeed on the A20 as depicted in photograph. Its remains were still there when I was a kid in the late 40's early 50's. It was in a precarious state with no roof and I understood that it was the victim of a WW2 bomb but that that may have been fanciful imaginations of a young kid - most likely it was just derelict or damaged from a fire.
We used to play in and around the house (no health and safety then). I remember we found a penny in the rubble on what was the kitchen floor which instigated a major search to reveal about 6p of green pennies with which I tried to purchase some sweets from a very suspicious shopkeeper!
Kemnal Manor itself had long gone but the foundations were still visible and there was a pond just behind the fence that bordered Kemnal lane which made for good 'fishing' as we carried off jam jars of unsuspecting sticklebacks.
Very interesting article. I certainly remember the bunker being built in the cold war period.
February 2010 - John Westwood has written to us about Holly Bowers and Mapledene
My daughter alerted me to your Kemnal Road website, and as I lived at Mapledene from 1951 to 1964, thought you might be interested in a couple of photographs and some memories of the time. (Click here for John's notes and photographs)
August 2009 - Ian Cruttenden has written to us about his grandfather, who worked for a while at Foxbury
I was very interested in Kemnal Road website. I am particularly interested in Foxbury.
In the 1911 (taken 2 April) census my grandfather, Sidney Charles Cruttenden is shown as a Journeyman Gardener from Chislehurst. Also at the Bothy were Bertram Smith, Domestic Foreman Gardener from London (Essex), and George Patterson, also a Journeyman Gardener from Forfar, Dundee. The Bothy would seem to have contained four rooms not including any kitchen or toilets. From a Register of Parochial Electors for 1912 and 1913 SCC is recorded as living at the Stables. I assume SCC was still a gardener, as this was the career he followed all his life. I would be interested in locating a photograph of my grandfather and any other details about the work he did and what his wages and terms and condition of service might have been.
Sidney Charles Cruttenden served with the Royal West Kent Regiment in Palestine, before returning to England after being wounded twice. In the Spring 1920 Register of 1920 SCC was living back at home at 2 Camden Grove, behind Chislehurst High Street. When he married in 1921 he was recorder as being a gardener. He and his wife set up home in Bromley where my father and brothers were born and brought up.
Later in life he worked in the Wilderness area and when he died in 1951 he was working three days a week at Hillbrow in Bromley, and three days in Chislehurst (possibly Lower Camden, if that is in Chislehurst).
I hope this information has been of interest.
August 2009 - Rosemary Morris contacted us regarding Thomas Hutton of Southlaund
I have recently been reading my father's memoirs (Leonard Parrington), which refer to his mother's family, the Huttons, living at a house called Southlaund, or Southland, a 'Norman Shaw style house' on Kemmal Road, Chislehurst. The period detail is quite vivid, and you might be interested to read this section, but I wonder if you could tell me if this house still exists. We believe that Thomas Outhwaite Hutton lived there from c1894 - 1901, when he died.
August 2009 - Val Yorke has been able to send us some information about Hoblands (formerly Woodheath) and the Cox family
The Cox family (Henry Peter Berridge Cox, known as Peter (1916-2002) and Mona Cox (1916-2001), Rosemary (b.1941),Valerie and Andrew (twins) (b.1946) moved into Hoblands in 1953 and lived there until end 1958. At present your record 1956-58 is incorrect. (now amended).
The house was known as Hoblands at the time. It had a magnificent terrace and pond, which together with the house and rose garden were raised above the level of the tennis / croquet lawn / giant rhododendron sweep bordering the lawn, woodland and stream (closest to Woodheath Cottage), more rose gardens and walled vegetable garden. A newly constructed fence separated the vegetable garden with its fine oak tree from the sunken garden and swimming pool. A distinctive feature about Hoblands and its land was the amount of detailed brickwork – terrace walls along two sides of the house, the lily pond, and magnolia grandeflora up the side of the house, the steps in the garden - all of which from memory were the same kind of brick as the sunken garden over the fence in Peter Harding’s garden and the swimming pool. Probably this type of brickwork appears elsewhere on the Foxbury Estate. From memory there was a pavilion in the Dunn’s garden built of the same brickwork; and which you can see in one of the photos of Woodheath (when burnt down). Incidentally it was our family which added the extra door in the corner of the L shape of the house.
Peter Harding was already in residence in Woodheath cottage. In the following couple of years he started clearing around the pool. He drilled a couple of large holes in the swimming pool roof, which let in more light. He filled the pool. We swam in its very cold but delightful waters. My father swung on a trapeze above the water! The Dunns moved into Hoblands Cottage some time after us, and I recall my father building a brick wall (still there) to close off the link between Hoblands and the Cottage.
