Starting in Market Square, in front of No.20 (Five Guys)
1. Town Pump in Market Square
The cast iron town pump originally stood against the north west corner of the Victorian town hall. It was moved to Church House Gardens after 1933 and then placed in its present location in 1985, in front of the Charles Darwin mural, approximately 20 metres from the original site.
2. Market Square
Bromley developed around Market Square which was the location of the original Charter Market. A charter was granted in 1205 to the Bishop of Rochester by King John, to hold a weekly market on Tuesdays. In 1447 this was changed by application to Henry VI, to Thursdays, on condition that a market is held every Thursday in the year, including Christmas Day. Nowadays, the weekly Charter Market is held in Station Road and still on a Thursday. A timber framed market house was located in the centre of the square until it was demolished in 1863 to make way for a gothic red brick town hall building which was subsequently demolished in 1933 to make way for the neo-Tudor buildings on the site today.
Walk left around the central buildings (to outside Chisholm-Hunters)
3. Birthplace of HG Wells (Victoria Chambers now Primark)
With the building of a new section of road called the New Cut in 1832, a sharp bend in the High Street was removed. The buildings constructed following this work included No. 47 which became the china, glass and pottery emporium of Joseph Wells. Here on 21 September 1866, the author Herbert George Wells was born. He spent much of his early childhood in the town until he was apprenticed to a draper and left the area. No. 47 became part of Medhursts in 1879 when Fred Medhurst bought several adjacent properties. The Primark store still has the name Medhurst on the building which stands today, and a plaque to commemorate the birthplace of H G Wells is displayed on the front of the shop.
At the north end of the Medhurst building is HSBC bank:
4. 184-188 High Street – HSBC bank, formally Clovell and Harris butchers
Built 1888 to provide shop premises. Designed by Walter Albert Williams, it was built in the Flemish style of red brick in Flemish bond, with stone dressings and tiled roofs with brick chimneystacks.
It’s a fine example of the Arts and Crafts movement towards a more traditional form of architecture, paying close attention to detail and materials. These buildings capture the essence of the old market town, relying upon the use of red brick with white painted window frames, steeply pitched roofs with plain tiles or slates, hanging tiles, and stone dressings and doorcases.
Look above the first floor windows on the corner: there are terracotta carvings which include the letters ‘C’ and ‘H’ for Covell and Harris.
Walking between Primark and the Market Building, walk north to Church Road, turn left and stop at the flint walls of the Parish Church.
5. Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul
The church tower is 15th century. The new church by F. Harold Gibbons, making extensive use of local materials including flints associated with the chalk downlands, was dedicated by the Bishop of Rochester in 1957.
The church was almost totally destroyed by bombing on the night of 16 April 1941; only the tower remained. It was one of the first churches to be rebuilt after the war. Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II, laid the foundation stone in 1949. The oldest remains of the earlier church are a Norman font and a 14th century door in the tower. The lych gate dates from 1855 and the obelisk is dedicated to Coles Child, the last individual to own the Bishop’s Palace.
Adjacent, is Tetty Way. This commemorates ‘Tetty’ Johnson, Dr Johnson’s wife, Elizabeth, who was buried in the church in 1752. The gravestone survived the Blitz and now stands broken but still bearing its Latin inscription in the church ambulatory.
Retrace your steps back to the High Street, to The Partridge
6. 194 High Street – The Partridge
The Partridge Public House stands at the junction of Church Road and was originally built for the National Provincial Bank in 1927 by architects Gunton & Gunton. It became a Public House in 1995.
This building is a superb example of the ‘Neo Georgian’ wing of the Arts and Crafts movement. Architects of this style were reviving architecture of the late Stuart period, so details of this building are similar to the Bromley College to the north, built 250 years earlier.
Turn left and start to walk north up the High Street
7. 196 High Street formally Pamphilons
196-198 High Street was a dwelling house which was used as a wine merchants towards the end of the 18th century. George Pamphilon became the owner in 1865 and in 1876 rebuilt the premises. The timber shopfront reflects the design as it was in the 19th century
Look back across the High Street at the Royal Bell
8. The Royal Bell
Built 1898, designed by Ernest Newton, an important Arts and Crafts movement architect, who designed houses in Bickley and Chislehurst
The Bell Inn posting house, demolished 1897, can be traced back to the 17th century when a parliamentary survey of the Manor was planned there in 1646. At the end of the 18th century, two coaches ran daily to and from London.
