Bromley High Street
|Bromley and Chislehurst|
Bromley is a large suburban town in Kent. The historic heart of the town is Market Square, which sits at the junction of the High Street and Church Road.
Bromley falls within the Bromley and Beckenham hundred and the Sutton-at-Hone lathe of Kent. Bromley was historically a market town. Its location on a coaching route and the opening of a railway station in 1858 were key to its development and the economic history of Bromley is underpinned by a shift from an agrarian village to commercial and retail hub. As part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century, Bromley significantly increased in population and has become absorbed within the metropolitan conurbation stretching out from London. It has developed into one of a handful of regionally significant commercial and retail districts outside central London.
Bromley is first recorded in a charter of 862 as Bromleag and refers to a woodland clearing where broom grows. It shares this Old English etymology with Great Bromley in Essex, but Bromley-by-Bow in Middlesex has a different derivation.
The history of Bromley is closely connected with the bishopric of Rochester. In AD 862 Ethelbert, the King of Kent, granted land to form the Manor of Bromley. It was held by the Bishops of Rochester until 1845, when Coles Child, a wealthy local merchant and philanthropist, purchased Bromley Palace (now the hub of the Bromley Civic Centre) and became lord of the manor.
The town was an important coaching stop on the way to Hastings from London, and the now defunct Royal Bell Hotel (just off Market Square) is referred to in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was a quiet rural village until the arrival of the railway in 1858 in Shortlands, which led to rapid growth, and outlying suburban districts such as Bickley (which later overflowed into Bromley Common) were developed to accommodate those wishing to live so conveniently close to London.
Bromley has a number of theatres, the most notable being the Churchill Theatre in the town centre and the Bromley Little Theatre close to Bromley North railway station. It also has a large Central Library in the same building as the Churchill Theatre with a large book stock, internet and wifi access, reference library and local studies department.
The town's football club, Bromley FC, is in the Conference South, which is the highest level of regionalised football in England, two divisions below the Football League.
The parish church of St Peter and St Paul stands on Church Road. It was largely destroyed by enemy action on 16 April 1941 and rebuilt in the 1950s incorporating the mediæval tower and reusing much of the flint and fragments of the original stone building. The most noteworthy historic building is Bromley College, London Road. The mature and very well maintained central public open spaces are noteworthy: Queen's Gardens, Martin's Hill, Church House Gardens, Library Gardens and College Green.
In the famous Monty Python Spam sketch Bromley was stated to be the location of the fictional Green Midget Café, where every item on the menu was composed of spam in varying degrees. It was this sketch, with its long chorus of "spam, spam, spam, spam" which caused electronic junk-mail to be termed "spam".
In another Monty Python sketch it was stated that all seven continents are visible from the top of the Kentish Times building in Bromley.
- Vision of Britain -Bromley parish
- Mills, A.D. (2001). Dictionary of London Place Names. Oxford.
- "Bromley". Mick Scott, Nonsuch Publishing. 2005. http://www.britishlocalhistory.co.uk/Default.aspx?tabid=8770&ProductID=6225.
- "St Peter and St Paul website". http://www.bromleyparishchurch.org/history.php.