With regard to domestic help: We had a part time gardener, named Fletcher. Mrs Townsend was a daily help who came from Mottingham each day 9.00 – 1.00. I have a photo of her in front of the house! We also had a sewing lady who visited us once a fortnight – Miss Welstead who lived in the row of cottages next door to the Ramblers Rest. Both Miss Welstead and Mrs Townsend continued to work with us when we returned from Lancashire in 1963 until 1975 (from memory).
With regard to photos, I have several which may be of interest: photos of the house and terrace soon after we bought the house. Photos of Mummy on the Terrace, Daddy when he became a Councillor in the early 1950s, and various others of the house and garden.
Kemnal Road at the time was in poor repair with many potholes. It was a lonely road, and as children we did not walk down the road at night, only up it to the crossroads. I was a day girl at Farringtons Junior School at the time, so that was easy.
Memories that stick in the mind are : the big effort to clear the vegetable garden with the help of Fletcher when we moved in; endless days as a child playing croquet, playing in the woods (which seemed big for a child); wishing that the sunken garden and pool had not been sold off as we loved the detail with which both had been built. They were real treasures – what a pity they were knocked down for development. Climbing over the fence into Peter Harding’s property to explore; the wonderful parties Mummy and Daddy held on the terrace in the summer; and our own parties in the cellar and in the drawing room at Hoblands with Mr Mombrum (who was a single act, drummer, percussion, music 1950s type disc jockey) who over the Christmas period provided the music for tens of dances!
Hoblands was a perfect house and I’m sure all those of us who lived there felt the same.
Incidentally, I did see a reference on your website to Juliet Cashford. She did indeed live in Kemnal Road with her mother and went to the University of Aberdeen. She was a friend of my sister, Rosemary Cox (now Fox). She later moved elsewhere in Chislehurst and your source has the correct address.
I will send you details about Daddy: (Henry) Peter Berridge Cox. He was a chartered accountant by profession and involved in the financing of ships. I will send a CV which shows his posts with Barclays Bank International, Louis Dreyfus & Co, Shipping Industrial Holdings, and ICFC. He was also a Councillor in the early 1950s. Like the whole family, he loved Hoblands. He would garden from 5.00 am in the summer before he went to London and he devised a fountain for the Lily Pond. My sister went to school at Cheltenham Ladies College, as I did after attending Farringtons School for five years. My twin brother went to Breaside and then Carn Brea Preparatory School before going to Uppingham. Mummy and Daddy met at Heatherbank in 1939, were married at St Nicholas Church where we, the twins, were christened in 1946. Daddy’s father, a naval captain, Henry Cox, lived with his wife Millicent at “Long Hope” (today named “Garth”) in Camden Park Road from 1939-40 for some ten years.
June 2009 - an email from Pat Nelson, grandson of Horace Nelson who lived in Kemnal Warren
My family has been most interested in the detail that you have researched about Kemnal Road. My Grandfather was Horace Harrington Nelson who married Emma Rostron Macaulay at St Mary, Kilburn on 3 November 1887. They had three children, Horace, John (Jack) (my father) and Marion all of whom had their childhood at Kemnal Warren.
A brief summary of conclusions to date with regard to the life and times of Horace Harrington Nelson has been prepared by my son in law, Dave Best.
May 2009 - an email from a great-niece of Sir James Kemnal
I was fascinated to read on the Kemnal Road website the history of the road and its people.
I am related to Sir James Kemnal (born James Herman Rosenthal) who was a brother of my grandfather, George Hugo Rosenthal.
I am writing to correct an error in the names of Sir James Kemnal's parents in the Kemnal Road History on your website. His father was David Ferdinand Rosenthal, birthplace unknown, and his mother was Elizabeth Marshall, born in Poplar, East London. I have not been able to verify a Scottish heritage on his mother's side. In researching the genealogy of James Herman Rosenthal I obtained a copy of his birth certificate which states that James Herman Rosenthal was born in Rotherhithe, Surrey, on 16th August 1864, his father being David Ferdinand Rosenthal, a glass and china dealer, and his mother, Elizabeth Rosenthal (nee Marshall). David Ferdinand Rosenthal and Elizabeth Marshall were married on 10th November 1862 at Rotherhithe, Surrey.
