Elmstead, Bromley

A diminutive and leafy locality situated between Sundridge and Chislehurst

Hidden London: Elmstead Wood

The name was first record­ed in 1320 as Elm­st­ed, ‘the place where elm trees grow’, and the wood was Elmyste­dis­wood in 1392. This was part of the Bish­op of Rochester’s estate and used to pro­vide tim­ber for ship­build­ing.

A map of the ear­ly 1760s shows a house called Emst­ed Place and a gazetteer of 1797 added yet anoth­er vari­a­tion on the name, by call­ing the ham­let Hem­st­ed. The gazetteer report­ed that the ham­let had only one gentleman’s house (pre­sum­ably Emst­ed Place) and that this belonged to a Pall Mall book­seller. The rest of the local­i­ty was said to con­sist of “good farms and labour­ers’ cot­tages.”

The rail­way line from St Johns to Chisle­hurst was con­struct­ed in 1865 and Elm­stead was the last sta­tion to open – in 1904. The ‘Woods’ addi­tion to the name came four years lat­er, pre­sum­ably to attract day-trip­pers. Most of the vicin­i­ty was built up in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry as part of the expan­sion of Chisle­hurst.

In 1975 Ravens­bourne Col­lege of Design and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion moved from Brom­ley Com­mon to a pur­pose-built home north of Walden Road. The col­lege lat­er short­ened its name to Ravens­bourne and in 2010 relo­cat­ed to the Green­wich Penin­su­la. Its old site has been rede­vel­oped by Tay­lor Wim­pey as Kings Quar­ter.

The sur­viv­ing part of Elm­stead Wood has paths that are part of the green chain walk that stretch­es across south-east Lon­don and the trees are main­ly oak, sweet chest­nut and horn­beam.

Just beside the sta­tion is Elm­stead Pit, for­mer­ly called Rock Pit, a small site with a nation­al­ly impor­tant expo­sure of the geo­log­i­cal stra­ta known as Black­heath Beds – marine deposits that were built up approx­i­mate­ly 50 mil­lion years ago. They are rich in fos­sils and have yield­ed fish scales and shark fins. The pit is on land belong­ing to Sun­dridge Park Golf Club and there is no pub­lic access.

Postcode area: Chislehurst,BR7
Station: Southeastern Trains (Elmstead Woods, zone 4)