The creation of Five Oak Green Recreation Ground

In July 1932, Five Oak Green opened its own recreation ground on the site that it currently occupies. The ground for the project was donated by the Reverend Warwick Holman who presided over the Congregational Church in Five Oak Green and was a member of Capel Parish Council. The press articles below cover reports of the three main stages of turning that gift in to the recreation ground we enjoy today;

- The announcement of the donation of the land in a Parish Council meeting in January 1932 which did not go entirely smoothly

- A special meeting of the Parish Council in February 1932 to plan how the land was to become a recreation ground and how local interested parties would contribute to that both financially and by their labour

- The opening ceremony on Saturday 16th July 1932

From the Tonbridge Free Press - Friday 15 January 1932

CAPEL Parish Council - A meeting of the Capel Parish Council was held in the School on Monday night, when Col. O. E. d'Avigdor Goldsmid presided, and the other members present were Messrs. W. R. Holman, J. Hinton Jones, W. Tolhurst, A. S. Knowles, S. Tully, R. Wickens. C. O. Pemble, F. Coomber and C. J. Edwards (Clerk).

The Rev. W. Holman made a vigorous protest against the members of the Council smoking at the meetings, saying that if they persisted he would have to leave the meeting. The Chairman replied, saying that it was a free country and the Council had no rule against smoking. The question of a tithe due to the Rev. W. R. Holman arose from the minutes. The Chairman read a letter on the matter and then moved that the amount due to him be paid. 

The Council considered the offer of the Rev. Holman on the subject of a playing field. The reverend gentleman said he was prepared to give to the parish five acres and the Council would have charge of this as playing fields. He explained how he had previously tried to purchase some ground, but had been unsuccessful. During the war and the years just after, when farmers were protected, he had made money which he considered came from the parish, and he was prepared to return it. He asked for a decision to be given by February 14th. The Chairman, on behalf of the Council, expressed their appreciation of this generous offer and hoped they would be able to accept it.

From the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser - Friday 05 February 1932

CAPEL: NEW PLAYING FIELD - A meeting of the Capel Parish Council, to which the various organisations in the parish were invited, was held in the School on Tuesday evening to consider the arrangements regarding the playing field. The chair was occupied by Mr. W. Tolhurst in the absence of the Chairman of the Council, Colonel O. E. d'Avigdor Goldsmid. The Chairman apologised for the short notice of the meeting which had been given to the various bodies, but they wanted to get their application in to the National Playing Fields Association as soon as possible. He said that the Rev. W. R. Holman had made the magnificent offer to the parish of five acres, situated in the centre of Five Oak Green, which was most suitable for the purpose, being level and dry, and which the Council had accepted. The initial cost was estimated at £200 and the maintenance at £25 per year. They did not want to make it a charge on the rates because they thought people would take more interest in it. 

After outlining what they proposed doing, a discussion on ways and means of raising the necessary money took place, and Mr. H. Tully, representing the Capel Cricket Club, said they would like a piece about 30 yards square, but at present they were only just able to support themselves. Mr. W. Field, for the British Legion, explained that they were a benevolent society and had no power to make grants to anything of that kind. Mr. I. Ellis, also representing the Legion, said the branch would erect the fence for them which had to be put up, if the material was found for them. Mr. F. Powley, secretary of the Capel Football Club, said they were prepared to give £1 to the initial stage and £2 a year, also as much labour as possible. The Chairman the 'Capel Cottage Gardeners' Society, Mr. E. Tully, said that they had decided to give £5 towards it. Mrs. W. H. W. Smith, President of the Capel Women's Institute, said they would help in any way they could and she herself would give a tennis net and two garden chairs. 