According to the 1851 Census, James Herman Rosenthal's mother, Elizabeth Marshall, was born in Poplar, East London in about 1841. At the time of the 1851 Census, Elizabeth Marshall and her brother Richard Marshall were living with their sister Mary Saul (nee Marshall) in Rotherhithe, Surrey. James Herman Rosenthal first married Amelia Marshall, a daughter of his mother's brother, Richard Marshall, on 4 September 1889 at St John's Deptford, London. James Herman Rosenthal and Amelia Rosenthal were divorced in 1903. James Herman Rosenthal then married Linda Larita De Leuse in London in 1905 (Reg. JAN-MAR1905, Croydon, 2a, 411). They had a son James Herman Rosenthal who died at birth in 1909 (Birth Reg. JUL-SEP1909, Croydon, 2a, 274 & Death Reg. JUL-SEP1909, Croydon 2a, 138). A second child, Stuart Clement David Rosenthal, was born 1915 (Reg. JAN-MAR1915, Bromley, 2a, 1099) and died in 1950.
I enclose the following documents for your information:
1. Birth Certificate of James Herman Rosenthal 1864
2. Marriage Certificate of James Herman Rosenthal and Amelia Marshall 1889
3. Divorce of James Herman Rosenthal and Amelia Rosenthal 1903.
4. 1851 Census Elizabeth Marshall, Richard Marshall and Mary Saul (nee Marshall), Rotherhithe, London
5. Marriage Certificate of David Ferdinand Rosenthal and Elizabeth Marshall 1862
Jill Parkinson (nee Rosenthal), Victoria, Australia
March 2009 - a letter from Mrs Gretta Evans
Thank you for the photographs of the interior of Kemnal Manor (click here to see them), They brought back the memories I had from 1939 to 1942 when I married. I was interested to see the dining room, because this was the typists' "pool", and my desk faced the wall-to-wall sideboard you can see in the photo. The other photo that interested me was the one with the Nissen huts where my husband worked.
They had scientists and physicists working on guns and whatever else, I never knew. My husband was about to join the Navy, when a professor from Liverpool University sent a telegram to him, asking him to join a group of physicists who were wanted for "Work of National Importance" at the Ordnance Board at Kemnal Road, Chislehurst Kent. So that's why he came and of course met me. After two years doing this work, he did join the Navy, and he was sent to Dunoon, to the submarining base at the Holy Loch in Scotland. We agreed to marry and I went with him.
I am about to start on my memories of my time with the Ordnance Board and will send them to you [click here].
I will end this letter with the way always had to type then sending letters at Kemnal Manor:
I remain Sir, Your Obedient Servant, Gretta Evans.
November 2008 - a note from Jerry Bourne
I grew up on Edgebury Estate (68 Imperial Way) and remember the Kemnal area well. Kemnal Lane did used to have two big gates (always open) on the A20 end. Directly over the A20 was a small field with cows in it, which I believe was once part of the Kemnal estate. There are houses there now.
The entrance to the “Dock Labour Board” used to be graced by the remains of a bombed house which I believe was another “lodge” house to the Kemnal estate. Indeed, the road from it used to lead right up to the “Tudor House”. The “Tudor House” had a small orchard at the back of it and a high wall. A small field (which horses were subsequently kept in) went from the wall, to the back of the occupied lodge house and to the side of Kemnal Lane. It was over this wall that we used to “scrump” apples and pears, hopefully without being caught by the lodge keeper. The lane used to have electric lights up one side of it but these were destroyed by vandals early on in the fifties. I remember Kemnal Manor before it was set alight by vandals. It had cellars underneath and out-buildings that were once used by the army. I believe that there was once an army cadet force using those buildings. There was rumour that it was used as some sort of military training area during WW2, but this was unsubstantiated.
As kids we got into the cellars and found some “odds and ends” such as a large felling axe, a massive cut throat razor made of wood (an old barbers sign perhaps or a stage prop). We also used to go looking for lead, which we sold to Cook and Bakers Scrap Metal Merchants in Sidcup. The black pond was the ultimate play area. Originally it was oval in shape with a large island to one end surrounded by a deep ditch that came and went back to the pond. Gil Neave and I used to chop trees down to make a bridge over that ditch and then tightrope walk over to the island. If you fell in though, you landed in 18” of water backed up by 4 feet of the foulest smelling black mud that you could ever imagine. It would take a lot of effort to get you out. As kids we were told that Lord Kemnal’s son was a lone child and that he wasn’t allowed to play with other children. The rumour had it that he used to spend hours in his little boat rowing around the black pond. One day he fell out of his boat and drowned and his ghost was supposed to be seen on the water or by the pond. A complete load of cods wallop, but that was the story at the time. We used to ride our track bikes around that pond. The bikes were home built, from old bike bits from the “Tip” or “Cook and Bakers” scrap merchant. Some of them had a fixed wheel which meant you had to keep peddling because if you forgot and tried to stop, you got thrown over the handlebars. The lodge keeper spent many hours telling us to get out of the property. When we got a little older (10-12) we used to bait him mercilessly. He knew all our fathers (so he said) and would be round to see them! The pathway (Dead Mans Alley) that leads from Kemnal Lane through to the old Beaverwood race track, is supposed to be recorded in the Doomesday book. The path from Kemnal Lane to Belmont Lane (end) evidently had the body of a murdered woman found on it in the early fifties (unsubstantiated). The body of a man was found murdered in Kemnal Lane itself in the early sixties.
