History of the Tigers Head and Chislehurst
There has been an inn on the site of The Tigers Head since the 15th century. Once owned by the wealthy Walsingham family, the emblem on the sign of The Tigers Head is actually derived from the crest of the Walsinghams.
Located on the village green, this historic Kent country pub has been at the heart of village life for centuries. A nearby ancient gravel pit – The Cockpit - was used as an arena for cockfighting until abolished by Act of Parliament in 1834. Chislehurst Common has hosted many royal celebrations, including festivities marking Victoria’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees, and for the coronations of Edward VII, George V and George VI respectively.
As for Chislehurst – or Ceosol Hyrst – this leafy village began life as a simple clearing in the wood with its Anglo Saxon name referring to its appearance - ‘Chisel’ means a stony place and ‘hurst’ means woodland - therefore the literal translation is ‘stony wood.’
Chislehurst has been a royal manor since medieval times, held for many years by the Walsingham family. Sir Thomas Walsingham IV was visited twice at Scadbury Manor by Queen Elizabeth I - the second visit in 1597 was to knight Sir Thomas, an event commemorated in the Chislehurst village sign. Scadbury Park, where the moated manor house once stood, is now an important local nature reserve.
Sir Thomas purchased the Royal Manor of Dartford in 1611, re-selling all of it except the Chislehurst Manor. On his death, Scadbury was passed to his son, Sir Thomas V - the last of the Walsinghams to be Lord of the Manor of Scadbury. Although he’d retired to Saffron Walden, his body was buried in St Nicholas’ Church in 1669, the last Walsingham to be laid in the family vault there.
While the village became a popular location with Londoners looking for property in the countryside, it was the arrival of the exiled Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of Napoleon I and, as Napoleon III, the last monarch of France, at Camden Place in 1870 that added to Chislehurst’s standing. His only son was killed fighting with British forces in Africa in 1879 and is commemorated with a Memorial erected in 1880 near The Tigers Head.
One of the local attractions with historical significance is Chislehurst Caves. Considered to be of ancient origin, they were originally used to mine flint and chalk. During World War II, they were used as air raid shelters. More recently The Who, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones have all played there.
Today, Chislehurst remains a fashionable place for affluent London commuters. With much of the area having conservation status, it is highly desirable for those seeking the peace and tranquillity of unspoilt countryside, combined with quick, convenient access to London. The ancient woodlands and working farm of the National Trust’s Petts Wood and Hawkwood Estate, and the wildlife haven of Scadbury Park Nature Reserve, both minutes from The Tigers Head, combine with the diverse natural environment of Chislehurst Commons to define the unspoilt essence of Chislehurst.
The Tigers Head continues to be a delightful country pub where you can step back in time and enjoy tasty, traditional pub food, including Sunday roasts, mouth-watering specials and tantalizing desserts, along with fine wines and cask ales.
Directions to the Tigers Head
You can find The Tigers Head on the junction of Watts Lane and Hawkswood Lane in Chislehurst, just a fifteen minute drive from the M25. Key BR7 5PJ into your satnav to find us.