Octavia Hill Centenary Trail - life and history
Founder of the National Trust in 1895, Octavia Hill (1838–1912) was a social reformer, philanthropist, artist and writer. A remarkable woman, her vision has led to her being a major influence on our lives today. Celebrate her life on a walk to Crockham Hill village and the church where she is buried, up to Mariners Hill and on past Chartwell, former home of Winston Churchill.
Octavia Hill centenary trail east
You can also download the Octavia Hill centenary trail east, a 4-mile (6.4km) walk that you can do separately or together with this one to make up a figure-of-eight walk. Please keep dogs on leads when in fields with livestock.
Toys Hill car park on Chart Lane, grid ref: TQ470517
Park at Toys Hill National Trust car park on Chart Lane, leading from the centre of Brasted to Four Elms. In the top left-hand corner of the car park, by the information panel, go up the steps in the direction of the arrow on the Octavia Hill Centenary Trail waymarker disc. Pass a bench and at a crossing track and waymark post turn left, go downhill through a wooden post and fork left to drop down to Puddledock Lane and a grass triangle with a seat. Turn right through the hamlet and soon reach a low stone wall on the left, with steps leading down to a covered well and a viewpoint with extensive views over the Weald of Kent.
This well was originally sunk in 1898 by Octavia Hill for the local villagers. It was restored in 1999 by the National Trust.
Continue on the road past the well and downhill for some distance. Octavia Hill lived nearby at Crockham Hill and in 1898 she gave us one of our first properties. All that remains of this house in Toys Hill is the terrace with a sunken well. Since then, through the generosity of many different people, our ownership of Toys Hill has expanded to create an outstanding area of woodland for public access.
Where the road levels out by several isolated cottages, turn right over a gate just after the last cottage.
With fields on either side continue through two gates until reaching some impressive oast house buildings. Maintain this direction on the drive until eventually reaching a road. Turn left and very shortly you'll come to a cottage and old postbox on the right.
Go through the swing gate to the left of the entrance by a stone footpath marker. You're now on the private drive of Mariners, so please keep to the footpath. Continue on through a gate into the hamlet of Froghole. Take the first turning on the left at a footpath sign.
Ignore a right turn but keep straight ahead on a small footpath and down some steps. Emerging at a cottage and junction of paths, turn right onto a small lane leading to the village of Crockham Hill with its village garden, pub and church. Turn right on the main road, noting the plaque to Octavia Hill on the village sign. Very soon turn right again to Holy Trinity church.
Octavia Hill lived at Crockham Hill and due to her efforts much of the land around here was acquired for us. She chose to be buried in Holy Trinity church in preference to Westminster Abbey and her grave can be seen under the yew tree near the porch. Inside, the church is a stone memorial to her life as well as the Octavia Hill memorial window illustrating the worst of urban life in contrast to country life, the benefits of which Octavia wanted for everyone.
Leaving the church just as the lane bears right to pass the school, turn sharp left to a kissing gate and passed several benches. Go through a metal gate on the other side and maintain this direction across a field heading towards the hamlet of Froghole in the distance.
In the far corner of the field go through a kissing gate and cross a stream. Continue up the next field to a stile. Beyond an enclosed path take the steps leading up to Froghole. Turn left onto the lane and on reaching gates at the end just before a main road, turn right up the steps.
At the top of the steps turn right to follow the contour of Mariners Hill to a memorial seat with a spectacular view.
The seat on this hill commemorates land given to us in remembrance of Octavia Hill's mother, Caroline Southwood Hill (1809-1902). A writer and educationist, she was involved in social reform activities and was an inspiration to Octavia.
Continue on the path across two metal gates and past a commemorative obelisk for land given to us. A little further on is another seat, dedicated to one of Octavia's five sisters, Harriot York. Maintain this direction until a crossing track. Turn left at the crossing track, pass a way marker and follow the path down some steps. While here enjoy the magnificent views across the Weald of Kent from Mariners Hill.
Mariners Hill Obelisk
Obelisk commemorating the land given to the National Trust.
Enter woodland and almost immediately turn right. Continue downhill to a wooden post on the left and turn left onto a clear footpath. Following the contour of the hill for some distance the path finally bears right downhill to Chartwell.
Chartwell café, shop and toilets are available to stop and visit without paying for admission. If you wish to visit the gardens or estate however, you will need to head to the Visitor Centre. Entry is free for National Trust members.
Cross the road to a small enclosed footpath to the left of Chartwell entrance gate. At the top of the hill cross a lane to a wide footpath opposite. Maintain this direction for some distance, ignoring any turnings to the left, until coming out to French Street hamlet.
Turn right onto the lane and shortly take the left fork to Highview. Continue on this lane past French street Farm and between hedging to another fork. Bear left to Highview Cottage and enter the woodland of Toys Hill.
Stay on this wide track, ignoring any side turnings, until reaching the site of Weardale Manor. Continue straight ahead and soon bear left. At a waymark post fork right to return to the car park. If you wish to continue walking there is another walk - Octavia Hill trail east - that is 4 miles and will take you in a full figure of eight.
Originally built for Lord and Lady Stanhope as a summer home, Weardale Manor was an 145-roomed Tudor-style mansion. The house only stood for 33 years before it was demolished in 1939. The original lodge house for the mansion can still be seen opposite the Fox and Hounds pub in Toys Hill.
Toys Hill car park on Chart Lane, grid ref: TQ470517
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