The “Whitehouse” was everything from a “Nuclear Bunker” to “HQ of MI5” when we were kids. We got in and found ourselves crunching about on the skeletal remains of birds that had flown in through the vents and not been able to fly out. Kemnal had beautiful woods attached which my father would use for his bean sticks. I would go with him to cut them as a child. I believe we used to nickname them Bluebell Woods because of the abundance of Bluebells that grew there.
The whole of Kemnal was an absolute paradise for young kids growing up and venting energy.
August 2008 - Two contributions this month:
First from Gordon Hutchings:
I chanced on your excellent website while doing something else that had led me to look at Kemnal Road on Virtual Earth - and at first I thought that my old home - Trees [along with Nizels and Walden] had been demolished!
Very glad to see that it has not - and delighted to find that part of Trees can be seen on your home page. [Apologies - not now, following a redesign.Ed]
I lived there with my parents - Col (Reggie) and Mrs (Jean) Hutchins - from 1958 to 1965, when I married. They moved back down to Budleigh Salterton in Devon, where there were family connections, in 1967 - so must have sold to the Smarts (though I don't recall the name). Have no recollection of who preceded us in 1958, but I was interested to see the name Cashford, as I was at university (St Andrews) with Juliet Cashford, whose home was in Chislehurst - not Kemnal Road but Heath End, Bromley Lane.
I well remember seeing Charles Williams and his wife and daughters, though we never really got to know them - he clearly loved his garden (I must admit that from our upstairs vantage point, we inevitably overlooked them and their comings and goings. I think he drove a green Mercedes!).
When we moved into Trees, Walden was occupied by Cdr (Peter) and Mrs (Madge) Waldram, and Peter Waldram's sister - Wendy, I think her name was. He was with the Admiralty, and they moved to Bath in 1963. He was a fine pianist, and I used to love hearing his Mozart and Beethoven rising from below.
The Devereux then arrived - we knew Mrs Devereux as Rita not Margaret. They had a son and daughter: my recollection is that the son was Alan, but my sister seems to think he was John. I forget the name of his sister. I am almost certain that Howard Devereux died suddenly before my parents retired to Devon, but Rita Devereux did stay on - my mother kept in touch with her for many years.
I well remember the Great Wall: it faced you as soon as you came out of our front door, but after a while you took it for granted. I would never have thought of it being 'listed'!
The other things I do recall - amidst many very happy memories of Trees and Kemnal Road - are the gate into Kemnal Woods at the bottom of our garden (ours was beyond the Walden garden), and the magnificent copper beech just behind Trees and Walden, which appears to be still flourishing from what I can see on Virtual Earth!
Finally, I was also interested to see that Peter Harding was an Old Alleynian - as I am! Not sure I've located Woodheath Cottage: it isn't the house opposite the entrance to Trees, is it? [No, it was within Queenborough Gardens, but now sadly demolished]
And from Mrs Sarah McClements:
I am very interested in your website. I believe my Great Grandmother was in service to a Mr & Mrs Ashworth around 1910 at Kemnal Wood. My Great Grandmother had passed on stories of her life in service at Chislehurst and now we are interested to find out more.
How did you find out a Mr Thomas Ashworth lived at Kemnal Wood?. I would be grateful if you have any information regarding this family. I can then compare it against my details to make sure we have the same family.
July 2008 - I have been contacted by Anne Kyne, who lived in South Home when she was Ann Le Gonidec:
I lived, with my mother and younger sister, in an apartment on the first floor of South Home when I was a young child, after the Second World War. I understood that South Home had been converted into apartments after the war, but the house was very much intact. I was told that it had been requisitioned during the war, for use by the army, but have no confirmation of this.
South Home was an imposing house, with an impressive semi-circular drive and a front garden that hid the road from view. If my memory is correct, the house was similar in design and materials to Woodheath, though probably not on quite so grand a scale. I don’t remember it as being in any way mock-Tudor, like Nizels next door.
I recall a rather grand staircase, off to the left as one came through the front entrance, which, I believe, had a galleried landing. I remember my sister and I sitting crying on these wide stairs one day when my mother was late home and someone from the ground floor flat coming to comfort us. The many large windows made the apartment very light and I used to sit looking out over the garden.
