P1010931On 7th July 2021 David Green as Society Chairman and Keith Wade, the Publicity Officer, attended the unveiling of a new memorial plaque on Hubbards Hill for Cyril Chettoe, who was a key member of the Sevenoaks and District Civic Society from 1945 until his death. The Civic Society morphed into the Sevenoaks Preservation Society in 1952. 

The Sevenoaks Society was involved many years ago in the original memorial stone placed on the site on the Greensand Way overlooking the village of Weald, the Medway valley and Ashdown Forest beyond - a location chosen as Chettoe, who lived in Sevenoaks, was also a key member of the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural Kent. The new plaque was provided with support from the Society. The original stone had decayed, the trees planted around it had been absorbed into the surrounding woodland, and the undergrowth (now cleared) was threatening to take over.

In 1945, Chettoe was Vice-chairman of the Civic Society and Chairman of its Town and Country Planning sub-committee. A highly experienced Civil Engineer, with special skills in bridge-building, he had worked for the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Health, and was called on when the plans for the Sevenoaks bypass were being developed.

The architect Sir William Ansell was President of the Civic Society and it was in the late forties that he and Chettoe put forward the ideas for the Eastern Way in Sevenoaks, though this was never implemented. This was originally proposed to strike off the Tonbridge Road to the south of Sevenoaks School and run to the top of Seal Hollow Road. It was strongly opposed, but a later proposal to open a road off the High Street to the north of the Red House could perhaps have alleviated the traffic problems we still have in the town centre. That proposal was also turned down.

Cyril Chettoe

Throughout the fifties, Chettoe was constantly involved in planning issues in and around the town, such as the Montreal and Vestry estates, and in 1956 he wrote to get re-assurance from government that buildings of historical and architectural value should be protected in relation to any planning proposals, a wish that we have belatedly brought into existence with the creation of the Local List. In 1957, he argued in favour of restoring the Market House to its original form with open arcades at ground level, accompanied by the demolition of the buildings on the east of that narrow stretch of the High Street to remove the bottle-neck and create a proper town square. It is matter of regret that we are still struggling with these issues today.

At the ceremony, John Wotton, Chairman of CPRE Kent, Nigel Britten, Chairman of CPRE’s Sevenoaks branch, and David Green paid tribute to the Chettoe’s work and his untiring efforts to help preserve the countryside. Following the ceremony, guests, including “Chronicler” Bob Ogley and representatives from Weald Parish Council and Sevenoaks Town Council, were treated to refreshments at nearby Weald Place, courtesy Roger Trapp of WPC.