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Tolworth & Chessington



“When are you going to come and see our green lanes?” emailed Alison Fure from South-West London.  A drovers’ road near Kingston-on-Thames?  How unlikely is that! I thought, and hopped on a train…



Alison is a chiropterologist (bat expert) who spends a lot of time clambering into roof-spaces of buildings like Hampton Court Palace to give advice on how to preserve bat populations there.  (She called herself a ‘battologist’, but that means ‘stammerer’ and I assure you she’s highly articulate.)  Being passionate about the preservation of greenery and nature in all its forms, she is indignant that there are secret plans afoot to transform the 100-acre nature reserve (#1) at Tolworth Court Farm (TQ 1985) into a “Green Burial Site”, which would involve car parks, cafes and all the trappings of suburbia.  Horrors…



And the Tolworth Drove starts there – even more travesty.  It must have been used by drovers coming up to London from Farnham, Leatherhead, Horsham etc. to the South London markets (Brixton, Borough, Bermondsey) or to Spitalfields the other side of London Bridge.  It’s not a long stretch, but magical to find it amidst the roar of Greater London – you can see the original width of the road half way up #2.  And in summer it's even better (#3).



It continues, too, becoming Chessington Green Lane at TQ 185634 (#4), though some houses have got in the way.  Across a field to the east runs the Bonesgate Stream – which joins the Hogsmill River & then the Thames (London rivers have delightful names).  The interesting bit of peters out when G.L. hits Chalky Lane at 177625. 



Walking in the opposite direction to the cattle 200 years ago, we ended up in Surbiton so I could catch the train home.  Alison told me how distressed the naturalist Richard Jefferies had been at the sight of the maltreated cattle being driven up the Langley Road to the same station after the railway arrived in the 1840’s.



She is also heavily involved in preserving the Moated Manor at Tolworth Court (#5).  For more info on her busy activities in the area, see her blog at:



Thanks, Alison, and good luck!

Tolworth & Chessington image 1
Nature Reserve, Tolworth
Tolworth & Chessington image 2
Tolworth Drove
Tolworth & Chessington image 3
The Drove in Summer
Tolworth & Chessington image 4
Green Lane, Chessington
Tolworth & Chessington image 5
Alison at the Moated Manor