The rooms were very large. Our bedroom was vast. My mother told me, possibly tongue-in-cheek, that it had been the ballroom, and I remember being frightened in the night because of its size.
There was a large bathroom on the second floor above the sitting room, with a huge old fashioned geyser at the end of the bath. One day, when workmen were busy in the bathroom, the ceiling collapsed onto the sitting room below just after my sister and I had gone from there into the kitchen.
The garden was very large, with many beautiful trees and shrubs including a striking bank of rhododendrons down the left-hand side. There was also a stream and woodland at the bottom, which backed onto fields. It was like having one’s own private park. I noticed, when I visited, in about 1995, that the old garden had been divided between South Home, by then rebuilt as an ugly 1960s style block of wardened flats (where my grandmother ended her days), and what had once been the gardener’s house behind (now Wild Wood).
Kemnal Road was very rural in those days, and there were a great number of children who played there and in the large gardens of the nearby houses. I went to Mead Road school, and remember being taken there by a lady called Jean, who had a withered arm and looked after my sister and me whilst my mother was at work. I never knew her surname. I was surprised to see how little changed the school was after so many years, and the same trees, which are an abiding memory, lining the street.
Kemnal Road and Chislehurst were special to me, and gave me a sense of place. I love space, tree lined streets and prefer rural to built locations. My memories are of the house and surrounding area being a little bit of heaven for a young girl and her friends, and when my family left, childhood was never the same again.
I believe that living at South Home shaped my future. It gave me a love of plants, landscape, wildlife and the environment. I eventually studied ecology and horticulture, and have spent my adult life working and campaigning for the environment and designing gardens. Architecture has been another lifelong interest, especially vernacular architecture and could stem from memories of living in a child’s paradise amongst beautifully designed houses and gardens
I have photographs showing parts of the house and garden, but I think they are in store at the moment, but I will be happy to have them displayed on the website if I find them again. I am sure those attached were taken at South Home. Hopefully some of the other children in them may recognise and identify themselves.
May 2008 - Wendy Henderson provides some interesting information regarding two families in Kemnal Road:
First of all congratulations on a great website. Apologies if you already know this but Catherine Beatrice Hawes, the wife of Alexander Travers Hawes was the daughter of Henry and Harriet Honey the owners of Wyvelsfield? I have been researching the Honeys and another of their daughters died relatively young. Clara was married to Henry Gardiner and lived at Hurstmead in Eltham - I wonder too if she is buried at St Nicholas? Will try to find out.
Catherine's death notice Times Tues 24 March 1891; On 23 inst at Nizels, Chislehurst aged 36, Catherine Beatrice dearly loved wife of Alexander Travers Hawes and youngest daughter of Henry Honey of Wyvelsfield Chislehurst.
Incidentally: Hawes was grandson? of Dr William Hawes the co-founder of the Royal Humane Society and in the family tradition was a Chairman of the Society. His son Roderick 'Roddy' was Chairman too and died May 30 1980 (as far as I know was still a Chislehurst resident) He was educated Eton and Oxford. Joined the Royal Artillery TA and reached rank of Colonel in WW2. Was mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Order of Orange Nassau and the Croix de Guerre.
Best wishes Wendy
January 2008 - Colin Webster has written to us with the following recollection:
"I grew up during the 1960’s on a small estate just north of the A20. Kemnal Road and the surrounding area provided us children with endless adventure. The derelict Kemnal Manor itself was probably our biggest draw, we always had the feeling we shouldn’t have really been there and used to frighten each other with various made up stories about the ghosts that were supposed to haunt the old building. It could be very spooky there, especially as darkness was setting in on a cold wet winter afternoon.
To the west of the Manor towards Kemnal Road I remember a wooded area which led to a very large pond/small lake. The area around the pond must have been at one time some kind of ornamental garden, as at certain times of the year you could see flowers emerging which were obviously planted in some kind of order. I particularly remember large beds of snowdrops and then later on in the Spring the beds of daffodils. Also in the wooded area adjacent to the pond was a grave with a headstone (probably that of a much loved pet.) The inscription read something along the lines of “for dear old bob until you and your master are reunited”.
Near the Dock Labour Board sports ground behind a brick wall which could be seen from Kemnal Road was a dilapidated two storey house with very tall chimneys which we used to call the “Tudor House”. Do you know what this house was called? There was an overgrown apple orchard near this house, back up towards the Manor.
The Horse Chestnut trees north of the Manor adjacent to the dock Labour Board sportsground provided us with bag loads of conkers during the autumn months. Around 12 years ago I took my own children to collect conkers from the same trees. We walked along Kemnal Road from the A20. It was a lot narrower than I remembered. We reached where the lodge used to stand at the entrance to Kemnal Manor, the road was so overgrown I hardly recognised it. The pond I mentioned earlier was completely silted up and the gravestone was gone.
