A brief history of
Limpsfield Chart Golf Club
Alan Hickman, 1988
In the early 1800s golf was becoming a popular sport of Londoners, and was fast spreading into the southern counties. Limpsfield Chart, founded in 1889, is one of the oldest Golf Clubs in Surrey. Only Guildford (1886), Reigate & Redhill (1887) and Epsom, by just a month or so, are older. By 1925 some 150 golf courses had been created in Surrey, Kent and Sussex. Of the immediate local courses to Limpsfield, Edenbridge did not come into being until 1973, and Tandridge in 1925.
It was not surprising that the Manorial land at Limpsfield offered splendid opportunities for a golf course, and it was said that a Mr A N Bell, of the Manor House, Limpsfield, saw the possibilities for a nine-hole course on the heath land and with the assistance of Peter Paxton laid out such a course. It was however reported in the local newspapers that several gentlemen of the neighbourhood, observing the capabilities of the open heath, determined to establish a committee for the purpose of "framing a golf course" and keeping it in order, and who employed James Paxton, the professional at Eastbourne, with his son, Peter, to lay-out a nine-hole course. Whichever it was, and the latter seems the more probable, the Lord of the Manor, Granville William Gresham Leveson Gower, was approached and gave his permission for the course to be made on the Manorial land on the south side of the road to Westerham.
From the beginning the Limpsfield course became highly regarded and was a favourite among the golfing Londoners, and it was regularly reported on in The Times, local newspapers and golf magazines. Al week-ends horse drawn flies were arranged to meet the golfers arriving from London at the Oxted railway station. Incidentally, although tin-railway line from London was being constructed during the years 1864-1869 and was complete except, among other things, for tin-completion of the Oxted viaduct, it had to remain unfinished through lack of money. It was not until 1878 that on the 10th March the first train arrived at Oxted station. Within a very short time, membershipthe Golf Club had to be restricted to 100, leaving a waiting list as many again. The entrance fee then was 3 guineas and the annual subscription one guinea.
By 1894 membership was further restricted to residents of the parishes of
Bletchingley, Brasted, Crowhurst, Chelsham,
Edenbridge, Godstone, Limpsfield, Oxted
Tandridge, Tatsfield, Titsey, Westerham.
with provision for admitting other golfers of note who would be of particular benefit to the Club and to the game of golf.
Over the years the Committees of the Club have exercised a rather broader interpretation of 'local parishes', although there is still a preponderance of local inhabitants in the present day membership, many continuing their family association with the Club going back over many years.
For many years the Sabbath was strictly observed, in so far as the playing of golf was concerned. It was not until 1948 that permission to play on Sunday mornings was granted by the Lord of the Manor, and it remains to this day that play on Sundays is only permitted during the winter months of October to April, and from 1 April to 30 September up to 1.00pm.
There is one difference of note between the membership of bygone years and now, in that it seems that the local, and not so local, clergy were very keen and good golfers. At one time there were at least 12 members of the cloth in membership, and the Assistant Officiating Clergy of the local parishes were accepted into membership without entrance fee. In 1930 the golfing Bishops attending the Lambeth Conference were given the courtesy of the course, but the records go no further.
Today, however, there is but one retired Reverend Gentleman in membership. What that signifies, and should be drawn from it, is perhaps best left to the imagination.
The Club also had many other notable members, including the Prince and Princess Arthur of Connaught, Mrs Winston (later Lady) Churchill, The Honourable P Bowes Lyon, great uncle of the Queen, 'Shrimp' Leveson Gower the renowned Surrey cricketer, and Colin Cowdrey equally if not the more famous cricketer, as well as many other members knighted for their services. One of particular memory was Sir Christopher Summerhayes KBE, CMG who died in July 1988 aged 92, He was consul-general Alexandria in 1945, ambassador to Nepal, and was much involved in the Royal Geographical Society and with Sir. John Hunt in his climbing ventures.