Chislehurst Golf Club

Becoming a Golf Club

William Willett

In 1894, following the death of Nathaniel Strode, Camden Place was sold.  

Its fixtures and fittings were sold by Christies over 3 days at the house.  

The land some 127 acres was advertised as a prospective building development site.

Local house builders, the Willetts (older and younger) purchased the land and set about development.

The first house opposite the now entrance to Camden Place was the Cedars, a house for William Willet the Younger.

But the Commons Conservators, chaired by Alexander Travers Hawes had other ideas.  

Hawes wanted to keep Chislehurst green and invoked the old ransom strip  - kept by the vestry when the 500 year lease was given to Robert Weston.  This prevented the land being crossed for the benefit of any but the property owners.

No building materials or new residents could be allowed.

This stand off led to protracted negotiations ending with an agreement that 50% of the land could be used for house building as long as 50% was used for recreation, benefiting the local community.

Willett agreed and decided to create a golf course, appointing designer Tom Dunn to create a 9 holes for the men and a smaller 9 hole course for the ladies.

Willett’s mark was to clearly establish Chislehurst Golf Club as a family club. There were tennis courts, croquet lawn and dancing lessons as well as golf.

His tenure was short lived as golf club proprietor.  By the end of the decade Travers Hawes had executed a second plan to purchase the course and house for its members, so ensuring it was safe from future development plans.

Alexander Travers Hawes

With his actions to stop the Camden Estate becoming a building site and his scheme to raise the monies for the purchase of the course and house, Travers Hawes without doubt left the biggest mark on Chislehurst Golf Club.

Without his hard work and vision the club would probably not have made it for almost 130 years.

Gratitude of the members was shown when they presented him with a silver bowl at the dinner to celebrate the purchase of Camden Place and the Golf Club from the Willetts.

Although not particularly involved with golf, Travers Hawes took on a 20 year stint as chairman, steering us through some financial storms and negotiating non-payment of debentures.

On his death his widow presented the bowl to the Club.  It is now a prestidgeous trophy:  The Travers Hawes Bowl. 


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