I hope this is of interest to you.
December 2007 - Michael Pinchon has written with some recollections:
I have a few offerings, not much, but as the saying goes, ‘every little helps’.
I first came to the area with my parents in 1958; moving to Woodside Avenue in 1964. Our house backed onto the allotments, (now overgrown). My younger brother went to the scout hut, (as did my daughters), which was located on the bend of the pathway, from Belmont Parade to Kemnal Road. (apparently it is known as Kemnal Lane today, but we did know it as that). I notice that the hut has now gone. Most of my school friends lived on Edgebury Estate and as a consequence we would roam the fields and woods of the area. It was quite common for dozens of kids to have fun here, and we considered it our patch so to speak.
The path running from Imperial Way to Kemnal Rd was tar-mac and well used; the tenants of the estate using it to walk down Kemnal Rd to Marechal Neil parade, (named after a former house on the site), and the 21 Bus. My grandfather, (who lived in Slades Drive), and others would also use this route to visit the ‘Charcoal Burner’ pubic house. As a consequence Kemnal Road was well trodden, and there were even street lights, although I do not recall them ever being alight. After the A20 was duel - carriaged this ‘walk’ was no longer used and as a consequence the road has become over-grown. However one can still see how the thoroughfare was laid out with its trees, which must have given it a shaded avenue effect. The gates at the A20 end, which still stood in the late 60’s, seem to have gone.
The Lodge near the junction of this path was still occupied in the 1960’s; I know as the occupier used to chase us off occasionally when we intruded into the grounds of the Manor. The effects of the fire were still fresh and we would climb up on the roof and into the ruined rooms. It must have been a magnificent building once, but I was young and did not appreciate such things then. The driveway from the Lodge had a sweeping bend to it, the grounds having lush shrubs and non-native trees, although I recall some large oaks. There was a building to the north near the fence with the National Dock Labour Board sports ground. This is now overgrown and is invisible from the road behind the rather large horse manure heap. This area may have been an orchard, as I recall a number of pear trees.
A little way along from the Lodge, in the grounds of the Manor, is a pond, now almost overgrown. We called it the ‘Black Pond’, and the rumour was that someone had drowned there. A small boat could be seen on the pond from the road for years.
The Bunker was called the ‘White-House’ and we would squeeze inside via the steel door, which was stuck a-jar, striking matches to see our way. As I recall there was not much to see. In the grounds of the Manor amongst the trees were some huts. We called this ‘the Lost Village’. We were chased by some dogs there. Apparently this was where the police often trained their dogs. A friend of mine who was a police dog trainer confirmed this some months ago.
The narrow path that runs up the side of the Bunker and over the fields to Beaverwood, was known to us as ‘Deadmans Alley’ I don’t know why. It was well trodden, and not overgrown as now. The path running from Kemnal to Belmont Lane was, and still is Belmont Lane. Apparently it was the original track to Kemnal. Today the width is reduced due to it being overgrown, but in the 60’s one could still see the kerb stones and metal fence of the original. We would duck through the fence here and walk across the field to a pond, we called the ‘Banana Pond’, (in the grounds of Foxearth), where we would fish. The route of the old school in Edgebury, (now houses), cross-country race was via these two paths, then over the style at the end of ‘Dead mans Alley’ and across the field to the A20 and then left back up Kemnal Rd.
A friend of mine used to live in Bothy Cottage on Home Farm, when it was a working dairy farm. Kemnal Rd was un-made then, and much pitted, although the occasional car did use it as a short-cut to the A20. At the top of the road were some very grand houses. A short distance down ‘Kemnal Lane’ on the left from Foxearth was a large red-brick house we called the ‘Red House’. I think the original name had been Magdelene. This was empty and we would gather there and use it as our ‘den’ so to speak. The old wall of this house still stands today.
I had a school friend of the name of Drage, who lived with his mother in one of the cottages on White-Horse Hill. I recall he told me that the Drage’s had at one time owned several cottages on the Hill, but had lost them over the years. I wonder if he was related to the Drage family who lived in the Lodge at Kemnal. Another lad at the same school was called Neave. He lived in the farm, and so the farm was known by the local lads as ‘Gilly Neave’s Farm’.
