Petts Wood is a suburb of South East London and is a part of the London Borough of Bromley (formerly in Kent).
The name appeared first in 1577 as "the wood of the Pett family", who were shipbuilders and leased the wood as a source of timbers. William Willett, a campaigner for daylight saving time, lived in nearby Chislehurst for most of his life, and is commemorated by a memorial sundial in the wood. The Daylight Inn in the suburb of Petts Wood is named in his honour. Petts Wood has a second pub (The Sovereign of the Seas) and a railway station. It is situated between Orpington and Bickley. The Jubilee Country Park is located to the northwest of the main shopping area and is home to several rare species of animal life. Before this park was created, the area was known as 'The Gun Sites', as it had been the location for anti-aircraft guns in WW2, and was the home of the 1st Petts Wood scout group.
Most of Petts Wood was built in the early 20th Century by the developer Basil Scruby together with Master builder, Noel Rees, as a high quality estate in a rural setting only a short train journey from the city, with the east side being built first: it is often quoted in sociological textboooks as a classic piece of 1920s town planning, as the first building in place was the station, and the rest of the town developed from there.
The generally higher quality of large homes built to the east of the railway line, as compared to smaller and more dense to the west, gave rise to the local references of "Half Crown" or "Five Bob" sides.
Noel Rees's name is still used as a selling point by estate agents, his houses can be found in Great Thrift, The Covert, Prince's Avenue, Wood Ride, Kingsway, Chislehurst Road, The Chenies and many other roads in Petts Wood.
The area between Petts Wood and Bickley sustained heavy bombing during World War II because of its proximity to an important railway junction. Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French and future President of France, lived in Petts Wood, at 41 Birchwood Road, for part of the Second World War. Another prominent resident of Birchwood Road was the Welsh Baritone Sir Geraint Evans, and the toastmaster Ivor Spencer also lived nearby. One of the most renowned residents, Alex Mcculloch, played a prominent role in its establishment. Many residents of Petts Wood worked in Fleet Street, as it was the most affordable area with the latest last train for them to catch home after putting the morning's papers to bed (see Keith Waterhouse, "Streets Ahead".) The Petts Wood Cricket Club was established in 1834, making it the third oldest club in the London Boroughs. In 2010, it added former Australian Croquet and Arm Wrestling Champion Adrian Perry as its international signing.
The wood itself survives and is managed by the National Trust. Originally just 88 acres (36 hectares) were bought by public subscription and donated to the Trust in 1927. This asset expanded when the neighbouring Hawkwood Estate and Edlmann Wood, comprising a further 250 acres (100 hectares), were donated to the Trust by landowners Robert and Francesca Hall in 1957. The woodland features oak, birch, rowan, alder, ash, hornbeam and sweet chestnut.
In 2009, the local Woolworths had the privilege of writing the last word in the history of that chain in the UK, when its manager, realising his was the last one to close, gathered the remains of the Pick-and-Mix sweet section and auctioned the bagful of sweets, which would normally have retailed for a couple of pounds, for £14,500 ($20,000).
- Colin Earl, Artist and Media Cartoonist.
- Jack Dee, comedian and winner of Celebrity Big Brother 2001
- Ian Mortimer, historian
- William Willett, promoter of Daylight Saving
- Major Phil Packer, is a British soldier who was rendered paraplegic in 2008 by injuries sustained while serving in Iraq. He has since raised over a million pounds through charitable fundraising efforts which have garnered him several national awards.
- David Nobbs, Comedy writer and the creator of the successful 1970s sitcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin
- Cerrie Burnell, Actress, singer, playwright, and television presenter for the BBC children's channel CBeebies.
- Sir Geraint Evans, Welsh baritone or bass-baritone noted for operatic roles including Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and the title roles in Falstaff and Wozzeck.
- Charles De Gaulle, French General and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He rented a home there for four months before moving his family further inland to Shropshire later in 1940.
- John Loveday Physicist
- Dame Antoinette Sibley DBE British Prima Ballerina
Nearest railway stations
- Petts Wood railway station
- St Mary Cray railway station
- Orpington railway station
- Bickley railway station
- Chislehurst railway station
Places of worship
- Petts Wood Methodist Church Queensway, Petts Wood
- Christ Lutheran Church 227 Poverest Road, Petts Wood
- Christ Church (United Reformed Church) Tudor Way Petts Wood
- St Francis (Church of England) Willett Way, Petts Wood
- Roman Catholic Church of St James the Great, Crescent Drive, Petts Wood
- Petts Wood Quaker meeting of the Society of Friends, 6 Ladywood Avenue
- House of Faith Christian Church, Petts Wood War Memorial Hall
- Petts Wood Pagan chanting society, Branston Crescent
- Crofton Infants School, Towncourt Lane
- Crofton Junior School, Towncourt Lane
- St James RC Primary School
- Willett Recreation Ground
- Petts Wood Snooker Club (above Morrisons)
- Orpington Ojays Swimming Club
- Sir Geraint Evans (1922–1994) 34 Birchwood Road
- Only three bombs landed on the town centre itself, and those by accident as a German aircraft returning from bombing the docklands unloaded them on the end of Fairway, beside the former Embassy Cinema building since re-developed as a supermarket, and on the site now occupied by the Library. The sites were derelict until the early 60s, which is why these buildings are much more recent. Prior to that, the library was located in a shop on Queensway, near the junction with Lakeswood Road
- "De Gaulle Dead (main story) The year of exile in Salop [i.e.Shropshire] (sub-story).". Shropshire Star. Tuesday, 10 November 1970. p. 1.
- Petts Wood Cricket Club
- Orpington Junior Badminton Club
- Petts Wood library
- Petts Wood Village
- Petts Wood & District Residents Association
- Petts Wood football club
- Petts Wood Runners
- 7th Petts Wood Scout Group
- Petts Wood War Memorial Hall
- Petts Wood Operatic Society