Located just 13 miles south-east of London’s centre, this 338 acre woodland is a haven of tranquility.
Petts Wood (the name is also that of a suburb) is believed to take its name from 16th century master shipbuilder William Pett – its first known mention was in 1577 when the wood appeared in his will. Pett had used oaks from Petts Wood in his ship-building yards located at Deptford and Woolwich on the River Thames.
The eastern part of Petts Wood – known as the Willett Memorial Wood – was given to the National Trust in 1927 in a bid to protect it from development while the remainder of the woodland, which had subsequently been purchased by Colonel Francis Edlmann and added to his neighbouring estate, Hawkwood, was donated 30 years later by Robert and Francesca Hall.
The Willett Memorial Wood is named for William Willett, leader of the movement which campaigned for recognition of British Summer Time (there’s a stone sundial memorial to him there). Willett lived nearby.
The western part of Pett’s Wood is known as the Edlmann Memorial Wood. It contains a stone memorial to the Halls and Colonel Edlmann which was unveiled in 1958.
The main house on the Hawkwood Estate and gardens, were acquired from Francesca Hall in 1975 with the proviso that farming would continue to preserve the area’s rural character.
There are a couple of marked walks around the woodlands. Among the activities which take part in the woodlands is the age-old practice of charcoal making. Made for barbecues, it’s sold in National Trust shops.
WHERE: Chislehurst (nearest train stations are Petts Wood, Chislehurst, and St Mary Cray); WHEN: Dawn to dusk; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petts-wood-and-hawkwood