Andrew Barton has also written me a short note:
I just came across your site.....The house next to Holly Bowers, called Holly Bowers Lodge, (latterly Holly Lodge) was my home from 1962 - 1973.....I knew the kids next door at Holly Bowers, and the ones at Mapledene, and Mulbarton Cottage, and North Lodge, and South Lodge, and Foxbury and Coach Lodge and Forest Ridge, Kemnal Wood and Woodheath. If there's any historical info from that period that you need filling in I'd be happy to meet sometime - I live locally. [I have since met up with Andrew, and he has sent an extended note of his recollections, which are on a separate page. Click here to access them.
October 2007 - Geoffrey Goemans
I have spoken to Mr Geoffrey Goemans, who is the son of Horace Goemans. Horace (pictured right with his wife, Gladys) was the land agent at Homewood and Foxbury. Geoffrey has let me copy a number of photographs of the estate, and provided some important information about the Tiarks family and the Foxbury estate.
Horace Goemans was appointed as land agent by the Tiarks after the First World War. He had been gassed during the war and was recommended to find a job where he would be in the open air as much as possible. He met and married Gladys Ladd, who was working at Foxbury as a maid, and they lived at Homewood Lodge, now the West Lodge on Old Perry Street. In her diary, Agnes describes the wedding day on July 30 1921: “Wedding of Gladys Ladd and Horace Goemans at 12. A very nice quiet service – plenty of nice relations on each side – no chattering and no music. The Rector read it all so softly. Emmy and Frank, Edward and Mark, Aggie and I. Frank went to the breakfast – and then came here.” The marriage had been announced in April, and Agnes notes that they each received £5 as a wedding present.
Geoffrey mentions a number of interesting matters relating to Foxbury:
The swimming pool and polo stables at Woodheath were separated from Woodheath and incorporated into Foxbury before Frank sold Woodheath. There was a roadway through the old grounds at Woodheath which led into Foxbury; Horace Goemans and William Palmer before him lived in South Lodge, whereas Alfred Bunce, a golf pro lived at North Lodge. Horace had only one child, Geoffrey, and after he married, he and his wife lived with his parents.
Mr Lucas, who lived at Bothy Cottage, was the estate carpenter. Mr Anderson lived at Woodheath Cottage before the war, so it was not first converted into a house by Mr Harding; Frank continued with polo and Gymkhana events at Foxbury and Homewood until 1936. He kept his hounds at Homewood, and there is a picture of Mr Goeman’s cousin with two of the hounds.
There was a nine link golf course around the polo pitches at Homewood, and the pitches were used as driveways; The present spectator stand was built by Barts. The stand built by Frank was a much smaller affair, and is no longer around; There was a small corner of land near Home Farm that was used as the pet cemetery.
After Frank had moved into Foxbury, he had limestone rocks brought up from Loxton to put around the ponds. These can be seen in some of the pictures; Mr Goemans has an architectural print of Foxbury, and also has a print of the oil painting of Frank in his city clothes.
After Frank left, largely due to his wife being an invalid, there were plans to build extensively on the estate. Foxbury Avenue was created, and sewers laid but at the last minute, the area was declared Green Belt. Substantial compensation was paid to Foxbury Estates Ltd. Other roads in the estate were laid with tarmac under the direction of Horace Goemans.
March 2007 - Anne Page
I have been contacted by a great-granddaughter of Henry and Agnes Tiarks. She has at least some of Agnes' diaries, and her mother Anne, then aged 87, lives in Bromley. I went to visit Anne on 13th March.
She is the only daughter of Nellie Tiarks, who married Athole Murray. Anne was born in Torquay, but moved to Chislehurst in 1922 when her mother was summoned to Foxbury to assist in looking after Agnes who was very ill. She was too young to remember much about her grandmother, but Anne has memories of the family. Aunt Aggie was Anne's godmother, and was very good to her, taking her on holidays to Cornwall, on a cruise to Scandinavia, and to Stratford-on-Avon to see Shakespeare plays.
Anne remembers that Sophie was very active locally in Chislehurst, running the boys club. Agnes and Sophie lived together at St Peter's Lodge in Holbrook Lane and later at Camden Close. They quarreled a great deal with each other and with their sister Nellie, Anne's mother. Anne knows the picture of Agnes and three children which is shown on the website. For many years she had a copy of it, but it is now gone, possibly to America. The children, from left to right are Sophie, Nellie and Aggie.
Anne recalls that Frank didn't like Foxbury very much and spent much time in London, where he had a house in Tong Court Kensington. Anne says that Frank's wife, Emmy, was somewhat eccentric ("she was half German and half Spanish") and that she insisted that all the bed linen and bath towels were washed every day. Anne visited Frank when he was in Loxton, and after his death spent weekends with Noreen. She still recalls with some horror the murder, since she had been down there not long before it happened. Anne believes that Noreen was schizophrenic, and recalls that when Noreen died, the family objected to her being buried alongside Frank.
