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Beckenham War Memorial - - 35267.jpg
Beckenham War Memorial
Grid reference: TQ375695
Location: 51°24’28"N, 0°1’19"W
Population: 82,000
Post town: Beckenham / London
Postcode: BR3 / SE20
Dialling code: 020
Local Government
Council: Bromley

Beckenham is a town in Kent, within the metropolitan conurbation, less than two miles west of Bromley town centre. Until the coming of the railway in 1857, Beckenham was a small village with almost completely rural surroundings: once a family of entrepreneurs began the building of villas here, its population soared from 2,000 to 26,000 during 1850-1900 and throughout the rest of the century. The current population is nearly 82,000.

Today Beckenham is deep in suburbia, although some of the grand houses of the early days remain.


The village of Beckenham is referred to as Bacheham in the Domesday Book of 1086, and in the Textus Roffensis as Becceham.[1] The name is thought to derive from Beohha's homestead (Beohhan ham).[2] The name of the small stream here, the River Beck, is most likely to have been named after the village.


Beckenham Flooded in 1878

Although early written history tells little of the area, archaeological evidence at Holwood Park, where Stone Age and Bronze Age artefacts have been found, reveals some evidence of early settlers. A Roman camp was sited here, and a Roman road, the London to Lewes Way passed through the district.[3]

With the arrival of the Normans, the Manor of Beckenham took on added importance, and controlled much of what is modern Beckenham. St George's Church was built in the 12th century. In the Middle Ages, the manor lands were divided: at this time the estates of Kelsey and Langley came into being. Beckenham still remained a small village until well into the 19th century. The beginning of its growth began when, in 1773, John Cator built Beckenham Place and became Lord of the Manor. After he died in 1807, his sons soon became aware that the area in such close proximity to London was ripe for development, especially once the railway had arrived in 1857; and large villas began to be built around the new station. Wide roads and large gardens epitomised these properties.

Between then and the early 20th century, further growth of Beckenham took place: The Shortlands area in 1863; Clock House in the 1890s; Elmers End in 1911 (where smaller suburban houses were built); Park Langley in 1908; and Eden Park in 1926.[4] The Manor of Foxgrove was also broken up at some point: its name is commemorated in a local road.


The original village of Beckenham was situated at what is now the northern part of the town area. Around it were the great estates: Beckenham Park, Kelsey and Langley Park. The River Ravensbourne flows northwards at the eastern side of the town, towards its confluence with the River Thames. The small stream, the River Beck, passes through the town before joining the Ravensbourne further north.[5] The area is part of an outcrop of London Clay which results in it consisting of many small hills.[6]


Christ Church, Beckenham

The town has a number of churches. St George's Church is the principal parish church, and is in the centre of Beckenham. It was extensively rebuilt, at the end of the 19th. century, but an earlier building dates back to 1100. It has a 13th-century lych gate that is thought to be one of the oldest in Britain.[2][7] The almshouses next to the church go back to 1694.

There are also three other Church of England churches in the town: All Saints Church; Holy Trinity Church; and St James at Elmers End.

In addition, there are Methodist and Baptist churches and the Roman Catholic church.

Sights of the town

The Chinese Garage, now a listed building, is one of the more interesting buildings in Beckenham. A car showroom, it is built in an unusual Japanese pagoda style.

St George's Church, dating back to 1100 but mostly rebuilt at the end of the 19th century. The lych gate is 13th century, one of the oldest in England, and the almshouses date back to 1694. There are two old pubs, Ye Olde George Inn (1662), and the Three Tuns (now a branch of Zizzi restaurants). Kelsey Park is another landmark. It was part of the Kelsey Estate, but the mansion no longer remains. The only surviving buildings are the two Grade II listed lodge cottages at the entrance, which are over 200 years old. [8]


Despite its leafy image, due to its close proximity to Central London and the fact that it is served by eight railway stations (Beckenham Junction, Clock House, New Beckenham, Ravensbourne, Kent House, Elmers End, Eden Park and Beckenham Hill), Beckenham makes an ideal business location. The area boasts a busy high street containing many restaurants, upmarket chains as well as family-run independents, and has a good selection of well-performing schools. Beckenham is the headquarters to Capita Registrars Limited who provide share registration services for more than half of the UK's quoted companies, Proper Records[9] the UK's biggest independent music distributor and Vizual, a leading HR software developer.

Culture and leisure

There is a museum and archives at Bethlem Royal Hospital.[10] The local Odeon cinema has six screens and is a Grade II listed building.[11]

The Beckenham Festival of Music and Dancing takes place every November.

Beckenham Theatre exists to put on amateur productions. The Beckenham Concert Band is a community wind band.

The South East London Green Chain, a long-distance footpath is well represented in Beckenham. Both Kelsey Park and Beckenham Place Park form part of the Chain. There are other open spaces in the town, including Croydon Road Recreation Ground and Cator Park. South Norwood Country Park abuts the town to the south-west. There is also a walk starting in Cator Park, going down the High Street, through Kelsey Park, then Croydon Road Recreation Ground and back to Cator Park.


  • Cricket: Beckenham Cricket Club
  • Football: Beckenham Town FC
  • Hockey: Beckenham Hockey Club
  • Rugby: Beckenham Rugby Football Club

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Beckenham)