Mr. J. Hinton Jones, secretary of the Oddfellows, explained their position, and said he thought it was quite possible that after their next meeting they would be able to make them a grant. The Chairman of the Five Oak Green Institute said they had recently had a heavy outlay themselves, but were willing to make a grant of £1. Mrs. Tapsfield, for the Five Oak Green Women's and Girls' Club, said she was sure they would be willing to do all they could as they were keen on having a tennis court. Mrs. Langridge also spoke for the Women's Section of the British Legion. The Chairman pointed out in reply to a question that they would not be able to take any gate money. Mr. T. D. Harris suggested that they should ask the Public Assistance Committee if they would be able to help them. Mr. S. Tully kindly offered to give a new gate, and Mr. E. Tully offered the use of some seats. Mr. R. Wickens suggested that any cricket matches this season should be played on the old pitch, but they did not consider it worth spending any money on it. He added an offer of £1 towards a path to the tennis court and possibly some of the labour so that they would not have to walk across the field to the court. Mr. Harris thought they would be able to get the work done cheaper than the estimates, especially as there were offers to do the labour for some of the things free, and it might be that they would get some spiles for the fence given to them. After further discussion on various subjects Mr. Harris moved that, "This meeting of representatives of the local association and sports clubs unanimously desire to express their gratitude to Mr. Holman for his generous gift of land for a playing field for the parish of Capel. Also to respectfully invite the Chairman and members of the Parish Council to approach anybody or association from which they might obtain financial assistance, and that this meeting pledges itself to give every support in preparing the ground." This was seconded by Mr. J .Hinton Jones and carried. The Clerk to the Council (Mr. Edwards) said he had ascertained that they would not have to pay rates on the ground. The Chairman also pointed out that they thought it best to redeem the tithe. Mr. Jones proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Goldsmid for what he had done for them, and Mr. Coomber seconded. Mr. E. moved vote of thanks to Mr. Tolhurst for presiding.

From the Tonbridge Free Press - Friday 22 July 1932 





Capel is in possession of its own playing field. It consists of five acres of good land situate at the rear of the allotments near Five Oak Green. There is an excellent cricket pitch, tennis courts, shelters and swings, etc., for the children, and as funds come in more equipment will be provided. The land was generously offered by the Rev. W. R. Holman, Congregational Minister, to the Parish Council, who naturally accepted it with grateful thanks, and committees were quickly set at work to adapt it for an ideal playing field. 

It was fitting that there should be an opening ceremony. This interesting function took place on Saturday. In the absence of Capt. the Hon. W. S. Cornwallis (Chairman of Kent Playing Fields Association), who was indisposed, Mrs. Cornwallis declared the field open. She was accompanied by Mr. O. E. d'Avigdor Goldsmid (Chairman of the Capel Parish Council) and Mrs. Goldsmid, the Rev. and Mrs. W. R. Holman, Mr. F. O. Streeter, Mr. T. D. Harris, Cr. R. Norton (Chairman of Tonbridge Urban District Council) and Mrs. Norton, Miss Cornwallis, Mrs. Rae, Mrs. W. H. W. Smith and others. There was a large attendance. 

The Rev. W. R. Holman presented Mrs. Cornwallis with the keys to open the gates, and after doing so, she proceeded to the platform, where the reverend gentleman handed her the title deeds. Mrs. Cornwallis then declared the playing field opened amid loud applause. Miss Mary Tolhurst and Miss Pamela Jones presented Mrs. Cornwallis and Mrs. Holman with beautiful bouquets. 


The Rev. W. R. Holman, addressing the gathering, said he regretted that Capt. Cornwallis was not able to be present at that ceremony, but he had sent an excellent substitute. (Applause). He (the reverend gentleman) had always found it difficult to make himself understood by the people of Capel. He had been there for 35 years and he was still wondering if they knew any more about him. (Laughter). However, on that occasion he felt convinced that they would all be unanimous; if they were not, they ought to be. He would like to tell them about some of his feelings towards Capel. He had not been there very long before he felt that the Free Church building ought to be something better in which to hold services. A new building was, in time, secured. 

Parish Hall and Swimming Bath Wanted. 

His next desire was to see a parish hall-a genuine parish hall for the use of the whole village; adequate for pastimes and education, with reading room and a "play room." That, so far, had not been obtained; through hesitation they lost it. His next idea was a swimming bath, and it ought to be possible for them to have one. Everyone should be able to swim; he could help them to learn if they had a swimming bath -(laughter)-but there seemed no probability of getting one.

Working Together. 

Mr. F. O. Streeten moved a vote of thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Holman for the gift of the land. He said they all regretted the illness of Capt. Cornwallis and hoped that he would have a speedy recovery. He (Mr. Streeten). as the local representative on the Kent Playing Fields Association, thanked Capel and district for the efforts made a few years ago when they were raising funds. They found everyone working together in their own districts for the playing fields movement. It was a satisfactory thing to have achieved. In Capel they had been assisted by the local agricultural society, and the Kent Playing Fields Association and the National Playing Fields Association were going to help them. He knew they would all work together to improve, beautify and preserve that playing field. "When I first met Mr. Holman," said Mr. Streeten, "I was rather frightened of him. I thought he was one of those absolutely unbending old Puritans who, however, have proved to be the salt of the earth in our time. I found under that exterior that he had a heart as tender as any Tory who has walked the land." (Laughter and applause). "Mr. Holman has two great characteristics. One is he loves the people, and the other is he loves the land. On this occasion he has effected the most satisfactory combination he could ever have accomplished for the good of the parish." (Applause). 