As to her other aunts and cousins (Anne was one of 23 first cousins), Alice lived at Farnborough after Arthur Lubbock died; Edith travelled a great deal with George Booker her husband, who was in the army, though latterly they lived in London. Edith and George had a daughter, Rachel, who married Colonel Richardson. Rachel, Anne's cousin, had two daughters, one of whom "was a little wild, and moved to Paris, never to be heard of again", and the other settled in Kent. Matilda, who married Percy Hare, had one boy, Hugh, and four daughters, Joan, Sybil, Victoria, and Lisla. Hugh was a delicate boy and later lived in the South of France with his mother. Percy Hare, called Uncle Puck, was regarded by Anne as something of a scoundrel, and it was rumoured that he spent much of his wife's money. Finally, Rica (as Frederica was known), was a lovely Aunt. She and her husband Michael Hodges were charming, according to Anne. They had one daughter, Betty, and four sons, three of whom, Michael, John and Dick, went into the Navy. David was the exception, and he became an architect, involved in the design and building of Brighton Marina. Rica moved to Bromley after her husband died. She remembers Peter, her uncle, and Pamela Silvertop living at Foxearth, which she liked. She recalls skating on the lakes there in the winter, but she lost contact with Peter's family after he moved to South Africa.
Finally, she recounted an anecdote about her grandmother Agnes. She was renowned for her absent-mindedness, and occasionally made social howlers as a result. One evening she and her husband were entertaining the Broadwood family who lived near to Chislehurst. They were still involved in the family business which was piano manufacture (Indeed there were two Broadwood pianos at Foxbury in 1911), but in those days, you did not discuss trade at such occasions, and Agnes would have been told by Henry not to refer to the Broadwood's piano business. After dinner, during which Agnes had been very good and not referred to pianos or piano manufacture, the butler came into the drawing room to advise Agnes that the Broadwood's carriage was now waiting for them, and Agnes declared "Mr and Mrs Broadwood, your piano is waiting outside!".
I have also had an email from Andrew Belsey, whose mother has lived for most of her life in Chislehurst.
"In the 1950s my mother ran a nursery school, first at 79 High Street (now Sainsburys), then at Fairfield (now 32), Willow Grove. Thus she knew many parents who were keen on their post-war children having pre-school education. The Kinders lived in Green Lane before Kemnal Road and had five children, three of whom were at the nursery school. The Hardings also had children at the school. My parents were also friends of the Dunns and often visited them in Kemnal Road.
I have tried to persuade my mother to write down something about her life, but she expresses unwillingness, saying her memory isn’t up to it. Actually, there’s nothing wrong with her memory, for she also produced the following.
After WW2, Sophie and Agnes Tiarks were living in Holbrook Lane. When Arthur Battle retired he bought a house in Holbrook Lane. Because he was trade, none of the residents would speak to him, except the Tiarks sisters who treated him like any other neighbour because “they were real ladies.” (Told to my mother by Mr Battle.)
After we moved to Chislehurst in 1945 my mother would take me (born 1942) and my sister Jane (1944-1986) to the clinic at the top of Red Hill. There we would be weighed by Sophie Tiarks. We think she was unlikely to have been in paid employment, and so think that this must have been her voluntary contribution to the community.
Once when my mother was in White and Bushell, the hardware shop on the corner of Park Road and the High Street, Sophie Tiarks was sitting on one of the bentwood chairs that were placed by the counters for the convenience of customers. Sophie pointed to the opposite corner where stood Martins Bank (now Abbey) and said “I can remember when there was a tree growing there.”"
Valerie Yorke (nee Cox), who lived at Hoblands in the mid 1950s has contacted me and offered to send information and photographs of the house and her family,
Peter Kirk, who played as a boy in Kemnal Manor grounds:
"As a kid we used to cycle everywhere and we came across the derelict manor by accident (possibly 1965/6?). I remember walking inside it but there were no floors so you could see down into the basement and up through the roof. I though the staircase was still there but as I don't remember going upstairs it may be just the sides. Walking round the grounds there were high chain link fences possibly with barbed wire on top. Scattered around were hut frames (I thought they were metal Nissen type) and a little cottage type building (not the lodge). There were a lot of telephone cables running from the house to the road and the Pagoda ornament was still there and used to carry some of the cables."
Connie Birchall, who now lives in Devon, who recalls that she used to ride the horse owned by Mr and Mrs Tostevin. "I used to ride their horse and cycled up and down Kemnal Road for most of my childhood ( I lived in Willow Grove ). Any info to help find them and thank them for such a times would be appreciated. I should think the horse is dead but he was a fine fellow."