The Bell was granted the prefix ‘Royal’ after royal coaches began changing horses there – on these occasions stablehands put on scarlet uniforms. In Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Lady Catherine de Bourgh recommends that Elizabeth changes horse at ‘The Bell in Bromley’.
At short way north up the high street, Walter’s Yard is an alleyway on the right:
Until end of 18th century the east side of the High Street from the Bell Inn northwards, including part of the side of the college, comprised land called Grete House. This was a large private estate now covered by Walters Yard. During the Napoleonic Wars (1797 to 1815) part of the area became known as Prison Yard. French prisoners were held in a temporary building on the site while being marched through the country between 1797 and 1815.
It is said to be named after John Walter, who ran a smithy which enjoyed a high reputation locally
As you walk north, on the right hand side, opposite the Cinema, is the Star and Garter:
10. The Star and Garter
This Arts and Crafts fantasy was constructed 1898, designed by Berney and Sons for Nalder and Collyer, a local Croydon brewer
The sign hanging over the High Street has become a local landmark.
Keep heading north towards the junction of London Road and Beckenham Lane. On the left at the end of the High Street is the Swan and Mitre:
11. The Swan and Mitre
The building dates mainly from the early 19th century, part of the original stables building dates from mid-18th century
It is an old coaching inn popular with carters resting on their journey to the London markets, carrying farm produce and fish
The interior contains seating from the Old Gaiety Theatre in London and ornate mirrors presented by Marie Lloyd, once a patron of the inn.
Continue north along the High Street (now London Road) to the distinctive gates of Bromley College to the right. Here, at the top of the high street (at the junction in front of the new/former courts) there is an old brick wall, behind which is Bromley and Sheppard Colleges:
12. Bromley and Sheppard Colleges
Built 1670-72 to the design of Richard Ryder, Master Surveyor who worked with Sir Christopher Wren on rebuilding London following the Great Fire of 1666.
One of Bromley’s finest and most important buildings, the colleges lie behind red brick walls and 18th century iron gates. The college is built around a quadrangle surrounded by stone Doric columns. Houses for the treasurer and chaplain are set either side of the large stone archway to the courtyard. At the end of the 18th century, a second courtyard was added to the same design but with timber columns. The original chapel had to be enlarged and a Gothic replacement, which you can see through the stone archway, was built in 1863.
John Warner, Bishop of Rochester, was one of only 8 bishops to survive until the restoration of the Stuart Monarchy in 1660, he was then 79 years old. When he died in 1666, his legacy provided £8,500 for the foundation of a College or almshouse for ‘twenty poore widowes of Orthodoxe and Loyalle clergymen’.
Retrace your steps south to College Slip just beyond Bromley College on your left. Turn around and walk east down the alleyway at the side of the Colleges:
13. College Slip
College Slip is the passageway which follows the old college wall. In the latter part of the 19th century it was still a country lane leading to open fields. The early 19th century cottage on the north side was the home of the nurseryman who grew his plants on the adjacent site. The nursery was originally purchased by the College in 1830 to prevent development of the site. This use continued until 1984 when the land was bought by the Council and named College Green. The rear of Bromley College can be seen across the Green.
At the end of College Slip alleyway is a telephone box
14. K2 Telephone Kiosk
This kiosk is one of a series of cast iron kiosks designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, dating from 1927
Scott designed a series of cast concrete and cast iron kiosks, culminating in the K6 series which went into production in 1936 and were not superseded until 1968.
This K2 type first appeared on the streets of Holborn in 1926.
You can tell that it’s an older and more original design by the little square windows. Later versions have rectangular windows.
At the end of the alleyway, continue down the road in front of the new Methodist church, and the Railway Tavern is at the end on the right. Resist the temptation to go in for refreshment! 15. The Railway Public House
Turn around, and look across the main road at the little station building. 16. Bromley North Station
Turning back, go right down East Street and you will come to O’Neils: 17. The Old Drill Hall (now O’Neils)
At the end of East Street: 18. No. 19 East St (former Local Board house)
At the end of East Street 19. West St (former Post Office) x
Turn around and go back to South Street
20. Number 8 South Street
Continue down South Street
21. The Fire Station
22. Community House (former Magistrates Court)
23. Former Town Hall
24. Former School of Art and Science
25. Former Town Hall extension