Mr. and Mrs. Holman's Interest in the Parish. 

Mr. T. D. Harris seconded. He said that was a day in the history of the village they would never forget. The parish could not have had a more acceptable gift and they were all deeply indebted to Mr. and Mrs. Holman. (Applause). The playing field would not only bring pleasure to all those who used it. but he was sure it would bring great joy to the hearts of Mr. and Mrs. Holman, who always had the welfare of the people at heart. They had taken the greatest interest in the children of the parish. Everyone in the parish had played his or her part in making the playing field as they saw it that day. To all those who had erected the fencing and gave their time in many ways they were deeply grateful. They also thanked local associations for their help and the local smith who made the magnificent gates. (Applause). 

Two Conditions. 

In responding, the Rev. W. R. Holman said it was in the interests of the children, and in consequence of the great increase in motor traffic, that he seriously thought about a playing field as near as possible to the parish. There were a few people who were still fairly healthy and able to walk about, and he thought it was a good idea to provide a shelter on the playing field for older people. He had attached two conditions to the agreement. These were that no intoxicating drink was to be sold in the field-there was a public house only a few yards away-and that there should be no organised Sunday games. They might think it was puritanical of him to stipulate these conditions, but he thought he was doing the right thing.

Priceless Parish Gift. 

The Chairman moved a hearty vote of thanks to Mrs. Cornwallis for performing the opening ceremony. He read a letter from Capt. Cornwallis expressing regret at his inability to attend owing to illness, and in which he stated that the village was greatly indebted to Mr. and Mrs. Holman for their generous gift. He (Capt. Cornwallis) hoped that the fullest possible use would be made of the playing field, which he described as "a treasure which was a priceless parish gift."

He (the chairman) said that he was profoundly sorry that Capt. Cornwallis could not attend. Capt. Cornwallis had served the county in many ways, especially in the capacity of vice-chairman of the Kent County Council and as chairman of the Kent Playing Fields Association. "Capt. Cornwallis," continued Mr. d'Avigdor Goldsmid, "has served the county in hundreds of ways of which you don't know, and we are grateful to him for all his help and sympathy, and also to Mrs. Cornwallis for having kindly come here this afternoon." 

That playing field would make a great difference to the life of the district, said Mr. d'Avigdor Goldsmid, and as chairman of the Parish Council, he tendered his sincere thanks to all who had made the project such a success. The whole parish had been absolutely united in helping in every way to make Mr. and Mrs. Holman's gift worthy of the parish. Particularly referring to the gates, the chairman said that the sum that had been paid for these did not in any way represent the cost. The parish had put its back into the whole scheme and had made it a great success. (Applause). In conclusion, the chairman said he thought they would be glad to know that in that purely agricultural parish they had managed to collect the sum of £68 for the Tunbridge Wells Hospital Building Fund. He could assure Mr. and Mrs. Holman that the fullest use would be made of the very fine playing field, and he could give a similar assurance, he knew, to Capt. Cornwallis. (Loud applause). 

Congratulations from Tonbridge. 

Cr. R. Norton seconded. He congratulated Capel on being in possession of such a magnificent playing field. He said in Tonbridge they were proud of their Sports Ground, and in Capel people should be equally proud of their ground. It was a wonderful accomplishment for a small village, and he extended to them his best wishes for the future prosperity of the movement. He was sure it was the wish of all that Capt. Cornwallis should have a speedy recovery. (Applause). Mrs. Cornwallis, in responding, said that nothing excepting the doctor-not even his wife-would have prevented Capt. Cornwallis from coming there that afternoon. He had a temperature of 101, and it was not possible for him to leave his house. She was greatly honoured in being asked to perform the opening ceremony. 

Playing the Game of Life. 

The Rev. H. Capel (Vicar of Capel), in moving a vote of thanks to the chairman, expressed his pleasure at seeing the culmination of the scheme. That playing field would benefit the whole community and they were deeply grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Holman. The playing field would help people to play the game of life in all places and at all times. Mr. W. Tolhurst seconded the vote of thanks to the chairman, and reminded the audience that when more money was forthcoming, they would be able to provide more equipment for the ground. The Chairman briefly responded, and particularly referred to the work of the Playing Fields Committee, which should have their support in any contemplated improvements.